Mike McCarthy didn’t have time to smell the roses.
His Green Bay Packers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-13 on Monday night. It was arguably the team’s best all-around performance of the season and it came at a critical juncture, with the Packers’ season on the brink of falling off a cliff. McCarthy was steadfast in his belief in his team throughout the losing streak, but there would be no, “I told you so” messages to the media on Tuesday evening.
“You’re wasting my time talking about it right now because I’ve got a run-game meeting I’ve got to get to,” McCarthy said when asked why he believed so strongly in his team. “That’s the point of it. My biggest issue personally when you go through a time like that is the time that’s wasted talking about it or making sure that everything is OK.”
Of course, he’s right. At 5-6 and with a two-game deficit in the NFC North, the Packers have almost no margin for error entering the final five games. The Packers survived a three-game road trip, but only barely. They return home to face the AFC South-leading Texans on Sunday and the NFC West-leading Seahawks the following Sunday.
The health of the two biggest names on the roster, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, only complicates matters. Rodgers sustained an injured left hamstring during the third quarter and Matthews suffered an injured left shoulder during the first quarter. Rodgers played the entire game and had one of his best performances of the season, an efficient 30-of-39 for 313 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. Matthews, who started at inside linebacker due to injuries to starters Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, went to the locker room at one point, returned and played 75 percent of the defensive snaps. He had four tackles and his first sack since the fourth game of the season.
McCarthy said he hadn’t talked to the training staff about either player – which seems unlikely. Asked if Matthews’ injury is of more concern, McCarthy said, “Yes,” then added, “I can’t say enough about him coming back out there and fighting through what he did. I’m sure he doesn’t feel very good today. (But) I don’t have the details of the significance of his injury.”
As a reaction to his injury report and the short week to get ready for the Texans, McCarthy has altered the usual practice routine. Rather than working Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, the team will not practice on Wednesday. That means walking through plays in the CRIC rather than a more taxing physical workout at Clarke Hinkle Field or in the Don Hutson Center.
The short-turnaround challenge is a big one for the coaches, too. While the Packers, generally speaking, run their stuff, regardless of who they’re playing, the Texans adapt their schemes to attack their opponent.
“Every game is its own journey,” McCarthy said. “This group we’re getting ready to play Sunday is a huge challenge. Their defensive is very impressive. It’s a different type of defensive front than we just played. We just got done playing a very alignment-detailed, as far as where they were going to line up, how they were going to play, distinct time clock. Now, Houston’s extremely athletic and they’re going to have a different look for us. They play every team differently. They’re a game-plan team. We’ve got a lot of extra film work to do this week. It’s an uncommon opponent. We haven’t played these guys in four years. With that, both offense and defense, it’s going to be a big, big scheme challenge for us.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.