A curious thing happened in yesterday’s Green Bay vs. Chicago MNF game. With the clock showing 1:44 left and the Bears with first and nine at the GB nine-yard line, Packers coach Mike McCarthy elected to attempt to stop Matt Forte from scoring a touchdown with only one timeout remaining.
I’m a little confused. Assuming the Bears use up 80 seconds of clock on two downs with the Packers using a timeout on one down, only a few seconds would remain for the Packers to tie the score after the Bears kick a field goal on fourth down.
And, that is exactly what happened. The Packers defense stopped Forte at the one-yard line on third down. The Bears let the clock wind down to eight seconds before calling a timeout to set up the game-winning 19-yard field goal.
After the game, McCarthy said, “I felt they [would miss] a field goal in the end.”
Unless your name is Garrett Hartley, NFL kickers don’t miss chip shots the length of extra points, and especially not the third most accurate kicker in NFL history.
The correct coaching strategy is to let the opposing team score a touchdown using as little time as possible so that your team has sufficient time to drive down the field and tie the game. The correct decision is made even more unarguable when the team is led by Aaron Rodgers, who had already passed for 316 yards and one touchdown on the night.
Hoping that Robbie Gould will miss a 19-yard field goal is just plain ridiculous. If McCarthy is saying that to come up with any old excuse, then his decision reflects even more poorly on his coaching because it means he didn’t have enough foresight to think through the consequences of not letting the Bears score a touchdown.
One more thing – McCarthy lost a timeout after challenging the fumble by James Jones. Replays showed that Tim Jennings clearly recovered the ball in bounds. McCarthy lost a crucial timeout at a critical point in the game on a needless challenge. Again, the decision shows a clear lack of foresight.
In addition, the 18 penalties (team record) killed the Packers. Penalties come from a lack of discipline, which falls on the coaching staff. The Packers were the most penalized team in 2009, something they clearly haven’t improved upon in the offseason.
The Packers can win with talent alone – at least for a little while. But, playoffs come down to coaching. Time will tell if McCarthy is the right man for the job.