ReFo: Falcons @ Packers, Week 14

In a game that went from a rout to a serious challenge Ben Stockwell reviews a few key players in the final Week 14 game between the Packers and Falcons.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Falcons @ Packers, Week 14

2014-REFO-WK14-ATL@GBAt halftime this game seemed destined to be another primetime blowout. Atlantas’ offense exploded in the second half to make this game a contest which ended anticlimactically with Matt Bosher’s onside kick skidding harmlessly through to Jordy Nelson allowing the Packers to run out the clock.

In the first half the Packers showed off an offense that will frighten every team in the league as they tore the Falcons’ defense asunder. However, in the second half their defense showed a frailty down the field that will fill prospective playoff opponents with hope that they can at the very least put up the points to match the Packers and beat them if they can contain Rodgers and company.

Atlanta Falcons – Performances of Note

Julio Jones, WR, +6.3

Breakdown: A career-high in yards last week wasn’t enough for Jones who went and beat it again last night in a scintillating display, dominating whomever the Packers put across to defend him. Targeted a game high 16 times (against seven different defenders), Jones topped 250 yards in the game with 212 of those coming on seven catches caught 10 or more yards downfield.

Signature Play: More than creating yards for the offense, Jones also saved the Falcons a turnover last night turning defensive back at Q4 7:25 to break up an underthrown pass by Matt Ryan three plays before Roddy White scored from a yard out.

Tyson Jackson, DT, -3.2

Breakdown: In Jackson the Falcons should have been getting a stout run defender who contributed as a tackler as well as a big body to clog running lanes. However, he has failed to fulfill his high level of play that he had as a Chief in Kansas City. Held without a defensive stop for the sixth time this season, Jackson was moved around by Green Bay double teams, rarely offering any impact as a run or pass defender last night.

Signature Stat: Jackson has only eight defensive stops through 13 games; his career-low is 11 from his rookie season in 2009.

Matt Ryan, QB, +2.2

Breakdown: A night of highs and lows for Ryan who lit up the second half finding Julio Jones in particular down the field but mixed in were some truly terrible throws. The interception he threw to Morgan Burnett was a mystifying decision and a pass defense by Micah Hyde early in the third quarter saved him a second interception with Sam Shields driving in front of Julio Jones at the goal-line

Signature Stat: Ryan was pressured on only 10 of 42 drop-backs this week (23.8%, tied ninth-best in the league this week); only once this season has he faced less pressure (5-of-26, 19.2% against Tampa Bay in Week 3).

Green Bay Packers – Performances of Note

Jordy Nelson, WR, +3.4

Breakdown: On another night Nelson likely would have been the most talked about receiver in the game as he continued to pile up the yards and the scores in another spectacular display. His touchdown off a double move when left with a free run onto safety Kemal Ishmael was sublime and moved him into a tie with Mike Evans for the most touchdowns off of deep passes (seven) this season.

Signature Stat: Currently sits fourth in the league behind A.J. Green, Martavis Bryant and Julio Jones with 2.75 yards per route run.

Eddie Lacy, RB, +2.5

Breakdown: That slow start to the season is way back in the rearview mirror for Lacy who tacked on a score as a runner and a receiver while breaking seven tackles on 18 touches. Having carried the ball more than 20 times in a game only twice this season, Lacy will be fresh for a heavier workload down the stretch if called upon.

Signature Play: Got the Packers off to a fast start with a 22-yard gain on their second play from scrimmage. He found space off Josh Sitton’s block as going on to weave through traffic before breaking upfield to take Green Bay close to midfield.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, +3.4

Breakdown: Another near flawless performance by Rodgers, only momentarily spoiled by a fumble on a scramble that he recovered himself late in the first quarter. Rodgers is just absolutely locked in right now and missed throws aren’t even part of the equation on short, deep, or intermediate passes. The Falcons couldn’t come close to him last night, and in this form very few defenses can.

Signature Stat: Rodgers earned a higher passer rating (152.1) and PFF passing grade (+3.0) when pressured by Atlanta (13 of 41 dropbacks) than in a clean pocket (100.6 and +0.9).

PFF Game Ball

Injury robbed him the chance of taking a swing at the 300-receiving-yard mark but Julio Jones was almost uncoverable before that last night.


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Football

    Packers aren’t going anywhere in the playoffs. Nearly lost to a trash NFC South team

    • Harrisen Schneider

      Or ya know, maybe the south, or atleast the Falcons, aren’t that bad.

      • Mike Jones

        falcons defense is the worst iive seen it in years,and unfortunately thats REALLY saying something….keep trufant and babineaux and start over from scratch

      • SeattleSteve

        Falcons were wiped out with injuries on their Oline to start the year, they’ve adjusted and look alot better now.

        They’ve lost a lot of close games (Cleveland/Detroit/etc.)
        So idk… I’d say they’re the least trashy of the NFC South.

    • Guest


      The Cardinals did lose to the Falcons.
      Seahawks lost to the Rams, barely beat the Panthers and Raiders.
      Cowboys lost to Washington.
      Lions lost to the Bills and Panthers.
      Eagles lost by 33 to the Packers.

      Yeah, the rest of the NFC is so much stronger.

    • DaNewBestInTheWorld #NNIT

      At what point in the game did Atlanta almost win?

      • pbskids4000

        They lost by one score. How does that not count as almost winning?

        • Brian Dugan

          Because the Falcons were never in a spot to take the lead at any point during the game. They never had the ball in a go-ahead or tie situation. Does that explain his comment to you?

  • a57se

    OK, NOW iam totally convinced that PFF is a FREAKING JOKE!

    Aaron Rodgers gets a +3.4 grade for last Night while Geno Smith got a +3.0 for the Minnesota game…

    • thewhiz12

      While those base grades are correct, you aren’t looking at the full
      picture. While Aaron Rodgers is leaps and bounds a better quarterback than Geno Smith, Geno had his best game of the year by far. He only had a +2.6 grade passing though, the rest came on his run grade and penalty grade, and
      considering he was accurate for 19/25 on his total aimed passes (counting
      drops, and not counting throwaways and batted passes.) that is a pretty solid
      day, and throwing for a solid 254 yards (148 if you take out YAC) on those 19
      completions. Rodgers on the other hand had a +3.9 passing grade, but his
      total grade was brought down by his run grade. That’s a full +1.3 better, as a
      player that was accurate on 25/34, threw for 327 (186 if you take out YAC) and 3 TDs should be. So through the air, Rodgers only threw for 38 more yards on 6 more completions. Rodgers was helped by his great receiving corps, because Rodgers obviously has better receivers than Geno does. I hope that makes a little bit more sense to you now.

      • Brian Dugan

        You lost me at Rodgers “total grade was brought down by his run grade.” His running and movement in the pocket was as phenomenal as always last night. Only Russell Wilson has run for more first downs this year than Rodgers.

        Also, does Rodgers have “great receiving corps?” Nelson is great, Cobb is very good and…. what else? Our TEs are nothing special, and Davante Adams is inconsistent to say the least. This isn’t Peyton Manning’s WR/TEs we’re talking about.

        • thewhiz12

          I’m assuming you aren’t a premium member if you don’t know what the total grade is. I apologize and I’ll do my best to explain. (I also highly reccommend it. It is well worth the money and I love stats it’s like a whole new world it really is. The regular site is just a very small sample of the premium stats.) For each position there is the total grade, (the grades you see above in the article.) then there are the sub category grades that make up the total grade. For the quarterback position there is the passing grade, the run grade, and the penalty grade. The passing grade is obviously how well they throw the ball. The run grade isn’t movement in the pocket I believe such as three step drops and the such, I could be wrong though. It’s actually running itself such as running past the line of scrimmage and the lanes he chooses. If he chooses a wrong lane that could have gave him more yards, that decision is affected in the grade, if he has the choice to run out of bounds and protect himself that decision is affected in the grade, if he jukes someone out or breaks a tackle that is affected in the grade. Rodgers is a great running QB, don’t get me wrong, he has the 3rd highest run grade in the league among QBs. I’m not sure of PFF’s exact formula on how they grade exactly, but it could also possibly be avoidance of pressure and the such are accounted into the grade as well.

          As for the receiving corps, Rodgers has Nelson who is the 4th best WR this year, and Cobb who is the 15th best WR as well. He’s also getting positive grades from Quarless and Lacy (who is tied with Bell for the highest RB receiving grade). As for Geno, Harvin is the only player with a positive receiving grade, and it’s only slightly above average. He’s 37th among 111 wide outs. Every other receiver is negatively graded, some significantly negatively graded. I hope that has clarified a lot!

          • Brian Dugan

            I appreciate your comment back. I do get the PFF grading system (I used to be a premium member). My 2 points were:

            1) I couldn’t find a flaw with Rodgers’ running last night, unless the took off points for his kneel down at the end of the game. I’m confused how he could be graded negatively in his running.

            2) I respect PFF’s grades, but you’re putting far too much stock in their seasonal grades to rate players. The Packers WRs are good, but I really don’t feel like they have a top NFL receiving group. It’s very top heavy and this is coming from a Packers fan.

          • thewhiz12

            No problem man I love a good debate, and my apologies for that then haha.
            1.)I was just as curious as you were so I decided to analyze the tape myself to find out just what it was.
            1Q-7:00. The only sack on Rodgers of the night. He begins to take off and has a huge lane right up the middle, he hesitates instead and tries to run to the right so he can keep the play alive, and maybe throw the ball downfield, he then attempts a spin move and that hesitation results in the sack. If I had to grade that play I’d give it a -0.5. 1Q-0:27 Rodgers has a beautiful run here, he backs up to avoid pressure and keep the play alive, then avoids at least a sack or two as he runs through the pocket, he gains a couple yards after contact too after the tackle. However he loses control of that ball, and recovers his own mini fumble. The run results in a +0.7, and I’d give maybe a -0.2 or -0.3 for the fumble. So let’s say +0.5 for the play. 2Q 11:12 Rodgers scrambles forward out of the pocket, attempts to throw and decides to take off. One defender whiffs on hum and he slides to protect himself. Gain of 6. +0.3 2Q-9:04 Rodgers steps up in the pocket and avoids two defenders by doing so, text book. +0.1 2Q-7:31 Rodgers scrambles way back so that if he did get sacked it would be like a 9 or 10 yard sack. -0.1 2Q 5:13 Rodgers steps up in the pocket to avoid the blitz. +0.1 2Q-0:40 Rodgers runs straight back, almost gets sacked by a shoe string tackle defender, Rodgers throws away. -0.2 2Q-0:31 Rodgers steps up in the pocket, side steps a defender and throws a TD on the run. +0.3. 3Q-12:30 Rodgers runs to the opposite side of the field, almost gets sacked, but holds the ball out for no gain, probably could have just thrown the ball away. -0.2. 3Q-11:54 I have no idea how he doesn’t get sacked on this play, I wouldn’t give him a negative grade on this play, but I could see them maybe giving him a -0.1 at most. 3Q-6:53 Rodgers steps up in the pocket and avoids 2 defenders, man he is on fire, I’m really starting to question the negative grade myself. +0.2. Q4-11:34 Rodgers avoids I counted 3 sacks on this play on 3rd down, and then throws for the first down on the run too, are you kidding me? +0.6 Q4-2:00 Rodgers picks up almost 15 on a perfectly executed design run to basically seal the win. And slides for good measure as well. +0.4. So in that analysis I would have gave Rodgers a +1.5 run grade for the game. How he got a -0.6 is beyond me. The sack and mini fumble in the first quarter were the only blatant bad things I could see them harping him on. But he made a ridiculous amount of plays with his feet to make up for those easily. I’m with you on this one bro.

            2)Nah, I agree completely. They don’t have a top of the line receving group at all, they lack a slot option, and a true TE. I’d say they have an above average one though, and I was just saying compared to the Jets receiving group, which is probably if not the worst, close. I’d personally say on talent alone, not even looking at grades the 49ers have a great corps that Kaepernick can’t seem to utilize. He should be throwing for over 300 yards easy every game with Davis, Crabtree, Johnson, and Boldin. Or the Steelers have a pretty great corps too with Brown, Bryant, Miller, Bell, and Wheaton is very talented too, but he struggles to learn the playbook.

          • Brian Dugan

            Thanks for clarifying man! I rarely say this on this site but we completely agree on both of these points. I think you’re on point 100% with your play-by-play analysis; we’re in agreement, no idea how he could be graded in the negative running the ball.

            You’re spot on regard the Jets, 49ers, and Steelers WR/TE situations. I just get defensive when people say that Rodgers have amazing weapons or that the Packers have a top receiving group. I feel like this is more of a perception with how good they’ve been over the years. This year, the WR group is more fragile than in my lifetime as a Packers fan. Nelson is having a career year and is a clear cut #1. Cobb is a great #2, and either can play the slot. After that it’s not great. I like Davante, but he is so inconsistent (as many rookie WRs in this offense). Boykin has regressed and may not be above replacement level. The TEs are a group that each have a flaw or multiple flaws. None of them are imposing in any way and I don’t think any have the ability to be a starter on most teams. I really think Rodgers is maximizing everyone in the offensive skill position’s potential this season. He’s been better than his 2011 MVP season.

          • thewhiz12

            Yeah that’s pretty crazy, I have no idea.
            I understand completely, Rodgers really is maximizing them all. He’s having definitely his best season thus far in his career, and hopefully it leads to an MVP season this year as well. Hey, feel free to email me or whatnot and we can talk some more, I love having a good debate about the NFL and the such.

      • a57se

        I watched both games. geno was not that accurate. There is no way he was accurate on 19 of 25 passes…throwing a pass that is caught doesn;t make it an accurate throw.
        his TD throw to harvin was late and underthrown but harvin made a nice play to get the ball.
        That is NOT an accurate throw.

        • thewhiz12

          Actually they just changed Geno’s grade haha. None of PFF’s grades are finalized until Wednesday night, as they look at the All 22 more closely and evaluate performances, these original grades, and the grades they put in these refocused articles and the teams of the week are outlines of grades that they threw together quickly to make sure they have all the grades up by Monday. They’re a rough draft if you will. The final grades are usually much more accurate and pleasing to the eye test if you will. As it follows, Geno’s passing grade has dropped to +1.6 and he was only accurate on 18 of 25 passes. Rodgers passing grade has also raised to +4.4. A full +2.8 differential between the two now.

          • a57se

            Well their grading is still poor. Geno only completed 18 passes yet they are saying he was accurate on 18…
            That isn’t even close unless you count throwing late and underthrowing routes that receivers make nice plays on to catch as being accurate.