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Mike McCarthy Conducts a Play-Calling Clinic

Maybe Big Mike needs 10 days to formulate a game plan. The one versus the Cowboys was smart, imaginative, unpredictable, and one that kept the Dallas defense guessing the entire game.

On the Green Bay Packers second offensive play, the Packers swept Aaron Jones wide – yes, he went wide – for a 13-yard gain, and the Packers’ ground game was off and running. A couple plays later, Jones went left again, gaining eight yards and getting another first down. Then it was Aaron Rodgers throwing semi-deep to Lance Kendricks, who makes the most of his infrequent looks. Aaron Ripkowski even got one chance to mix things up. This first offensive drive, which ended in a perfect 10-yard fade-route touchdown throw to Davante Adams, was textbook play-calling.

With five minutes left in the half, a key Packers’ drive was kept going on a 3rd-and-9 by a 13-yard play over the middle to Randall Cobb. This was followed by a 16-yard pass to Richard Rodgers – mixing things up again. Next, Rodgers did his too-many-men-on-the-field ploy, but Dallas coach Jason Garrett thwarted it by calling timeout. I think other coaches will be copying this tactic.

Faced with another third down, Rodgers then converted it on a blazing-quick seven-yarder to Adams – it had to be fast, as Rodgers got whiplashed from behind after he released the ball.

Two beautiful efforts by Aaron Jones followed. First a nine-yard bullet caught inches above the ground – his first NFL catch. He then topped it with a seven-yard run which Dallas wasn’t expecting: Jones cut outside to the right, then jump-stepping back left and following his blockers up the middle and into the end zone. The 13-play, 75-yard drive as the half was about to end kept the Packers in the game.

Those long and time-consuming drives by Dallas were painful to watch, but Green Bay opened the second half with two similar scoring drives of their own. The first was s seven-play drive ending in a field goal, which was followed by a 14-play, 88-yard march that consumed almost eight minutes – 10 unanswered points by Green Bay.

During that long drive, the Packers had a 4th-and-1 on their own 48-yard line. Should they punt, or what to call? Green Bay gambled, and went with a play-action pitch-back to Jones, who swept around left end for 10 yards. I hadn’t seen that one before, but hope to see it again.

Helping the Packers get into the red zone on this great drive was a no-huddle lineup and quick 10-yard toss to Davante Adams. This might have been the only no-huddle play of the day, and it caught the defense by surprise.

The 10-yard touchdown pass that followed was another well-planned beauty. The Packers put both tight ends on the right side, faked to Aaron Jones running behind those blockers, and no defender picked up the wide-open Jordy Nelson

The two-point conversion attempt after the Damarious Randall interception and touchdown return was another fine play call, though Rodgers threw high to a wide open Jordy Nelson.

On the Packers’ final drive, the handoff to Aaron Jones with 45 seconds on the clock could have been brilliant or disastrous. The gutsy call worked, so it was brilliant.

Then there was the second identical back-shoulder throw call that won the game. This call was apparently asked for by Adams, and made by Rodgers. You don’t often see the same play called twice in a row. With Jordy Nelson on the sidelines, however, the Packers had a backup plan, and they had great confidence in that play.

As to overall game-planning, it became apparent as the game went on that the Packers were confident they could beat cornerbacks Anthony Brown (round 6 in 2016), Jourdan Lewis (round 3, rookie), and Orlando Scandrick (round 5 in 2008). Sure enough, this threesome was exploited all game long. That probably explains why Rodgers said he knew Dallas wouldn’t be able to stop the Packers’ offense. That final drive of course proved him right.

Defense Also Had a Good Game Plan

Before the first quarter ended, the TV announcer asked “Do you get the feeling Dez Bryant is going to have a big day?” Well, he didn’t. A good defensive plan and solid team defense limited Bryant to five catches on eight targets, for 52 yards.

The same goes for Ezekiel Elliott. Though he enabled Dallas to control the time of possession, his 116 yards in 29 carries, for a four-yard average, was not ruinous. Aaron Jones outgained Elliott by nine yards – on 10 fewer carries!

The Packers’ pass rush was not that bad, though it was always a half-step away from reaching Dak Prescott. Credit Prescott with almost perfect play on those three first half drives.

The loss of Kevin King due to a concussion was costly, as it caused Damarious Randall to switch to outside cornerback and brought Quinten Rollins in at slot cornerback. Still, the Packers survived the two “gimmie” touchdowns those two players gave up.

Without the loss of Kevin King, I think the well-prepared Packers would have won fairly comfortably.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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7 Comments

  1. TyKo Steamboat October 10, 2017

    OMG… some sanity?

    All crickets here after Fat Mike again dialing-up a perfect game in terms of run-pass balance keeping the cowboys completely off balance.

    The same Fat Mike that will have the winninest record in Green Bay History. The same Fat Mike that owns AT&T stadium. The same Fat Mike with the ring. The same Fat Mike that manages the clock & calls plays? Yes, only an undisputed top-5 coach in the NFL rite now.

    Sick of the numbskulls that call for him to be fired every season. Be a man & not an over-emotional girl after a loss already. We’ll go 12-4 & after the other 3 losses this season, the idiots that want Fat Mike fired will all chime-in calling for his head… then when you ask “well, who should we replace him with?” They answer “Duhhhhh I dunno… Jon Gruden!” ha, what a joke

    Mike McCarthy = Champion, Chicago Bear asskicker, Dallas Cowboy asskicker, supreme O-cordinator

    1. Empacador October 10, 2017

      McCarthy is still and always will be a douche. A broken clock is right twice a day. Let your boy McCarthy sustain this success. Bet it doesn’t happen.

      1. PF4L October 11, 2017

        It isn’t about McCarthy, it’s about Aaron Rodgers. Take Rodgers out of the picture, and McCarthy has nothing. Rodgers will be Rodgers regardless of who the coach is.

        McCarthy, Ted and the Packers organizations success rides on the brain and arm of Rodgers. To think it’s the other way around is completely foolish. The Cowboys give up the 4th most points in the league, Adams and Rodgers called that last td pass to win the game. We finally had a rusher gain 100+ yards. Sweet game that was a minute away from being a loss. Rodgers and Adams won that game, not McCarthy, certainly not the defense. I’m not purposely trying to shit on McCarthy, but the Packers will go as far as Rodgers can take them, not how far McCarthy can take them, common sense 101. McCarthy gets credit, like sticking with Adams when everyone was shitting on him and crying Janis should get playing time. But getting credit when due, and having one of the best QB’s of all time, are two different things. Mickey Mouse could coach this team, and Rodgers will still get in the playoffs in our Division.

        Great win in Dallas, exciting game, enjoy it. Crown McCarthy King of Green Bay for it? Knock yourself out

        Take McCarthy away from the Packers, but keep Rodgers, the Packers will still win. Keep McCarthy and get rid of Rodgers, does anyone think the Packers still win?…C’MON MAN!!

        1. Cheese October 11, 2017

          TRUTH

  2. Gort October 11, 2017

    Yeah, I agree that a lot is about Aaron, but remember that now there are two of them with big impact on the success of the offense. I for one am about certain that the early success of the running game gave MM the confidence to stay with it later. That success from Jones should mean a bigger role, especially when considering the all to frequent injuries to Montgomery.

  3. PF4L October 11, 2017

    lol…Look at those two coaches, not exactly the picture of good health. Is that a play sheet in McCarthy’s hand, or a Denny’s menu?

    1. Mike K October 12, 2017

      Your 100% right. Take Rodgers out of there, McSlob is special teams coach for Buffalo, or some other BOTTOM-FEEDER worthless organization. Only thing FAT MIKE can manage is dinner bell.