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Injuries Flip the Offensive Script on McCarthy, Packers

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Injuries Flip the Offensive Script on McCarthy, Packers

Had it not been for the gold helmets and green jerseys, one could have been confused which offense was which during the Green Bay Packers' 24-15 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.

The Packers, hamstrung by injuries to both starting receivers, were reduced to a dink-and-dunk passing offense that more closely resembled the one usually employed by the Jaguars than the unit that averaged 36 points over the last two weeks.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, had receivers running wild in the secondary for most of the afternoon, reminiscent of how the Packers have operated on offense for the better part of the last two years. 12 plays of 15 yards or more were the result.

With no Greg Jennings (groin) or Jordy Nelson (hamstring), and an offensive line that struggled to pass protect or open holes against a defensive line with just five total sacks, the script was flipped on Packers head coach McCarthy Sunday.

In fact, McCarthy mostly called the game as if Blaine Gabbert were his quarterback, not reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

It was as conservative a gameplan as McCarthy has put together this season.

The Packers completed just two passes over 20 yards, while running back Alex Green caught five passes and Randall Cobb had four of his five receptions come within three yards of the line of scrimmage. Seven Packers caught passes Sunday, but only two (James Jones and Jermichael Finley) had reception averages of 10 yards or more.

The throws were safe. The shots down field were limited.

As a result, Rodgers' yards per attempt was a paltry 5.3. He finished with just 186 yards, marking the first time since 2010 that Rodgers started and finished a game in which he threw for under 200 yards.

McCarthy also called 24 running plays, five more than the typically run-heavy Jaguars. Production didn't follow, as Green banged his head against a cement wall for 54 yards on 22 carries (2.5 yards/carry). Of Green's 22 carries, 14 came on first down.

Early on, McCarthy altogether scraped the no-huddle tempo. The flow of the game favored the Jaguars defense.

Safe, predictable and slow makes production difficult for any offense. The Packers struggled to extend drives, too.

Lacking fullback John Kuhn on short-yardage situations and as a reliable third-down pass blocker, Green Bay converted just 5 of 13 chances on third down. Nine of the 13 third downs came needing five or more yards.

The Jaguars scored just 15 points, which was fortunate for the Packers considering the way Jacksonville marched down the field, especially in the first half.

The high-flying Jaguars offense got 303 passing yards from Gabbert, and probably should have had a lot more had it not been for a few poorly thrown balls and a handful of drops. Still, Gabbert completed 27 of 49 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown. It marked the first time in Gabbert's 22-game career that he eclipsed the 300-yard plateau.

Second-year receiver Cecil Shorts caught eight passes for 116 yards, running wide open for most of the afternoon. Sunday was the first time Shorts tallied 100 yards receiving in a game in his young NFL career.

No. 5 overall pick Justin Blackmon also had four early catches for 67 yards, a career-high.

In all, Gabbert hit nine different receivers Sunday.

The Jaguars got 14 first downs from the passing game, and also converted five times as many third downs as they had the week prior.

Of course, Jacksonville did all of this without Maurice Jones-Drew, the offense's best player and the running back responsible for over 40 percent of the Jaguars total yardage production this season.

Jacksonville was simply the better offensive football team Sunday.

McCarthy said in his post-game press conference that the players he had available were well-prepared. The efficiency was just off, and maybe that's understandable. When a team loses its top two receivers and starting running back, even the best offenses and best quarterbacks can look fantastically average over 60 minutes of football.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jay's picture

Did they do any sweeps/pulls after that first drive?

Norman's picture

"The highflying Jaguars offense..." Ugh! No sentence should ever start that way, but unfortunately the Packers D allowed that to happen (without MJD I might add). Did hold them to 15 points though.

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

Too much vanilla called on defense. Passive zone and simple rush. No twists, stunts or placement of Matthews at various positions within the defense. Aggregate yards mean nothing in relation to wins and loses. Situational defense is more important and the Packers allowed way to many 3rd down conversions. But at the end of the day....only 9 points surrendered on normal change of possession and normal field position scenarios. The allowed TD goes more to the offense than the D in my opinion.

Josh's picture

Why does Capers get so conservative against these less talented teams? It seems to me that the defense is more dynamic and plays better when he gets creative. Is it a reflection of the confidence (or lack thereof) in the young players, or is a lack of confidence in the system itself? That's been eating at me for the last 24 games....

PackersRS's picture

Disagree. Capers called a lot of blitzes, even S blitzes he seldomly calls.

He specially emphasized the inside blitzes, because his DL was putrid today. Even with Neal and Worthy healhty. I can't remember a snap that the DL got any push, let alone penetrate the backfield.

And Raji was there. Or so I was told. I haven't seen Raji since the 2010 playoffs.

Stephen Dixon's picture

When will Capers learn to simply trust his DBs against opposing recievers. Vanilla zone= 32nd ranked 2011 defense

Bearmeat's picture

yep

SoTxPhil's picture

MM reverted to his Indy game play calling, one dive into the middle of the Olineman's backs for 0-2 yds, a pass behind the LOS or for 2-3 yds, then a pass one yd short of the LOS or a drop by the rcvr/TE. AR stayed in the pocket most of the day as it collapsed on him knocking him around needlessly. Why not roll him out on a planned play? After a bunch of hard hits and dropped balls AR looked pretty shell-shocked and PO'd. I think he really missed Jordy's sharp route running and coming back to the QB when he gets in trouble. I'd like to see Finley catch the ball and quit acting the fool every time he does catch a ball. I think the misssing players affected MM's game plan than they really would have if he would have called his normal game like against the Texans.

T's picture

The Jaguars qb threw 49 times. Giving up 303 yards on 49 attempts is actually very good.
Starks' needs to take over as RB he has the size and little more experience.

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