McCarthy, staff shoulder blame for late play calls
Something was off during the Green Bay Packers' 36-16 loss to Seattle on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.
So much so coach Mike McCarthy uncharacteristically offered a 327-word opening statement on Friday afternoon that lasted a little more than 2 minutes to explain where the team fell short in its bid to knock off the NFL's reigning superpower.
It came down to two areas: Breakdowns in tackling – Pro Football Focus charged the Packers' defense for 16 missed opportunities – and the operation at the start of the game.
The second falls squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff, according to McCarthy.
"We didn't handle the environment as well from a coaching staff of getting the information to the players," McCarthy said. "I felt we stressed our defense out. Our special teams, we had some communication challenges I truly felt we were better prepared for but, that was not the case. With that, that falls under coaching."
Whether the origin was late calls from the sideline or not, there were a number of times Thursday night where the Packers noticeably ran into speed bumps playing inside noisy CenturyLink Field.
The incidents ranged from initially having too many players on the field for a Seahawks' field-goal attempt in the first quarter to not enough on Marshawn Lynch's 9-yard touchdown run with 3:46 left in the half.
The Packers burned the first of their three timeouts to avoid the 12 men on the field call on the first mix up, but simply played without a nickel cornerback on Lynch's touchdown when defensive lineman Josh Boyd left the field. The Packers had one timeout left at the time.
Offensively, Aaron Rodgers begrudgingly ate two timeouts in the first half. His first came on first-and-goal from the 8-yard line with 1:30 left in the first quarter. They reset with defensive lineman Mike Daniels reporting eligible as a fullback and John Kuhn plowing in for the 1-yard touchdown.
The second came with 2:17 left in the first half when Rogders and rookie center Corey Linsley weren't on the same page with a call. It was one of the few times Linsley was noticeable, a badge of honor for a rookie making his first NFL start.
The Packers stressed more personnel and less scheme throughout the offseason, but McCarthy said the issues had more to do with the calls coming in than which players were on the field.
"It wasn't having the wrong personnel. It was really getting the call in," McCarthy said. "So obviously we had 10 guys on the field for their touchdown. We obviously didn't have the right personnel there. But as far as them catching us, what we were trying to do with their personnel was not a huge issue. It was just the handling of trying to be in the perfect call instead of just giving our guys clean calls."
After the game, Rodgers also said there was some confusion with the officials on the play clock on the offense's fourth-and-5 call in the second quarter. It was the Packers' contention the ball was spotted with 15 seconds left on the clock.
Whatever the case, the Packers suffered a setback on the Seahawks' home turf. Green Bay looks to bounce back in a little more than a week it hosts the New York Jets in the Lambeau Field opener.
"We just did not play very well against a very good football team in a tough environment," McCarthy said. "We're looking forward to getting back after it. These are things that are correctable and we'll continue to work at. We can look to the preseason, the play style and some of the areas of emphasis and improvement we made going into the game were clearly evident, but they were not evident last night. We're 0-1 and we're excited about our opener against the New York Jets."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod