A General Manger gets the players. A Coach coaches. A player plays. When one of those falls a part, the train starts to come off the tracks. It can be masked if the other two cover up the others mistakes. When all three fall a part, the entire train comes off the tracks and it can set an organization back for years. This what is currently going on in Green Bay. For years, McCarthy and Rodgers covered up any blunders Ted Thompson made in drafting players. Rodgers covered up any mistakes that McCarthy and the coaching staff made. With Rodgers making mistakes, the train is completely off the tracks and there is no one to cover up his mistakes. The entire Packers fan base wants to put the blame on head coach Mike McCarthy. Yes, McCarthy deserves some of the blame. But guess what, the front office deserves blame and so does the one guy no one wants to blame, and that is Aaron Rodgers. All three are currently part of the issues happening in Green Bay.
Brian Gutekunst is in his first year as Packers GM. He has tried to upgrade the talent on this team in a short period of time. Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams look like good running backs. The secondary featuring, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin King and Josh Jones is young and emerging. Blake Martinez is good and is all over the place on defense but there is only one of him. The wide receivers of Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are good. There is talent on this team; just not enough quality talent. That falls in Gutekunst’s lap.
Now this is only his first year, but he was part of the previous regime that failed the Packers, so he only gets a small percentage of the blame. The big part of the blame is on Ted Thompson. He didn’t keep the cupboards fully stocked. Mark Murphy is at fault but cause he let it go on for too long. When your philosophy is draft and develop, you have to draft and develop players. In that philosophy, when you miss on one entire draft it can set you back a couple of years but can be masked by a good head coach and an all world quarterback. But when you miss on 3 start drafts it will set your organization back for several years and that can not be masked. Out of those three drafts only 3 players remain, 2013 fourth rd pick David Bakhtiari, 2014 second round pick Davante Adams, and 2014 fifth round pick Corey Linsley. There is no one from the 2015 draft on this roster. Not include Jake Ryan because he is on IR for the year. The Packers are being hurt by the previous GM’s inability to draft quality players in those drafts.
This leaves your team very young in some areas and very old in others, and a lack of talents in several positions. The linebacker group has been left by the wayside for years with no quality influx in talent and Clay Matthews is not the same even though the Packer brass and fans want him to be that star. The offensive line got old and quality guards were traded away without quality replacements behind them. Rodgers is left running for his life every game. If you sign a quarterback to a record deal and make him the franchise, you need to protect the franchise, which they have failed to do. Unfortunately, it will take Brian Gutekunst a little bit of time to reload the roster, it won’t happen this year or overnight. The biggest problem plaquing this team is not enough quality talent provided by Ted Thompson and the front office.
Mike McCarthy is the lighting rod that Packer nation and the entire fan base have put all of the blame on. McCarthy coaches the coaches he is given. For those fans that want McCarthy fired right now, news flash, it is not happening. It won’t save the season and that is not on the Packers operate. McCarthy is a highly successful NFL head coach. Fans hate that. They don’t like someone telling them how good they are at there job. If McCarthy is let go at the end of the year, he won’t be on the unemployment line very long, as he will find a job if he wants one.
He will go done in Packer history as the second most successful head coach. As the Browns, Dolphins, and Lions if they would take 8 straight playoff appearances, 3 Conference Championship appearances, and 1 Super Bowl Victory and they all would say yes. McCarthy does have his faults and deserves part of the blame for the state of the Packers. But it is McCarthy’s fault that Morgan Burnett slide down after an interception in the Conference Championship Game against Seattle, because he was told to do by veteran Julius Peppers? Is it McCarthy’s fault that Brandon Bostick jumped to try and catch a ball on the onside kick during that game, right in front on an open arms waiting Jordy Nelson? Is it McCarthy’s fault that Tramon Williams got beat so badly on the game winning touchdown?
Things happen during a course of a game. Players are human and will make mistakes. Coaches put players in the best position possible to make plays. The offense calling timeout after a punt. The play clock running down to 1 second before the ball getting snapped. Having 12 players on the field. Players like Ty Montegomery not listening to their coaches. Not running with the best running back on the team. Poor play calling. Game Management. The list and instances could go on, but those are all on McCarthy.
There currently is no creativity on offense. Fans can guess the play the offense is going to run and if fans can guess it, coaches like Belichick can guess it. What happened to the slants, quick plays, four wide receiver sets, screen plays? They are all non-existent. For the Packers to turn their season around, McCarthy needs become more creativity on offense and keep it moving. They do a decent job between the 20s but are brutally bad in the red zone. That needs to change. Will it save his job? No one knows but Gutekunst and Murphy. Has the message gotten stale? With veterans probably, with the young guys probably not. Sometimes a new voice is needed. If the Packers brass decides to make a head coaching change at seasons end, they absolutely must hit on the next head coach. They can not miss and suffer a couple years of average football or losing in the first or second round of the playoffs. Otherwise, they will truly be wasting Rodgers later years and forever be known as the organization that won 2 Super Bowls with 2 Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
Rodgers doesn’t escape the blame. It is clear that Rodgers is not playing at 100%. Rodgers is ranked 6th in the NFL passing yards, 4th in yards per game, but 28th in completion percentage and 15th in touchdowns. Not exactly numbers that are deserving of the highest contract in the league. Rodgers is missing the open receivers. Throwing behind receivers. Throwing the football at the running backs feet on a screen play. Delay of game penalties and numerous ground calls. These are not characteristics of an MVP type quarterback.
Communication with McCarthy from the outside seems to be an issue. Has the student become such a master that his ego is getting in the way? Certainly a possibility but one we will never know. Rodgers seems to be looking for the home run ball more often than not instead of taking what the defense is giving him. Rodgers is throwing the football a ton this season, he has 327 pass attempts. He has thrown the ball away 38 teams this season. Now, Rodgers is know for throwing the ball away to avoid the sack or interception but that is a lot of throwaways. He is holding on to the football way too long, which makes the offensive line, which already is not good at pass blocking, block for a longer period of time.
On 3rd and 4, every one watching knows what is going to happen. Rodgers will come to the line, snap the ball with 1 second on the play clock and throw the football 15 yards down field. Is this the play call coming in from McCarthy? That play call is on McCarthy. But its on Rodgers to audible out of it to get the first down. Those routes need to be quick slants. The offense is no longer easy for Rodgers. It appears to be extremely difficult for him and he has become less efficient. Rodgers is so good at throwing the deep ball, it’s like he never learned how to throw a really short pass. He hits more feet than hands. With the offensive line not doing a great job pass blocking, Rodgers and McCarthy need to go with shorter quicker routes to get the offense in rhythm and help Rodgers become more efficient. If this Packers team is going to do anything this season, it will rest with Rodgers.
There are way too many problems with this football that have occurred in all facets. If McCarthy can correct the game management and call more creative plays and quick plays, that will help jump start the offense. If Rodgers can become more accurate and take what the defense gives him, this offense will be more proficient. There is still have a season to go and no one is running away with the division, so there is time to turn the train around. In season, there is not a whole lot that Brian Gutekunst can do but a signing like Bruce Irvin would help a depleted linebacking corps. Gutey will make his impact in the offseason. Time is of the essence for not only this year but also for future years.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag