Coaching: Should Mike McCarthy Have Gone for it Against Minnesota?

Tough times in recent games for the Green Bay Packers.  The team’s coach, Mr. Mike McCarthy has been known to be criticized at times throughout the years for not taking a more aggressive approach.  True enough, the Green Bay Packers have a proclivity for playing it on the safe side.  Granted, it has usually served them well, but this season a lot of fans are speculating that it has caused more harm than good, and done more hurt than benefit.  The concern here too is that, especially in their game against Minnesota, Mike McCarthy might have picked the wrong time to try to shed that label.  He was a little overzealous in that early game, and now fans are concerned that his tendency to play it safe since then has caused some of the team’s more recent losses.

For example, the Green Bay Packers coach went ahead and eschewed a chip-shot field goal that would have tied an already low-scoring game on that fateful night when the Packers played one of their first games against the Minnesota Vikings.

What ended up happening?  Here’s what happened as a result of that call.  From the Vikings’ 14-yard line, running back James Starks came up just a mere a yard short, and the Packers never got any closer in their 17-14 loss that set the stage for a tough time indeed. McCarthy apparently thought he had the Vikings’ defense reeling after a long drive forward, but he definitely didn’t.

Here’s what McCarthy had to say about it:

  • “It was fourth-and-2, we were on a 12-play drive,” McCarthy said. “I felt the advantage was to the offense in that particular situation. We had a solid play call, and that’s my decision.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers backed his coach up on it by saying:

  • “I liked the call.”

Could it Have Been Played Differently?

Upon reflecting on that call and that decision and what exactly that meant for the Packers, neither Rodgers nor McCarthy said whether the quarterback really did have the option to audible to a pass at the line of scrimmage or not.  However, when you look at the overall given freedom he had at the line of scrimmage, there’s a good chance he did have a chance but he didn’t take it.

In thoughtful introspection on the whole issue, this is what Rodgers had to say about it:

  • “They brought double-edged pressure, Sendejo was coming on this side, but I felt like we had kind of beat him with the run. I had a chance maybe to throw it out to Jordy, maybe convert it, but I felt good. Not sure about the spot, I don’t know if we have to go back and look at it. But I felt like from where I was standing that we had maybe got the ball a little farther. But I liked the call. It was an aggressive call, we were moving the ball well, and we’ve got to convert there.”

All in all, we have to give McCarthy and Rodgers both a little credit in a play like that to know what they are doing and to hope for the best.  Furthermore, it is really, really hard to make a call like that and still be able to come out on the top, especially when you cannot say for certain exactly what the opposing team is going to do.  The shots were lined up well, and though the stakes were definitely high, it was a pretty good call given the Packers and their overall abilities as a team and in situations like that.

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