Packers interim coach Joe Philbin doesn’t plan to re-invent the wheel.
The team’s offensive coordinator was selected to replace the fired Mike McCarthy on Sunday after the Packers’ loss to the Cardinals and dropped to 4-7-1.
He met with the team Monday and flashed a big No. 13 on the screen.
“We’re got one thing to think about and that’s the 13th game,” said Philbin, who was Miami’s head coach from 2012-15. “We’ve got a good team, the Atlanta Falcons coming to Lambeau Field on Sunday.”
The Packers will host the Falcons (4-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lambeau Field in a battle of two teams trying salvage some pride and respect from the 2018 season.
Just two seasons ago, the Falcons and the Packers met in the NFC Championship game, the final game in the Georgia Dome. Since the Falcons’ 44-21 win Jan. 22, 2017, things have spiraled downward for both franchises. The Falcons are 15-15 since losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl while the Packers have gone 11-16-1 since the NFC title game.
“We’ve got to do things better,” Philbin said to the Wisconsin media Monday. “All of us.”
This will be the 30th regular-season meeting between the two franchises. The Packers lead the series 15-14. The two teams have played in the playoffs four times and have split, 2-2.
The Packers’ offense has not functioned at a high level this season. However, wide receiver Davante Adams is having a fine season. He’s caught 85 passes for 1,115 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The defense is under Mike Pettine for the first season in Green Bay and is undergoing changes. The play of rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was heavily scouted by the Falcons, has been strong.
Like the Falcons, the Packers’ secondary has been hit hard by injury.
The Falcons have not scored more than 20 points in a game during their four-game losing streak and have not rushed for more than 35 yards in their past two games.
The Packers are giving up 23. 9 points per game, which ranks 16th in the NFL. The Falcons should be able to find some room to run against the Packers, who are giving up 127.6 yards per game, which ranks 25th in the league.
Philbin doesn’t plan an overhaul in one week.
“We’re not going to make sweeping structural changes,” Philbin said. “It’s not like we’re going to fly some magical players or magic coaches in here in the next four weeks.”
Philbin was hired to Mike Sherman’s staff in Green Bay in 2003. He stayed on when McCarthy was hired in 2006 and helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season.
He was 24-28 as the Dolphins’ head coach and was fired after a 1-3 start in 2015.
Philbin reportedly has a better relationship with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was at odds with McCarthy as his play-caller.
Back in 2008 as a rookie, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went into Lambeau Field and came out with a 27-24 victory in the fifth game of his NFL career, and Rodgers was impressed with Ryan running a no-huddle offense at that stage in his career.
Rodgers, who took over for Brett Favre in 2008 and essentially was a rookie starter, sat on the bench for three seasons before opening 2008 as the Packers starting quarterback.
Ryan and Rodgers have met nine times over the years, which each pulling off a big playoff win. Rodgers took down the No. 1-seed Falcons 48-21 in the divisional round of the playoffs after the 2010 season. Ryan got him back with a 44-21 win in the NFC title game after the 2016 season.
Ryan is 5-4 against Rodgers and has won the past three meetings.
Both are fighting through tough times this season, while they are statistically playing well.
Rodgers, a two-time MVP, and Ryan, a one-time MVP, have similar numbers this season.
Rodgers has completed 283 of 463 passes (61.8 percent) for 3,504 yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception. He has a passer rating of 99.3
Ryan has completed 326 of 460 passes (70.9 percent) for 3,814 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 109.3.
Both have had shoddy pass protection. Rodgers has been sacked 35 times, seven percent of his pass attempts. Ryan’s been sacked 36 times, 7.3 percent of his pass attempts.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.