GREEN BAY—Mike McCarthy is practicing faith and commitment in the face of a 17-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Friday night that left the Packers 1-2 heading into their final preseason game.
“This was very good work for our players. This will give us a very accurate evaluation,” McCarthy said, referring to a plan for the Seattle game that would seem to have focused on the evaluation of personnel.
“We have a process. We’re going to trust the process. I feel very good about the process. I wanted to win the game but there was more information that was needed. We’ll see what the video says and we’ll move on from there,” he added.
The final stats say the Seahawks outgained the Packers 362 yards to 201. The stats show the Seahawks having held the ball six-and-a-half minutes longer than the Packers, and the big statistical winner of the night would seem to have been Referee Ron Winter’s officiating crew, which marched off 251 yards in penalties, 69 of those yards belonging to the Packers.
It was not a game of regular-season quality, and that’s something that will have to change soon for both teams. Following Thursday’s preseason finale in Kansas City, the Packers will begin preparation for a trip to San Francisco for the 2013 season opener. It will mark a return to where the 2012 season ended painfully for the Packers.
With that game in mind, and with starters likely to play little if at all in Kansas City, the question on every reporter’s lips following Friday night’s game was: Are the Packers ready to begin the season? It’s a question McCarthy answered by referring, again, to the process.
“It’s part of developing a football team. It’s about one thing: creating opportunities for your football team, creating opportunities to grow. This is about film evaluation. I feel strongly we’ll get ready,” McCarthy said.
The video of Friday night’s game will tell a much truer tale than the stats do, largely because the Seahawks played their starters, including quarterback Russell Wilson, into the third quarter. The Packers started substituting in the second quarter, beginning at quarterback, where Aaron Rodgers played only one series and was replaced by Graham Harrell at the start of the second quarter.
What McCarthy is going to see on the video is a first-team defense that intercepted a couple of passes, sent Wilson back to Seattle with a 47.3 passer rating, and held the Seahawks to three points.
It wasn’t until the field was littered with reserves that the Seahawks found the end zone. Rookie running back Christine Michael, the star of the game with 97 yards rushing on 11 carries, ran through and around the Packers No. 2 defense on a 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The video from last night, however, is likely to confirm the stat line for the Packers’ running game: Other than for quarterback Vince Young’s 39 scramble yards and Alex Green’s 31-yard run, the Packers gained five yards on 19 rushing attempts.
“We played primarily against an eight-man front and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” McCarthy said.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy ran eight times for minus five yards. He literally had nowhere to run.
The two biggest hurts from Friday’s game could turn out to be the re-injuries cornerback Casey Hayward and running back DuJuan Harris suffered to their hamstring and knee respectively.
Young’s performance was the high point for the Packers. He led an 81-yard touchdown drive and, in addition to his 39 yards rushing, he completed six of seven passes for 41 yards. He might’ve taken the lead in the backup quarterback competition heading into the final preseason game.
“Vince Young’s dimension of running; that’s something we really wanted to see. I thought he did very well. I think Vince is definitely one of the players that took advantage of his opportunities,” McCarthy said.
Tight end Jermichael Finley nearly made a diving, fingertip touchdown catch of a Harrell pass. Touchdown was initially ruled, but it was reversed by replay review.
“The ball should’ve been caught. I knew it. I was just trying to do a little acting,” Finley said.
Asked if the Packers are ready to start the season, Finley said: “There’s always room for improvement. I think things will start clicking here pretty soon.”
Harris hopes to get “back in the groove” before the trip to San Francisco, but he has no doubt the team is ready to play.
“Definitely, we are. Definitely ready. We had a good opening drive. I definitely feel like we’re ready,” he said.
The process to which McCarthy referred will result in a roster reduction to 75 by Tuesday. Four days later, the Packers will have to be down to 53.
At that point, the process will be all about San Francisco.