In their Week 1 matchup against the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers displayed decent tackling prowess, leaving fans hopeful for a season marked by defensive excellence. However, as the Packers prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons, there’s a palpable sense that their tackling game must maintain this level of precision without any margin for error. While the season opener offered glimpses of what Green Bay’s defense is capable of, consistency in tackling will be the linchpin to their success throughout the entire season.
To secure a victory at Mercedes Benz Stadium, the Packers cannot afford any margin for error in their tackling game.
After observing the Falcons in action against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, it became apparent that Arthur Smith has cleverly integrated a series of quick out-routes for his running backs as they emerge from the tight end position. This strategic move by Smith’s offense places a substantial emphasis on the importance of run after the catch, effectively turning short passes into manageable downs. Consequently, it’s imperative for the Packers that their tackling proficiency extends beyond the line of scrimmage. Green Bay’s ability to effectively thwart the run after the catch will prove just as vital as their tackling in the ground game.
By doing so, the Packers can effectively force the Falcons into unfavorable long third-down situations, where they’ll try to make Desmond Ridder beat them with his arm. In this tactical showdown, tackling becomes the key that can potentially disrupt Atlanta’s offensive rhythm and force them into a game plan they’d rather avoid.
Joe Barry’s defense demonstrated their proficiency in generating consistent pressure on Justin Fields, a promising sign for the Packers. According to Pro Football Focus, leading up to Monday Night Football, Green Bay ranked second in the league in terms of team pressures. However, their success in bringing Fields down for sacks didn’t quite match their ability to create pressure. On Sunday, the Packers sacked Fields four times. With proper tackling technique and execution, Barry’s defense had the potential to finish the day with seven or more sacks.
The disparity in their tackling performance highlights a critical aspect of their defensive challenges. Failing to successfully sack the quarterback can lead to negative outcomes for the defense, such as extended drives, big plays, or even touchdowns. Mastering these finer details in tackling and finishing plays is crucial for a dominant defense, especially one that is expected to produce big-time results while complementing a young and developing offense.
A top priority for Green Bay’s defense will be containing Bijan Robinson, Atlanta’s explosive running back. Known for breaking tackles since his University of Texas days, Robinson poses a formidable challenge for any defense. Against Robinson, it’s not merely about good tackling; it’s about precision and technique. His ability to make multiple defenders miss in a short span of time requires the Packers to be spot-on with their tackling techniques if they hope to contain this dynamic playmaker.
I anticipate that Barry will employ a strategy with a heavy emphasis on single-high safety coverage. His approach strategically counters the challenges posed by Atlanta’s offense. By bringing safety Darnell Savage or Rudy Ford into the box, the Packers can bolster their run defense by adding more players in the vicinity to stop a dynamic runner like Robinson.
That adjustment also aligns with the game plan against the pass, as Ridder tends to avoid deep shots downfield. Shifting a safety closer to the line of scrimmage presents an opportunity for the defensive backs to swiftly converge on the line of scrimmage, effectively containing gains and limiting the damage Robinson can do both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
Green Bay’s defense will find themselves in a favorable position if they can effectively stop the run when they face the Falcons. Pro Football Focus reveals a potential weak spot in the Falcons’ offensive, as three out of their five offensive linemen recorded pass-blocking grades below 60 points. That vulnerability in pass protection could prove to be a significant advantage for the Packers.
PFF highlights that eight Packers players managed to create two or more pressures, demonstrating their ability to disrupt opposing quarterbacks. If they can replicate this formula against the Falcons, Ridder and his offensive unit are in for a challenging day at the office.
Green Bay’s front seven does hold a slight advantage against Atlanta’s offensive line. However, this advantage will only translate into success if the Packers approach the game with a relentless “making every tackle count” mindset when it comes to tackling and finishing plays. Green Bay’s ability to execute their tackling fundamentals will be pivotal, as any lapses in wrapping up could allow the Falcons to exploit weaknesses and turn the game in their favor.