With a third straight difficult loss, the Green Bay Packers‘ chances at making the playoffs are starting to dwindle. The injuries are starting to pile up, and without Aaron Rodgers behind center the season is slowly starting to slip away in Titletown.
On Sunday in New Jersey, the Packers lost to the New York Giants 27-13. It was a very slow game for the Packers with Scott Tolzien under center. The offense hit a few big plays, but the quarterback threw three costly interceptions that turned the game in the Giants’ favor. However, Tolzien isn’t the only one to blame for this loss. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s play-calling was very questionable, and two series really stood out to me that showed McCarthy is struggling to get anything going without Rodgers.
Early in the second quarter, Tolzien hit Jordy Nelson and James Jones for two back-to-back huge plays that combined totaled 70 yards. The Packers were in prime position to make a 10-0 Giants lead turn into a 10-7 deficit. All McCarthy had to do was stick with the hot hand. However, he decided to call back-to-back draw plays out of shotgun to James Starks. Starks gained minus-one yard total and put Tolzien in a third down situation where the defense knew he was going to throw. He was pressured and threw the ball quick to Jarrett Boykin. The reception set the Packers up to kick a field goal and made what could have been a 10-7 deficit, a 10-3 score.
Now many people may say you need to play conservative with a quarterback in his first career start. I’m all for that, but when Tolzien hit the two big plays you could see the confidence glaring off his helmet. I did not disagree with the first run but on second down, McCarthy had to let Tolzien throw. He decided not to, and it allowed the Giants to buckle down and feel confident for “bending not breaking.”
The second play call that had me scratching my head was in the third quarter. The Packers were trailing by just a touchdown when the punt unit took the field. Staring at a fourth-and-seven, McCarthy decided to call a fake punt from the Giants 43-yard line. The snap was directed to safety M.D. Jennings and he took off on the right side of the line. He was tackled and brought down a yard short of the first down to give the Giants fantastic field position, and the ensuing drive for the Giants resulted in a touchdown.
This play really boggled my mind. The Packers’ defense had finally started to play well and get pressure on Eli Manning. They were stopping the run and they had a chance to pin the Giants inside their own 20-yard line. Instead, McCarthy got desperate and called for the fake.
The conservativeness on offense and the desperate plays on special teams are prime examples that McCarthy is folding under the pressure without Rodgers. He is making rash decisions during the week and his play-calling has gotten worse over the past three weeks. The Packers can’t afford many more losses (if any) if they want to play football into late December. The whole team must come together and step up, and it all starts with McCarthy.