GREEN BAY – As rough as the fourth quarter was for the Packers in Atlanta, Head Coach Matt LaFleur made it clear Monday it's not as though the first three quarters were clean, mistake-free football despite Green Bay's 12-point advantage.
"That film was tough to watch, now, because there were a lot of opportunities out there for us," he said, lamenting that the Packers' lead wasn't bigger than 12 with one quarter to go. "We've got to make some of these plays that are out there for us to make."
Here's how he broke down various areas for improvement, regardless of when they cropped up in the game.
Much of the postgame analysis has focused on running back AJ Dillon failing to convert a third-and-1 run with just over six minutes left in the game with the Packers leading by two points.
While LaFleur noted Dillon needs to be "a little bit more under control" body-wise, he stressed that the overall struggles in the running game – which averaged just 3.0 yards per carry when QB Jordan Love's 24-yard scramble is removed – don't fall on one individual, but the execution of the entire unit.
"More or less we've got to do a better job with our details. It's across the board with our run game," LaFleur said. "It's our aiming points, whether you're an offensive lineman, tight end, running back. We've got to be more physical at the point of attack."
The previous week in Chicago, the ground game averaged just 2.9 per rush, and that was with Aaron Jones' 4.6 clip before leaving with a hamstring injury. Jones missed the Atlanta game, which left the bulk of the work to Dillon, who finished with 55 yards on 15 carries vs. the Falcons.
"There's things that we've got to look at, what we're asking schematically to really enhance what he does well, because there were some really good runs in the game," LaFleur said. "We're looking at everything under a microscope."
Again, there's plenty of focus on Atlanta's big fourth quarter, but the Packers were having a hard time with Falcons running back Bijan Robinson all game long. On one run in the first half, Robinson made four tacklers miss.
Throughout the game, the Falcons built confidence in their ground attack with Robinson and fellow back Tyler Allgeier, and then used it to take control of the game down the stretch, racking up 211 rushing yards by game's end.
"It wasn't good," LaFleur said. "We got gashed.
"There's some things that were self-inflicted, no doubt about it. They have a good run game. They really do. Schematically they presented a few issues for us. I think you combine that with two really good running backs, and when you have a couple missed tackles … there's things we've got to adapt and adjust to and do a much better job."
The Packers left three points out there at the end of the first drive of the game, and it still bothered LaFleur considerably a day later.
First, fill-in left tackle Rasheed Walker false-started on third-and-7 from the Atlanta 28, making it third-and-12 from the 33. Then, after an incomplete pass, the field-goal unit was too slow getting set up and took a delay of game, never getting off the 51-yard attempt.
LaFleur chose not to try from 56 and play field position, keeping the game scoreless.
"I'm just (mad) that we were even in that situation quite frankly," LaFleur said, pinning the blame on himself for not watching the play clock more closely as the first-year kicker-holder combination of Anders Carlson and Daniel Whelan was taking too long.
"Our operation has got to improve. It's never an excuse, we've got two young players back there, and it looked like we were out on the practice field on Wednesday lining up to attempt a field goal. There's got to be an urgency. It was a learning experience, a hard one to learn. But ultimately I'm mad at myself for not calling a timeout in that situation."
Injury update: The Packers' offensive line remains in flux with two home games in a span of five days coming up.
LaFleur clarified that left tackle David Bakhtiari's absence from the game was due to swelling in his troublesome knee, not because the game in Atlanta was being played on artificial turf. Walker took his place for most of the game, with Yosh Nijman also taking some snaps at left tackle in certain instances.
LaFleur didn't get into the specifics of left guard Elgton Jenkins' knee injury or any timeline, but he indicated Jenkins is out for now. He was replaced in Atlanta by Royce Newman, while another option moving forward could be second-year pro Sean Rhyan.
"That's a conversation we're going to have tonight and figure out who we want to roll out there," he said. "But it's always a competitive situation. I don't care what position it is, we're going to make it competitive. And if guys aren't performing then we'll roll with somebody else."