To fans who have doubted Mike McCarthy’s play calling, or have questioned the thinness of his playbook, I’ve got your answer.
I’d love to take credit, but the theory was floated at MMQB on Thursday. Writer Rich Hill believes the New England Patriots know they are going to the playoffs every year. Therefore, they take advantage by planning for it in their early season play.
According to Hill, the Patriots hold back on what they call, offensively and defensively, with an eye on the higher-stakes parts of the season.
Hill thinks the Patriots are especially careful when they play other playoff-bound teams. He says that when they played the Steelers on October 23 (they still won 27-16), they displayed “excruciatingly vanilla defense” and mostly avoided using their two dynamic tight ends. He believes Bill Belichick isn’t going to open up the whole playbook until later in the season, or maybe the playoffs.
There you have it — and it explains the first Vikings’ game. Mike McCarthy must be shrewdly sticking with his dozen or so vanilla offensive plays, so he can save up all the good ones for down the road. It ought to be some show the Packers’ offense will put on in December against the Seahawks and Vikings!
In fact, the “holding back” theory explains any number of things we’ve been wrongly accusing McCarthy of doing. Now we know why he plays Davante Adams instead of his better receivers. Just wait until the Packers shock the Seahawks by starting Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, and Geronimo Allison. And imagine how unprepared the Vikings will be on Christmas Eve when the Packers come out with some end-arounds and naked bootlegs – and don’t be surprised if McCarthy throws in a hook-and-ladder or statue-of-liberty play or two.
This theory even explains why the play calling and formations, especially on the defensive side, in past playoff games seemed so predictable to the uninformed viewer. The Arizona game following the 2015 season, the Seahawks (2014), the 49ers (2013 and 2012), and the Giants (2011) – the coach must have been saving the good stuff for the Super Bowl!
So, let’s all stop complaining about play calling, personnel use, clock management, and the rest. It’s all part of McCarthy’s master plan to disguise his team’s talents until they jump all over their Super Bowl opponent.
I hope it’s not the Patriots, though, because they’ll be using the same tactic.