After the Green Bay Packers lost to the 49ers in last year’s wild-card round, I was very critical of Aaron Rodgers and his playoff performances since winning Super Bowl XLV.
After the Packers meltdown in Sunday’s NFC title game, it’s time to be critical of another prominent figure in the Packers organization for his shortcomings post-Super Bowl: head coach Mike McCarthy.
I don’t need to re-hash every area where McCarthy erred on Sunday. By now, the decision not to go four it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line, twice, has been beaten to death. We’ve also lamented McCarthy’s conservative playcalling in the second half repeatedly.
All of that and more is laid out in this scathing piece from Ty Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
If we want to pile on even further, we can fault McCarthy for not getting in Dom Capers’ ear during a critical series in the second half where the Packers defense went into a soft zone instead of continuing to dial up pressure when Seattle picked up a first down after being faced with second and 31. Or we can blame McCarthy for keeping Shawn Slocum around despite repeated special teams failures.
Fact is, with the exception of the second half against Dallas a couple weeks ago, McCarthy (like his quarterback) hasn’t brought it in the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLV. That doesn’t mean McCarthy should be fired. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad coach. It just incredibly frustrating.
Think back to last season’s playoff defeat against San Francisco. On the first Packers series, McCarthy calls three straight runs, the last of which ended up with John Kuhn coming up a yard short of a first down and the Packers punting.
Next series: run up the gut for a yard, Rodgers is sacked, incomplete pass that would’ve been well short of a first down anyway, punt.
On the next series, Rodgers took a sack, missed on a short pass, and McCarthy surrendered on third and 15 by calling a draw play. Punt.
Just like they did against Seattle on Sunday, the Packers had a real shot at taking control of that San Francisco game early, but McCarthy’s buttoned-up approach was a contributing factor in preventing that from happening.
Go back to all the Packers’ playoff defeats since winning the Super Bowl. You can even re-visit the wild-card round win over the Fighting Joe Webbs. Has McCarthy done anything that made you think, “Man, coach Mac really outsmarted the other team today.” Or, “I’m really glad McCarthy did what he did in that situation. Really helped the Packers win this game.”
I’m hoping this critique of postseason McCarthy doesn’t take a mind-numbing turn in the comments section like my Rodgers critique did following last year’s 49ers’ loss. I didn’t write this to post to serve as a referendum on whether McCarthy should be fired. He shouldn’t be. He’s an excellent coach and I can’t think of another active coach I’d rather have coaching the Packers.
But the postseason shortcomings are starting to add up, and there seems to be a pattern that entails overly conservative playcalling combined with complete meltdowns on either defense, special teams or both.
While I won’t even give people who clamor for McCarthy to be fired the time of day, I will listen to those who think it might be time to turn over playcalling duties to a true offensive coordinator. Valid critiques of McCarthy’s playcalling are starting to pile up, and they’re coming from more than the usual crowd who complains about everything.
I don’t see McCarthy ever giving up playcalling duties (I wouldn’t in his situation, either), but it’s intriguing to think about what might happen if McCarthy is freed up to give more attention to defense and special teams late in big games. Would it help prevent the collapses of recent years?
And would an offensive coordinator who calls the plays, using guidance and direction provided by McCarthy during the week, help the Packers end this run of postseason games where their offense gets stagnant and predictable, especially when the opportunity is there to deliver a crushing blow to the other team?
Who knows? Either way, it stinks we’re talking about this instead of how to beat the Patriots in two weeks.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .