The Green Bay Packers (7-4) lost 38-10 to the New York Giants (7-4) on Sunday Night Football in front of a nationally televised audience. The whooping showed plenty of shortcomings on behalf of the Packers and unfortunately displayed a way to defeat a team that was regarded as the best in the NFC. As bad as the execution was Sunday night, the game play was that much worse.
Head coach Mike McCarthy deserves most of the blame for the embarrassing loss, as his game plan on offense was absolutely terrible. Going into the game, McCarthy said the Packers “could not get the ball into Randall Cobb’s hands enough” but the offense did not have an answer when they could not get the wide receiver open.
Everyone in the league knows Cobb is the hot hand in Green Bay right now and New York did everything in their power to shut down the second-year player. The frustration on behalf of the Packers was quite obvious when Rodgers could not find Cobb open on the first few drives. That frustration grew when Rodgers did not have enough time to throw to Cobb when the receiver finally did get open.
McCarthy clearly wanted to establish some sort of running game in the early going, but I have to disagree with his decision to run on first and second down on consecutive drives. It put the Packers in difficult third down positions and the play calling became very predictable. If fans at home can guess what the next play is going to be, I am confident the Giants’ staff can figure it out.
“We had a plan and we didn’t execute it very well,” McCarthy said. “We got away from it and went to some spread things. That wasn’t the answer. That was quite poor play selection on my part.”
New York’s defensive game plan could not have worked any better, as they were able to rush four successfully and drop seven into coverage. The Cover-2 defense, a coverage the Packers have seen way too much of this season, prevented Green Bay from completing any passes along the side line. The Giants forced Rodgers to throw short passes across the middle that amounted to hardly anything.
“They played Cover-2,” wide receiver James Jones said. “They started out single-high and Jordy Nelson beat them for that long one. After that, they played Cover-2 and had someone over the top and someone outside. That’s it.”
Jones, who leads the team in touchdown receptions, did not see one ball thrown his way the entire game. The sad part about it is he was open on several plays but Rodgers never had the time to get the ball to him. In fact, if Rodgers was able to stay put in the pocket or was given an extra second to make a play, the Packers offense would have shredded the Giants’ defense. However, once again the offensive line failed to win their one-on-one assignments just like in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field earlier this year.
I am all for Cobb getting the ball and making plays because the 22-year-old clearly has the skill set to be a factor in the NFL. However, with an offense that has as many weapons as the Packers have, McCarthy must find a way to get everyone involved and not rely on one player.
The sole reason Green Bay went 15-1 last season is because Rodgers had enough time to drop back, find the open man and deliver. The Packers prided themselves the last couple years on the ability to have any wide receiver run any route, which gave Rodgers the freedom to throw to whoever was open. If McCarthy has made the executive decision to get away from that then he has simply shot his own team in the foot.
With four games left on the season and the NFC North still within their grasp, Green Bay must learn from Sunday night’s loss and then forget it ever happened until they face the Giants again in the postseason.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.