Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy Challenges Players

It's not the plays being called. It's the execution of those plays. It was a not-so-subtle message delivered by coach Mike McCarthy on Monday, a day after an upset loss at home against Chicago.

John McKay, the first head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, famously said, “I’m in favor of it,” when asked about his team’s execution following one of many losses.

It’s execution, coach Mike McCarthy said, that’s killing the Green Bay Packers.

A day after his heavily favored Packers were upset by the Chicago Bears, McCarthy said there is no magic formula that’s going to get Green Bay back on track following its fourth loss in five games.

It’s not the play-calling, he said. Rather, it’s the execution of those plays, McCarthy said, as he placed the blame at the feet of his players for underperforming.

“The reality is we’re not that far off,” McCarthy said on Friday morning, less than 12 hours after a 17-13 loss to the Bears. “It’s the attention and the details. Our issues are technique and discipline in the technique, and quit worrying so much about the plays. Just win the route or win the play called.”

It was a not-so-subtle message to the players. It’s not the plays that are being called. It’s not the guy calling the plays. It’s not the scheme. If the Packers are going to break out of this funk, it will be up to the players to do it. That means better route-running, better passes, better blocking and better ball security.

After starting the season 6-0, the Packers have fallen to 7-4. The major reason why is a malfunctioning offense. After leading the league in scoring last season, Green Bay is scoring about seven points less per game this season. In three of the losses this month, it scored 10 points vs. Denver, 16 vs. Detroit and 13 vs. Chicago. In the other loss, the Packers finished with 29 points at Carolina but needed a late rally after failing to gain a first down on seven of the first 12 possessions.

Two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy is indicative of the offense’s problems. He completed 51.2 percent of his passes against the Bears, with his 53.8 percent in five November games being the worst rate of his career. On Thursday, James Jones didn’t catch any of the six passes thrown his way and fellow receiver Davante Adams caught just two of the 11 for 14 yards. That’s 14 yards out of 17 passes – a dreadful 0.82 yards per play.

“We’re just on different pages,” Rodgers said after the game. “When you miss throws, when I’m throwing at a certain depth and the receiver’s running a certain depth, obviously we’re on different pages, so we need to have some better communication and make sure there’s not those discrepancies in the depths and the adjustments.”

Compounding those problems, the Packers had two turnovers – a fumble by Eddie Lacy and an interception on a pass from Rodgers to Adams -- after entering the game with a league-low six giveaways.

“I thought both our turnovers were the result of sloppy play,” McCarthy said. “That’s just not the way we train, that’s not the way we play.”

The offensive performance was a step backward following the step forward taken in a 30-13 victory at Minnesota on Sunday, which temporarily moved the Packers back into a first-place tie in the NFC North. In that game, the Packers scored on seven of 11 possessions before running out the clock on their final possession. On Thursday, however, it was back to the new offensive normal, with three scores in 12 possessions.

The Packers have to solve their issues in a hurry with a game at surging Detroit on Thursday. After a 1-7 start, the Lions have won three in a row, a streak that started with their upset win at Lambeau Field on Nov. 15, their first win in Wisconsin in a quarter-century. In that game, the Packers punted nine times in a stretch of 10 possessions, with the lone exception being Rodgers taking a knee to end the first half, before a frantic comeback in the final 6 minutes resulted in two touchdowns and about 45 percent of their yardage production.

There will be no dramatic changes, McCarthy said. Rather, they’ll create a game plan on Saturday and head to the practice field on Sunday in hopes of doing what they’ve been doing at a much higher level on Thursday and beyond.

“Frankly, I think too much is made of scheme,” McCarthy said. “At the end of the day, it’s about running your routes or defending the route or blocking your guy or getting off the block and eventually tackling the guy and getting the football. When you have a chance to get your hands on the football, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”

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

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