The first column I wrote for the Racine County Eye praised Mike McCarthy’s decision to surrender play calling duties for the Green Bay Packers. After the Packers struggled on Sunday to score points against the 1-7 Detroit Lions (a.k.a worst scoring defense in the NFL) I began to wonder if McCarthy should resume calling the plays. But McCarthy rebuked that proposal after the game by succinctly declaring “I don’t think it’s that simple.”
He is correct.
It’s always tempting to look for an “obvious” solution when your team is struggling. This is why the backup quarterback is often the most popular guy in town. The obvious solution for the Packers is to have McCarthy call plays again. They have looked out of sync for most of this season, which is a stark contrast to their brutal efficiency when McCarthy was calling the plays. While it’s certainly possible this is the magic elixir we’re all looking for, the problems seem to go deeper than that.
We all know about the key injuries to Jordy Nelson, Andrew Quarless, Ty Montgomery, and Eddie Lacy. This presents a significant challenge for whoever is calling plays for the Packers. There is also the issue of Richard Rodgers and Davante Adams struggling in their sophomore seasons, which is something that often happens.
And though Aaron Rodgers is still the finest quarterback in the NFL, it’s also true that he’s been less than sharp this season. Far too often the right play call is dialed up, only to have an inaccurate pass miss the receiver. Granted, this is more a testament to how insanely accurate Rodgers has been than reason for long-term concern.
When you combine these factors it’s no wonder they Packers are struggling. Having McCarthy call plays is not going to bring Nelson off the injured reserve, nor will it speed the development Richard Rodgers and Adams. You also have to trust that if the solution was as simple as having McCarthy call plays, that change would have occurred by now.
The good news is that in today’s NFL you don’t have to be great in the regular season, just good enough to make the crapshoot that is the NFL playoffs. Now it’s just a matter of the Packers figuring out how to get “good enough.” This is an issue with no quick fix.