Packers Problems: Ever-Shuffling Secondary, Bad Breaks on Offense and, Yes, Really Bad Offensive Pass Interference Calls

The Falcons’ destruction of the Packers, aided by Green Bay’s problems, made for a lopsided game in Atlanta. Plus, revenge, nudity and anger of the gods, as we break down NFL Week 2 on The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast
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GRAMLING: You had mentioned this Andy, in your film-study notes that came out on Friday, your 10 Things I Think: That Packers secondary really didn’t look better in the opener, it was just a matter of, Russell Wilson was swarmed immediately on every snap. They were exposed tonight, and this one got away from them early.

BENOIT: Yeah, it did, and I thought they were exposed by Seattle last week, just the ball didn’t happen to be thrown. But when you put on the all-22, you still see those guys getting beat. And Quinten Rollins was the biggest problem and it’s no surprise that he got benched halfway through this game, and it looks like they’re going to try to go with Damarious Randall in the slot. We’ll see how that works, he’s moved positions quite a bit in his career now. And then Kevin King, who played very well, their second-round rookie, it looks like he’ll probably be there to stay outside, and then Davon House, and those are their guys. So they’re still shuffling defensive backs, and that was their problem last season. I’m not at all surprised that it gets exposed in a game like this against Atlanta, where they have so much talent at wide receiver and they’re so good at dictating mismatches for you. And Atlanta did it tonight.

And Gary, Green Bay did a lot of man-lurk concepts, which is safety over the top, man-to-man and then a free defender in the middle of the field. It’s a coverage Atlanta did in the Super Bowl a lot. And Atlanta still beat the Packers inside, with inside-breaking routes. That should not happen against man-lurk coverages. Atlanta’s great on those, but Green Bay . . . to me, this is a little bit more of the real Green Bay defense. I thought last week was kind of papier-mâché Green Bay defense, they had a good matchup in the trenches.

GRAMLING: And the trenches didn’t work out. If Mike Daniels is going to miss any sort of major time here, they are in huge trouble up front, and it’s going to be a lot of 35-30 type of games they’re playing.

BENOIT: It will be, and look, they’re equipped to win that way. I thought their offense looked pretty good tonight, the points don’t reflect that. They had some penalties that went against them that probably weren’t great calls, we’re always criticizing Green Bay for not having man-beaters, and then here they run a great pick-route concept with Martellus Bennett and they flag it wrongly.

Gary, I thought it was interesting that Rodgers played on-time and on-schedule tonight, and he didn’t have his offensive tackles in the lineup, he didn’t have an offensive line he could trust. And in a lot of ways, with the way Rodgers was getting the ball out and the way they were formationing with Montgomery, shifting him and moving him around to define the throws before the snap, it almost looked like a better Packers offense. I don’t think it was a more dangerous one, but if you were to take this offense over the course of the next 14 games, versus the one they had in Week 1 over the next 14 games, this offense is much more suitable for success. That Week 1 randomized offense, that’s inconsistent Green Bay. I thought tonight, the offense looked about where you want it to be, and normally, that would lead to more points than it did.

GRAMLING: Yeah, and without Jordy Nelson. I thought it was pretty phenomenal that they just sort of hung around in this one. And just, real quick, brutal offensive pass interference call, and I hated the one in the end zone on Geronimo Allison later as well. I thought that was ticky-tacky at its absolute best, and just flat-out wrong at its worst. Those are two tough calls. That said, the Falcons won this game, they won it with relative ease.

BENOIT: It’s almost like the refs didn’t want to be bullied by McCarthy. A lot of times, they call a call like that—especially pass interference, those judgment calls—and we all kind of know they’re not gonna call it again. And McCarty went off on the Bennett one, and I understand why. I understand why it was flagged too—you know what it was, Gary, on that Martellus Bennett foul, it looked further downfield than it was because the route had stretched so far. Usually, those one-yard cushions are on the stack releases, where two receivers are clustered right together or stacked on top of each other, and that’s where you get that one-yard window. Officials aren’t used to seeing a guy stretch five yards out horizontally to create the rub effect. That would be my guess, either that or they just blew the call . . .

GRAMLING: Well the flag also came in from, basically, the complete diagonal opposite side of the field

BENOIT: Right, and the back judge, the argument there is well, he doesn’t have the perception, he can see the rub but he can tell the depth of the route, he can’t tell if it’s one yard or three yards if he’s that far downfield level with the guy. I’m with you on the Geronimo Allison call as well, but I think McCarthy, he got so fired up it’s almost like maybe the refs did not want to . . . like they were looking for it more after that because they’re not gonna get bullied into not calling it. Green Bay, that was going to be a part of their offense, it had to be because Atlanta, just like they did last year in the middle of the season and then in the NFC championship game, they played this team man-to-man most of the time.

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Lots more to discuss in Week 2 (the show’s full menu is below), including the destruction of the Cowboys and the anger of Zeus in Denver, the Chiefs D survives and then some without Eric Berry, plus revenge!, nudity, and the latest sequel to a horror story in New Orleans.

I beg of you, for your own good, subscribe to The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast! That way, you’ll have it in your feed early Monday morning every Monday morning (for non-subscribers, there is a lag.) Here it is, NFL’s Week 2 in podcast form...

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This week’s show:

1. Packers implode in Atlanta, as Falcons stake claim to NFC frontrunner status—0:55

2. Zeus rains lightning and the Broncos rain points upon the Cowboys in Denver—7:12

3. Chiefs just fine without Eric Berry thanks to the pass rush—11:34

4. Patriots are fine, score at will in New Orleans—18:40

5. In-control Cutler leads comeback in L.A.’s finest soccer stadium; mass confusion for the Chargers down the stretch—24:38

6. A sad ending for upstart Rams in Sean McVay’s REVENGE! game—31:45

7. Case Keenum plays football for the Vikings as things devolve in Pittsburgh—36:42

8. Jaguars forced to lean on Blake Bortles, and, well— 42:23

9. The Lightning . . . ish . . . Round! (Shaky Russell Wilson single-handedly saves very shaky Seahawks from embarrassment, Cam’s missed layup opens door for Buffalo, Bucs do whatever they want to Bears, Ravens keep rolling but lose an indispensible lineman, Jets refuse to tackle Raiders, Cardinals and Colts need a hug, the Bengals’ offensive coordinator switch)— 45:06

10. Weekly Awards—57:58