Pin these two losses on the coach

If the Green Bay Packers are going to turn their season around against the Chicago Bears this weekend, it will have to start with the head coach. For whatever reason, Mike McCarthy has once again abandoned the running game even though it has been successful the last two weeks. When the Packers were winning two-in-a-row over the Seahawks and Colts, they grinded Ryan Grant over 30 times a game even though Grant only averaged about three yards a carry. The last two weeks Grant averaged 4.5 and 4.7 yards per carry yet only touched the ball 36 times total. What the hell?

Sunday against the Vikings was a joke. Aaron Rodgers is getting killed by Vikings every drop back and Grant is busting 10-yard gains left and right, let’s see, what would you do? What better way to stop the pressure on a quarterback than to gash them on the ground? By refusing to run McCarthy takes the play-action out of his arsenal leaving no guessing whatsoever. Of course, when you go empty backfield on every third or fourth-and-one, what guessing is there to do anyway. I guess.

The Packers’ defensive line couldn’t stop a high-school running back and when you are playing Adrian Peterson, you might want to try and keep him off the field with a ground-control offense. But nooooo! McCarthy goes five-wide or empty backfield half the time and doesn’t adjust to the Vikings rush in any way shape or form. What happened to the tight end in the backfield for protection play? I think Sunday was the worst coaching performance of McCarthy’s three years as coach. It was pitiful and the icing on the cake was challenging the Vikings game-winning touchdown. Coupled with Will Blackmon catching a punt while in the endzone, I think I saw two of the worst decisions in the history of the NFL. Sure would have been nice to have that timeout prior to Mason Crosby’s game-winning kick. Instead of having to rush him out there to kick a 52-yarder, they could have called time out. Crosby would have time to calm the butterflies and considering the Vikings didn’t have a timeout, he knew they wouldn’t call one at the last second. But noooo! Out rushes Crosby, wide right.

And as Pete pointed out in the comments, when Rodgers does throw, it is time to go back to what was working early in the season and let Rodgers throw the ball downfield. There was a time when Greg Jennings led the NFL in receiving yardage. If Jennings can’t beat the double-team, then that’s another story, but I don’t think that is the case. here. Against the Titans Rodgers had some nice plays throwing downfield after breaking the pocket and throwing on the run. Rodgers’ strength is not the quick slant like it was for the previous quarterback. Just get the running game going and use those talented receivers the way they should and the Packers’ offense would be unstoppable.

McCarthy also needs to lay down the law with the defensive coordinator. Bob Sanders’ defense is not showing any signs of improvement or any kind of adjustments, just more of the same “gap control” bovine excrement. I don’t care who you have for players, and I don’t think the talent is that bad, you have to get better play than the Packers have gotten from their defense the last two weeks, and mostly that means run defense. You read about how the Bears shut down the Titans running game yesterday by strategically placing eight men in the box you wonder why the Packers can’t make adjustments like that. Yes the Bears lost, but with the cornerbacks the Packers have they could keep the Titans’ receivers in check much more so than the Bears, still with Rex Grossman at quarterback the Bears only lost 21-14. I remember former Packers’ defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur doing a lot more with a lot less.

If you don’t think the coach makes that big of a difference look no further than one of the teams the Packers lost to you this year – the Atlanta Falcons. Other than the rookie QB, the coach was the big change and look at the results. Going into the season I thought the Packers had one of the up-and-coming coaches in the NFL, I’m not saying that isn’t true after nine tough games, well, seven anyway, but I’m seeing some of the same stubbornness that doomed Mike Sherman in the end. Let’s hope it is just growing pains associated with the tremendous pressure placed him this season, not only does he have to win the Super Bowl, but he has to do it with a first-year starter at quarterback. Good luck with that, and welcome to the NFL.

I do have confidence in McCarthy to get this turned around, but has he wasted too much time already? Only the next seven weeks will tell. A loss to the Bears Sunday in Lambeau would really give the naysayers strength. This week I will withhold my prediction for a few days. And for the record, Derrick Frost might be the worst punter in the history of the league to ever actually hold a job for as many games as he has. The guy is an absolute joke and if special teams coordinator Mike Stock wanted him you really have to wonder about him, not to mention Ted Thompson’s decision to give in. I’d like to know the real story behind that horrible decision. I would fire Frost and Stock if I could.

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