After getting some time to digest the Great Cheese Melt, I am left scratching my head at the strangest game I ever saw. The Seahawks outscored the Packers 28-6 in the second half as Green Bay’s Super Bowl dreams went up in smoke by an overtime score of 28-22 in the NFC Championship Game.
And the reason it was so odd was because the offense, defense, special teams and coaching all failed in the second half. Usually when a team loses, not all aspects of a team fall short. After halftime, nothing good happened for the Packers.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy may be 11 years light on head coaching experience to Bill Belichick, but McCarthy is only .003 percentage points from tying the Patriots coach in regular season winning percentage.
McCarthy is a great coach. We learned that last year when Aaron Rodgers was hurt and he had to make do for seven weeks.
But that doesn’t mean things still can’t be changed. And in order to get a good indication of the future, we have to look to the past.
In the ‘Fail Mary’ game of 2012 the Packers maintained a 12-7 lead with 1:54 left in the ballgame. The Packers just held the Seahawks to a turnover on downs and took over at their own 7.
And that’s when complacency set in. Cedric Benson got the call on first and second down to burn the Seahawks’ last two timeouts. Then on third-and-15, John Kuhn ran it up the middle for two yards before the Packers called a timeout to get the punting unit on the field.
We all know what happened 57 seconds later as the Packers were left scratching their heads.
McCarthy was one of 10 head coaches that called their own offensive plays this season. The Cardinals’ Bruce Arians was the only other coach that got into the playoffs and the Bears’ Marc Trestman is now editing his resume.
McCarthy’s passiveness is why he should be stripped of his play-calling duties. Instead of adjusting with what the game flow provides, his analytics cloud his judgment or he sticks to a script that was written days before kickoff.
Even with a circus in the second half, the game was lost in the first quarter. The Packers had the ball at the Seattle 1 twice and twice the Packers settled for field goals. Field goals are fine in the Midwest Shrine Game but not in the NFC Championship Game.
By not going for the touchdown on those two drives, the seed had been planted in the players’ minds that field goals were good enough against this defense. It’s another case of McCarthy respecting the Seahawks and its ‘Legion Of Boom’ just a little too much.
Another example of that overt respect is why Richard Sherman wasn’t challenged at all in the second half. Sherman was thrown at twice, with Jordy Nelson catching one pass for six yards. Even though the world could see that Sherman only had one healthy arm late in the game, the Packers only saw the best cover corner in the NFL and didn’t bother forcing him to do the impossible and defend with one arm.
The final example is right before overtime. Rodgers was having an average game and the way he engineered that final drive was amazing. And that included hobbling out-of-bounds after a 12-yard-gain. Timeouts are meant to assist. They give a break or devise strategy. McCarthy had all three at his disposal that final drive but he only used one to get the field goal unit on the field.
It’s hard to coach to win when you’re walking on eggshells trying to prevent the loss. Players are used to saying they’ll do whatever it takes to win by doing extra lifting, running extra sprints and watching extra game tape.
But what good does it do when the head coach is more worried about a failed risk as opposed to just failing?——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn