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Is Greg Jennings out of Line?

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Is Greg Jennings out of Line?

Former Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings is back in the news and he's talking about his former team.  Earlier this week, Jennings was discussing the New England Patriots and how well they're coached.  One of the areas he mentioned was the Patriots' ability to put teams away when leading late in games.  

Jennings was very direct in his comments about his Packers teams and more specifically, his former head coach Mike McCarthy.  In Greg's opinion, it was McCarthy who chose to get conservative when the team had a lead and the blame shouldn't have been directed at the defense for letting opponents back in games.  You can hear his comments here.  I do have to sincerely apologize, as I'm sharing a link and asking you to watch some pretty bad television, given the platform that Jennings appeared on.

For those groaning loudly and crying "much ado about nothing, typical off season fodder", I beg to differ.  There was no shortage of response on social media, mostly by Packers fans who were rolling their proverbial eyes at Jennings for talking smack about the Packers.

Back in 2013 when Jennings decided to join the Minnesota Vikings and shun multiple contract offers from the Packers, he left with some not-so-flattering things to say.  He took shots at the organization, saying they "brainwashed" their players and employees into thinking they were the best team in the league and it was a privilege to work for the Packers.  

He also jabbed quarterback Aaron Rodgers for not sticking up for his receivers when they made mistakes like a certain former Packers quarterback used to.

Jennings has called Rodgers "sensitive" in the past and even cited that as a likely reason for the quarterback's struggles during a stretch last season.  To be fair, Rodgers has also been labeled as sensitive by linebacker Clay Matthews and even by a producer at CBS after Rodgers complained about how he was portrayed by the show 60 Minutes.

So given Jennings' history, are his recent comments out of line and is this another instance of Jennings, now retired, trying to stay relevant?

Jennings singled out the 2011 and 2012 seasons when he made his remark about McCarthy "handcuffing" the Packers offense and not letting them close out games.  In 2011, the Packers scored 560 points, an average of 35 points per game.  At the time, that was second in NFL history to the 2007 Patriots, who scored 589.  

The Packers defense ranked last in total yardage surrendered that season. So is Jennings saying that McCarthy also handcuffed defensive coordinator Dom Capers?  (For Capers' sake, I hope so as the two-man pass rush against the New York Giants in the divisional playoffs was nauseating).

Does Jennings also know that the Patriots were ranked very closely to the Packers that season in yards allowed and that same Patriots team also lost in the Super Bowl after holding a 17-9 lead in the second half?  

That argument about the bad defenses has been made many times when recounting the past and it's no secret the 2011 Packers defense wasn't stellar by any means.  Green Bay's 15-1 record that season was attributed to the offense's ability to score early and often and then go into "prevent" mode on defense.  

Whether that's schematically true, I'm not sure as I haven't re-watched those games.  But given the regular season results, it seems like a reach by Jennings to make that claim about McCarthy.  It certainly wasn't why that team lost its only playoff game.

Jennings missed eight games in 2012 with a core injury but his memory still seems sharp about that year.  The worst example of a lost lead that season was the 18 point lead lost to the Indianapolis Colts.  In looking at the score by quarter, it appears that the Packers went conservative in the second half, having only put up six points.  A glance at the play by play shows a solid defensive effort by the Colts to pressure Rodgers, a turnover and a badly missed field goal.  Did McCarthy draw that up too, Greg? 

Fast forward one week and the Packers visited the undefeated Houston Texans.  In that game, the Packers jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and were up 21-10 at the half.  The closest deficit Houston achieved from there was 11 points as the Packers put another 21 on the board for the win.  

The playoff loss that season wasn't a case of sleepwalking on offense.  That was a defensive disaster, as we know.

While I would agree that McCarthy has gone too conservative on offense and allowed Capers to do so on defense, there's a reason he's still coaching the team 11 years later.  

The disaster in Seattle following the 2014 season is an easy one to point to where McCarthy needed to take more blame than usual for a loss.  That team should have appeared in a championship game which would have elevated the legacy of many in the organization.  But it's hard to argue that McCarthy is guilty of regularly handcuffing his teams.

Jennings can say what he wants to and in this case and given the context, I'm OK with what he said.  I don't totally agree with it but this was far from some of the vitriol he's spewed over the past four years.  This is a former player doing what we all do: remembering what he chooses to remember about a significant time in his life.  

But before saying it's "Greg being Greg", take a look back at the numbers, games and results.  He's not totally misguided and he's definitely not out of line.




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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lphill's picture

Regardless of the point Jennings is trying to make the fact remains that the Seattle loss in the championship game will haunt us forever , MM took his foot off the pedal when in fact the Patriots in the same situation would have kept trying to score so that was MM playing it safe and the other loss that haunts us and there are a few was of course the loss to the Giants when the Packers were 15 and 1 , that game the Packers came out flat and it seemed like MM could not turn it around. So I think Jennings was trying to get the point across that MM could be seen as being responsible in some of these games.

RCPackerFan's picture

To put the blame McCarthy for the Seattle and Giants losses is misdirected.

Both of those losses are squarely on the shoulders of the players. Way to many players mistakes in those games. Was McCarthy perfect, no. But he wasn't the reason that they lost both of those games.

Rossonero's picture

Agreed. Joe Philbin losing his son just days before the Giants game didn't help either. As great as the 15-1 team was, we never recovered from the loss of Nick Colllins and eventually it was exposed.

Seattle will always haunt me. There are so many plays that our players screwed up. McCarthy deserves some of the blame, but not all of it. Also, our terrible special teams play finally caught up to us in 2014 as well.

RCPackerFan's picture

I still maintain that Philbin's son dying was the biggest reason. They came in that game completely flat, and understandably so.

Yeah, McCarthy deserves some blame in the Seattle game. I mean everyone deserves blame for that mess. But most of it squarely rests on the players.

McCarthy can be blamed for somethings just like any coach can be. But Jennings purely putting the blame purely on McCarthy sounds like a Skip Bayless hot take.

jasonperone's picture

One thing I'll say about the Seattle fiasco was that McCarthy admitted he wasn't totally dialed in on the sideline at the end of the game. Didn't know Matthews had come out because he was game planning on the offensive side. That's what he did and it has worked for him to delegate in the past, but that game taught him a lesson: he has to be in tune with all 46 guys in uniform. He tried being more involved with other aspects of the team in 2015 but had to take back the offensive play calling mid way through the season. It's hard when the bar you're compared to is the guy who has 5 trophies in 15 years.

I give MM credit for trying new things and having a plan. Like Al said, he's evolved over the past few years. With Rodgers at QB, this team has to at least appear in another SB with those 2 together.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

He didn't know Sherman was injured either. Maybe he was dialed in on special teams.

chugwater's picture

He couldn't have been that dialed in. Seattle scored on fake FG then Bostic fiasco.

Fool mean once shame on you. Fool me twice...

TheVOR's picture

MM and the requested Julius Peppers go down, slide, instead of trying to kill someone in a blocking assignment. I blame those two for the loss. The DB had 30 yards of open field in front of him and a bunch of blockers. Instead the defensive captain is saying slide, go down on the turf. If we return that INT into FG position which we would have gotten, and made the kick? Game over. And MM run run run punt is just ridiculous.

Lets face it, people hate Jennings for the right reasons, but don't hate him for being right, because in this case he's dead nuts. Go for the throat, its a chance to play in the Superbowl! 2011 was about a horrific defense and Ted Thompson's inability to fix it after he let key players walk. 2011 had this prolific offense, and a defense that I knew would cost us in the end. That season is on Thompson taking his foot off the accelerator. He should have been scratching and clawing at any opportunity to field a decent defense. He FAILED miserably!

chugwater's picture

As has been said...Plenty of blame to go around. The INT slide was bad, but it was not the end all-be all.

Ask yourself if you yelled at the TV at the time Burnett slid. 99.9% didn't I'm sure because we all thought 'Eh, we have AR, the ball on Seattle's side of the field, and comfortable lead. It would take a total meltdown to lose at this point.'


Keyonta Selfsufficient's picture

We winning it all this year

Keyonta Selfsufficient's picture

We winning it all this year

RCPackerFan's picture

Sounds like Greg Jennings is trying to become the next hot take personality like the Skip Bayless's of the world... If he is trying to become one of those types of guys, good luck to him.

The TKstinator's picture

That's my take too.
"Yap, yap, yap, look at me! Look at me!"
A tall glass of Shut Up Juice is my Rx.

dobber's picture

I tend to agree. I don't know why he gets any play...

zoellner25's picture

He is the very definition of the jilted ex-girlfriend who wants revenge, in the most unclassy of ways. GO AWAY GREG

Packer_Pete's picture

What I find funny about Jennings is that the offense McC called was the only one in the NFL he ever excelled in. So what about all the other coaches and play-callers? What did they do wrong that McC did do right? He can blame McC all he wants for whatever, but in the big picture, Jennings is a marginal NFL player who had success with only one team, and only one play caller who apparently was calling an offense too conservatively. Maybe Jennings should've asked other play callers to do the same at his other NFL teams...

Razer's picture

Also heard Jennings hem and haw about how the defense hasn't made plays and that has been the problem. What is it Greg - McCarthy, defense, no run game?

As for MM taking his foot off the gas, perhaps he should talk to the Atlanta Falcons about throttle wide open. Ultimately, all phases of the team need to step up and make plays. The Packers have missed too many of those moments to make plays particularly on defense.

Greg Jennings will say anything to stay relevant and he does it all for money.

The TKstinator's picture

Also agree! "Foot off the gas" I think is NFL code for "running the ball somewhat unsuccessfully when your team has a lead".
Just win, baby! If you win, your tactics were brilliant, regardless of what they actually were.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yes, but.... We've been around and around on this. The only way to reach a judgment would be to look at every MM coached game in which we were up by say 12+ points at half time, and look at the play calls in the 3rd quarter, and/or 4th.

Anecdotally, in the NFL Champ game, running Lacy into a 10 man front - i.e., we're going to run the ball even though there is virtually no chance of this play working, and little chance of it not losing yards - is fundamentally different that what you're suggesting. You're claiming folks are criticizing the results, rather than the tactic. I am sure in my own mind that I am criticizing the tactic.

Still, I have MM as a top 10, probably top 5 HC, and can't think of anyone better who might be available.

The TKstinator's picture

I'd love to know if 12 has the freedom to audible out of those runs into loaded fronts in the situation you describe.
Or maybe they don't care about gaining yards, they just want to keep the clock running.

Jersey Al's picture

With football, there are always a lot of factors that determine the outcome of a game. I've never said McCarthy was responsible for some of those losses, but a contributor? Absolutely. Getting too conservative when he had these high-power offenses was always my biggest criticism of the coach. I do give him credit for seeing the light and evolving - it's not as big an issue as it was back then.

Tundraboy's picture

Very fair and true. And God do I hope he has evolved. Capers I'm not so sure.

EdsLaces's picture

Mike better come out fn swinging this year...

Tundraboy's picture

That's for sure. Need to come out strong,and not have too steep a hill or hole to climb out of. With this team and the number of new and young players, I think it is more important than ever. At same time I wouldn't mind seeing the D come out on fire and establish itself early on. Well I suppose I'm dreaming but I can't wait to find out. Only a few weeks more!

Since '61's picture

Who? Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Craig Jenkins.
You're welcome, TK.

Packer Fan's picture

Yes, Jennings was out of line. But then there is truth there too. I want McCarthy to open up the play calling this year. They have too many offensive mismatches, talent and weapons. Make every game a blowout. The defense woes are not so much his issue. TT needs to get more talent. The Pack is sitting about $20 mil under the cap and we are HOPING the cornerbacks come back, that all the linebackers develop. I still can't watch these games: The Superbowl loss against the Broncos. The 2003 conference championship against the Eagles, the conference championship against the Giants and the Seattle debacle. I thought each one of those should have been Superbowl champions. Those games make me sick to my stomach!

Jonathan Spader's picture

What about the playoff loss to Arizona where Larry Fitzgerald was wide open?

Packer Fan's picture

Yes, Jennings was out of line. But then there is truth there too. I want McCarthy to open up the play calling this year. They have too many offensive mismatches, talent and weapons. Make every game a blowout. The defense woes are not so much his issue. TT needs to get more talent. The Pack is sitting about $20 mil under the cap and we are HOPING the cornerbacks come back, that all the linebackers develop. I still can't watch these games: The Superbowl loss against the Broncos. The 2003 conference championship against the Eagles, the conference championship against the Giants and the Seattle debacle. I thought each one of those should have been Superbowl champions. Those games make me sick to my stomach!

4zone's picture

I hate prevent 'D'. Why abandon what was working for you? It often let's a team find a rhythm it didn't have before. We have done that far too often. Even when we end up winning, blowouts fat too often go down to the wire.

dobber's picture

"Why abandon what was working for you? "

Because, frequently, in these situations the offense is abandoning what the defense was effective against in the first place.

Just as we argue against "getting conservative" offensively, it's the accepted way that NFL teams try to close out games. They try to eat clock or take away the long, quick strike and the outside pass routes. Virtually every team does this...and we really only complain when it doesn't work.

The TKstinator's picture

Totally agree. Well put.

chugwater's picture

Me too. It works a majority of the time. Nobody notices when it does except on the rare occasion when it doesn't.

The TKstinator's picture

I don't watch any of those Real Housewives shows and I don't take any interest in this junk either.

Since '61's picture

I'm with you all the way TK. Thanks, Since '61

chugwater's picture

Perfectly said. It's all antagonistic programming.

TJ Coon's picture

I read the article where he disparaged his former team. The team that made him who he who he is by and is continuing his relevancy proven by his gravy training antics on a show that is based on garbage.
You may have guessed it, I have a certain disdain for the guy. Dudes just showin his phony mug on the telly to keep the dollars comin for as ling as possible. My question to him is what happened to him as a player when he left Green Bay? Who do you blame?

Point Packer's picture

I wonder how much Craig Lemmings lost by leaving GB? His acting career seemed to fizzle, as did his professional football career. Then again, who cares.

I place a great deal of blame on MM for the Seaturds NFC Champ loss. His conservative attitude leaked to the field. hence why Peppers told Burnett to go down, etc etc etc. When they needed to move the ball to get the game tying FG, they did.

MM is a very good coach whose flaws are partially responsible for his big game losses.

croatpackfan's picture

Oh, yes, I read all of your comments. I like those with "taking foot of gas"... I remember some "shouting" here why team did not go to "prevent" D or why to push on O when some big injuries happened...
So, make your decision, for what you are - to try to destroy opponent all the time, or to try to prevent significant injuries!

The TKstinator's picture

Elementary, my dear Croat: destroy the opponent whilst simultaneously preventing significant injuries to key personnel.

mjbrogno's picture

The head coach will always get to much credit and to much blame regardless of the outcome of the game. The players are the one's that decide the outcome of the game. Yes, there a certain plays that will always be scrutinized, i.e., on-side kick, 4th and 26, etc. I think Greg Jennings will always be bitter on how his career ended in Green Bay and will speak out negativity about his former head coach when the opportunity presents itself.

Brian Ringwood's picture

the best comment in the entire post

marpag1's picture

Listening to Greg Jennings when there is football to discuss is like foam on beer. Just blow it off and move on to the good stuff.

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