Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Kenny Clark, Christian Kirksey, Rashan Gary. Those are the names of the key Green Bay Packers players who did not suit up against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, and with those absences, the team’s coaching staff did an admirable job of adapting the game plan.
The offense ran through the running backs and tight ends, a good idea against a Falcons defense that was dealing with plenty of injuries of its own. However, the defense had to shuffle the deck even more after seeing a pair of starting cornerbacks leave the game with injuries as well. That left the team using a heavy dose of three-man defensive lines — a rarity in Mike Pettine’s tenure as defensive coordinator — as well as extra snaps for the team’s backup safeties to help cover in the slot.
It was a fascinating game to break down from a personnel grouping perspective. Here’s a look at the playing time.
OFFENSE (63 total snaps)
Aaron Rodgers 62, Tim Boyle 1
Rodgers had one of the most efficient passing days of his career, despite the absences of Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. He finished the game 27-for-33 for 328 yards and four touchdowns, primarily using his tight ends and running backs through the air.
Jamaal Williams 36, Aaron Jones 33, Tyler Ervin 23, AJ Dillon 3
The Packers used their two running backs in different ways in this game, which was the first time that Williams out-snapped Jones this season. Jones remains the primary runner, receiving 15 carries for 71 yards along with five pass targets — all of which he caught, including one touchdown. He was conspicuously absent throughout the second quarter, however, with little explanation.
Williams, meanwhile, was in the game in that stretch and finished the day tied for the most targets (eight) and the team lead in receptions (also eight). Williams continues to be one of the most efficient receiving backs in the NFL, and he showed some particularly impressive hands on a big cover-two beating hole shot up the right sideline. He is not a consistently effective runner — just ten yards on eight carries — but he continues to show his value in the passing game.
The two did play together on several plays, and there were a handful of snaps that saw all three running backs, including Ervin, on the field together. Ervin was largely used as a decoy or not targeted in this game, catching just one of two targets for eight yards.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 61, Malik Taylor 45, Darrius Shepherd 36, Reggie Begelton 2
With no Adams or Lazard, MVS was the team’s number one receiver. The team used 11 personnel only sparingly in this game, preferring to go primarily with 21 and even 31 personnel instead. MVS caught four of eight targets for 45 yards, while Shepherd caught two of three for 21 and Taylor brought in his first NFL target for a 20-yard gain.
Robert Tonyan 42, Jace Sternberger 14, Josiah Deguara 7, John Lovett 6
Oh, what a game for Big Bob on national television. Tonyan was regularly uncoverable against a brutally banged-up Falcons secondary. He caught all six targets for 98 yards, a career-high, and almost doubled his previous career touchdown total of four with three in the game. He was the only player at the position to receive a pass target, however.
David Bakhtiari 63, Elgton Jenkins 63, Corey Linsley 63, Lucas Patrick 63, Billy Turner 63, Rick Wagner 7
Once again, the Packers’ line kept Rodgers upright consistently, only giving up one sack — allowed technically by Bakhtiari, though Rodgers tried to roll deep out of the pocket and went right into Charles Harris, whom Bakhtiari had driven deep and initially beyond the quarterback. Otherwise, the line held up well and we saw the first super-heavy lines, as Wagner got his seven snaps as an extra tight end in the run game.
DEFENSE (70 total snaps)
Dean Lowry 43, Tyler Lancaster 35, Kingsley Keke 35, Billy Winn 11, Montravius Adams 10
The Packers played a little more in a conventional 3-4 base in this game than usual, thanks in part to the absences of Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary. All told, it was a solid game up front for the line, as the Falcons’ running backs averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.
Preston Smith 67, Za’Darius Smith 64, Jonathan Garvin 24, Randy Ramsey 8
With no Rashan Gary, the Packers brought in Garvin as the third edge rusher, and he struggled at times, particularly setting the edge against the run — an area where Gary excels. Preston Smith continues to be a bit of a ghost in the big play department, with just two tackles all game. Za’Darius, however, is staking his claim as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL — he recorded three sacks in the game and four more pressures, including two more hits on Ryan. Smith now shares the NFL lead in sacks through four games with five, matching Cleveland’s Myles Garrett.
Ty Summers 52, Krys Barnes 38, Oren Burks 2
Without Christian Kirksey — sense a trend here? — the Packers turned to Summers and Barnes on the inside. Barnes played more in this game than ever before, occasionally rotating in with the green dot at the Mike linebacker spot. He had six tackles to Summers’ seven; it remains telling, however, that Burks simply cannot find the field on defense, as it seems that Mike Pettine does not trust him on the inside.
Jaire Alexander 70, Kevin King 30, Josh Jackson 28, Ka’Dar Hollman 12, Chandon Sullivan 3
The Packers lost two of their three starting cornerbacks to injuries in this game as Sullivan left early on with a concussion and King stepped out early in the second half with a quad issue. Alexander played every snap of the game, while Jackson and Hollman came on for King on the boundary. This left the team to use their safeties as slot corners when the team went to five- and six-DB groupings.
Adrian Amos 70, Darnell Savage 67, Raven Greene 50, Will Redmond 39, Vernon Scott 11
As mentioned above, the team used their reserve safeties heavily in this game, with Greene and Redmond both logging snaps at dime linebacker and in the slot. Greene had a productive day, with a sack on Matt Ryan and seven defensive stops. Savage and Scott both came down as well at times.
Amos had one of the biggest defensive plays of the game, however, breaking up a pass for Calvin Ridley in the end zone on a fourth down attempt fairly late in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Burks 18, Summers 18, Redmond 17, Lovett 15, De’Jon Harris 13, Greene 12, Hollman 11, Jackson 11