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I don’t think anyone is shocked that the Patriots made the Super Bowl. What’s the point of even analyzing or critiquing them anymore?
Did any of us see the Falcons in the Super Bowl? I suspect not. Perhaps, you’re like me and predicted the Falcons for a losing record and constantly predicted their demise all season…and thought Dan Quinn would get fired during/after this season? You didn’t see it…and that’s cool. I didn’t see it…and that makes me bad at my job.
This week, in honor of the Falcons, I am reprinting all of their 2016 game recaps to embarrass myself more publicly. Laying myself naked before you. Also, I am going back through and reading to see if there were clues to what I was off on and to see what I was thinking going negative on the Falcons as a Super Bowl season was unfolding. It’s not the first time…I didn’t buy into the Panthers all last season either.
I am reprinting the Falcons 2016 season throughout the week and adding some extra commentary on how bad (or good) my commentary was at the time. In honor of the Falcons and to publicly flog myself this week, here we go…
*Original commentary from the day it was published in black text with my 2017 comments in green.
Falcons 33, Packers 32 — Atlanta avoids three losses in a row and falling to 4-4 on the season. Instead they jump to a safe 5-3.
You must say this game represents where we’re at in the football world with Green Bay and Atlanta. It’s not the world most of us are used living in – that old one where Green Bay is still awesome, and their players are in every commercial, and the Atlanta Falcons are soft and overrated. The New World is the Atlanta Falcons can beat anyone, and Green Bay has no secondary due to injuries – and they can’t stop anyone.
Green Bay jumped out in this game and took command early. This new ‘no RB’ offense has an extra pep in the Packers’ step. Julio Jones (3-29-0/5 targets) hit his head on the turf and was sitting out for chunks of this game. Everything was going Green Bay’s way, but the final score was 33–32 Atlanta…with the Falcons needing to score on their final drive with 3:52 remaining — and Green Bay couldn’t stop them. It was not a surprise or lucky win for Atlanta, the Falcons did not play their best game and had two major weapons missing (Coleman out, and Julio in and out) and still rallied back to defeat Green Bay. This is the world we live in – the Falcons are better than the Packers. *I wish I had remembered this when I picked the Packers to upset Atlanta in the playoffs…
I think the world we live in is about to change for Green Bay. *This was the part I was remembering…
I believe the best thing that ever happened to the Packers was losing Eddie Lacy and James Starks. It forced them into this heavy pass, quick pass, college type of offense. It’s confusing defenses, in part because Aaron Rodgers is still a great NFL quarterback – now he’s just unshackled from the offense that wasn’t working and frees him from over relying upon declining primary weapons (Lacy, Starks, Cobb, Jordy). They’ve open things up and found Davante Adams is a player. Ty Montgomery is useful. And when the offense became less predictable, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson suddenly got open where they hadn’t in many cases this season – leaving Rodgers flustered. No longer the case.
The Green Bay Packers are the most dangerous ‘middle of the road’ team in the NFL right now. They’ve reconfigured their offense, and their crime on defense is that their entire secondary is out hurt. Even with the defensive injuries, the Packers have put up pretty decent defensive numbers. Once they can get Sam Shields, etc. back (they never did) — you’re talking a top 10 defensive unit with a top-five offensive line and an elite quarterback in a fresh, pro-pass offense. The Packers losing to Atlanta seems like more evidence that Green Bay is ‘done’. I think Green Bay is closer to winning a Super Bowl than ever before in 2016. Possibly my statement of the 2016 — everyone was selling Green Bay at this point. They turned hot right after this.
— Green Bay is not changing from this offense. If they do change back to their old ways, I will absolutely lose my mind. They have found life by being forced to play without running backs. The reason this is an upgrade is in part because their running backs are awful. Eddie Lacy was single-handedly killing this team/drives by not being able to get much yardage on first downs or convert critical short yardage plays. Our mind remembers Eddie Lacy has a big freight train on the loose, but the reality is he’d have a nice run here in there surrounded by a lot of failed attempts. He’s just too slow to hit the holes and make things happen in more obvious run situations. He so slow he can’t even get in the position for screen passes quick enough. For some reason, Green Bay still made him a quasi-centerpiece of the offense for parts of games.
Once Lacy went down, and then fortuitously James Starks went down at the same time – it forced Green Bay into this heavy pass attempt, surprise runs with wide receiver approach. They are not changing. They don’t have any serious running backs to change back to if they wanted. Don Jackson is nothing. They just cut Knile Davis this week. Eddie Lacy is not likely to be back. James Starks will be a guy to take some traditional plays but mostly yields to Ty Montgomery, Randall Cobb, or Davante Adams out of the backfield. When other NFL teams see what’s happened, I think they’ll start to copy this. It’s another signal of the death of the NFL running back. You’re better off with a Tyreek Hill or Cordarrelle Patterson in your backfield taking a few carries, but mainly sprinting out of the backfield as a extra/fifth receiver that linebackers can’t handle. Bill Belichick figured this out withDion Lewis last season. If you can get a David Johnson – an elite running back or could have been an elite wide receiver, obviously, you play to that. For everyone else, your running back has to be a virtual wide receiver for the future.
If Green Bay sticks with this offense, and they’d be insane not to, it changes a lot of fantasy evaluations…
Aaron Rodgers (28-38 for 246 yards, 4 TD/0 INT, 60 yards rushing) is a QB1 with the potential of finishing as the top fantasy QB for 2016 (He ended up at #1 in FF PPG…and early on he was struggling which was a continuation of struggles from 2015). I’ve been advocating selling off Aaron Rodgers during his tailspin that started in mid-2015. You may have traded him because of that, and are mad because now I am proclaiming Rodgers as god. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated Green Bay would forgo running backs and run wide receivers as primary RBs in a ‘created on the fly’ offense. Had I known that, I would’ve stuck by Rodgers. The circumstances have changed, so we have to change with it.
There’s no reason for you to hold Eddie Lacy in a redraft. He wasn’t good before this, and he’s coming back (maybe) to a game plan that doesn’t fit him whatsoever. He cannot exist in this offense.
Davante Adams (12-74-0/14 targets) will lead this team in receiving most likely because he’s their best, quickest receiver on the roster. He was 2nd on the team…75 catches for 997 yards and 12 TDs.
Ty Montgomery (DNP) will continue to have a life because he’s the best fit to run that RB/WR hybrid role. The only thing I can see changing is if Green Bay grabs and RB/WR prospect from another team’s roster in trade or whatever. I’d love to see Green Bay just give into this offense and go out and seek these types of hybrid players. No one fits the RB/WR role better than Montgomery on the current roster. He’s not the best fit looking at the entire NFL, but he is the best fit Green Bay has today.
Jordy Nelson’s stock rises a little because teams can’t follow him everywhere. There are too many other things to chase now. Jordy is like a WR/TE hybrid for Rodgers – he’s Rodgers’s ‘Gronkowski’ in a sense. Nelson may score 14+ TDs this season. He scored 14 TDs.
Randall Cobb (DNP) benefits because he’s no longer the non-Jordy that draws the quickest cover guy on the opposing team. Now teams must worry about Adams and Montgomery…and Jordy. Cobb has more room to roam and has a long-standing relationship with Rodgers.
When James Starks is back practicing, people are going to want to jump all over him for fantasy as the only running back Green Bay has. There is some logic to a Starks chase, but I don’t believe the running back is going to matter for Green Bay. Who would you rather run your third and one at the opposing team’s goal line? A hand-off to James Starks…or Aaron Rodgers in the shotgun making a pass-run decision? I think Green Bay has discovered the Darkside and is about to go with the crazy all-pass offense on more of a Pittsburgh or New England vibe; only Green Bay doesn’t have any running back to feature when needed.
Oh yeah, and Jeff Janis (4-30-1/4 targets) is still nothing. Richard Rodgers is still nothing.
Rookie Geronimo Allison (2-21-1/4 targets) is nothing to concern yourself with either. He’s a below average athlete with a below average NFL frame, but good hands and good effort. He’s worse than Jared Abbrederis.
Trevor Davis (3-24-1/4 targets) will have moments, but can’t be counted on for consistent fantasy numbers when Adams-Jordy-Cobb-Montgomery lead the way.
— I have not wanted to trust Matt Ryan (28-35 for 288 yards, 3 TD/0 INT) this entire year, but I must say I’m quite impressed watching him in games this season. Obviously, the numbers dictate that he’s doing so much better. I get that. I’m just talking watching him from the pocket. Last year, and the year prior Ryan looked skittish and lost. Too many throws into coverage to Julio. Too many misfires to everyone else. This year there is an air of confidence. He’s secure in the pocket and makes much better decisions. I still think he throws into danger with Julio too much, but a lot less than before. He is not my favorite guy, but I’m not fighting or making fun of him anymore.
— Keep an eye on Devonta Freeman’s (11-35-1, 4-23-1/6 targets) practice schedules. I’m hearing that his hip problem is quite a bit worse than is being led on. He’s fighting through it but really had to fight through it this week because Tevin Coleman was missing. I don’t know if Coleman will be back in the short week or not, but Freeman may take a bad hit and be a surprise inactive ahead…or just get his workload reduced ahead. *Nothing came of this, Freeman was fine.
I only mention this because I’m a big fan of Tevin Coleman, and if he ever ran solo at running back in this offense he’d be a top-five fantasy producer. There are some small odds that could happen in a few weeks because of Freeman’s hip. If you can get Tevin Coleman for a dirt-cheap price, he produces well even with Freeman around. You can use him no matter what, but if he ever runs solo in the backfield, he’s going to the moon. He’s a great investment for the price and most leagues right now.
Don’t put any stock into Terron Ward (6-46-0, 1-11-0). Even if both Freeman and Coleman were out, he’s no more than a Robert Kelley flash in the pan. He’s actually worse than Robert Kelley.