Jan 20 2015
by Tuesday Morning Tailback
It has long been my habit to criticize coaches who are ultra-conservative in critical situations. During the playoffs two years ago, I wrote the article called, Kneeling Down on the Job, where I stated that nothing is worse than a coach who doesn’t play to win. In that article, I referenced the coaching of Mike Sherman of the Green Bay Packers during a 2003 Divisional Playoff game against Philadelphia, a game in which Green Bay simply let Philadelphia come back by abandoning the very strategy which gave his team the lead in the first place. Eleven years later, Sherman’s successor Mike McCarthy has gone even further in this absurd strategy.
Sunday’s NFC Championship was dominated by the Packers on both sides of the ball for close to 57 minutes of playing time, where Green Bay had five takeaways and did not give up a single point to the Seattle offense. But McCarthy did not fully take advantage of these situations and guide his team to put the game out of reach. Now, this is not to take away from the on-field heroics by Russell Wilson and the offense of the Seattle Seahawks, nor some of the gross mistakes made by the Green Bay players late in the game. But I don’t think enough attention has been paid to the horrible decisions by McCarthy during this debacle.
These bad decisions started early in the game. Twice in the first quarter, the Packer offense got the ball inside the Seahawks two yard line. Twice, McCarthy decided to kick field goals from this position, potentially leaving 8 points on the ground. Late in the fourth quarter, when the Packers got the ball after Seattle’s fifth turnover, McCarthy ran uninspired middle runs, taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’s hand and giving Seattle the hope they needed. Then, in overtime when the Packers still had a chance, Green Bay called the most bizarre defense to give Wilson the chance to go for the jugular and kill the team which refused to kill his own.
And that’s what it is really all about, this heartbreaking defeat was the direct result of Green Bay refusing to kill off the defending World Champions when they had the chance. Just like in all bad slasher movies, or even this excellent episode of Game of Thrones, an NFL playoff game is a duel to the death where a team must execute or be executed. Adding to this situation is the opponent that Green bay faced. The whole Seahawks thing is like a giant cult, with rabid, earth shaking fans rooting for a team named after a fictional animal in a location akin to a modern day Atlantis with the ever-present danger of being destroyed by earthquake, volcano, tsunami, or all three at once. You must kill this mythical monster dead and never give yourself time to celebrate until the clock reaches zero.
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.