Mike McCarthy made it very clear last night that he had no faith in his defense being able to contain the prolific New Orleans Saints offense.
His decisions to try an onside kick in the first quarter and to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40-yard line down 23-16 in the third quarter were made because he did not think his defense could get stops. McCarthy was right and both of those decisions were the correct calls to make even though they did not work out in his favor.
Micah Hyde very nearly recovered that onside kick and it could have given the Packers a chance at a 17-7 lead, plus the opportunity to quiet the crowd. What’s the difference in giving the Saints field position if you do not think you can stop them anyways? That decision did not hurt the Packers badly, as they managed to hold New Orleans to a field goal to tie the game at 10-10.
With Aaron Rodgers hurting his hamstring and the Packers being down by seven you could just feel the game starting to slip away at that point. You just knew if the Packers punted New Orleans was driving for another touchdown. Eddie Lacy was running well and McCarthy was right to have confidence in him picking up the first down. Of course running behind Lane Taylor was not the smart way to go about it.
I would have played it the same way McCarthy did because I did not have confidence in the Packers stopping the Saints in that building either. The difference between me feeling that and McCarthy is big though. I cannot do anything about it from my recliner. Even after a four game win streak in which the defense played very well, McCarthy had no confidence in them from the beginning of the game. If that’s the case than why does he still employ Dom Capers?
Sean Payton said that he had a better grasp of the Packers defense than he ever has had of an opponent. That tells you all you need to know.
Was it just this circumstance that he did not trust them for? Even defenses much better than Green Bay’s have gotten torched like that at New Orleans in prime time against Drew Brees. For example they scored over 30 points at home last season against Arizona and Carolina, who both had great defenses. It would have been hard enough for the Packers’ defense to play well healthy but they were without Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett and Datone Jones. Perhaps that factored into McCarthy’s confidence level as well.
The Saints were absolutely desperate for a win and at 5-3 the loss is not a huge deal to the Packers. They still sit firmly in the division and wild card race with five home games remaining on the schedule. The Packers will be favored in every remaining game that they play, and if you’re going to go 11-5 you have to lose five games. So there is no reason to panic that they will not make the postseason.
However, the legitimate concern is that you can make an argument that they have not beaten a really good team since Houston in 2012. What do these really good teams have in common? They have really good quarterbacks. The Packers have not been able to contain these really good quarterbacks in forever, especially on the road. The Packers will have a opportunities at home in the second half of the season against Philadelphia, New England and Detroit. They must show something in those games
Green Bay’s defense performs better at home because of the slow surface. They were just unable to keep up with speed of receivers Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills on the fast track. A.J. Hawk, Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore do not get exposed as badly over the middle on the slow track of Lambeau Field. Also, the offensive line is much better on a slow surface as well.
This makes getting at least one home playoff game paramount. Detroit is 6-2, but has been extremely lucky to get there, and they have Miami at home and Arizona and New England on the road over their next three games. If they continue to play like they have regression in close games is bound to happen. The Lions are probably more of a 10-6 team than a 12-4 team, but lucky breaks like they have gotten can improve your record by a couple of games.
When the Packers play in future big games against big time offenses will McCarthy trust his defense? The answer needs to be yes if the Packers want to sniff another Lombardi trophy this season.——————