“Am I the only person who thinks the Packers are playing too much no huddle too soon? Why leave time on the clock for Atlanta at the end of the game?
I wrote this as I was watching that final drive unfold. It solidified for me when the Packers reached the Atlanta 30 yard line with almost three minutes left on the clock. And they continued with the no-huddle.
I’m looking for some progressive thinkers, here. I understand that you can’t control WHEN you score. But I firmly believe that while you are attempting to score, you can also keep a watchful eye on the clock. and not unnecessarily leave more time on the clock for the other team than you have to.
To me, it’s just about being smart about everything you do. Trying to “chase perfection in the hopes of catching excellence. ”
But conventional wisdom disagrees. Conventional wisdom says you just go full bore on a late drive and don’t even worry about time, unless you’re running out of it. Mike McCarthy is definitely a conventional wisdom kind of guy.
In many situations, the conventional wisdom is correct. But there are also situations where you have an opportunity to be more progressive-thinking than that. I believe this was one of them.
Let’s look at the play log of that final drive:
Green Bay Packers at 5:59
1-10- GB 10 (5:59) (Shotgun) B.Jackson left tackle to GB 15 for 5 yards (C.Lofton).
2- 5- GB 15 (5:34) (Shotgun) (no-huddle) A.Rodgers pass short left to A.Quarless to GB 26 for 11 yards (D.Robinson). P16
1-10- GB 26 (5:11) (Shotgun) (no-huddle) A.Rodgers pass short left to B.Jackson to GB 26 for no gain (D.Robinson).
2-10- GB 26 (4:32) (Shotgun) (no-huddle) PENALTY on GB-D.Colledge, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at GB 26 – No Play.
2-15- GB 21 (4:31) (Shotgun) (clock stopped)A.Rodgers pass short middle to A.Quarless to GB 40 for 19 yards (T.DeCoud; B.Williams). P17
1-10- GB 40 (3:51) (Shotgun)(no-huddle) B.Jackson left tackle to GB 48 for 8 yards (W.Moore).
2-2- GB 48 (3:25) (Shotgun) (no-huddle)A.Rodgers scrambles right end ran ob at ATL 45 for 7 yards (B.Williams). R18
1-10- ATL 45 (3:17) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to G.Jennings (T.DeCoud).
2-10- ATL 45 (3:13) (Shotgun) (clock stopped)A.Rodgers pass short right to G.Jennings to ATL 30 for 15 yards (B.Grimes). P19
1-10- ATL 30 (2:49) (Shotgun) (no-huddle)A.Rodgers pass short middle to B.Jackson to ATL 21 for 9 yards (B.Williams; S.Weatherspoon).
2-1- ATL 21 (2:23) (Shotgun) (no huddle) A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep left to J.Jones.
3-1- ATL 21 (2:14) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short left to B.Jackson.
4-1- ATL 21 (2:11) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers pass short middle to J.Jones to ATL 3 for 18 yards (D.Robinson). Penalty on ATL-B.Williams, Defensive Offside, declined.
1-3- ATL 3 (2:02) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers sacked at ATL 8 for -5 yards (J.Abraham). FUMBLES (J.Abraham), and recovers at ATL 6.
2-6- ATL 6 (1:54) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers pass incomplete short right to J.Jones.
3-6- ATL 6 (1:50) (Shotgun) (clock stopped) A.Rodgers pass short right to B.Jackson to ATL 5 for 1 yard (S.Weatherspoon).
4-5- ATL 5 (1:06) (Shotgun) (huddle) PENALTY on GB-B.Bulaga, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at ATL 5 – No Play.
4-10- ATL 10 (1:06) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short left to J.Nelson for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN. P21
M.Crosby extra point is GOOD, Center-B.Goode, Holder-T.Masthay.
On the second play of the drive, the Packers go right to the no-huddle? My first reaction was, so soon> But OK, I don’t have a problem with it when you have 90 yards to go for a TD. As the drive progressed, I had my eye on the clock the whole time. Already I was thinking about not leaving too much time for Atlanta.
While I was thinking about letting some clock run the whole time, I knew it would be risky to do it to early. The key moment, for me, was when the Packers got a first down at the Atlanta 30 yard line. There is approximately 3:00 left on the clock when that play completes.
Now, is it going to take 3:00 minutes to score from 30 yards out? Especially when you’re not going to be running the ball in the red zone? No. Incomplete passes will stop the clock, running out of bounds will stop the clock. Plus, they still had two timeouts.
With 3:00 minutes left, why not take a full huddle and let 30-40 seconds run off the clock? Maybe this makes you uncomfortable. Then how about the next play? They are now just 21 yards from the end zone with 2:40 left to play. Again, why not run it down close to the 2-minute warning? You won’t need 2 full minutes to score from 21 yards out when you’re just throwing the ball.
But the Packers don’t take their first huddle until the fourth and five play that produced the Jordy nelson TD catch. 38 seconds run off the clock. Had they just taken one more huddle, on either of those two plays I mentioned earlier, the Falcons get the ball back with at most, 20 seconds left on the clock. That changes their whole approach.
Now, I can hear all you cynics and skeptics now, “easy to say in hindsight, Al.” That’s certainly true, if I was writing this now, based on re-watching the game. But I was thinking this as it was happening in real-time. And I wrote it in my running commentary on the game.
And please note, I’m not blaming the loss on this, either. There are many better reasons why the Packers lost this game (poor tackling, poor goal line execution, poor kickoff coverage, etc.). In addition, the ability to do something like this totally depends on the situation (time left, yards to go, points needed, etc.). Enough disclaimers…
This is actually a subject I’ve thought about for a long time and this was just a perfect example to illustrate it. I consider this similar to the unconventional decision to let a team on your goal line score late in a game to guarantee you get the ball back with enough time for a scoring drive. Mike McCarthy showed against the Bears this season that he won’t do that. He prefers the conventional wisdom. I say forward-thinking is the way to be. What do you think?——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.