8

January

Packers Outplayed, Not Outcoached in Loss to 49ers

Packers 49ers Wild Card KaepernickAs we become farther and farther removed from the Super Bowl XLV championship season, the microscope on Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers becomes increasingly magnified. And for a good reason. The Green Bay Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the league on their team, yet for the past three postseasons, they have come up far short of the Super Bowl. They haven’t even reached the NFC Conference Championship in that time span.

I even wrote a controversial post back in November about how Dom Capers is under-utilizing the talent on the defense, suggesting that he be let go in the offseason in favor of someone new. And many of us were carefully scrutinizing the defense during the Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers, since they had been the weak link in many of the postseason failures. Could Capers redeem himself and finally put a stop to Colin Kaepernick?

The strange thing about this game, though, was that blaming the coaches for the loss just didn’t seem right. In fact, it wouldn’t be right, because this game came down to missed opportunities by the Packers. There were a number of times where they could have taken control of the game, yet failed to.

We’ll start with the final drive by the 49ers, because it’s where the biggest and most costly miscues were made.

On 2nd-and-10 at the San Francisco 31-yard line, Micah Hyde makes the most heart-wrenching drop of the game, because that interception would have easily been taken to the house. The Packers would have been up 27-20, and the final four minutes would have unraveled much differently. But even on the ensuing 3rd-and-10, Kaepernick is able to escape the pocket and hit Michael Crabtree for 17 yards.

Then, with just over a minute left, the 49ers once again convert a 3rd-and-8 when Kaepernick escapes a Cover 0 blitz and runs for the first down. Jarrett Bush fails to contain, Ryan Pickett gets pushed to the inside, and Andy Mulumba just can’t run fast enough to save the play.

Those were the missed opportunities that stick in our head the most; however, there were others throughout the game that made a difference.

4

September

Does Ben McAdoo deserve blame for Packers’ backup QB blunder?

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

When the Miami Dolphins hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to be their head coach in 2012, Tom Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator, leaving the team’s quarterbacks coach position vacant.

Ben McAdoo, who served under head coach Mike McCarthy in each of his previous two tenures with New Orleans and San Francisco, had experience coaching various offensive positions at the professional level. But prior to changing roles in 2012, McAdoo had no experience, at any level, working directly with the quarterback position.

Shortly after Philbin’s departure, Aaron Rodgers, who has given Clements a great deal of credit for his ascension to the NFL elite, was asked by Jason Wilde about how their relationship would change if Clements were, in fact, no longer his position coach.

“I don’t see our relationship changing a whole lot. I think if he were to get the coordinator job, he’d still want to spend some time with the quarterbacks,” Rodgers said. “I would guess they would look for someone to be the quarterbacks coach. I know when Tom originally got hired, that one of the names that Mike was interested in was Billy Joe Tolliver.”

Tolliver, whose playing career ended in 2001 after being beaten out by Doug Pederson in a competition to be Brett Favre’s backup, has never coached at the NFL level. However, Rodgers’ assumption that the team would look to a former quarterback to fill Clements’ role as the position coach suggests that he’d prefer to have a coach who has played the position.

Clements quarterbacked Notre Dame to a National Championship in 1973, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1974 and played professionally for more than a decade, bouncing between the CFL and NFL. But with a quarterback-savvy head coach in McCarthy, along with an offensive coordinator (Clements) who had served as the team’s quarterbacks coach for seven seasons, the Packers opted to promote McAdoo to quarterbacks coach.

Prior to the move, McAdoo had spent the previous six years in Green Bay as the team’s tight ends coach.

The Packers are no strangers to making curious promotions on their coaching staff; wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett played running back in the NFL for eight seasons, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt played 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot also coached tight ends in Green Bay despite a 16-year playing career at center.

17

January

2011 Packers Defense: Where Does The Buck Stop?

I have been watching a lot of football these past two weekends, and I think the only NFL game I didn’t watch at least part of was Denver vs. New England. (Really, was there a point to seeing that one?) And while I’ve cached away a lot of observations, there are a couple big things that have stuck with me. The most impressionable of these, I believe, was the way the San Francisco 49ers defense handled the New Orleans Saints.

If any of you watched this game, you should know what I am talking about. To put it succinctly, I rather enjoyed watching their physical play, discipline, and unrelenting attacks on the ball.

But if you asked me to name more than three players from that unit, I don’t think I could do it.

Which made me think . . . what is wrong with the Packers’ defense, then? They have what I believe to be a group of fairly solid players that compliment some big talent, yet they never played like it this season. Last season they did, and it won them quite a few games where the offense sputtered.

Now, we could easily turn this into a “blame game” and start pointing fingers, and I guess I will be depending on how you look at it. What I really want to know, though, is where and how this group needs to improve.

After Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, I noticed a significant number of fans voicing their extreme displeasure with Dom Capers. Let him go. Reggie McKenzie can take him to Oakland. Or just let him be on his way.

Of course, others retaliated to this, mostly mentioning his lack of playmaking defensive linemen and linebackers.

Now, both sides do have valid points. On the one hand, the loss of Cullen Jenkins and Nick Collins could have been the right recipe for disaster. Take away your biggest asset from the line, then subtract your best safety valve in the secondary, and what are you going to end up with? Nobody was really able to replace either of these two like some of the injured players were last year. Their loss was felt all season, and it was extremely painful to watch the amount of time Eli Manning had in the pocket.