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The Post-Apocalypse: McCarthy Flunks His First Test

First, some more analysis of the play-calling against the Minnesota Vikings, then a further examination of that long fourth quarter drive, and finally a brief critique of the Green Bay press corps.

Play Calling

Here are the stats on the Green Bay Packers use of its running backs as receivers: eight times targeted, four catches, four yards. The longest play: a thrilling three-yarder to Ty Montgomery. Remember how the Packers had this great weapon in a running back that was a converted receiver? Have you seen them exploit that advantage yet?

In contrast, the Vikings threw seven times to their backs: six completions, 37 yards, and a touchdown. The longest gain by either team in this game was the first play of the second period, a perfectly-executed 27-yard screen to Jerick McKinnon, who strolled almost untouched into the endzone.

Moving on, what did Mike McCarthy dial up for Brett Hundley’s first pass? What would you have done? It’s 3rd-and-2 from the Green Bay 26. Something quick and short to Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams, like a quick slant, right? Instead it goes to Geronimo Allison, who went in motion first to the right, then almost falling in the backfield as he went back to the left, then he cuts out into the flat, where two defenders are waiting. It was a dangerous and difficult throw.

Mackenzie Alexander, knowing the down and distance, jumped the route. It could easily have been a pick-six, but Allison reached in and the ball was tipped into the air, right to Xavier Rhodes. And how about that route by Allison? He ran a pattern behind the line of scrimmage – had he caught the ball he would have been tackled for no gain. And how about that formation? It’s 3rd-and-2, but rather than posing a run-or-pass option, Hundley is the only one in the backfield. That alone telegraphed to the defense it was going to be a quick and short pass.

The Packers are supposedly a fast-starting team, and in this game the Vikings won the coin toss and elected to let the Packers have the first go at it. Green Bay starts out with a three-and-out series. On a 3rd-and-2, Rodgers’ pass over the middle to Martellus Bennett is tipped away by Anthony Barr, whose job all game was to shadow Rodgers to nullify his running ability. On the next mini-drive, Green Bay gets to a 3rd-and-9. The best quarterback in the NFL hands off to Aaron Jones for five yards. The third time the Packers got the ball resulted in that third-down interception by Hundley.

On the afternoon, the Packers were four for 17 on third downs. You can’t help but second-guess the play calling when thirteen third down plays are failures.

Game-Ending Drive

I’ve previously vented about how the Packers showed no will to win in the fourth quarter, when the game was still within reach. I didn’t choose my words lightly when I accused the Packers of conceding this game to the Vikings in the fourth quarter.

I’m still venting, so let me reiterate. While the players kept playing hard, Mike McCarthy signaled with his play calls — 10 short passes in that 15-play drive, that he had quit — not quit playing, but quit trying to win. Had Green Bay scored on that long drive, it would have done no good, as there was no time left for the team to get the second needed score, even with a successful onside kick.

And for what it’s worth, Jeff Janis should be in the game in such situations. He’s the guy to insert when you need a Hail Mary, a jump ball, a fly pattern – he’s taller, stronger, and as fast as most defensive backs – and he proved his usefulness against the Cardinals in the 2016 playoffs. And if not Janis, how about 6’6” and 275-pound Martellus Bennett? And if not him, how about Jordy Nelson?

Here are the gains made, and receivers who caught passes by Green Bay on the drive (except for the first two plays, which were runs by Aaron Jones): Jones (7 yards), Jones (6), Cobb (14), Cobb (5), Jones (1), Adams (5), Adams (19), Bennett (14), Allison (7), Adams (7) – and then the interception when throwing to Nelson.

That’s not playing to win.

McCarthy Tries to Intimidate the Press – And Succeeds

I re-watched McCarthy’s seven-minute postgame press conference, which include over five minutes of questions by the press, and his Monday Q&A session that lasted over 12 minutes. Did anyone have the guts to ask why there were no play calls aimed at getting downfield in a hurry as the clock wound down? No. One guy referred to the play calling at the end of the game, but in such a way that McCarthy easily deflected it.

McCarthy has been trying to intimidate these guys for years, and, by God, he’s been successful at it. When someone bravely uttered two unmentionable words on Sunday – “Colin Kaepernick” – McCarthy positively snarled at him. End of that conversation.

Instead, we get questions like, “Did you know right away that Aaron was hurt?”

At the very tail end of the Monday presser, however, someone carefully asked if the team was looking for a third quarterback. Unlike the day before, McCarthy told the truth this time: “I know the personnel department is looking at some guys right now, but my focus…”

The Packers signed rookie free agent QB Jerod Evans to their practice squad on Tuesday.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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15 Comments

  1. Nick October 18, 2017

    It’s funny when fans act like they know more than NFL play callers.

  2. Nick October 18, 2017

    The analysis isn’t even accurate since it was Hundley who handed the ball off on 3rd and 9.

    1. Robster October 18, 2017

      Nick is right, but my criticism remains the same. Though I’m not an NFL coach, I think third and nine is a passing down – making that a gutless call.

    2. MMTTDCSUCK October 19, 2017

      That was a “re-cap” when Rodgers was out there before his injury . . . It was accurate.
      http://www.espn.com/nfl/playbyplay?gameId=400951702

      1. MMTTDCSUCK October 19, 2017

        Lol! my bad. 1st play with Hundley . . . Still a stupid call.

        1. PF4L October 19, 2017

          Just…stop posting

          1. MMTTDCSUCK October 19, 2017

            Lol! My posts are not bad in nature . . . But yours have been. I made a mistake attempting to defend the article. It appears that you are stalking my posts freak. You stop posting, or at least stop stalking . . . have a good day bigot.

  3. Mike K October 18, 2017

    McCarthy is a FKG IDIOT of the highest quality. He NEVER EVER should have gotten the job. But because Cadaver Ted liked his macho voice, he was hired. Rodgers feel into Bevis & Buttheads lap, kept them both employed while F^%$G up the roster at every turn. Until this Board or gut-less pres fire those 2 ass-clowns things will not get better! What other team would keep a D Coordinator who’s defense is incompetent for like 8 years?????? Like Mike Florio & Colin Cowherd always say, nobody there to pull the plug.

  4. Mike K October 18, 2017

    McSlob knows he can throw his FAT ASS weight around at media, intimidate them. Its the reason every question ever asked is weak ass softball. Look at GB media crew?? Wilde, Demovsky, Tauscher, 2 Yokels on morning radio. Cast of Gilligans Island!!!

    1. ay hombre October 18, 2017

      It’s like they’re all scared to ask stuff. I think Aaron Nagler is typically a dick but I have to give him credit as he is almost always the first to fire off a question and will go for several in a row if the room allows him. The only problem is that his questions aren’t very interesting. How is so and so’s injury? What’s the offensive line looking like?

      But for all intents and purposes these guys are scared to ask anything pointed or even bordering on negative.

  5. PF4L October 18, 2017

    Yea…i’ve been talking about his intimidation tactics for years. McCarthy know’s these guys have a boss they need to report to, and won’t call him out. That almost changed last season during the losing streak, and it sure as hell could change from here on out, losing streaks have a way of humbling and neutering people in front of the media. I didn’t mind a losing streak last season, and i don’t mind if there is one this season.

    The circus act needs to go.

  6. PF4L October 18, 2017

    Good read Rob, keep up the good work.

  7. PF4L October 18, 2017

    FYI…in case anyone still has hope of the Packers going to the Super Bowl. Kevin King passed his concussion protocol, should be ready to go against the Saints.

  8. Ferris October 18, 2017

    Season over…we can all wish this could turn into a career ender for Mr. “Highly Successful” Belichik went 11-5 with Matt Cassel, and 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo what will this idiot do? Because they play such a weak schedule they can beat the Browns. Take a look at the games remaining, besides the Browns there are nothing but L’s unless the QB whisperer resident fat ass works a miracle. 6-10 is the number, the Browns and one other fluke game where they run 2 punts back for TDs.

  9. Gort October 19, 2017

    Not sure that Nick is watching the same thing that the rest of are watching.

    The analysis by Rob is spot on as usual.
    His posts are the best part of this site and is the primary reason that I keep coming back.
    Thank you Rob.