Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Frozen game plan

A few of the things being cited for the Packers' loss to the Giants on Sunday are lack of rushing attempts and CB Al Harris getting burned repeatedly by receiver Plaxico Burress. (Yes, there are plenty of other things, too, some of which are mentioned in the poll you can vote in located in the righthand column.) But both of those are really part of a single item: the game plan.

For whatever reasons, the Packers' coaches devised a game plan geared almost solely toward a passing attack to exploit the Giants' banged up secondary, while also keeping their man-to-man bump-and-run coverage in place on defense. Couldn't really argue with the defensive part of the plan given the success most of the year. The rationale of going with an almost an exclusive passing attack given the perceived gaps in the Giants' secondary also seems logical, although perhaps not given the weather conditions which need to be factored in as well...and not to mention a 200+ yard rushing attack just the week before.

The only problem with the game plan was this: it wasn't working. And it wasn't working early. The coaches then had two options: adapt the plan to emphasize the rushing game more to at least keep the passing game viable and change the defensive coverage to give Harris help; or, stick with what wasn't working. The answer wasn't as obvious as most of us would have thought. The coaches decided to stick with the plan and sink or swim with it. Sadly, we know how that worked out.

Coach Mike McCarthy and his assistants will have the offseason to evaluate not only their players' performances during this game, but also their own. For the tremendous job that McCarthy has done in resurrecting the Packers, this was his first time as head coach in a championship game. The lesson of being adaptable is one which is sometimes learned the hard way. As in this loss.

There's a good article about this same topic in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. You can read it here.