Clock is ticking on McCarthy
Mike McCarthy did it again.
The Green Bay Packers head coach once again snatched a victory from the hands of defeat Thursday night and in a way, only he knows how.
I was on vacation earlier this week, enjoying the sunny weather and the soft sandy beaches of Florida before returning to the cold, snowy Upper Peninsula, and I got quite a sight when I arrived Thursday night. As I was walking toward baggage claim, I saw a small group of Packer backers gathered around a TV in the corner of the room. At the time, Green Bay was clinging to a slim 24-20 advantage and even though Seattle was using its rushing game to run wild all over the Packers defense, Green Bay still had quarterback Aaron Rodgers if the Seahawks managed to grab the lead.
That was the theory, but then McCarthy did what he does best to take that theory out of the equation.
McCarthy’s first brain fart came with just less than seven minutes left. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed a long pass to receiver Tyler Lockett, who made an impressive diving snag. That’s what it looked like at first glance, but when you look at the replay, it’s pretty clear that after Lockett hit the ground, the ball squirted out of his hands. It wasn’t a blatant fumble, but it should’ve been ruled incomplete. However, McCarthy didn’t bother challenging it, confusing both the commentators (Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) as well as the perplexed fans standing near me in the terminal. The idea was that McCarthy was fretting over the fact that if the challenge went against him, the Packers would lose their only remaining timeout. As we know, that pass completion brought the ball deep into Green Bay territory and the Seahawks scored the winning touchdown.
Let’s go back a bit though. McCarthy had a chance to challenge the Lockett catch, which he should have, even if he was concerned about the timeout situation. The funny thing (well, maybe not if you’re a Packers fan) is that McCarthy put himself in that difficult scenario. In the third quarter, Green Bay burned its first timeout on a 3rd-and-3 and Rodgers was sacked on the following play. The Packers later used their second one after a long pass play from Rodgers to Davante Adams. Green Bay was late getting to the line and that came back to bite in the game.
So now we know why McCarthy placed himself in the difficult, but still manageable, situation. However, he did have a chance to get out of it. After the Seahawks took the lead, the ball was in Rodgers’ hands with quite a bit of time left. However, on the 4th-and-2 with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter, McCarthy decided to play cautiously again and decided to take the ball from Rodgers and punt it away, hoping that the defense could make one last stop. That strategy failed and like I said earlier, Seattle used its running game to plow through the winded Packers’ defense and run out the clock.
In the postgame press conference, McCarthy said he was “playing the numbers,” and was banking that the 2-minute warning would not only let the Packers stop the clock without burning a timeout, but help slow down the Seahawks offense. I’m still trying to figure out what “numbers” McCarthy was relying on because it doesn’t make sense, but at the same time, a lot of his decisions haven’t made sense.
For the majority of my life, I’ve despised the Packers, their ability to luck out in getting Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Rodgers, Brett Favre, Bart Starr), and their spoiled (and in some cases, ungrateful) fanbase.
So I’ve got to admit, watching McCarthy shoot himself in the foot and frustrating Green Bay fans has been an enjoyable experience. Watching all those Packers fans cover their faces with their hands in the airport made me chuckle and warmed my heart as snow drifts surrounded the terminal.
However, I do feel a slight bit of sympathy for them because watching a coach waste great opportunities for success on a regular basis has to be excruciating after a while. Rodgers is a phenomenal quarterback and although he’s broken my heart quite a few times, it’s a little difficult to watch his career being wasted away by McCarthy.
The longtime Packers’ coach (he’s been in charge for 12 years now) does have a solid resume with a Super Bowl victory and quite a few playoff appearances, but by all logic, he should have more titles and with Rodgers’ career starting to enter the latter half, time is starting to run short. Not only on Rodgers, but McCarthy as well.
McCarthy, like many other famous Packers figures, has a street named after him in Green Bay.
It’ll probably stay there for years too, but after his decision-making this week, it’s clear he won’t be much longer.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.