3 Packers to blame for Week 2 loss in Atlanta
Story by Kristen Wong •
So much for the Jordan Love era.
It's still early in the 2023 season, and the Packers have plenty of time to sort the kinks of their offense and defense out. That being said, Week 2's loss to the Atlanta Falcons should not have ended that way.
The Packers held a 24-12 lead over the Falcons going into the fourth quarter. Somehow, Atlanta managed to stage a comeback to win the game, 25-24.
How did we get here? What happened to the Packers team that so thoroughly dominated the Bears but lost on Sunday to an NFC South lightweight?
No single person is at fault, for this was a combined effort, a masterclass, even, by the Packers' offense and defense demonstrating how to blow a game.
Here are three Packers who could be considered most to blame for Week 2's loss to the Falcons.
Packers to blame for Week 2 loss: A.J. Dillon
Aaron Jones was ruled out of Week 2, which means A.J. Dillon had some decent-sized shoes to fill. Suffice it to say, Dillon did not do a good job at controlling the run game.
Dillon finished with 15 carries for 55 yards, averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt. His longest run was for eight yards, and he only had one catch the whole game. With Jones sidelined, Dillon had to step up as the team's dominant rusher -- and 3.7 yards per attempt just won't cut it.
The Packers were missing offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, which most likely factored into the Packers' struggles to run the rock. Still, for a backup like Dillon who received nothing but praise from coaches heading into the 2023 season, he simply had to make a more positive impact in this game.
After Dillon's unimpressive outing as the RB1 in Week 2, it's not hard to see why the Packers were taking a flyer on Colts' Jonathan Taylor a few weeks ago. Cam Akers trade incoming?
Packers to blame for Week 2 loss: Jordan Love
To preface, Jordan Love is doing just fine in his first year as the Packers' full-time starter. He only missed a few crucial throws, that's all.
In 2023, Love already has more three-touchdown games than Rodgers did in 2022. Considering that Love was playing without David Bakhtiari, Christian Watson, and Aaron Jones, his stock should only be rising.
And it is. It just dipped at times in Week 2's loss when Love missed his open wide receivers on a handful of occasions, one of which would have resulted in a touchdown for Romeo Doubs. Love also messed up a fourth-down quarterback sneak attempt that killed a key offensive drive.
Other times in the game, Love played with absolute pinpoint accuracy, throwing darts to Dontayvion Wicks and Jayden Reed and looking cool and composed in the pocket. If these first two games were a test to see if Love could handle QB1 duties, Love has passed with flying colors.
As far as Sunday's loss goes, however, Love may still shoulder some of the blame for the fact that he's meant to be the leader on the Packers offense. An offense that went three-and-out on two of the final three drives and then turned the ball over on downs on the third drive.
Love played a clean game and didn't commit any blatant game-changing gaffes, but still, if he's going to be the franchise quarterback, he can't allow the offense to fall apart at the end of games. The blame falls on other players in the offense, but especially him, the darling talent of the Packers' future.
Packers to blame for Week 2 loss: Run defense, and also, Joe Barry
Joe Barry and Matt Canada should start a support group for coordinators who have been vilified by their respective fan bases.
After Week 2, Packers fans are going to be hoisting the pitchforks for Joe Barry's sacking. The defense -- and the run defense in particular -- was abysmal in the final half of the Falcons loss. Falcons running back Bijan Robinson soared high with 19 carries for 124 yards which is impressive in itself, but.... the Packers had to know this was going to be Atlanta's game plan, right?
Green Bay gave up 175 yards on the Falcons' final three drives, allowing them to dominate time of possession and cap off the comeback with a game-winning field goal. When you're holding a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter, this kind of thing -- lack of mental fortitude, sloppiness, poor play-calling, whatever you want to call it -- can't happen.
We listed the run defense as the main unit to blame in Week 2, yet all parts of Barry's defense were misfiring by the end of that loss. When the Packers needed to get a crucial stop, they failed. When they needed to try and plug the Falcons' rushing attack or apply heavy pressure on Desmond Ridder (who was sacked just once) or jam up the passing lanes, they failed.
The Falcons only punted once on Sunday. In the second half, they drove down the field time after time to convert field goals and slowly build up hope for a comeback. It's Barry's and the defense's job to crush that hope, and unfortunately, the unit failed to work together to do so on Sunday.
Barry, who has served as the Packers' defensive coordinator for the last three years, is back on the hot seat after Week 2's loss to the Falcons. Some will say he never really left.