Who’s to blame?

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I’ve been struggling with this question for the last day after our horrific loss to the Vikes. Painful, painful loss. There is lots of blame to spread around. Here are some thoughts – and let us know your thoughts.

  • McCarthy. Abandoned the run when it was working very well (Grant was averaging 4.7ypc and would have had well over 100 yards on 18 carries if the officials hadn’t blown 2 holding calls). Challenge was a waste. Did NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING to counter the brutal pass rush. I’ll bet he over-emphasized run blocking in practice this week and forgot re pass protection. While I’ll admit, I’m a big 4-5 WR set advocate, I would have dropped that idea after the 4th time Rodgers got rocked. Where were the TEs? Every good team in the NFL figures out how to use their TEs – MM hasn’t done that consistently.
  • Offensive Line. To be fair, the O-Line did run block really well. Had McCarthy called more running plays, this game may have ended differently. But the pass protection was so bad it was unbelievable. Rodgers had almost no time back there. Clifton was sorry (as I think he has been since the middle of last season). On more than one occasion, it seemed Wells was doubling up someone when his man was running free to explode on Rodgers. Spitz and Tauscher were less obviously bad, but still bad and Colledge is almost always bad.
  • D-Line. I would only assign a bit of blame to the D-Line mostly for not getting a few more stops at the line of scrimmage and for not pressuring the immobile Frerotte very well (only 2 sacks). This may surprise some of you, but the D-Line, considering they were on the field for a huge part of the game (36 of the 60 minutes), actually held AP to lots of runs of just a couple yards. Fox showed the very interesting stat in the 3rd quarter re how many 0-3 yard runs AP actually had. But when he got through to the next level on several occasions for 20-40 yard gains, it was the LBs who failed to stop him. (Reader RayMidge also pointed this out).
  • LB play. This group, which was supposed to be good, is not good this year. Poppinga is a waste (he was given 6 assisted tackles for the game yesterday – apparently he gets credit for falling on people after someone else tackles them). Hawk does very little but block well after we have an interception. Barnett’s loss may have hurt in leadership ways I’m not privy to, but he wasn’t doing much prior to his injury and I’m not sure he would have done much better than Bishop (who came back with a few nice plays after his 2 screw-ups).
  • Derrick Frost. The guy sucks. Jon Ryan has a several more punts over 59 yards this year than Frost (5-2, something that would have helped a lot yesterday), a better overall average and as many punts inside the 20…in one less game. Mistake to cut Ryan.
  • Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he really couldn’t do much under that kind of pressure, but the fact is, he didn’t do much. Great players can usually figure something out…anything. Rodgers didn’t figure anything out. Maybe he will figure it out more effectively as he gains experience, but he didn’t do anything yesterday. Lots of that again was due to the pressure and due to McCarthy not calling plays that could counter that mad pass rush. Though it’s not a fair comparison, what happened to Rodgers was really no different than what happened to Peyton Manning against he Vikes in Week 2 – I thought Manning was going to die…and they had zero running game – but he figured something out (check downs, getting TEs involved, FBs, RBs on misdirection screens, a few purposeful bombs).
  • Adrian Peterson. He’s really, really, really good. I was counting on a 100+ yard game from him and maybe a TD or two, but what he did was unreal. I don’t look forward to more games against this guy.
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11 Responses to “Who’s to blame?”

  1. DaveK Says:

    Packers had one offensive drive that worked all day. Here is the breakdown:

    1 +10: Grant – 13 yard run.
    1 + 10: Grant – 2 yard run.
    2 + 8: Grant – 6 yard run
    3 + 2: Quick slant to Jennings for 14 yards.
    1 + 10: Quick slant to Driver for 11 yard to one yard line.
    1+Goal: Grant 1 yard TD run.

    No penalties. Good run blocking. Throws were out almost instantly.

    Contrast that to any series in the next three quarters and you shake your head wondering why you don’t follow the recipe that worked in the first quarter. The last drive was typical. Starts at Packers 40 yard line with 2:15 left. You have plenty of time to move the ball. They need about 30 yards to get into comfortable range.

    1+ 10: Horrible pass to Driver that would have been intercepted except that it bounced off the LB’s head, over the CB, and into Drivers hands. 20 yards to the 40 yard line. Two minute warning.

    Ok – you have two minutes and need 10 more yards to get into a comfortable field goal range. The first play says it all.

    1+10: Grant run to the right. Minus 1 yard. Clifton falls down. Colledge lets Williams beat him inside and ends up blocking no one. Wells gets pushed back into the play.

    2 + 11: Grant four yard run.

    3+ 7: Driver catches ball at line of scrimmage and gains 3 yards.

    4+ 3: Missed 52 year field goal.

  2. DaveK Says:

    Asked if the Packers would keep Frost, special teams coach Mike Stock said, “I don’t know anymore about it. We’ll sit down and talk more after we look at the video.” . . .”

    Frost won’t be collecting a week 10 paycheck and he shouldn’t after the way he punted yesterday. Compare and contract the two punters yesterday. Field position is important in this game and Frost costs us 20 yards a punt.

    I spent some time last night looking again at the offense and paying attention to the line on passing plays. Clifton got owned both by Allen and his replacement. I agree that Wells definitely missed some assignments. He failed at least twice to come off a double to pick up a blitzing LB. They just do not play well as a unit right now on passing downs. They are easily confused and just get pushed around. That being said, the play calling and Rodgers are not helping them either. There were some plays yesterday in which Rodgers had time to throw and seemed reluctant to pull the trigger or got happy feet which broke the play down. It’s hard to blame the guy with all the pressure but he and his targets need to figure out how to get the ball out and exploit the holes left by blitzing LB’s and safeties. Lee should have a stellar day the way the LB’s were vacating the middle. This might be the drop-off from Favre to Rodgers – the ability to recognize, react, and exploit what the defense is doing. If the team can’t exploit the pressure then it makes it a tough task for the line to manage the onslaught. The Vikings should have been made to pay a price for bringing that kind of heat but Rodgers and his targets could not get it done.

  3. awhayes Says:

    DaveK – well put, both comments. I agree. The very basic basketball camp saying comes to mind: “two men on me, one must be free”. I also think our inability to stretch the field with some deeper throws kept the field short and allowed their safeties and corners to cheat forward.

  4. Frank Metzke Says:

    DaveK – Are you kidding? Favre would have done better?? Favre was terrible in the HHH Dome, losing his first 5 starts. He may have thrown 5 INTs if he was our QB yesterday with that type of pressure..

    I loved Rodger’s comment in the Post Game Press Conference. He was asked if he was “rattled” and he said: “Excuse me? Rattled? No, maybe I had the wind knocked out of me.” LMAO! I was worred about him getting rattled or hurt, but this guy is cool under pressure. I think he’ll bounce back agains the Bears.

    The one thing that did scare me, and it’s surprising because it’s been a strength up until this game, was McCarthy’s coaching/playcalling. The challenge had me flipping out! I’m somewhat relieved he said in hindsight he’d rather have the timeout, but what was he thinking the first time around??

    I also thought the offensive playcalling was terrible, with that kind of pressure–you gotta help out Rodgers! Run the ball! I know there were some ticky-tacky holding penalties, but Grant was killing it. Also, as much as we love the 5-wide, ABANDON it in this game. We’re on the road, we’ve given up 2 safties and the pressure was ridiculous. Keep two guys in the backfield and max protect until Rodgers gets some momentum or confidence. What’s wrong with throwing some short slants to the TE. I’m not saying Findley, but where were Humprey and Lee?

    My final thought (and bear with me here): It’s too bad we weren’t down 6 like the Vikings. They HAD to go for the touchdown. They HAD to go for it on 4th down. I actually like that situation better, because if we were down by 6, then we HAVE to go for it on 4th down. It gives us another chance on downs to get a first down or TD rather than kicking a field goal. I know that’s easy to say in hindsight because they lost, but I had a bad feeling both when the Vikings had to score 6 and then again when we had to score only 2. That was a long field goal. Figures Mike Stock told McCarthy at the 2:00 warning that Crosby was nailing them from 60 yards..

  5. bucky Says:

    Usually the ability to stretch the field is adversely impacted by a strong pass rush In other words, Aaron Rodgers was gonna need a lot more time than he had in order to stretch the field.

    As fior some of the other gripes:

    Yeah, I think McCarth bears a good amount of blame here. The challenge was useless. And I think the Packers should have run the ball a lot more, although it seemed that every time we gained more than 5 yards it was called back. Mostly what I would blame him for is the fact that Green Bay is the most penalized team in the league, even more than the pathietic Raiders, who usually lead in that department. Some may have been bad or questionable calls, but those tend to balance out over the course of the season. This many penalties is a mark of a team that lacks discipline, and I’m pretty sure McCarthy does not view himself in such a fashion. He needs to fix that immediately.

    The LB play has been disappointing, but I don’t think Barnett is to blame as much as others do. As I say almost daily, Poppinga is a waste of a jersey number. But AJ Hawk has not grown as much as I would have liked either. As for Barnett- he has not been as good as last year, but I think part of that is that the D line has not been occupying blockers enough to keep him free to do his job. Losing Jenkins and Corey Williams has really hurt the middle of the Dline, and Barnett’s struggles have something to do with that. Now that Barnett is done for the year, let’s see how Bishop does in the same role. It’s not easy.

    As for the D line- I thought they played very well against the run about 75% of the time. Unfortunately, the 25% they did not play well resulted in big plays. An even bigger problem was the complete lack of a pass rush. How a QB can throw 3 picks without anyone even close to him is a mystery. Comparing Gus Frerotte to Aaron Rodgers is a joke.

    Frost- yeah, he stunk. Has he been released yet?

    The unit with the most problems, though, is the Oline. After a pretty decent game against one of the toughest defensive fronts in the business, this unit simply did not show up in any way, shape or form, and something is going to have to be done about it. James Campen better have his resume up to date, because his may be the first head on the chopping block. As I said yesterday, Chad Clifton has earned some pine, though I’m not sure who’s ready to take over left tackle. The problem is that he’s not the only problem; everyone else on that line pretty much stunk too.

    I’m not gonna panic or start talking BS about someone’s dog; I’ll leave that sort of crap to Vikings’ fans where it belongs. There’s still a lot of time left this season, and the Packers are only one game out, with two games remaining against the Bears and one against the hapless Lions. So I think the division is still in reach. But it is time for this team to step up.

  6. awhayes Says:

    Frank – good point about preferring to be down 6 – I know just what you mean and I think there was a sense of “let’s just get in field goal range” going on. (Sort of like the Sherman years when I believe he PREFERRED field goals to TDs). Another 10-15 yards and I would have bet big money on Crosby making it. I also agree re tight ends. They are the QB’s best friend in games like that. Think of all the good teams out there and how effectively those QBs use their TEs (and of course, how effectively the play-callers incorporate TE pass plays).

    I do happen to agree with DaveK though, re Favre. In fact, so does Drew Olsen of ESPN radio Milwaukee (one of the few sensible, thoughtful local sports guys – and a guy who really turned sour on Favre after the whole situation). Favre was/is very good at avoiding pressure with his Ole arm move and fakes and that probably would have helped him at least on a few of those occasions. But not as much as the recognition of what was coming and where it was coming from. I do believe yesterday’s game would have been a time when experience would have helped. (Like I mentioned before – Manning’s experience lifted Indy out of an arguably worse situation in Week 2 because they had zero run game). Sure, Favre would have thrown 1-2 picks, maybe fumbled, but I think he may have also been a bit more successful at getting the offense unstuck. Of course, as we’ve both said, many of the hits on Rodgers could have been avoided if they’d stuck with Grant plowing right through the vaunted Williams duo.

  7. Dave in Tucson Says:

    There’s no question that the Packers have a number of problems right now, in play calling, pass protection, and special teams.

    The continuing failure of the defense to stop the run is making all the other issues much worse. If the Packers had been able to hold AP to ~100 yards (as they did in week 1), the Packers would’ve won easily.

    Rodgers didn’t figure anything out.

    Yeah, this is (imo) probably the biggest problem after the lack of run defense. It seemed to me that he was doing fairly well when he did get his throws off. Maybe all he needed to “figure out” was to throw the ball away when his first read was covered.

    Very similar to the problems Favre had last year dealing with the lack of pass protection @ Dallas. I wonder how much this is a coaching issue.

    D∈T

  8. DaveK Says:

    “DaveK – Are you kidding? Favre would have done better??”

    Yeah, I actually think Farve would have managed that game better. I think Rodgers is a good QB that lacks experience. Rodgers can make any throw. He is accurate and has a strong arm. He seems to be smart and poised. But, I think Favre brings some things to the table that Rodgers is missing at this point in his career. Communicating with receivers, finding a TE/RB quickly, diagnosing blitzes and coverages, changing the play, etc… I am not bringing this up to rehash the entire Favre saga but I think it is an important difference from last year which may explain, in part, the playcalling and lack of production in the last two games.

  9. scott in wisconsin Says:

    Can’t compare AR and Manning at this point. That’s like comparing Shia LeBouf with someone like Morgan Freeman. Yes, they are both actors. But one’s a legend. The other’s still workin at it.

  10. Scott in wisconsin Says:

    And my vote is that MM is preoccupied now that he’s married and has a baby. As a single bachelor his first few years, he could get away with devoting all day and week and meals to preparing for games. I know he has support staff, but he’s off his game. Probably a combination of the whole Favre fiasco and the marriage/baby. He just doesn’t seem as linear this year. I mean, remember high school? The kids that did the best were nerds who had tons of free time because they didn’t date and could spend ten hours a week working on their chemistry work while doing some nerd hobby that simultaneously made them smarter, like building robots and stuff. MM isn’t the football nerd anymore. Sherman was a nerd but tried to be cool with his columns and stuff. Rhodes was like the dumb jock. Holmgren was the smart kid who was also a jock. Everything relates to high school, people.

  11. Donald's Designated Driver Says:

    RE: “abandoning the run.”

    It’s difficult to run the ball when the team is constantly facing 2nd and 3rd and long because of penalties.

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