Another week, another 30 points for the Packer offense. Most importantly, another win. According to Field Yates, the 2020 Green Bay Packers are the first team in NFL history to begin a season with four straight games of at least 30 points and zero turnovers. That stat may seem superfluously specific, but it goes to show that what the Packers are accomplishing offensively so far is unprecedented. Obviously the continued dominance of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense will dominate most headlines, but what other lessons can we glean from the victory over the Atlanta Falcons? Find out in this Week 4 Recap.
Defense Continues Playmaking
Yet again, some individual excellence came through for the Packer defense against a high-powered Atlanta offense. Za’Darius Smith piled up 3 sacks and busting up plays in the backfield all game long. The Green Bay secondary held Calvin Ridley, previously averaging over 100 yards per game, without a single catch. Most credit goes to Jaire Alexander for that feat. Raven Greene was flying all over the field, garnering a sack and 8 total tackles over the course of the game. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t generate any turnovers this week. However, they held the high-flying Falcon passing game to less than 300 yards, no passing touchdowns, and a total of only 16 points.
Robert Tonyan Continues Breakout
Every week the Packers have had a different top receiver, and this week it was tight end Robert Tonyan. With both Davante Adams and Allen Lazard inactive, Tonyan stepped into an even larger role in the passing offense. He rewarded Rodgers by regularly getting himself open and producing big gains. By the end of the contest, he caught every target thrown his way and racked up 98 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tonyan has now scored in each of the last 3 weeks and is tied for the NFL lead with 5 receiving touchdowns. It’s obvious that Rodgers trusts him over the middle and in the red zone, and that he has become another weapon for opposing defenses to fret over.
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Special Teams Staying Steady
After Mason Crosby missed his first kick of any kind this season (a PAT), it feels like a good time to point out how effective Mason Crosby and J.K. Scott have been this year. Crosby remains arguably the most reliable kicker inside 50 yards in the NFL, if not overall. He has yet to miss a field goal attempt and has missed only 1 point-after try, making him 24-25 overall this season. As for Scott, he has been pinpoint all year long. His numbers may not seem impressive in the box score, but that can be attributed largely to the offense moving the ball at every opportunity. He instead gets the role of field-position deadeye. With only 1 touchback so far compared to 4 punts downed inside the 20, it’s fair to say he’s performing excellently in that role.
Davante Adams and Kenny Clark were again the most noticeable absences. However, both Allen Lazard and Christian Kirksey play key roles and their presence was missed on the offensive and defensive sides of the football respectively. Furthermore, Chandon Sullivan left Monday’s game with a concussion and Rodgers had an awkward fall in the 4th that he thankfully labelled “more embarrassment than injury.” All signs point to Adams and Clark making their returns in week 6 after the Packers’ bye week. Major injuries seem to have been avoided in week 4, good fortune the Packers assuredly hope continues moving forward.
Run Defense Needs Improvement
While the run defense wasn’t exploited quite as much as past weeks for yardage, Todd Gurley had very little trouble running in 2 touchdowns once Atlanta worked into the red zone. The Packers still routinely struggle to hold ground in the middle and often fail to properly set the edge on outside runs. Both technique and strength at the point of attack have been lacking in run defense so far this year, and tackling must improve as well. With the offense working historically well and the passing defense being so stingy, the run defense has yet to be fully exposed, but the trouble signs are still there. Adding Kenny Clark back to the mix will certainly help, but one man does not a run defense make.
The Packers didn’t allow the Falcons to lead for a single second in Monday’s game, taking a 7-0 on their inaugural drive and not relinquishing it. Both the rushing and passing offense were efficient and effective. Individual excellence continued for Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones. After one of their more complete and dominant performances of the season, the Packers enter their bye week undefeated. They can now take advantage of the extra week of rest to physically and mentally prepare for a tough matchup against Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 6.
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