Mike McCarthy's Repeated Mistakes Make Packers Playoff Elimination Official

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIDecember 17, 2008

It is difficult to write about this game, as many disappointments as come with it.

The Packers slim playoff hopes were dashed with Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Jaguars, along with any chance of a respectable season. Instead, the Packers are now guaranteed only the second losing season since 1991.

This was the sixth of seven games the Packers played with less than a touchdown spread in which my team lost. It was the second straight week and fourth time this year Green Bay lost as a favourite.

Perhaps worse for me, it was the second time in three weeks that the game essentially ended on an Aaron Rodgers interception in an otherwise solid game for him. I may be the only person on this website that thinks a case can be made that Brett Favre is as good as Montana (even though some people think having an opinion that they cannot accept is worthy of derision) and still thinks the Packers made the right choice in keeping Rodgers (which has also gotten me derision, by the way).

That choice is the right one because Rodgers has played exceptionally under the circumstances—taking over a team that became decimated by injury after a legend who was sent away dividing the fan base, some of which are rooting against him just to prove GM Ted Thompson wrong. For this very reason, no quarterback has ever taken over for a sure-fire Hall of Famer and succeeded except Steve Young, and he was already a proven quarterback.

No one else took over with the quarterback being shipped out against his will, and Young had already been to the Pro Bowl when he did thanks to one of Montana's two season-ending injuries in his career. (See what I did there? Just another reminder of Favre's superior reliability.)

Despite this overwhelming mountain to climb, Rodgers is the league's eighth-rated passer in his first season started. He will achieve a passer rating that is better than the majority of Favre's seasons in Green Bay and have more rushing yards and touchdowns (he already has four) than Favre ever had.

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He has a bright future, and so do the Packers with him at the helm. But he is getting ripped apart.

And whose fault is it?

It is the defense, giving up late scores to put the Packers behind after Rodgers has led them to leads. It is the special teams, repeatedly failing to get him field position or to cover the kick that sets the defense back on their heels. It is coach Mike McCarthy, for putting Rodgers in positions that the young quarterback is set up for failure.

And yes, it is Aaron Rodgers' fault, too—that's the point, you win or lose as a team. Rodgers is an inexperienced quarterback who cannot reasonably be expected to play better than he is, and he is being asked to bail out a team that is not doing as well as was expected.

But McCarthy is not in his first year. He needs to show he can learn from his mistakes. Case in point, just since Thanksgiving:

Against the Houston Texans, Mac called a timeout in a tie game after the Packers stopped Houston on first down deep in their own end. But Houston got a big play to get their drive going, and that timeout ended up helping their game-winning drive.

Yet McCarthy did the same thing at the end of the first half against Jacksonville. No points were scored, but Mac showed he had not learned from the mistake.

Against Carolina, on the one yard line with a hot quarterback and a chance to put away the game, Mac called a fullback dive that was easily stuffed and had to settle for a field goal. Carolina came down and scored the winning touchdown.

Yet McCarthy called the same play on fourth down and one. Once again it was easily stuffed, giving Jacksonville a short porch to get the go-ahead score.

All we can do now is look toward next year, and hope that the Packers don't have the stigma of losing to the Detroit Lions—the only game left I think Green Bay should win—in the last week of the season. It's sad when 7-9 is all but out of reach, but that's what we're left with.

Don't let us down, Mac. My postseason analysis is going to be harsh enough as it is, and I don't want to rip on my team any further than I already will.


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