Packer Perspective: The soft-tissue nightmare haunts Packers

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Mike Daniels
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Mike Daniels /

Just two weeks into the new season, the Green Bay Packers are dropping like flies to soft-tissue injuries.

Taking on the NFC champions without both starting tackles was always going to be a difficult proposition, but it was only the beginning of the story on the injury front for Green Bay.

Already down two offensive starters, the Packers lost another in the first quarter of Sunday night’s crushing defeat to Atlanta as Jordy Nelson limped off with a quad injury. He wouldn’t return, a significant blow to Green Bay’s offense.

Nelson would soon be joined on the sidelines by Mike Daniels, who can now add a hamstring injury to the hip problem that limited him in practice. Daniels, who was dominant in last week’s win over Seattle, too wouldn’t return to the game.

As the impressive Falcons took the game out of Green Bay’s reach, the injuries continued to roll. Nobody with a yellow helmet was safe.

Cornerback Davon House went down with a quad injury, and safety Kentrell Brice exited the game with a groin issue. Starting guard Jahri Evans also injured his groin, the Packers’ offensive line depth being tested early in the year.

Injuries happen in football. It’s a violent sport. Randall Cobb was forced to leave the game after a hit to his shoulder. But when soft tissue issues continue to arise in the Green Bay locker room, one has to wonder what can be done to prevent them.

It’s these type of non-contract injuries that continues to place the spotlight on the Packers’ conditioning, practice regime and nutrition. Is it simply bad luck, or are the Packers put at a greater injury risk due to the way they practice?

I don’t have the answers, but the question is worth asking.

Same story, different year

The biggest difference between Sunday night’s defeat and the title game eight months earlier was the stadium. Atlanta closed out the Georgia Dome era with a crushing victory over Green Bay in January, and it felt so good they invited the Packers back to open their new stadium, the outcome no different.

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Dom Capers’ defense had little resistance for the Falcons explosive offense. Julio Jones bullied Green Bay’s secondary to the tune of 108 yards, while Devonta Freeman rushed at over four yards a carry, finding the end zone twice.

And yet again, Mohamed Sanu was there to add to the Packers’ misery. In three games against Green Bay in the past year, Sanu has made 19 receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns. In that same span, reigning league MVP Matt Ryan has completed 74 of 101 passes (73.3 percent) for 932 yards and eight touchdowns.

Until Green Bay can successfully slow down Atlanta’s offense, the result will be the same.

Move over Seahawks, Falcons are now the team the Pack can’t beat

Every year it seems there’s one NFC heavyweight the Packers simply can’t get past.

It was the 49ers for a while. After handing Green Bay playoff exits in 2012 and 2013, and a pair of regular season defeats the same years, the Packers were left scratching their heads at how to defend Colin Kaepernick.

Just as San Francisco faded from NFC relevance, the Seahawks had taken their place, crushing the Packers in the 2014 season-opener before repeating the accomplishment with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Mike McCarthy’s team finally snapped a three-game losing streak against Seattle in 2015, and have since posted a trio of victories over the same opposition.

Enter the Falcons. Just as the Seahawks nightmare ended, a new one began. Atlanta has piled up 111 points in a hat-trick of victories over Green Bay in under a year.

Since 2012 the Packers’ season has been ended by a team that beat them handsomely in the regular season: San Francisco twice, Seattle, Arizona and Atlanta.

Before the 49ers, then the Seahawks and now the Falcons, one team always seems to hold a vice grip over Mike McCarthy’s Packers. To end a seven-year Super Bowl drought, this trend can’t continue.