Green Bay is in trouble. The Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, 24-17, and their record is now a dispiriting 4-6-1. They have yet to win a game away from home, and, if this on-screen graphic from NBC’s broadcast is to be believed, Green Bay has just a 3 percent chance to make the playoffs.
That’s better than zero, at least!
Should the Packers live down to those percentages, it would result in a second-straight season without playoff football for Aaron Rodgers and company. No one is entitled to success, but when your team is led by Rodgers you come to expect it. He’s an effervescent Houdini of a quarterback, but, barring an odds-busting miracle, he’ll be spending yet another year of his prime watching postseason action from home. Who is to blame for this unfortunate turn of events?
Rodgers’ entire career as a starting quarterback has been under the tutelage of McCarthy, but the common refrain is that the head coach is little more than an anchor in a green windbreaker dragging his star player down.
McCarthy took plenty of heat for a his coaching during Green Bay’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in primetime last week. Most egregious was his decision to punt with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter instead of trusting Rodgers to make a play. The quarterback watched from the sidelines as Seattle ground out enough runs to bleed the clock dry and deny him any chance of orchestrating a comeback.
McCarthy’s reputation as Green Bay’s albatross grew larger against Minnesota, and the coach called a pedestrian run play that the Vikings easily snuffed out during a key fourth down. McCarthy likes to claim he “plays the numbers,” which is coincidentally the leading explanation for 99 percent of all video craps-related bankruptcies.
A string of questionable roughing-the-passer penalties plagued linebacker Clay Matthews early in the season and perhaps helped tip the scales against Green Bay in some close games. Were it not for the officials, the Packers could be sitting pretty right now with a 5-5-1 record.
As a publicly held entity, the Green Bay Packers answer to their shareholders, who are also the team’s fans. It’s an inspiring and wonderful scenario in which small-town passion goes up against big-money corporate NFL ownership. It’s also no way to skirt responsibility, and Green Bay’s legion of supporters should be made to answer for their failures. I’m not suggesting jail time, as CEOs rarely face any real punishment for their mistakes, but would it kill them to produce a few apologetic television ads with somber piano music?
Blasphemy! But hear me out. The quarterback is the most important player on the team. Rodgers is Green Bay’s quarterback. He also overthrew Davante Adams for a would-be the fourth-quarter touchdown and failed to reach 200 yards passing against the Vikings. Considering all these factors, it’s impossible to come to any conclusion other than the obvious: Mike McCarthy blew it yet again.
The Packers will be fine. Rodgers will work his routine miracles and the team will somehow sneak into the playoffs. Once there, Mike McCarthy will elect to punt on fourth down with 2 minutes remaining in the Wild Card game. Then we get to do this all again next season.
*Correction, Nov. 26, 2018: This post originally misspelled the name of Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams.