After leading for most of the game, the Green Bay Packers are officially 1-1 with their 25-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. As many predicted, this game was a little weird. Let’s examine the winners and losers of Week 2.
Winner: Rookie Wide Receivers
Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks, welcome to the NFL. With three touchdowns between these two rookies, it looks like the Packers did right by Jordan Love when they drafted five pass catchers in this year’s draft. With top weapons WR Christian Watson and RB Aaron Jones out, Jayden Reed kept us from missing their speed and elusiveness too much as he managed to hit 20.54 mph on the play he scored his first TD. During his score, Dontayvion Wicks extended the play with a huge broken tackle when he could easily have gone down.
Loser: AJ Dillon
It pains me to type this a second week in a row. AJ Dillon is clearly not the answer at running back. After Dillon put up just 19 rushing yards against Chicago, I really thought the team would’ve gone in a different direction this week with either Emanuel Wilson or Patrick Taylor seeing most of the touches. Though Dillon was more productive this week with 55 yards (3.7 AVG), that’s really not saying much since, as previously mentioned, he had 19 yards a week ago. There were at least two or three instances of him tripping and coming short of a first down, and multiple runs where it seemed like he was going down way too easily for someone with tree trunks for legs. It should not be difficult to pick up a first down on third-and-short situations, especially with a tank in the backfield, but it apparently is for the Packers. There has to be another way.
Winner: Quay Walker
We’ll talk about the missed pick in a moment, but Quay Walker was an absolute menace on the field today, and for the second week in a row has shown us massive improvement from last season. He was simply everywhere on the field Sunday. One of Walker’s biggest strengths coming out of college was his combination of speed and size, and my goodness was that on display. He led the team in tackles with 17 total (8 solo), and recorded a QB hit as well as a pass defended, which could’ve been his second interception in as many weeks.
Loser: The football, which clearly wanted to be intercepted
The Packers had two, arguably three, dropped interceptions against Atlanta. Jaire Alexander missed on what I believe would’ve been a pick-six had he caught it. Quay Walker was also hit directly in the chest with a ball from Desmond Ridder, but failed to capitalize on it. On a long completion to Mack Hollins, Darnell Savage was in coverage and right on top of the ball. What could’ve been a clutch interception turned into a huge momentum shift for the Falcons, which led to their eventual comeback win. Desmond Ridder finished the day with one pick, but easily could’ve finished with four. Unfortunately, “shoulda coulda woulda” is not an official stat, and in a game decided by one point, those plays need to be made.
Winner and Loser: Jordan Love
Jordan Love showed some growing pains today, and it likely won’t be the last time we see this from him. On paper, he played a productive game, putting up 14/25 for 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and a 113.5 rating. He became just the fourth Packers QB to ever open the season with two straight games of 3+ TD passes. He also didn’t have a single completion in the 4th quarter. Now, had the defense capitalized on literally any of their missed picks, we may not be saying “we needed more from Love today”. The fact of the matter is, however, there were some big misses from Love during the last drive. The bright side of all of this, though, is that the Packers were missing their four best offensive players. If Love is putting up 3 TDs without them, we should all be looking forward to seeing what he can do with a complete receiving corps, his best running back, and an intact o-line.
Loser: Matt LaFleur
The Packers were leading at halftime. The Packers were leading the entire third quarter. The Packers were leading for most of the fourth quarter. Then they lost. Leading 24-22, Matt LaFleur called a running play three times in a row with AJ Dillon for a total of 9 yards. I don’t know if maybe he thought the team could run down the clock and score, but if the run wasn’t working before, what made him think it would work in the 4th quarter with the game on the line? There was no reason for the ball to continue going to the one person who just hasn’t been able to find his groove yet this season. LaFleur has been painfully loyal to Dillon (as well as a certain defensive coordinator), and it’s been costing the team.