Green Bay Packers Focus on Fundamental Problem

After losing to the Broncos and Panthers, the refrain was those teams were undefeated and playing at home. There’s no way, however, to sugarcoat what happened to the Lions.

“Panic” isn’t in Mike McCarthy’s vocabulary.

On Monday, a day after the Green Bay Packers were stunned 18-16 by the lowly Detroit Lions, McCarthy didn’t talk about taking back play-calling. He didn’t mention any dramatic changes in the lineup or scheme. He didn’t rip into his team.

Rather, with his Packers on a three-game losing streak, it’s back to the basics with a NFC North showdown looming at Minnesota, which has surged to the top of the division with a five-game winning streak.

“I don’t have some real exciting buzzword to get everybody jump up and down,” McCarthy said, “but we need to be better in our fundamentals. That’s where we’re lacking. We’re inefficient at times and we’re excellent at times. We’re not doing it enough to win games.”

That’s the understatement of the year. After being blasted by Denver two weeks ago, the Packers needed a fierce fourth-quarter comeback to avoid a blowout at Carolina last week and a spirited rally to get in position to steal Sunday’s game against Detroit — which was 1-7 and had lost 24 consecutive games in Wisconsin.

After losing to the Broncos and Panthers, the refrain was those teams were undefeated and playing at home. There’s no way, however, to sugarcoat what happened to the Lions. That’s especially true for Green Bay’s sputtering offense. The Lions were last in the NFL in points allowed and had yielded more than 37 per game in their last four. Their pass defense ranked 32nd in completion percentage and yards per attempt.

Still, MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing attack couldn’t get it done against a downtrodden unit that lost veteran starting cornerback Rashean Mathis (injured reserve) before the game and his replacement, Nevin Lawson, during the game. Sometimes, the receivers weren’t getting open. When they did, there were dropped passes (five, by our unofficial count) or inaccurate passes.

“No, he’s not in a funk,” associate head coach/play-caller Tom Clements said of Rodgers. “He made a lot of very good passes in that game. He missed some passes. We had some guys who made some great blocks and then missed some blocks; we had some guys who made some catches and missed some catches. That’s kind of the theme. There were a lot of good things on the film. We had some great drives in the fourth quarter, we were very productive. We just haven’t been able to do it consistently enough. And that’s what we’re striving to do.”

Time is running out. The Vikings are one game ahead of the Packers in the division and boast one of the NFL’s top defenses. Green Bay, on the other hand, is averaging just 20.5 points in its last six games and 18.3 points during the three-game skid.

McCarthy, however, isn’t concerned about a loss of confidence.

“The two things we’ve really hit on hard – and it’s frankly what I talked to the team about – we talked about trust and real confidence,” McCarthy said. “That’s exactly where the focus is and the reality of grabbing a hold of it and being real with it and being real with one another. That’s what makes the world go around. You have to have trust in the man next to you and what everybody’s doing and trust their commitment.”

“Our issue is not as much people not doing enough. People are doing their share. We’re just not doing it at the level, at the standard fundamentally, that we’re capable of, and we have some people trying to do too much. I think that tells you how committed the group is. You see the way they play, the way they’ve battled. That’s not an issue. They’re throwing their bodies around, the pursuit, the finish, the things that I look for as far as the play style is clearly evident in the way we’re playing game. It’s the efficiency of our fundamentals. I don’t mean to keep going back to that, but that’s where the focus of trust of confidence is really what the main part of my messages was today to the team.”


Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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