What is going on with the Green Bay Packers?

I figured this game against the Falcons would give us a pretty good idea just where the Green Bay Packers currently stand. They were impressive in beating the Vikings in Week 1, they got the job done against the Lions in Week 2, they lost to a very good Dallas team in Week 3 and fell to a good Tampa Bay team on the road in Week 4. If you looked at those first four games before the season started, and assumed that Aaron Rodgers didn’t fall on his face, then you probably could have correctly picked the winner of each one of those games.

But losing to Atlanta at home? That’s a game that a good team should win, and for all intents and purposes, the Packers aren’t a good team. Without Al Harris, Roddy White was able to work over Charles Woodson to the tune of eight catches for 132 yards and a TD in the first half. The Packers held him without a catch in the second half, but the Falcons were able to take advantage of great field position in the fourth quarter to score 10 points and seal the victory.

The truth is, even without Al Harris (and defensive end Cullen Jenkins), the Packers should have enough talent to beat the Falcons at home, but they simply didn’t play a clean game. Green Bay was penalized nine times for 97 yards, while the Falcons were penalized twice for just 15 yards. Time and again the Packers would shoot themselves in the foot with an ill-advised holding or facemask penalty.

Then, with his team trailing by three with 4:42 to play, facing a third-and-19 from its own 21 yard-line, Aaron Rodgers made a crucial mistake by trying to force the ball to Ruvell Martin. The Falcons scored on a Michael Turner 2-yard TD run to go up 10. If Rodgers had the presence of mind to throw the ball away, the Packers defense would have had a puncher’s chance at stopping Atlanta on their side of the field, and the Green Bay offense would have had at least one more chance to tie (or win) the game.

So it’s not Aaron Rodgers’ inexperience, injuries or a lack of discipline that has the Packers on a three-game losing streak; it’s a combination of the three. All in all, Rodgers has performed admirably this season, and injuries can’t really be controlled, so discipline is the only way that Green Bay can vastly improve over the next few weeks. (That, and the team suddenly figuring out how to run the ball again, though I’m not holding my breath.) Unfortunately, the road isn’t going to get easier. The Packers have to travel to Seattle to face an angry team that just got embarrassed against the Giants. Then they host the Colts before visiting the Titans and the Vikings. After that, they host the Bears.

Things could get very ugly very quickly.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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