Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been calling plays for the Packers offense since he was named coach back in 2006. As a whole, McCarthy has done an above average job with the offense and has had top offenses for years.
However, if you are going to be given credit for success, you must accept responsibility for failure. This was the case in Week 3 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Packers’ offense looked lost throughout the entire game and turned the ball over as a team four times. Luckily for the Packers, the defense kept them in the game forcing six turnovers themselves. In the end, those six takeaways weren’t enough. Why? Play-calling for the most part.
The questionable play-calling showed late in the second half of the game. With the Packers clawing their way back into the game, the offense was faced with a third-and-goal. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was pressured and came up a few yards short of the end zone. After the field goal unit came out, there was a verbal altercation on the sidelines between Rodgers and McCarthy. It was clear that Rodgers wasn’t happy with the play called into him on that play.
You may say to yourself, “one bad call can’t cost you a game.” This is true, but a few very questionable calls late in the game also came back to bite the Packers in the backside.
With less than five minutes remaining in the game and the Packers clinging to a 30-27 lead, the offense faced a fourth-and-one on the Bengals’ side of the field. McCarthy decided to go for the first down. His decision I agreed with. His play call, I did not.
The Bengals showed a nine man front and packed the box to make sure the Packers could not run the ball in the middle. This is exactly what McCarthy tried to do. The decision ended up backfiring as rookie running back Johnathan Franklin was hit in the backfield and fumbled which was returned for the go-ahead touchdown for the Bengals.
There is no doubt in my mind that McCarthy should’ve called a roll out for Rodgers and let him try to get the first down with his legs or dump the ball off to a tight end or receiver in the flat. The Bengals made it clear that they were not going to allow the inside run, but McCarthy thought differently and it cost the Packers.
Even after the fumble return, the Packers had a chance to drive down the field and win the game. Once again, McCarthy made some questionable play calls.
The offense went with the spread look, but the play calls made the first option a short, quick route. Those types of plays are designed to get chunks of yards and get out of bounds. This is fine. However, the Packers had two timeouts remaining and could’ve been much more aggressive. There was no need to throw quickly every play. Because of the constant predictability of play calls, the Bengals’ D-line caught on and started knocking balls down at the line of scrimmage. The last drive saw four batted down passes, one of which was the fourth down play that ended the Packers hope of a comeback.
McCarthy will be questioned by many fans about the play calls, but at the end of the day this isn’t the only reason the Packers lost the game. If you’re of the old school generation you know the old saying “players need to make plays”, and on Sunday the Packers didn’t make enough.
Luckily for the Packers, the bye week has arrived and they can go back to the drawing board, get healthy and prepare for a Week 5 match-up with the Detroit Lions. I expect a much better performance by the Packers and much better play-calling by McCarthy.