Pack­ers could use a quick-strike threat on of­fense

Packer Plus - - News - PETE DOUGHERTY USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

Four ob­ser­va­tions the day af­ter the Green Bay Pack­ers’ 34-23 loss at At­lanta on Sun­day night: FIRST DOWN Quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers has plenty of good skill-po­si­tion play­ers to work with, and the Pack­ers are go­ing to score their share of points. But they don’t have a quick-strike of­fense. Namely, they don’t have any re­ceivers who can stretch the field con­sis­tently. Jordy Nel­son used to be a deep threat but is less so now at age 32. Da­vante Adams made a spec­tac­u­lar 33-yard touch­down catch against the Fal­cons, but he’s not a burner (4.56 40). Ran­dall Cobb does his dam­age on short routes and find­ing seams over the mid­dle, and Geron­imo Al­li­son is a big tar­get (6-3) but lacks deep speed (4.67 40). The Pack­ers’ fastest re­ceivers are Trevor Davis and Jeff Ja­nis, who both run 4.42. But they’re the Nos. 5 and 6 re­ceivers and rarely get on the field. And tight end Martel­lus Ben­nett isn’t the down­field threat that Jared Cook was last year. So looks like it’s go­ing to be mostly a ball-con­trol of­fense this year. SEC­OND DOWN Ben­nett had a rough night in his sec­ond game with the Pack­ers. If you want to be a hard grader, he had four drops. One, on a third down, would have been a tough catch for a 6foot-6 player on a low throw, but that ball has to be thrown low, and it’s one he needs to dig out. The Pack­ers got the first down any­way be­cause of a pass-in­ter­fer­ence penalty. An­other also came on a third down, which he jug­gled un­til he landed out of bounds, but it be­came a first down any­way be- cause of a de­fen­sive hold­ing penalty. The other two were just plain drops. THIRD DOWN It looks like coach Mike McCarthy is go­ing to have to let of­fi­cials know be­fore games that they al­ways have to be ready for a quick no-hud­dle snap when the Pack­ers are on of­fense. It’s cer­tainly in­cum­bent on of­fi­cials to be more ready than they were on one play in the first quar­ter Sun­day night. Af­ter a sec­ond-down play, At­lanta tried to sub sev­eral de­fen­sive play­ers. Quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers saw it, rushed to the line of scrim­mage and tried to get off a quick snap to catch the Fal­cons with too many play­ers on the field and get a free play. It’s one of his fa­vorite tac­tics. Ac­cord­ing to ESPN, Rodgers last week threw the 12th free-play touch­down pass of his ca­reer. But ref­eree Walt An­der­son stopped the play, and his an­nounced rea­son was that the of­fi­cials weren’t ready. It gave the Fal­cons all the time in the world to get ready for the snap. That shouldn’t hap­pen again the rest of the sea­son. Of­fi­cials have to know that’s al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity with Rodgers at quar­ter­back. FOURTH DOWN Clay Matthews had one of his best rush­ing games in a while. The out­side line­backer had 1½ sacks, his first multi-sack game since he had 1½ at Wash­ing­ton in the play­offs of the 2015 sea­son. Matthews also had three quar­ter­back hits. It didn’t hurt that At­lanta lost start­ing right tackle Ryan Schraeder on the last play of the Fal­cons’ open­ing drive. Re­gard­less, the Pack­ers don’t have a lot of pass-rush­ing depth, so they need Matthews to be a con­sis­tent fac­tor at age 31.

BRETT DAVIS / USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Pack­ers tight end Martel­lus Ben­nett reaches for a ball in the sec­ond quar­ter. Ben­nett dropped four passes in Sun­day night’s game at At­lanta.

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