For the last few seasons, the Green Bay Packers have had the best quarterback in the NFL on their team in Aaron Rodgers. However, since winning the Super Bowl, it looks like the Packers are moving backwards in terms of defense, the running game and the decision making by the head coach Mike McCarthy.
The problem? When you have a playmaker as good as Rodgers, who manages to work wonders regardless of the ruptured offensive line, the non existent running game and the less than impressive wide receiver core, it’s easy to believe that he’s good enough to get you out of any jam.
Rodgers finished with 333 yards and three touchdowns, while the interception he threw was actually more of a mistake by Jermichael Finely, who let the ball bounce off his hands. If Finley would have been handling the passes at him slightly better, the afternoon could have ended very differently for the Packers, losing 34-28.
There was plenty of talk about how the Packers will be more committed to the run this season, but we didn’t see much of a change. They carried the ball only 19 times, with Eddie Lacy finished with 41 yards, a touchdown and a crucial fumble, considering how close the Packers were to finally beating San Francisco.
Mike McCarthy could have made better decisions in more than just his playcalling and versatility, as the Packers had six possessions (out of a total of 13) in which they failed to move the chains. One of them was Lacy’s fumble, and he does need to do a better job in blocking and handling the ball, but there were too many moments when it seemed the Packers didn’t give Rodgers enough help in order to sustain drives.
And then there were the couple of calls – the Clay Matthews late hit on Colin Kaepernick, which more a case of finishing the play than actually trying to hurt the quarterback, and was called wrongly by the refs, giving the 49ers an extra down as the referees ordered a replay, and McCarthy himself.
On 3rd and 1 the 49ers failed to get the first down as Frank Gore was stuffed for a no gain before a penalty for an illegal formation was announced. Mike McCarthy decided to accept the penalty, thus allowing the 49ers, who were very efficient during the first half in converting these third downs, another go at it. The 49ers scored a touchdown two plays later.
Rodgers isn’t perfect; he makes mistakes as well. But looking back at small moments during their loss to the 49ers, despite their defense being shredded over the middle by Kaepernick, this was a game they should have won, and the head coach has to take it on himself and his decision making on certain plays and in general his perception of the offense.