Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is an emotional guy and sometimes, just sometimes, it effects the coaching job he does on the sidelines. He's admitted as much in press conferences, such as after a Monday night game against the Ravens in '09 that his challenge of a Baltimore touchdown was an "emotional" decision.
And while he's never admitted as much publicly, I'm willing to bet the same holds true for his playcalling.
We've already learned that McCarthy did away with the traditional "openers" (the scripting of the first 15-20 plays). But I've also suspected that McCarthy's "shot" plays, where he tries to take shots deep down field, are more predicated upon his emotions than any down and distance or field position.
The first time I noticed it was back in 2009 in the first quarter of the matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the Packers began the game with a three and out, the Steelers opened with a roll out of Ben Rothelisberger who threw a deep touchdown to then-rookie receiver Mike Wallace.
Three and out, then one play - Packers down 7.
So what does McCarthy call on for the very next offensive play?
You just know that was in direct response to the shot from the Steelers.
McCarthy does this quite a bit, and I love it. He'll use a deep shot as an attempt to swing the emotion of a game (not to mention the field position). I suppose all deep pass plays do that in some respect, but McCarthy's feel more "from the gut", if that makes sense. (I realize I'm doing a poor job of explaining this. But that's kind of the point. McCarthy is hard to pin down analytically and I like that.)
Another instance where I'm pretty sure we saw this come into play is the touchdown to Greg Jennings against the Dolphins last year. Tramon Williams had just picked the ball off. The Packers offense had not done much up to that point, though they had managed to put three points up on the board.
Then McCarthy went for it all.
Interestingly enough, its roughly the same field position as the shot in the Steelers game. Similar concept too, though not quite the same personnel and the protection is different, not to mention Jennings runs a very different route.
But the boot-out-of-playaction with a shot down the right sideline is there. And this time, Rodgers connects.
First, looking at the All-22 shows us how the lone high-safety takes the underneath route, seeing the "drag" break into the open.
What I love about the design of this play is that any time this is run against a lone high-safety, the defender will more often than not jump that drag route, thinking that Jennings is running an "out".
Speaking of Jennings, just look at this route. Jennings is simply too good a route runner for this to be anything other than a huge gain, if not a touchdown. This is also a perfect demonstration of why you simply can not give Jennings a free release off the line of scrimmage. He's just too smooth in and out of his breaks. He'll kill you every time he's allowed to roam free off the line.
As I just mentioned, there's no way this play gets off without first-rate protection. Bryan Bulaga had all sorts of problems with Cameron Wake in this game (hey, what offensive tackle didn't in '10?) but the Packers catch a break as the Dolphins have him lined up on the opposite side of the formation to where Rodgers is rolling out. Donald Lee and Korey Hall take care of the defensive end while the other outside linebacker drops into a zone while the interior of the line picks up the A Gap blitz.
In other words: Perfection.
Put it all together and I don't know what the eff it means, but you got some bad-ass perpetrators and they're here to stay.
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