Clutch Encounters

A look at Sunday's fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drive opportunities

Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Scott Kacsmar

We haven't had a close game on Thursday night since Week 4, but leave it up to the Packers and Seahawks to provide plenty of drama -- suspicious catches included -- in prime time. Actually, that's probably not fair since their last three meetings, all Green Bay wins, were not memorable games by any means. However, Seattle's 27-24 comeback win last night sure brought back some memories of the 2014 NFC Championship Game, or the day Mike McCarthy's coaching credibility took a massive hit.

On Thursday night, the Packers again failed to capitalize enough on early poor play by Seattle, and McCarthy made extremely conservative decisions down the stretch. This didn't feel like a typical Week 11 game between teams with 4-5 and 4-4-1 records -- this was an important one to remain in the NFC wild-card field.

In a special Friday edition of Clutch Encounters, we'll look at how Seattle got back to .500 and dealt the Packers a possible deathblow in the playoff race.

The Weird First-Half Shootout

The only turnover of the game was a Chris Carson fumble on the first play from scrimmage, which the Packers turned into a 29-yard touchdown drive. Aaron Rodgers hit a big play to Davante Adams for 41 yards, but Mason Crosby missed a 47-yard field goal, a costly miss on the night. Rodgers made another effortless deep throw to backup tight end Robert Tonyan for a 54-yard touchdown, Tonyan's first NFL catch.

A 14-3 hole looked rough for a Seattle team that repeatedly shot itself in the foot at home with pre-snap penalties. It's kind of a miracle that Russell Wilson finished with such a respectable stat line (21-of-31 for 225 yards and two touchdowns). His success rate was 0-for-8 in the first quarter as his accuracy looked terrible. He couldn't get in the same zip code as Doug Baldwin, who was wide open on occasion. The offense finally put together a drive with Wilson able to find Baldwin for a 6-yard touchdown. Wilson picked up 48 more yards on a pass interference penalty and the Seahawks quickly took a 17-14 lead in the second quarter.

Rodgers executed a flawless drive before halftime with running back Aaron Jones settling into an Alvin Kamara-type role with three catches for 61 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown on a deep throw. Green Bay has been painfully slow in featuring Jones more, but this was his breakout game as a receiver. Last week against Miami was the first time he broke 20 receiving yards in a game (27 total), and he finished this game with 63 yards.

The Packers led 21-17 at halftime, but the second half saw a drastic change in scoring.

More (or Moore) Catch Controversy?

There was no scoring in the third quarter. Perhaps no play better epitomized that than the third down where Wilson caught his own deflected pass for an 11-yard loss when he should have just knocked the ball down. Later in the quarter, the Seahawks faced a third-and-7 at their own 6. Wilson seemed to catch a tough break when David Moore apparently dropped a pass. However, a challenge by Pete Carroll was won, and the play was changed to a 27-yard completion. Was this the latest chapter of officiating controversy in the series that produced the Fail Mary, or did Moore simply catch this ball and fumble it forward out of bounds?

I think the reversal was the right call. Moore controlled the ball with his left hand and took three steps before he lost control. It was a catch and fumble, retained by Seattle. This only led to a field goal to cut the lead to 21-20 in the fourth quarter, because Kyler Fackrell had a huge sack on first down to blow the drive up once it reached the red zone. That was part of a 3.0-sack night for Fackrell, who is having a breakout season in his third year.

Rodgers responded by making his best throw of the night: a 57-yard bomb to Adams while under pressure. Unfortunately, the offense was slow to reset after the gain and had to burn a second timeout with 10:31 left. From there, the play calling left much to be desired, and on third-and-5, Rodgers took his fifth sack of the night (fourth of the half).

That's really disappointing to get catches of 57 and 41 yards from Adams and to only score three points on those two drives. The Packers led 24-20, but the Seahawks had plenty of time with 8:23 left.

Russell Wilson's 25th Game-Winning Drive

As we looked at in Week 10, close wins have been a struggle for the Seahawks, who had been 0-5 at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities this season (2-10 since 2017). There weren't going to be many better opportunities than this one, and it did come with a little luck (and a lot of Tyler Lockett). After an 18-yard gain on third down, Lockett was open again for a 34-yard gain to the 16. With an injury on the play, Green Bay had plenty of time to throw a challenge flag as it looked like the ball scraped the ground to help Lockett make the catch. However, McCarthy never challenged and the drive continued.

Maybe McCarthy didn't want to challenge because he was down to one timeout, but a lone timeout is not that valuable at that time. A team usually needs two or three timeouts late in the game to help get the ball back. Getting a reversal would have been big, even if it meant it was still second-and-10 at the 50. So the lack of a challenge looked like a bad move, and three plays later, Wilson found Ed Dickson for a 15-yard touchdown to take a 27-24 lead with 5:08 left. Dickson just ran right up the seam and it was far too easy for Seattle.

This was the 25th game-winning drive of Wilson's career (including playoffs). He joins Matt Ryan (27) and Ben Roethlisberger (25) as the only players to have at least 25 game-winning drives in their first seven seasons.

McCarthy: The Numbers Made Me Do It

There was plenty of time (5:08) for Green Bay to still win, but the Packers embarked on a pretty terrible three-and-out. On first down, four Green Bay receivers squatted down on short routes, but Rodgers still chose the only deep route (Equanimeous St. Brown), and basically threw the ball away (or just missed horribly). Rodgers really seemed to favor the deep shot in the second half, which might explain why the offense had just three first downs and four sacks after halftime. His ultra-streaky season continued on Thursday night. Rodgers' success rate in the first half was 12-of-18 (66.7 percent), but dipped to 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) after halftime and 2-for-8 (25.0 percent) in the fourth quarter.

On a third-and-2, there was really no reason why the Packers shouldn't have just ran the ball, either making fourth down easier or converting with a percentage play. Jones did not have a stellar rushing night (11 carries for 40 yards), but he leads the NFL with a first down on 35.7 percent of his rushes this season. Instead, Rodgers passed the ball and it was woefully underthrown for an incompletion. It's hard to tell if a defensive lineman grazed the ball to make it look worse, but for now the official play-by-play does not list a pass defensed. Green Bay finished 3-of-11 on third down last night.

The Packers did not attempt a fourth down, because … numbers? Apparently McCarthy said "we played the numbers" to explain why Green Bay punted on fourth-and-2 at the 33 with 4:20 and one timeout left. We'll get to some real numbers in a second, but let's finish recapping the inevitable outcome. The Seahawks got the ball back with 4:11 left. The league's run-heaviest offense opened with a 5-yard run with Mike Davis, proving that as long as you have a pulse, the Seahawks will give you carries this season. Wilson then kept for an 8-yard run and was smart to slide in bounds to make the Packers burn their final timeout at 3:18. Davis got two more carries, and the Packers didn't even bother to run blitz the middle as he tore them up for 11 more yards to ice the game at the two-minute warning.

It is hard to figure out what McCarthy was citing when he said his punt was playing the numbers. Does he mean the sample size of two plays where the Packers are 0-for-2 on fourth-and-2 this season? The league is 22-of-38 (57.9 percent) on fourth-and-2 this season, so that's above 50 percent. Going back to 2011, the league-wide conversion rate is 54.8 percent. Going back to 2006, McCarthy's rookie year, the conversion rate is 50.0 percent for the Packers (13-for-26) and 53.0 percent for the league.

Overall, this is a play that converts for offenses more often than it doesn't. Beyond that, the Packers should be better than average at gaining 2 yards when really needed with Rodgers as their quarterback. If we beef up the sample to look at plays on third and fourth down that needed 2 yards for a first down, then Rodgers is among the best in the league at converting. The following table looks at those conversion rates since 2001 (playoffs included) for quarterbacks with at least 80 such plays. This includes sacks and rushes. Among these 26 quarterbacks, Rodgers averages the second-highest yards per dropback (7.23) and the fourth-highest conversion rate (59.6 percent).

Third and Fourth Down, 2 Yards to Go (Since 2001)
Rk Player 1D Plays Conv% Yds/Db Rk
1 Peyton Manning 125 197 63.5% 6.08 7
2 Andrew Luck 56 91 61.5% 6.09 6
3 Tom Brady 145 238 60.9% 5.98 8
4 Aaron Rodgers 93 156 59.6% 7.23 2
5 Matt Ryan 81 137 59.1% 4.54 22
6 Jay Cutler 66 114 57.9% 7.58 1
7 Steve McNair 49 85 57.6% 4.88 18
8 Jeff Garcia 47 82 57.3% 5.18 14
9 Philip Rivers 96 169 56.8% 5.90 11
10 Ben Roethlisberger 120 212 56.6% 6.75 5
11 Brett Favre 94 167 56.3% 6.96 4
12 Mike Vick 55 98 56.1% 3.92 25
13 Eli Manning 109 197 55.3% 7.19 3
Rk Player 1D Plays Conv% Yds/Db Rk
14 Kerry Collins 48 87 55.2% 4.90 17
15 Matt Hasselbeck 70 128 54.7% 4.60 20
16 Cam Newton 65 120 54.2% 5.27 13
17 Carson Palmer 82 155 52.9% 5.52 12
18 Donovan McNabb 65 123 52.8% 4.09 24
19 Drew Brees 121 229 52.8% 5.06 16
20 Tony Romo 57 108 52.8% 5.11 15
21 Matthew Stafford 81 154 52.6% 4.24 23
22 Ryan Fitzpatrick 57 109 52.3% 5.97 10
23 Andy Dalton 44 88 50.0% 5.98 9
24 Alex Smith 55 111 49.5% 4.55 21
25 Russell Wilson 41 88 46.6% 3.31 26
26 Joe Flacco 61 140 43.6% 4.70 19

We can go over some other numbers. Since 2001, trailing teams who punt in the final five minutes have won 7.3 percent of games. That doubles to 14.6 percent for punting teams who were trailing by one possession like Green Bay. Meanwhile, teams down three to six points with possession in the final five minutes win 28.1 percent of the time since 2001. The importance of possession can never be overstated.

This is going to get really specific, but hear us out. The Packers punted from inside their 40, down by no more than five points, with no more than 5 yards to go for a first down, and with 4:00 to 5:00 left in the fourth quarter. The five-point margin is important, because even if you fail on fourth down and then allow a field goal, it is still a one-possession game. This is only the 10th punt that hits all of those qualifiers in the last 18 seasons, but the third one that involves these teams. The first two also led to a win for Carroll's Seahawks and a loss for McCarthy's Packers:

  • In 2017, the 49ers (one timeout left) punted on fourth-and-3 at their own 27 while trailing Seattle 12-9 with 4:47 left. The Seahawks ran out the clock with five Carson runs.
  • In 2013, McCarthy's Packers (three timeouts left) punted on fourth-and-3 at their own 16 while trailing the 49ers 31-28 with 5:00 left. The 49ers added a field goal (34-28) and Rodgers did not get the ball back until 26 seconds remained.

While we found 10 punts in that situation, we only found two offenses that attempted a fourth down in the same situation since 2001. One of those was actually McCarthy's Packers in a division title game against the 2013 Bears in Week 17. Facing a fourth-and-1 at his own 22 with a 28-27 deficit and 4:41 left, McCarthy had the offense go for it despite having one timeout left. John Kuhn picked up the first and Rodgers then threw a 48-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb to win the NFC North. That might be the last courageous thing McCarthy has attempted in this league, and that was still a game where he kicked an extra point when down by two in the fourth quarter. D'oh.

This type of fourth-down decision is something I think most coaches would still struggle with. They fear risking that slightly-better-than-a-coin-flip chance on offense, because it potentially could double the deficit from three to six. However, the defense's goal remains the same no matter where it takes the field: do not allow a touchdown and get the ball back as soon as possible. A 30-24 game would still be a one-score game, and then Rodgers can drive for a game-winning touchdown without any reliance on a shaky Mason Crosby making a long field goal for overtime.

McCarthy's punt argument would be stronger if the Packers had three timeouts. But with one, that basically made it a necessity for the defense to get the ball back after three or four plays or there would have been serious time issues. If McCarthy trusted his shaky defense to get the ball back over Rodgers getting 2 more yards, then how can he ever trust Rodgers to get 50-plus yards later for a scoring drive? The punt was a ludicrous decision given this matchup.

Some numbers that aren't up for debate: Seattle (5-5) gets back to .500 while the Packers (4-5-1) can be the NFC's No. 9 or No. 10 seed come Sunday evening. Both of these teams had their playoff streaks snapped in 2017, but Green Bay looks to be in position to go a second year out of the tournament. The Packers justifiably didn't end McCarthy's tenure as a knee-jerk reaction after the 2014 championship game loss in Seattle, but this loss four seasons later may be the penultimate nail in the coffin.

Season Summary

Fourth-quarter comeback wins: 37
Game-winning drives: 45 (plus two non-offensive game-winning scores)
Games with 4QC/GWD opportunity: 82/149 (55.0 percent)
10+ point comeback wins (any point in the game): 19

Historic data on fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives can be found at Pro Football Reference. Screen caps come from NFL Game Pass. Game-Winning Chance (win probability) data is from EdjSports.

Comments

28 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2018, 2:47pm

1 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by ammek // Nov 16, 2018 - 10:58am

The penultimate nail? I hope this doesn't mean McCarthy is coming back for one more season! His strengths and weaknesses are so well known now – they were on vivid display in Seattle – that there's simply nothing more he can do to win over his critics. He'd be a good hire in Cleveland or East Rutherford, but he needs to part ways with the Packers in the offseason.

It'll be interesting to see how Rodgers fares in a new offensive scheme. His play has fallen off over the past four seasons now, and the fanbase is beginning to realize. McCarthy's failings have disguised it somewhat, viz the relative proportions of this article devoted to coach and quarterback. But the question might need to be asked about whether Rodgers' imperial phase is behind him.

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8 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by mrt1212 // Nov 16, 2018 - 1:43pm

"Imperial Phase" I love that!

It seems to me that Rodgers, among the likes of long QB/HC relationship QBs - Brees/Payton, PotatoFace/Tomlin Wilson/Carroll, Brady/Belichick...I'm trying to think of others and drawing a blank...is the one that has maybe either plateaued or diminished the most from peak although I could hear arguments for Brady starting this year and RW this year although Schotty is a new and never been adept at passing game coordination.

If I was being forgiving to Rodgers I'd say that it's part him and physical decline and the other part is the McCarthy and the team. Contrast them to the Saints and I think you can see to a small extent how much better the Saints have supported Drew Brees and imagine their offense to flow through him over Rodgers and the Packers. OR put another way, the Packers seem more content to rest on the potential heroics of Rodgers and his play making ability than design an entire apparatus that enhances his capabilities and potential the most. Feels that way to me at least.

I keep saying this everywhere I go but the offenses seemed to struggle in similar ways last night especially with Rodgers and Wilson taking sacks. I ask - why is that? and how similar are RW's and Rodgers situations at the moment?

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14 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 16, 2018 - 8:05pm

It's not going to be quite this simple, but in the salary cap era, are we looking at a choice between:

(a) protecting your star QB with a solid OL and good supporting offensive player, but saddling them with a lousy defence where they need to score 35+ points for a chance at winning (call this the Saints strategy, but it also applies to NE in recent years)

or

(b) investing in a defence so your QB doesn't need to score 35+ points for a chance to win, but leaving your franchise QB scrambling around, often trying to pick up first downs on nothing more than their own raw talent (call this the Seahawks strategy, but it applies to GB this year, too).

A third option - have a good young QB on a below market contract - allows you to invest in both, but won't last long. (Enjoy it while it lasts, LAR and KC).

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2 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Will Allen // Nov 16, 2018 - 11:12am

The criticism of punting is entirely justified, particularly with Mike Daniels being injured earlier in the game. It makes no sense to not put the game in Rodgers' hands on 4th down.

The criticism of the 3rd down call is just confirmation bias nonsense. The call resulted in a wide open receiver in the flat, with perhaps the most physically dominant passer in history with the ball. That's a perfectly good call. The pass wasn't defensed, Rodgers said the ball just stuck in his hand. That is less likely than an offensive linemen whiffing on a run block.

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20 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by MJK // Nov 17, 2018 - 1:41am

In general, though, teams facing 3rd and 2 pass the ball far more often than they should. Especially in an obvious go for it on 4th down situation.

A pass might make more sense if you have just one shot, but if you plan to have two... well, two chances to get a combined 2 yards on two runs has got to be pretty high odds.

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21 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Scott Kacsmar // Nov 17, 2018 - 4:06am

Yes that goes back to our short-yardage studies https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2016/2015-short-yardage-...

As much as NFL coaches preach running the ball, they don't do it nearly enough in a situation (like 3rd-and-2) where it actually is more advantageous to run the ball. That's assuming your main goal is to extend the drive, which is usually a very worthwhile goal. GB had plenty of time at this point.

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24 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Will Allen // Nov 17, 2018 - 10:04am

In reality, however, there are no "in general" football games. There are only specific games with specific players. McCarthy's decision to punt was egregiously bad because of the Packers' injuries to defensive linemen; counting on the guys who you've had in the #2 spot on your depth chart to win the game, as opposed to the guy that you are devoting 18% of you cap space to, is unsound, to put it mildly. Similarly, having that same guy try to execute a relatively simple play in short yardage is a perfectly reasonable play call.

Another example of the principle was the Malcom Butler Super Bowl int. What made that playcall so bad was not that it was a pass, but rather because that particular pass required a Seahawk receiver to defeat a jam at the line of scrimmage from a defender whose best attribute was jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes these matchups are unavoidable, but the smart playcaller or decisionmaker is always cognizant of the players who are on the field.

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3 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Damon // Nov 16, 2018 - 11:31am

Since 1950, QB's who have thrown for 300+ yards, completed at least 70% of their passes, averaged 11+ yards/attempt and got sacked at least 5 times

1987 Ken O'Brien
1988 Bernie Kosar
1989 Joe Montana
2004 Daunte Culpepper
2016 Andy Dalton
2017 Jameis Winston
2018 Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers and Winston are the only quarterbacks on this list to lose their games, both of which came as a result of their defenses failing to hold a 4th quarter lead.

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4 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Damon // Nov 16, 2018 - 12:03pm

As for Rodgers 2018 season, some can call it streaky, some can call it disappointing, some can suggest Rodgers (Aaron Nagler), along with McCarthy are the biggest problems with the Packers, but call garbage on that.

For one thing, I just love how people gloss over his injury in Week 1 as if nothing happened as well as Rodgers coming off a second collarbone injury in 5 years? He's always held the ball long and took sacks, but to me it also feels like he's still trying to play like it's '09-'14 by generating big plays, while still trying to manage the knee/collarbone and also not put his porous defense in harms way forcing a throw that could lead to short fields for the opponent.

The second thing is in last night's game he posted his best QBR of the season (a 73), had his second best completion percentage of the season and passed for his 3rd most yards in a game.

He's won the Packers two games they had no business winning and against Minnesota, the Rams, Pats and Seahawks, the Packers were leading in the 4th quarter in 3 of the 4 games, tied after 3 quarters against the Pats and aren't in any of those games without him, yet the Packers are 0-3-1 because Crosby missed a 52 yard game winning attempt at the end of regulation, which came after the Packers defense allowed 22 points in the 4th quarter and Rodgers set up despite taking the field on his own 25 with 31 seconds left, a fumble on a kickoff at LA w/2:05 to go when Ty Montgomery went rouge with the Packers down 2, a fumble by Aaron Jones at the start of the 4th quarter inside the Pats 35 in a tie game and last night, a bonehead decision by his head coach to punt the ball back to a team that just scored on back to back drives of 72 and 75 yards? Yet Rodgers is the one who has to do more?

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6 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Sixknots // Nov 16, 2018 - 1:20pm

As for Rodgers 2018 season, some can call it streaky, some can call it disappointing, some can suggest Rodgers....

I had to read that paragraph in the voice of the *you can call me Ray, you can call me Jay...* one-trick comedian from the 80's.

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22 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Jerry // Nov 17, 2018 - 7:37am

Bill Saluga.

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11 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Eddo // Nov 16, 2018 - 3:49pm

"For one thing, I just love how people gloss over his injury in Week 1 as if nothing happened as well as Rodgers coming off a second collarbone injury in 5 years? He's always held the ball long and took sacks, but to me it also feels like he's still trying to play like it's '09-'14 by generating big plays, while still trying to manage the knee/collarbone and also not put his porous defense in harms way forcing a throw that could lead to short fields for the opponent."

Maybe some people are glossing over the injuries, but they shouldn't. That said, just because he's had injuries, it doesn't mean he's not declining. Think of an extreme example: imagine if his right arm fell off tomorrow. It's bad injury luck, of course, but it's also perfectly reasonable to say "Rodgers is a worse QB now than before" if that were to happen.

"Yet Rodgers is the one who has to do more?"

I don't read this article as saying "Rodgers has to do more", but rather "Rodgers used to be able to overcome the team around him". I think it's fair to question if the Packers' offensive decline is in part due to some decline from Rodgers. For much of his career, his awesome play has been able to overcome deficiencies in the team around him; now, it seems his still-very-good play is not at the same level, and the output suffers.

No one is saying Rodgers is washed up or the Packers should move on from him. What it seems like people are saying is "Rodgers is not as good as he used to be".

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18 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by t.d. // Nov 16, 2018 - 9:05pm

If it turns out that 2014 was his last, best chance for another ring, what a disappointing 25 year run of apex quarterback play this'll have been for Green Bay, though I guess it could be worse (Indy fans feel free to comment). I know, winning a championship is HARD, but it sure makes what Belicheck and Brady have accomplished that much more ridiculous (though the utter lack of institutional competence across the AFC for so long has certainly helped). FWIW, Rodgers's decline certainly doesn't look physical (he still makes throws only maybe Mahomes could make, on a weekly basis). I just think that it'll be a shame if we never get a chance to see him in another system

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5 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by ChrisLong // Nov 16, 2018 - 12:10pm

I want to see the odds of winning for going for it vs punting on the 4th and 2 before criticizing too heavily, but I was surprised McCarthy didn't go for it. He's usually pretty aggressive on 4th down calls, and they had schemed up an easy conversion the play before that Rodgers just completely flubbed. No blame on Rodgers either really, just really bad luck at a really bad time.

The Packers have been on the losing side of a lot of close contests this year (not necessarily by final score but by game performance), and it's the worst. If it costs McCarthy his job, so be it, but I still maintain that his deficiencies are only part of the puzzle. The rookie WRs were invisible against Seattle because they couldn't get away from man coverage, and with Graham out that meant Seattle could really key in on Jones and Adams. Already the Packers fan universe is complaining about Jones' usage, but it didn't really go down all that much (6 touches in 2nd half vs 10 in first) he was just less effective because of Seattle's adjustments.

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13 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Vincent Verhei // Nov 16, 2018 - 5:04pm

Edj Sports numbers are in. By punting on fourth-and-2 last night, Packers had a 9.4% chance of winning.

A run would have given them a 22.4% chance.
A long or medium pass would have given them a 20.0% chance.
A short pass would have given them a 19.8% chance.

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23 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by BJR // Nov 17, 2018 - 7:55am

I read today that the league-wide conversion rate on 4th & 2 is around 60%; the chance of winning after a failure must be 5% or less, so the numbers are suggesting the Packers had a >30% chance of winning after converting. This sounds a little high to me, given there was probably going to be enough time for the Seahawks to answer any score themselves.

Still, even if these numbers are slightly overstating things, they seem roughly plausible, and illustrate what a terrible decision it was.

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19 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by ChrisLong // Nov 17, 2018 - 1:30am

Honestly pretty surprised it was that close. It was a bad decision to be sure, but it’s also a dumb reason to bring up in the firing discussion. If you want to bring up a scheme that is behind the times, fine. McCarthy is not Sean McVay, no doubt about that. But one bad fourth down call does not a bad coach make.

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26 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Will Allen // Nov 17, 2018 - 2:19pm

I'd really caution against taking those run/long pass/short pass metrics at face value, for the simple reason that specific personnel skews the percentages. Which playcaller do you suppose is most likely to run on late game 4th and short? The one who has watched his o-linemen whip the asses of the opposing defensive front for the previous 2.5 hours, or at least wear them out. Which playcaller is most likely to call a short pass? The one who has been watching his o-line get their asses handed to them for the previous 2.5 hours. That's how Bradford completed 70% of his passes in 2016, behind a medically impaired oline that couldn't sustain blocks against 4 elderly nuns who were pissed off about missing the early bird buffet.

In a shocking development, better blockers results in a higher percentage of 4th down conversions.

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7 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by mrt1212 // Nov 16, 2018 - 1:23pm

I said it in the game thread but I would love to see a breakdown of the similarities and differences in the sacks both teams took. For a large portion of the game it seemed like both teams were giving up coverage sacks more than other kinds. Rodgers and RW both were holding on to the rock and seemingly not seeing viable targets and then taking a sack.

This almost mirror image inspired two thoughts:

Do some teams rely on receivers winning their matchups and select for more intermediate and deep routes than other teams?

Could that then explain both teams taking coverage sacks similarly?

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9 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by ChrisLong // Nov 16, 2018 - 2:08pm

Not sure if this is how the GB coaches describe it, but I've heard Packers beat writers refer to the Packers system as a "matchup" system that is based on winning individual matchups.

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15 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 16, 2018 - 8:25pm

Does that differ in any material way from a game plan where it's up to the players to beat their opposite number, 'cus the coaches aren't going to help them out?

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10 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Joe Pancake // Nov 16, 2018 - 2:58pm

I think McCarthy is an awful game-management coach for reasons laid out nicely in this article. However, I don't think he deserves a ton of criticism for the non-challenge of Lockett's catch. It took several replays before the broadcast aired one showing the ball definitively touching the ground. Even with the injury timeout, I think the Packers didn't know there was a decent chance of an overturn until it was too late. So, it made sense to not potentially lose their final timeout on a bad challenge.

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12 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by ChrisS // Nov 16, 2018 - 4:32pm

Agreed, and it seems like the second guessing on this has not caught up with the more liberal determination of a "catch" is this year.

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16 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 16, 2018 - 8:29pm

Yeah, that looked more like a clear catch than the Moore one, where I thought the refs had it right in real time, but of course when you slow everything down for replay then the Moore play looks more like a catch and fumble.

Imagine the howling if McCarthy had wasted his last time out on challenging a play that had a high probability of being upheld.

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17 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Bryan Knowles // Nov 16, 2018 - 8:30pm

Scott did a great job summing up the statistical evidence, but there's even anecdotal evidence the Packers should have gone for it -- they did it before, and it worked!

2013, last week of the season, on the road in Soldier Field. The Packers need to win to clinch a playoff berth, with Rodgers trying to shake off the effects of an injured collarbone (sound familiar?)

Trailing 27-28, the Packers faced 4th-and-1 on their own 22 with 4:41 left in the game. They had one timeout remaining, but instead chose to run with John Kuhn, successfully converting. They also converted on another 4th-and-1 with 2:00 left, and then on 4th-and-8 with 46 seconds left in the game, scoring the game-winning touchdown.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201312290chi.htm

So both numbers ~and~ past precedent should have convinced McCarthy to go for it.

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25 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by schmoker // Nov 17, 2018 - 1:57pm

You guys should live in Cleveland, where the local media is salivating over the idea that McCarthy could get fired and become the Browns coach.

Sports media is pretty terrible, but local sports media is the worst. It's always 1953 with these guys and gals.

I'm actually thinking that retaining the insane Greg "put your balls in the c-gap" Williams and his dyed goatee would be better than hiring McCarthy.

What is it with GB and coaches, by the way? Back when I used to write a sports humor column on AOL, I got all my best material from Ray Rhodes' lone year. But at least they made what was an at the time forward looking decision to fire an 8-8 knucklehead.

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27 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by Guest789 // Nov 19, 2018 - 11:00am

McCarthy is a very good coach who has probably outlasted his time in Green Bay and needs a change of scenery. Think Andy Reid in Philly. Cleveland would be lucky to have him.

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28 Re: Clutch Encounters: GB-SEA

by big10freak // Nov 19, 2018 - 2:47pm

Mike is the classic "can coach Monday thru Saturday but sucks on Sunday" coach. That is a trite phrase but in this situation fits very well.

McCarthy's issues are all about making good decisions on game day. Mike is terrible at clock management. Mike is terrible at timeout management. Mike is terrible at challenging plays. Mike is terrible at making adjustments in real time.

And the larger issue is that Mike has been terrible at all of these things since his tenure began in GB. So he is unable or unwilling to get better.

I also challenge the notion that he is a qb whisperer. When Mike Holmgren had that title GB regularly turned out backup qbs who went to other teams and became decent or better starters. Mark Brunell had a borderline HOF career as the best case. But GB's backups have sucked like every other team's backups for the most part. Mike had Brett Hundley on the team for multiple seasons and Hundley never got past looking overwhelmed in the job as starter. There is NO WAY a Mike Holmgren backup would have been that consistently bad in the job. Nor would Hundley have stayed on the team once he failed in that fashion. But Hundley remains the backup even though he showed he CANNOT DO THE JOB.

So I appreciate what McCarthy has done for the team. But his time as you put it is done.

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