GREEN BAY – Monday morning came a little more quickly after Sunday night’s 24-23 victory over Chicago for Mike McCarthy, as the Green Bay Packers’coach said he regretted the call for a screen pass late in the first half that led to an interception return for a touchdown by Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.
“That was the call that kept me up last night, that dang screen play,” McCarthy said Monday.
Trailing 10-0 with 1 minute, 48 seconds left with backup quarterback DeShone Kizer under center as Aaron Rodgers’ left knee was being evaluated in the locker room, McCarthy elected to push the envelope a bit in order to get Kizer comfortable.
But after earning a first down, Kizer was sacked for a nine-yard loss with 56 seconds left. McCarthy called for time, and after a deep ball to Geronimo Allison fell incomplete he called for a screen pass to Ty Montgomery. Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris hit Kizer as he was delivered the ball, and Mack intercepted it and scored from 27 yards out to make it 17-0 Bears.
“We wanted to run the ball, get out of there but I was thinking about the quarterback,” McCarthy said. “This is the way my mind works, you know we had a game last year against Detroit where we got a two-minute drive there that I thought really helped Brett (Hundley). So I was trying to give DeShone a chance to get (going) and obviously we didn’t handle it very well, regardless of what the play was. We didn’t handle it very well.”
Kizer admitted he tried to do much on the attempt also.
“I kind of lose vision of (Mack) as I get a little contact on my legs,” he said of the play. “I tried to make a great play and unfortunately made a bad play worse there.”
In his 15 starts last year in Cleveland, Kizer led the NFL in total interceptions with 22. He also lost six fumbles a year ago, including one in the red zone. He lost a fumble to Mack in the red zone on his first series Sunday night.
McCarthy may have wanted to use that two-minute offense to get Kizer into a rhythm, but that’s not something that has suited the quarterback well at this point in his career.
Per pro-football-reference.com, Kizer has a career 11.2 passer rating with three interceptions in 28 attempts when trailing with under two minutes to go in a game.
McCarthy said Kizer will get his usual work in practice this week but didn’t feel preparation (or a lack thereof) was an issue for him Sunday.
“He's new to the offense, there's just a lot of fundamental things that we'll continue to work on with him,” McCarthy said. “Number one is taking care of the football. I don't care what quarterback that plays in this league, and anybody that handles the ball has a responsibility to the football team to take care of the football. That first and foremost will be the focus, and his opportunity to learn from his experience yesterday. So as far as what we do, we have a call sheet that's filled out just like any other, just like for Aaron, that's a ready list that we went to when his opportunity came yesterday. So we'll kind of continue to work in that mindset.”
Bears tore up the Packers’ offensive script early
Before Rodgers was injured, the Packers ran 14 plays over four possessions for 11 net yards of offense. They earned one first down in those drives, and McCarthy acknowledged the Bears' defense forced him to change how he called the game.
“I had my call sheet in the morning this morning, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that where you had your first 15 calls in the game and I think we got five of them called,” McCarthy said. “We had a package of offense that was an 18-play package; two of those calls. Just like anything, whether you’re installing your offense in training camp, how you practice it and really the plays you play with over the course of the season, you look at all the preparation going into that game and, really, we were out of it pretty early in the game.”