McCarthy, Packers stand by Tom Clements

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks with associate head coach Tom Clements during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Green Bay Packers are standing by associate head coach Tom Clements despite head coach Mike McCarthy resuming play-calling duties in Sunday’s 28-7 win over Dallas.

Clements called the offensive game plan during the first 12 games from the sideline this season, but returned to the coaches’ box against the Cowboys. That’s where he spent the entire 2014 season when he served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator.

McCarthy finally approached Clements on Monday about the switch with the offense ranked 22nd in total offense and 23rd in passing. Admittedly, it was a “brutal” decision for the 10th-year head coach, who relished giving Clements the opportunity when he promoted him to the post earlier this year.

McCarthy's play-calling decision wasn't easy

While McCarthy will handle the duties going forward, he said Clements remains a key part of the offensive structure.

“Tom Clements, he's a big part of our success here, has been since Day 1, and will be as we continue forward,” McCarthy said. “So this is an adjustment in our process and this is the way we'll go forward.”

McCarthy’s decision to give up play-calling after the team’s collapse in January’s NFC championship game set off a series of changes on his coaching staff. Clements was promoted to play-caller. receivers coach Edgar Bennett replaced him as offensive coordinator and Alex Van Pelt was given charge of both the quarterbacks and receivers.

When asked about the change, most players inside the locker room said it didn’t matter who was calling plays. It comes down to production, which the Packers weren't getting recently. After back-to-back home losses to Detroit and Chicago, the Packers needed a 61-yard Hail Mary with no time remaining to shake off the Lions (4-9) on the road a week ago in a 27-23 comeback victory.

The offense wasn’t bulletproof with McCarthy at the controls on Sunday, either. The Packers stalled at the Dallas 1 on their second offensive series when McCarthy called a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal, a call quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he agreed with.

Rodgers: Execution, not play-calling was key

They also punted on five straight possessions after scoring twice in the second quarter. Green Bay’s defense locked down on Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel, who amassed only 114 passing yards, to give its offense enough time to gather itself late in the fourth quarter.

Rodgers made it a point to deflect criticism about the offense's recent struggles from Clements, who was calling plays for the first time since he was offensive coordinator with Buffalo in 2005.

In need of a spark, McCarthy jumped back into his old routine Sunday. The result was the Packers (9-4) maintaining their one-game lead over Minnesota for the NFC North lead and within range of Arizona (11-2) for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

“You kind of feel bad for Tom a little bit,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “You don’t want him taking heat. As players, you take that personally. You feel like if we would have been executing up to our standard, we wouldn’t have to make a change. It is what it is. We obviously played one of our better games today.” and follow him on Twitter @WesHod

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