McCarthy: Communication in Secondary a Problem; Neal Could Practice Thursday All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Photo: Mark Hoffman, Journal Sentinel

At his weekly Monday press conference, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy made it clear what the main factor in his defense’s inability to stop Philip Rivers and the Chargers was on Sunday.

It’s very simple: A lack of communication.

“The big plays made on our defense were obvious,” McCarthy said. “The breakdowns in pass coverage all go back to communication. A number of the communication errors we had put our guys in bad situations on the big plays.”

In the Packers 45-38 win over the Chargers, Rivers threw for 385 yards and four scores, including two in the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter that pulled San Diego within seven points. McCarthy also said that you can’t “quantify the errors with one player’s absence,” in reference to the Packers losing Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins in Week 2 against the Panthers. Collins is out for the season with a neck injury and Charlie Peprah has been starting in his place. Morgan Burnett, a second-year player who missed most of 2010 with a knee injury, starts along with Peprah at the back.

McCarthy also gave a brief timeline on injured defensive end Mike Neal, who hasn’t played a game yet in 2011 after suffering a non-contact knee injury during training camp that required surgery. The initial plan this week is for the Packers to get Neal on the practice field by Thursday. There is a “progression” plan in place to get Neal back, and the team is going to take his recovery slow.

Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel for Neal to play in 2011?

Other highlights from McCarthy’s press conference:

  • Frank Zombo has a hamstring strain and will likely miss Monday night’s game with the Minnesota Vikings. It didn’t “sound severe,” McCarthy said, but he’ll be challenged to be ready for this week’s contest. The injury marks Zombo’s third different ailment in 2011 (scapula, knee).
  • McCarthy said the Packers substitution and play entry were sloppy on Sunday. He thought that had a little something to do with readjusting after the bye week but viewed that as an excuse for a “sloppy” game in that respect.
  • The last two series for the Packers defense was the “most consistent,” and McCarthy threw out one of his favorite terms: “Adversity football.” With their backs against the wall, the Packers defense stepped up and produced.
  • McCarthy thought Charles Woodson’s disappointment following the game was about the reality of the expectations in the Packers locker room, in addition to being a normal product of feelings after a hard game.
  • McCarthy pointed out that the Chargers played a lot of man-under, match-coverage, which Aaron Rodgers recognized early on. He took advantage at that point with his legs. When asked if he was OK with Rodgers running, McCarthy responded, “Absolutely.”
  • On Minnesota, McCarthy didn’t care about the short time between playing each other. There’s lots of history in division games, and more self-scouting will be done in preparation.
  • On deferring to open games, McCarthy said that it’s a week-to-week decision. He likes having the ball to start the second half however, and it worked well again in yesterday’s game. Scoring right before the half and also to start the second has been a common occurrence in 2011, so I have no problems with McCarthy deferring.
  • McCarthy thought the most impressive aspect of the atmosphere in San Diego was the Packers fans. In pre-game, there was a lot of green and gold. The Chargers had to go into a silent count at times at home. That was significant for the Packers on the road.
  • When asked about double moves in pass defense, McCarthy again said that communication is the biggest issue for the Packers right now.
  • McCarthy was happy with the running game. Both James Starks and Ryan Grant averaged over four yards a carry, and Aaron obviously chipped in 50-plus with his feet. The third down production was good, too, but McCarthy was displeased with a few of his own play calls in the four minute offense to close the game.

Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

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5 thoughts on “McCarthy: Communication in Secondary a Problem; Neal Could Practice Thursday

  1. While the explanation is simple, the execution of doing it is complicated. For starters, if the quarterback is going to scramble to buy time, as least have someone backing towards the endzone because the common instinct is to chase after the quarterback to tackle him. Woodson on one play was suppose to cover Jackson after he passed Peprah I think it was and he went in untouched into the endzone I believe.

    This week with Minnesota on paper, shouldn’t really test this Defense with that because I don’t believe in Ponder being dangerous.

    Tampa Bay, the next opponent after Minnesota, that is when the Defense will need to have this mess fixed up to preview how the Packers have done before we get into the playoffs.

  2. Neal is a injury bust period. Hurt all last year and hasn’t played this year because he got hurt in practice during a non-contact drill. Come on man. Until you get in a game and start contributing Mike, you are a bust and TT made a mistake. Now get out there and prove me wrong, we need you to push the pocket.

  3. Listening to MM’s words regarding Neal, I get the impression he’s not counting on Neal hitting the field anytime soon. Med staff will decide his practice regimen. I know Neal must be more frustrated than any of us but GB made a conscious decision to let Jenkins go based on Neals’ presence. Personally I’ve given up hoping he will show up and improve the pass rush immediately. He’s not been on the field long enough to show what his true potential is.

    It’s time for Capers and MM to get the defense straightened out now. SD had 7 20+ yard plays Sunday. They scored 5 TDs. SD had two shots at tying or winning the game late. GB was ahead by 21 points with about 14 minutes to go. The problem is not exclusively defense, MM’s contol offense has the effect of putting the brakes on that high powered machine that should be running up the score as much as possible. The control O usually results in a much closer finish than it should be.

    The toughest part of the schedule is ahead and they need to play their best for at least 4 more games.

    Looks like Zombo is joining Neal as a permanent member on the sick call list.

    If any week would be a cheer for the Bear week this week is it. They play the Lions at Soldiers Field and the Lion offense isn’t that great. Gould is a great FG kicker and could be the difference. A three or four game lead would be great going into the Thanksgiving game.

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