One of the common criticisms directed at the Green Bay Packers since their losing began has to do with their play calling and the rising level of predictability in their execution. That’s more flame to the fire blaming head coach Mike McCarthy, and not Aaron Rodgers or any of the players.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn took a look at the numbers of the Packers on third and short or fourth and short, and it seems there’s a worrying trend. Earlier this season they were much more balanced when finding themselves in these do-or-die situations, passing on six of their first 13 3rd-and-1 attempts. Their last five? All runs. They failed on third-and-1 and fourth-and-2 in the loss to the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving, not the first time they’ve been let down on short yardage situations in recent weeks.
It’s kinda funny thinking about it. The best asset the Packers have is Rodgers, throwing or running the ball when he has to. And yet it seems McCarthy, year after year, manages to mess up the prize he has at his disposal with some awful play calling. Packers fans will point to the loss against the Seahawks in the playoffs last season, or any other close loss in recent years, including this one. Rodgers does make mistakes, but not at this rate, and it’s not him calling for run plays when everyone expects it.
Against the Lions, running the ball isn’t such a bad option. But it has to be consistent and appropriate, while still leaning on Rodgers for the big plays and the majority of them. That doesn’t mean giving up on the running game early, a mistake a lot of teams do when they fall behind too early in the game. It just means McCarthy has to do a better job of reading situations and constantly leaving Rodgers with too much to do in the fourth quarter of games.