Green Bay Packers: Marques Eversoll sounds off on loss to Falcons

The Green Bay Packers entered Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a depleted roster. Battered with injuries on both sides of the ball, the likelihood of a competitive match-up against the Falcons was out of the realm.

However, the Packers played a competitive match-up and fell short, 33-32. Despite the loss, there were a ton of positives that came with the result.

Aaron Rodgers is beginning to regain his dominance, even without a rushing attack. The two-time NFL MVP completed 28-of-38 passes, for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Is Rodgers finally back?

Entering Sunday’s battle, the biggest question was can the Packers contain Julio Jones. Surprisingly, they were able to hold Jones to only three receptions for 29 yards. But, the defense couldn’t come up with a late stop on the Falcons eventual game winning drive. How were the Packers able to contain Jones?

WDUZ radio host in Green Bay, Marques Eversoll, has all the answers and more.

Q: What is the biggest takeaway from the loss? 

Eversoll: This is one of those rare, awkward, weird-feeling losses where it almost looks like the scoreboard is lying. Nobody in the locker room will say they’re encouraged or that there’s any positive whatsoever from a game they lost … but I can say it. Sunday in Atlanta was probably the best the Packers offense has looked in over a calendar year.

In the entire week leading up to the game, the conversation about Packers-Falcons was, essentially, “This is going to be a shootout.” We knew the Packers would be without their top three cornerbacks (Sam Shields, Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall) against one of the best offenses in football. On Saturday, we learned Randall Cobb would be out.

On Sunday morning, we learned Ty Montgomery was out, too. By the time the game kicked off, the conversation was, “This one could get ugly.” Instead, guys stepped up, and the Packers lost in the final minute. The short-handed defense — Clay Matthews also didn’t play — helped slow Julio Jones down to just three catches, and perhaps most impressively, Aaron Rodgers had his best game of the season in a game when Jeff Janis and Trevor Davis were playing significant snaps. Plenty of positives. Weird loss.

Oct 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after scoring a two point conversion against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Packers 33-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

QAaron Rodgers over the last two games: 67/94 (71.3%) for 572 yards, 7 TDs and 0 INTs. 111.7 passer rating. Is Rodgers finally back? 

Eversoll: (Disclaimer: We all know the 2016 Atlanta Falcons defense isn’t the 1985 Chicago Bears. Nobody is suggesting otherwise.)

But yes, Aaron Rodgers looked like the two-time MVP that he is. People were wondering when Rodgers would snap out of whatever funk he’s been in, dating back to last season. I tweeted during Sunday’s game that Rodgers was “that game.”

They’ve found something to hang their hat on, offensively, and that hat is hanging on the quarterback’s right shoulder. The numbers may not be a perfect 50-50 split between run and pass, but you stick with what’s working, and there’s been plenty that hasn’t worked for the Packers offense lately. Rodgers and his receivers are getting the job done. (Side note: Rodgers really likes the Georgia Dome, clearly.)

Q:  The running game continues to struggle, despite a positive performance from FB Aaron Ripkowski, will the Packers be able to succeed without a running attack as the season progresses? 

Eversoll: Everyone says, “No.” Even the head coach Mike McCarthy says (seemingly every week) that his team needs to run the football. The point of football is to score more points than the other team. The offense scores those points. If the offense can move the ball and score points more effectively with a pass-heavy approach, rather than a balanced attack, then so be it.

Ripkowski was their savvy veteran to shoulder the load on Sunday. Think about that. The key was Davante Adams stepping up and playing the backfield a la Montgomery and Cobb, as that allowed them to follow the plan they used against Chicago, mixed in with a few runs from the big fullback. The run game will only get better. And if it doesn’t, but they’re scoring points, who cares?

Q: When the Packers offense was electric, the tight-end position was crucial to their success. It seems as if that position is not utilized at all this season. What happened to the TE production?

Eversoll: When the Packers signed Jared Cook, I thought “Finally.” They have their new Jermichael Finley. An athletic tight end running down the middle of the field can help open up every other area of the field. But with so many other options on offense, you kinda had to figure Cook’s production may be inconsistent.

Then the injury happened, and the word “inconsistent” became “inactive.” And in the case of Richard Rodgers, the word becomes “ineffective.” When Cook comes back, you’ll see a couple big games from the tight end. I’m not sure it will happen consistently, but it will happen. Richard Rodgers simply isn’t a No. 1 tight end in an offense like this.

Q: Despite a depleted secondary, the Packers were able to contain Julio Jones to  only 3 catches for 29 yards. What do you attribute that success towards? 

Eversoll:  Julio’s ankle injury had to slow him down. That’s how the human body works: When you hurt something, you’re not as good. But this is arguably the best receiver in football, and a team without its top three cornerbacks slowed him down to just 29 yards on three catches. Ladarius Gunter deserves a lot of credit. I was about 100 yards off in my pointless prediction for Julio’s production against the Packers. Impressive.

Q: Are all the injuries starting to play a toll on the Packers overall potential/success?

Eversoll: Always. But the only injury they can’t afford is one to the quarterback. For all the talk about the demise of Aaron Rodgers, and what’s wrong with the Packers, and whatever else, his name is still Aaron Rodgers.

He’s a two-time MVP, capable of winning anywhere against anyone. Rodgers can take Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis into Arizona in the playoffs, and give the Cardinals all they could handle. Rodgers can light up the Falcons with a depleted supporting cast like he did on Sunday. This team is not in good shape right now, but as long as they have Rodgers — and enough weapons — they always have a shot. Against anyone.

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