The Packers got their asses whipped by the Falcons on Sunday. The offense left 10 points on the board early with a missed field goal and a fumble near the endzone by Aaron Ripkowski, but those scores would’ve merely made the game slightly less of an ass-whipping.
Matt Ryan marched Atlanta up and down the field at will. 3rd and 10 might as well have been 2nd and 2. There were no answers. To say the Packers’ defense was a sieve would be false, because that would imply it could stop anything.
After the game, Aaron Rodgers was calm and collected. But, he nevertheless sent a clear signal to Packers GM Ted Thompson that he — and reading between the lines, the offense — can’t do this by himself.
Before this video starts, Rodgers specifically said that re-signing Jared Cook needs to be a priority, and that the Packers need to “reload,” not rebuild. Asked about the team’s window of opportunity to capitalize on his greatness, Rodgers answered (h/t Jason Wilde):
“I still feel pretty young. I think I have a number of years left in me I can play at a high level. We just gotta make sure we’re going all-in every year to win. I think we can take a big step this offseason.”
Frankly, the Packers’ defense was overmatched. While the team ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks in the regular season, they could never quite get to Matt Ryan quick enough on Sunday. In the event there was someone near him, Julio Jones or Mohamed Sanu was open by five yards in every direction.
The cornerback play was the biggest glaring weakness on the team all year. Sam Shields suffered a concussion in Week 1, and missed the rest of the season. Nobody else stepped up. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins were drafted in the first and second round, respectively, in 2015. They have not performed in accordance with their draft position.
No one can dispute what the Packers have accomplished with Aaron Rodgers — eight straight playoff berths, a Super Bowl victory, and two additional NFC Title games. They have done this with Ted Thompson’s draft-and-develop philosophy; the two major free agents during Thompson’s tenure were Charles Woodson, who nobody else wanted at the time, and Julius Peppers, who was quite old.
However, Rodgers has year in and year out masked a lot of deficiencies. The Packers badly need a game-changing pass rusher and a shutdown corner. So do lots of teams. Somehow, some way, Thompson needs to get several players who can help the defense get off the field with turnovers and stops.