LaFleur on Packers' tackling: 'We need to see improvement'

Missed tackles the sore spot from victory over Saints

Green Bay Packers defense

GREEN BAY – It was mostly due to Alvin Kamara, a star playmaker who's difficult to bring down, but Matt LaFleur isn't about to shrug it off.

Numerous missed tackles were the black eye on the Packers' 37-30 victory over the Saints on Sunday night and will be a big part of film sessions this week.

While Green Bay's head coach isn't about to put his players at undue injury risk by tackling live in practice this week, he will be monitoring closely whether the drills carry over into 11-on-11 periods when the Packers resume their on-field work Thursday.

"We had 13, at a minimum," LaFleur said Monday of the missed tackle count from the New Orleans game. "There were a couple others where they don't get credited for missed tackles, but we had some guys that took some bad angles that weren't in position to make a tackle. So there were definitely some concerns there, no doubt about it."

Five of the missed tackles were on one play – Kamara's 52-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the third quarter, which played out like a comedy of errors and helped the Saints running back approach 200 yards from scrimmage on the night.

Fellow running back Latavius Murray made a few guys miss, too, in a departure from what had been fairly solid tackling performances by the Packers' defense the first two weeks. Perhaps the combination of a letdown, which almost inevitably happens at different points in a long season, with Kamara as the primary opponent was the perfectly toxic mix.

"He's a great player but ultimately that doesn't matter," LaFleur said. "You've got to find a way to get that guy on the ground.

"We will continue to work on those fundamentals and we need to see improvement."

LaFleur stressed that the defense in general was not getting enough hats to the ball, leaving guys with one-on-ones in space that shifty players can exploit.

It didn't help that the Packers were dealing with some moving parts on defense, as inside linebacker Christian Kirksey (shoulder) and outside linebacker Rashan Gary (ankle) left the game with injuries.

Second-year pro Ty Summers filled in for Kirksey inside and was the defense's lead communicator, while newly converted Oren Burks and rookie seventh-round pick Jonathan Garvin took several of Gary's snaps outside.

They all had their ups and downs, but plenty of defensive mainstays had rough tackling moments, too.

It'll be the main defensive point of emphasis as the team takes a little bit of a breather before preparing for its lone Monday night game on the 2020 schedule, at home against Atlanta next week.

The Falcons have their own issues to deal with, namely fourth-quarter collapses that have cost them games against the Cowboys and Bears the past two weeks that looked like victories until the final moments.

The Packers' flaws fortunately haven't yet tagged them with a loss while the Falcons' have prevented them from getting a win, but that can change in the NFL at any moment.

"We know this: We're going to have a very hungry Atlanta Falcon team coming in here that no doubt about it, should be 2-1 right now," LaFleur said. "And they're not, but that's life in this league. Every game comes down to just a couple of plays here and there that can really change the outcome."


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