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The Dagger to the Packers’ Season

It happened with 7:27 left in the third quarter of the Detroit Lions’ game. Green Bay had the ball at midfield, facing a fourth down with two yards to go. The Packers couldn’t afford to turn the ball over to Matthew Stafford, who was having his way with the Packers’ defense.

Mike McCarthy correctly realized this was not the time to punt. What he dialed up was a formation consisting of Ty Montgomery to Hundley’s right, and tight end Lance Kendricks next to the left tackle. Slot receiver Randall Cobb then went in motion and was given a shovel pass of sorts as he went by in front of Hundley. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams were decoys.

The first problem was that you, I, and the Lions knew this wasn’t going to be a pass play. Despite all of Big Mike’s words of confidence in his backup QB, his actions for three games now have been contrary to his words. No way was McCarthy going to put the biggest play of the season in Hundley’s hands.

Criticism of McCarthy’s restraints on Hundley has been universal, but as I’ve noted, McCarthy doesn’t listen and doesn’t learn. Sadly, Brett Hundley will carry the nickname “training wheels” with him forever as a result of McCarthy’s lack of trust.

Here we were, over halfway through Hundley’s third game, and McCarthy was still calling for Brett to make dink and dunk passes – broadcaster Jon Gruden even had a staffer prepare a chart showing how the short passes were being smothered by the Lions – just like the Vikes and the Saints did previously.

But back to the dagger. The Lions, of course, were hugging the line of scrimmage, ignoring any possibility of a downfield pass play. Rather than resorting to any fakery or play action, Hundley pitched the ball forward to Cobb — in full view of the Lions’ defenders — in what Jon Gruden called a jet sweep.

The Lions’ penetration precluded any possibility of Cobb going wide around end. Blocking-wise it was one on four – and the one, tight end Lance Kendricks, made things worse by fanning on his attempted block. It didn’t really matter, as safety Glover Quin, playing in the middle, got a great break when he saw the shovel pass and already had Cobb on his back, three yards behind the line of scrimmage and five yards short of the marker. Had Quin missed, THREE other defenders were there to make the stop.

You can’t blame Hundley on this. McCarthy’s play calls have always been highly predictable — even when Aaron Rodgers was on the field. Now with Hundley, he might as well have broadcast this was to be a run over a loudspeaker.

Failing to convert on this fourth down isn’t in itself proof of a bad play. But when there are four tacklers in position to stop the play for a loss, I think we can safely say it was a rotten call.

It’s a crime that such a promising season has come to ruin. And McCarthy’s fingerprints are all over the crime scene.

Rob Born

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



  1. Gort November 9, 2017

    It was a dumbass play and very typical of recent MM philosophy.
    A running play that developed way too slow for that down and distance.

  2. Cheese November 9, 2017

    This is where you insert the GIF of Rodgers saying “Stupid Fucking Call.’

  3. Empacador November 9, 2017

    The BK menu does not lie…

  4. Phillthy November 9, 2017

    Didn’t we use to run FB sets and use them often to being men in the box and set up play action? Anyone remember those days?

    1. Ender November 10, 2017

      I remember running those plays in Madden, worked like a charm every time.

  5. Deepsky November 10, 2017

    OK, this one shovel pass play was definitely a McCarthy play call, but I think this is the type of call McCarthy calls even when Rodgers is playing.

    I understand you logic that the Lions were playing to stop the short pass because Hundley does not throw long passes and that this play was unlikely to succeed.

    I just don’t think this is because of McCarthy. Many pass plays are calling for receivers to run longer routes and they are getting open. Hundley is looking right at these guys and not pulling the trigger.

    In order for your theory to be correct, that it’s McCarthy’s fault, McCarthy is telling Hundley not to take the deep receiver. He’s going against everything he believes. Going against his spread offense concepts that he stubbornly has run even when they aren’t working. If McCarthy is insisting Hundley take the short routes, its because he knows he doesn’t have the arm to make the play. If that’s the case, then its Hundley’s fault again.