Falcons vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Green Bay

Matt SteinCorrespondent IIDecember 9, 2013

Falcons vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Green Bay

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    Matt Flynn earned a solid grade this week against the Atlanta Falcons.
    Matt Flynn earned a solid grade this week against the Atlanta Falcons.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    The Green Bay Packers got back on the winning track this week against the Atlanta Falcons. It wasn't always pretty, but the Packers used a strong second-half showing to get to 6-6-1 on the season.

    The report card is going to be positive this week, which is exactly what the Packers needed. We'll give grades to each Green Bay unit for the way they performed on the field.

    This win ultimately came down to the strong play of the defense for Green Bay. They held the Falcons scoreless in the third and fourth quarter, including two huge stops with under five minutes left in the game.

    However, it wasn't just the defense that made plays in the second half. The Packers offense also managed to put 12 points on the board in the final 30 minutes of the game.

    Let's take a look at the report card for the full roster for Green Bay.

     

    *All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.

Quarterback

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Key Player: Matt Flynn

    After last week's disastrous performance against the Detroit Lions, Matt Flynn really needed to have a strong game this week for the Green Bay Packers.

    While it wasn't a perfect performance, Flynn did more than enough to help the Packers get the win on Sunday. Flynn's first drive of the game lasted 18 plays, went 90 yards down the field and took off over nine minutes of clock in the first quarter. Oh yeah, it also ended in a touchdown.

    However, where Flynn really shined was in the second half. He led the Packers on three scoring drives in the third and fourth quarter that led Green Bay on its amazing comeback. His fourth-quarter touchdown throw to tight end Andrew Quarless was a thing of absolute beauty, too.

    Overall, Flynn's strong play was a big reason why the Packers were able to come away with the win on Sunday.

     

    Final Grade: B+

Running Backs

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Key Players: Eddie Lacy, James Starks

    Just like quarterback Matt Flynn, the ground game never got things going last week against the Detroit Lions. 

    The Green Bay Packers desperately needed Lacy to get back on track against the Atlanta Falcons this week. That's exactly what he did, too.

    Lacy finished the game with 90 total yards of offense and a touchdown. His overall statistics might not seem impressive, but Lacy also missed part of the third quarter with an ankle injury and he wasn't 100 percent when he eventually got back on the field.

    What Lacy, and Starks, did such a great job at was picking up tough yards exactly when the Packers offense needed them. Until quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns from his injury, Lacy and the ground game is going to continue to need strong performances like this one.

     

    Final Grade: A-

Wide Receivers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Key Players: Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White

    The Green Bay Packers receivers only managed a total of 11 receptions and 132 yards on the game. Most teams have a No. 1 receiver capable of putting those numbers up by themselves on a weekly basis.

    However, without their starting quarterback, Green Bay's receivers have seen their production drop. The good news this week against the Atlanta Falcons is that the receivers still found a way to positively impact the game despite their low production.

    For example, Nelson managed a long 46-yard reception early in the game to put the Packers in good field position. Boykin also added a long 19-yard reception late in the game that resulted in a big first down for Green Bay.

    As an entire unit, the receivers for the Packers had a strong game. Until Green Bay can get No. 12 back on the field, this is probably the best that we'll see from the receivers.

     

    Final Grade: B

Tight Ends

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Key Players: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor

    This was the best performance that we've seen from the tight ends of the Green Bay Packers in a long time.

    Quarless finally looked like the player that the Packers had hoped he'd be able to become. He finished the game with a team-high six receptions to go along with 66 receiving yards and the go-ahead touchdown reception.

    Bostick and Taylor were also productive in this game for the Packers. They combined for four receptions and 35 yards between the two of them.

    If the Packer can get this type of production on a weekly basis from their tight ends, they will be a dangerous team offensively moving forward.

     

    Final Grade: A

Offensive Line

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay

    Just like the score of this game, the Green Bay Packers offensive line played different games in the first and second half.

    In the first half, the unit was unable to give quarterback Matt Flynn much time in the pocket. However, the play from the offensive line was much better in the second half, which was a big reason why the Packers were so successful offensively.

    The Atlanta Falcons managed five sacks in this game. That's still way too many sacks for this unit to be giving up over the course of a game.

    The offensive line was also much better in run blocking this week than it had been in previous games. They were able to consistently open up holes for running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks to run through.

    Overall, the up-and-down play from the offensive line could use more up in the following weeks, but this still still a much better performance from last week.

     

    Final Grade: C+

Defensive Line

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd

    The defensive line played one of their best games in recent weeks in this game against the Atlanta Falcons.

    They were able to get pressure on the quarterback throughout the entire game. They also did a good job getting a push up front in the ground game.

    The biggest winner from this game was Jolly. He finished the game with five total tackles and came up with a big fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter.

    As an entire unit, the defensive line was a big reason why the entire defense played one of their most productive games of the entire season.

     

    Final Grade: A-

Linebackers

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: A.J. Hawk, Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Mike Neal, Nick Perry

    The linebackers played a much better game this week like the rest of the defense. They were all over the field making plays for the Green Bay Packers.

    Just like the rest of the team, the linebackers played much better in the second half than they did in the first half. The big play of the game came from Neal, who stripped the quarterback on a fourth-quarter sack. That sack was the lone sack of the game for the Packers. 

    The unit also played much better in pass coverage than it had in recent weeks. They did a good job of holding Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends in the game, to only three receptions and 25 yards.

    It was good to see this unit finally begin to play up to their overall potential.

     

    Final Grade: B+

Cornerbacks

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Micah Hyde

    Of all the units for the Green Bay Packers, the cornerbacks were the second-worst this week (the worst game from a unit is still to come).

    For the first 55 minutes of the game, this group really struggled to make an impact. Sure, they played better in the second half than they did in the first half, but they also managed to give up a number of big plays.

    However, the Packers got two big plays from Bush in the final five minutes of the game that salvaged the overall grade for this unit. Bush's first play was on a fourth down when he had great coverage on tight end Tony Gonzalez to cause an incomplete pass for the Atlanta Falcons. Finally, Bush ended the game with an interception on Atlanta's final play of the game.

    Much like the rest of the Packers, the cornerbacks did play much better than they have played in recent weeks. However, there is still a good amount of room for improvement from this unit.

     

    Final Grade: C+

Safeties

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Sean Richardson

    The unit with the worst game on Sunday for the Green Bay Packers was the safeties.

    For example, the Packers were forced to bench Jennings early in the game for Richardson. Jennings has had a rough few weeks and Richardson gave the Packers a different look defensively.

    As for Burnett, his eight total tackles ended up leading the team, but a number of those tackles came after Burnett missed on the original play. His worst play came when running back Jacquizz Rodgers absolutely leveled him before running out of bounds.

    This isn't to say that the Packers safeties weren't better this week than they were the past few games. They were better, but there is still room for improvement from this group.

     

    Final Grade: C

     

Special Teams

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Key Players: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Micah Hyde

    It was a much better day for the special teams of the Green Bay Packers this week.

    For starters, the coverage team didn't allow any huge returns from the Atlanta Falcons. In fact, they did a good overall job at keeping kick returner Jacquizz Rodgers in check.

    Crosby made both of his field goals and Masthay put two of his three punts inside the 20-yard line. As an entire group, the Packers special teams unit improved greatly this week.

     

    Final Grade: B+