Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was steamed in his post-game press conference on Sunday following his team’s 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, vaguely referring to “recurring issues” he would address but would not elaborate on the topic.
By Monday, McCarthy had calmed down and shed further light into what made him so peeved in the aftermath of a second consecutive loss at Lambeau Field minus the team’s starting quarterback.
“What I’m disappointed in, and it’s gone on all year, is our fourth-quarter performance,” said McCarthy. “We’re not playing our best football when it counts, and I’m obviously frustrated with it. We don’t have the drill for it, particularly on Mondays.
“But it’s something we’ve been emphasizing, and to see it happen again yesterday is obviously disappointing and frustrating. We’ll continue to look at it, emphasize it, and that’s a big part of our job.”
The Packers’ fourth-quarter defense in particular has been been problematic, especially in the last two games.
With Green Bay down by 14 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Eagles regained possession of the football with 9:32 remaining and proceeded to snap the football 16 times on its way to running out the clock.
Just six days prior, with the Packers down by four points in the fourth quarter, the Chicago Bears took possession of the football at their own 11-yard line with 9:48 remaining on the clock.
The Bears drove 80 yards in 18 plays to kick a field goal to go up 27-20 and left just 53 seconds on the clock for the Packers.
But for anyone expecting McCarthy to address the issue by firing defensive coordinator Dom Capers or to send a message by making changes in the team’s defensive lineup, it didn’t happen.
Perhaps part of the reason the Packers can’t make any changes to their defense is they’re barely healthy enough to field a team at all, after suffering six more injuries in Week 10.
“We’re analyzing everything, but I really don’t know how many personnel changes you could even consider right now,” said McCarthy, “because we’re trying to make sure we have 46 (healthy players) for the game, and that’s what my board looks like right now.”
In addition to three long touchdown passes allowed by the Packers defense, McCarthy once again made mention of poor fundamental tackling, an issue that has seemed to plague the team since 2011.
“Our issue yesterday, we didn’t tackle,” said McCarthy. “We do tackling drills every week. It will be heightened again this week.”
According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Packers had six missed tackles on Sunday, two of them coming from inside linebacker Brad Jones.
The Offensive Line Shuffle
The Packers are waiting to see how offensive linemen Evan Dietrich-Smith and Don Barclay are faring after each exited Sunday’s game with knee injuries.
McCarthy could offer no updates as to their health on Monday, but he knows the offensive line will be stressed, at least in the short-term, without two of their preferred starters.
“They’re going to have to move around,” said McCarthy. “We’re not going to know probably until the end of the week. Obviously the New York Giants defensive line factors into this and how you prepare for them. That’s all part of the guessing game and the chess match.”
After Dietrich-Smith went down, T.J. Lang shifted to center and performed admirably considering he had never played at center in a game environment in his entire life.
Barclay also shifted over to right guard while Marshall Newhouse filled in at right tackle.
After Barclay went down, undrafted rookie Lane Taylor took over right guard duties as the Packers were down to just five healthy offensive linemen.
The Packers do have one more offensive lineman in reserve, but one that also comes with a whole lot of question marks.
Derek Sherrod is now on the team’s 53-man roster, but he was on the inactive list Sunday when the Packers were not yet comfortable in putting him out on the field.
Asked whether Sherrod will be ready to play soon, McCarthy replied, “I don’t know. I hope so. He looks good, but let’s be honest, practice only takes you so far. He’s going to have to step up at some point and be ready to go, and it’ll probably be without game-like action.”
If Dietrich-Smith is forced to miss any lengthy amount of time, the Packers may have to promote center Garth Gerhart from the practice squad.