Packers have work to do, but it’s no time to panic

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers /

Did you hear about end of the world? No, I’m not talking about the latest doomsday predictions circulating about this weekend. I’m referring to the lamentations of nearly every fan of the Green Bay Packers across the internet over the last few days after Atlanta embarrassed them in Week 2.

Matt Ryan and company torched the Packers 34-23 in a contest that didn’t seem as close as the score would suggest. But while there’s certainly cause for concern, it’s not time to panic.

As the smoke clears from Sunday night’s drubbing, let’s just step back and take a look at the circumstances. Green Bay, less both starting tackles played on the road against the NFC champions who were led by the reigning MVP Ryan in the high-energy atmosphere of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s opening night.

Let’s be honest. Before the season started, given the schedule, most fans were content with the thought of Green Bay emerging from the first two weeks of the season with a 1-1 record.

Now don’t call me an optimist, because I’m aware it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. All that matters is that the glass is full in January. Anything less will result in yet another year wasted with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

I understand the frustrations. I’m not saying the loss to Atlanta wasn’t ugly. It was. And I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of work ahead for the Packers to improve. There is.

But Green Bay, as they do every year, will get their offense firing on all cylinders at some point. Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008, the Packers have ranked in the top five each season for total points scored.

Rodgers’ group of receivers will get healthy soon again. Running back Ty Montgomery provides an effective aspect of the offense that’s been missing for years. And although tight end Martellus Bennett had four dropped passes against Atlanta, he’ll be fine once he gets comfortable in Green Bay’s offense.

Despite a repugnant defensive showing on Dom Capers‘ defense Sunday (cornerback Damarious Randall apparently was allergic to whatever Julio Jones was wearing), the Packers were fortunately able to discover that a couple of their rookie defensive backs are ready and able to handle more duties on the field.

Safety Josh Jones and cornerback Kevin King were both impressive in the defeat. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that King “earned the right to potentially play more.

Cornerback Davon House is still shaking off some rust this season after struggling in Jacksonville’s zone schemes last year, but he’s best suited for the Packers man coverage and should return to his 2013 form.

Green Bay can take solace in the fact that, while the current injury list seems longer than the Packers’ season ticket waiting list, it appears they may have avoided some long-term injuries.

Jordy Nelson’s chances are looking bright for playing Sunday’s home game against the Bengals. Randall Cobb and Mike Daniels are also believed to have avoided major injury. And tackle Bryan Bulaga practiced on Wednesday, which is a great sign.

Sunday’s loss was surely a firm reminder to McCarthy and the Packers of how important it will be to obtain home-field advantage for the postseason.

Regardless, Green Bay now has about three and a half months to find a solution for defending Julio Jones – because if the Packers have any plans of going to the Super Bowl, it will likely have to include knocking off Atlanta along the way.

The Packers’ new nitro package defense is a step in the right direction and I do have faith they’ll prove to be an improved unit on that side of that ball this year. But it doesn’t matter if you’re in the nitro, the stunt 4-3, or even the Buddy Ryan 46 – if the corners can’t find a way to cover Jones, it’s not going to work.

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In his last four games against the Packers (including last postseason’s 44-22 blowout that sent Atlanta to the Super Bowl), Jones has torched Green Bay’s secondary for an average of seven catches and 144 yards per contest.

The Packers surely have plenty of work to do between now and postseason, but it’s far from over.