4 Downs: Packers tight end Jimmy Graham ineffective playing with broken thumb
Each week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 34-20 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons:
You have to wonder why the Packers are playing Jimmy Graham so much when the tight end is clearly having problems catching the ball because of his broken thumb. Graham dropped two passes that hit him in his outstretched hands Sunday, and had what you have to call another drop on an improvised bomb when he tried to body catch a long throw from Rodgers. If Graham had gone back to that ball and attacked it with his hands, he probably would have kept linebacker Foyesade Oluokun from getting a hand in to help cause the incompletion on what could have been a 57-yard touchdown. Graham had only two catches for 13 yards Sunday, and it’s clear he’s having a tough time catching throws with zip on them because of the broken thumb.
Anyone looking for first-year pro Robert Tonyan to get a lot more playing time at tight end was disappointed. Players’ snap counts won’t come out until later today, but Tonyan appeared to play only a handful of snaps and didn’t have any receiving targets. Lance Kendricks played more than Tonyan and didn’t have any targets, either. Marcedes Lewis, who’s almost strictly a blocker, probably played more snaps than Tonyan, too, in two- and three-tight end sets.
In his first game as interim coach, Joe Philbin made a few small changes from Mike McCarthy in the way he deployed offensive personnel. The most obvious was that he subbed in at least one player on almost every offensive snap. In some more minor tweaks, he started Jamaal Williams instead of Aaron Jones at running back — Philbin said he wanted to call a specific run early that was better suited for Williams, though Aaron Rodgers audibled out of it. Jones still was the primary back (17 carries to Williams’ four). Philbin played Equanimeous St. Brown ahead of Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the receiver rotation, the opposite of how it had been under McCarthy, though both played regularly and finished with two receptions each.
Rookie cornerback Josh Jackson keeps racking up the penalties. He was called for holding Sunday, which was the eighth time he has been penalized (accepted and declined) this season, according to NFLpenalties.com. That ties him for third most among cornerbacks in the NFL. The holding call was his third of the season, along with two for grabbing the face mask, one each for illegal contact and unnecessary roughness and one for an illegal block above the waist.