Earlier this week I showed how many factors favored Brett Hundley having a good passing day last week against New Orleans. But the Green Bay Packers managed to squander all those advantages. They simply cannot continue on this path for another game – not if they have legitimate prospects of playing in the postseason – and they do.
The biggest advantage an NFL team normally can have is the home-field advantage, which the Packers possess for the second game in a row at this perilous juncture of their season. Against the Detroit Lions though, Green Bay will have an even bigger advantage: coming off a bye week.
Research suggests that while coming off a bye week is an advantage (53.7 winning percentage), the advantage accrues more to some head coaches than to others. Walterfootball.com did such an analysis. It must have taken place after the 2015 season, because it listed Big Mike as having a 9-1 record after bye weeks. Last year Green Bay beat the Giants, so make it 10-1.
Other coaches who seem to use the extra prep time wisely include: Andy Reid (Kansas City) at 10-4, Mike Shanahan (Denver) at 9-4, John Harbaugh (Baltimore) at 7-2, Jason Garrett (Dallas) at 5-2.
Yes sports fans, Mike McCarthy has the NFL’s best win percentage (five or more games) in recent years coming off a bye week! Who had the worst? Mike Holmgren, while he was at Seattle, went 1-10.
So, in addition to all the factors which the Packers had in their favor last week, this week we can add perhaps the strongest factor of them all.
It’s been three weeks since Anthony Barr’s dirty deed on Aaron Rodgers. It’s been two weeks since the Packers’ passing game planning proved to be a miserable failure against the Saints. Did McCarthy – a notoriously slow learner and stubborn individual – learn anything from the Saints game? Will he make the adjustments necessary to allow Brett Hundley to have some success?
Make no mistake, the Packers should beat the Lions – Green Bay has almost all those factors in its favor. Detroit is a 3-4 team. Two of those wins were against the Cardinals and the Giants – who have a combined 4-10 record this year.
Detroit has a terrible gap at left tackle – attention Clay Matthews. QB Matthew Stafford’s passer rating ranks only 15th. The team with all those fourth quarter comebacks last year on Sunday evening managed just three second-half points, allowing the Steelers to pull off a comeback win against them.
This one’s all on you Big Mike. Hundley is your guy – you’ve made that clear, you’ve had three years to nurture him, and now you’ve had three weeks to center your game preparation around him. You’ve also had a week to analyze and correct the pile of mistakes you made in preparing for the Saints. In a couple of days we’ll find out if you can correct, adjust, learn, and change.
Big Mike, you’ve had talented teams throughout your head coaching career. But without Aaron Rodgers you went 2-5-1 in 2013, and now you are 0-2 without him this year. As my earlier post suggested, the McCarthy legacy is on the line this Monday – and on through the remainder of this regular season.
Big Mike, are you the “highly successful” NFL coach you claim to be – or have you been riding along on the coattails of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre for your entire head coaching career?
The season is on the line this Monday. It’s prove-it time, coach.