Falcons vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Atlanta

Al BruceContributor IDecember 9, 2013

Falcons vs. Packers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Atlanta

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    If you didn't know better, you'd think the Atlanta Falcons decided to tank for better draft position in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers.

    The Falcons built a 21-10 lead in the game's first two quarters behind a strong drive by their offense, a key forced fumble by their defense and a fortuitous interception return by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

    However, like Jets quarterback Geno Smith and Bucs running back Bobby Rainey before him, Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn played his best game of the season against Atlanta.

    Behind Flynn, the Packers outscored the Falcons 12-0 in the second half of the game thanks to some timely plays of his own and a critical mishap by Falcons tackle Ryan Schraeder deep in Atlanta territory.

    With the win, Green Bay notched its first victory in five games since losing star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone injury.

    Let's break down how the Falcons lost their 10th game of the season as we dish out our Week 14 full roster report card grades for Atlanta.

    All game stats are via ESPN.COM

Quarterback

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

     

    Analysis

    Matt Ryan looked sharp on Atlanta's first two drives of the game.  His crisp 36-yard touchdown pass to Drew Davis was one of the better throws we've seen him make in some time because of the way he hit Davis in stride.  The same can be said of his sideline throw to Roddy White on the Falcons' last drive of the game.

    Though Ryan's receivers let him down with some drops in the second half, you'd expect a franchise player like Ryan to manufacture at least one scoring drive to put this game away in the third or fourth quarter against a Green Bay defense that has really struggled against the pass in recent weeks.

    Because of that, Ryan earns an average grade for his two-touchdown, one-interception performance.

Running Backs

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Grade: B

     

    Analysis

    Steven Jackson ran well for the third straight week, but he slowed down like the rest of Atlanta's offense after halftime.
     
    It's starting to look like Jackson's ceiling may be in the 12-15 carry, 70-yard range at this point in his career.
     
    That's solid production, but if Jackson returns to Atlanta in 2013, the Falcons are going to need to figure out who else can help carry the rushing load.
     
    As for the rest of Atlanta's backs, Jacquizz Rodgers made a larger contribution as a receiver than as a runner and Jason Snelling nearly turned the ball over when he bobbled a pass from Matt Ryan before Atlanta's second touchdown.
     
    Antone Smith, who's been quite the firecracker for Atlanta's offense of late, didn't get a chance to touch the ball before leaving the game with a knee injury.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C

     

    Analysis

    Roddy White continued to return to form as he paced Atlanta's offense on its first drive of the game.  He finished with eight receptions and 74 yards on the day. Short of getting the ball in the end zone, it looks like White is as healthy as he's going to get this season.

    Harry Douglas may have been the biggest letdown for Atlanta on Sunday. He looked timid in the cold weather, and his drop late in the fourth quarter precluded what could have been a game-winning field-goal attempt.

    Like Douglas, Tony Gonzalez also had a couple of drops on the afternoon.

    Drew Davis' only reception came on his 36-yard touchdown catch and run, while Darius Johnson didn't really get a chance to make a play on the one ball thrown in his direction because Matt Ryan was rushed on the throw.

     

Offensive Line

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

     

    Analysis

    Atlanta's offensive line didn't back down in the cold weather and actually put together a respectable effort for the most part.

    Joe Hawley and Peter Konz kept plugging away, while Lamar Holmes and Justin Blalock weren't liabilities on the left side of the line. None of these players were spectacular, but being respectable is probably a step up for this unit based on what we've seen most of the year.

    The narrative was slightly different for undrafted free agent Ryan Schraeder, who got extended playing time at right tackle on Sunday. Schraeder only gave up one sack, but given what happened as a result of that sack (a Matt Ryan fumble), and when (fourth quarter) and where (deep in Atlanta territory) that sack occurred, that sack probably should count as two or three sacks.

    In addition, Schraeder also appeared to be responsible for at least three quarterback pressures on the afternoon.

    Schraeder's inconsistent play may be what you'd expect to see from a young player, but he has a ways to go before I'd be ready to sign off on him being the long-term answer for this team at right tackle.

Defensive Line

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C+

     

    Analysis

    The Falcons finished with five sacks on the day, but before we anoint this defensive line, let's note that half of those sacks came from blitzes by William Moore and Paul Worrilow.

    In addition, Atlanta benefited from Matt Flynn being a little reluctant to get rid of the football.

    With that said, defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi did a nice job of winning a one-on-one matchup to get his sack, and defensive tackle Corey Peters continued to play well on the inside.

    While Falcons fans may be happy to see Massaquoi make a play, the pessimist in me can't help but think that they could hear about Massaquoi's performance in this game as justification for why Atlanta's brass fails to adequately address the pass rush again this offseason.
     
    It was nice to see young players like defensive ends Stansly Maponga and Malliciah Goodman continuing to get more snaps.

    Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux and Osi Umenyiora all had quiet afternoons.

     

Linebackers

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: B-

     

    Analysis

    Sean Weatherspoon's awareness put him in position to benefit from a chance bounce of the football late in the second quarter, and the Falcons will take big plays however they can get them at this point.

    Paul Worrilow continued to be a tackling machine, and he looked a lot better as a blitzer, too.

    Atlanta's linebackers overran a couple plays that opened cutback lanes for Eddie Lacy, but for the most part, they matched Lacy's physicality on a cold and snowy day at Lambeau.

    It's going to be interesting to see what the team does with Akeem Dent this offseason since he's playing mostly on special teams now.

     

Secondary

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: B-

     

    Analysis

    Atlanta's cornerback tandem of the future became the team's tandem of the present when rookie cornerback Robert Alford stepped into the starting lineup for Asante Samuel and played opposite Desmond Trufant.

    Alford held his own until Jordy Nelson beat him on a 46-yard reception that set up a field goal that kept Green Bay in the game.

    Zeke Motta stepped in for an injured Thomas DeCoud and gave up what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown despite playing tight coverage, but he played well enough to deserve more of a look down the stretch.

    William Moore forced a turnover for the second straight week when he hit Matt Flynn on a blitz and caused the fumble that led to Atlanta's second touchdown.

     

     

Special Teams/Coaching

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Special Teams

    Grade: C+

     

    Analysis

    Kicker Matt Bryant missed his only kick of the day and didn't get a chance to redeem himself late in the game because Atlanta chose to go for a fourth-down conversion just inside his range on the Falcons' next-to-last possession of the game.

    Atlanta's coverage units did a nice job of limiting shifty Packers return man Micah Hyde, but Atlanta's own return game didn't make any impact plays either.

    Punter Matt Bosher averaged 44.5 yards per punt in rough weather.

     

    Coaching

    Grade: C

     

    Analysis

    Mike Smith seemed to return to his conservative ways against Green Bay after opening the game with a reverse on the kickoff return last week in Atlanta's win over Buffalo.

    Smith chose to punt on Atlanta's first possession even though his 3-9 team faced a 4th-and-short from the Green Bay 35-yard line, and the team's offense went stale after a decent showing in the first two quarters.

    Sure, the weather was bad, but when you're out of the playoff hunt like the Falcons are, you have the liberty of taking a few more shots against a team that's fighting for its playoff life like Green Bay was.

    Atlanta stumbled into a 21-10 lead and had fans at Lambeau Field booing their own team, but once again Smith's squad failed to display a killer instinct.