GREEN BAY—Mike McCarthy doesn’t know if Aaron Rodgers will be able to play in the Packers’ next game nine days from now, but he acknowledged the obvious on Friday morning – that his team almost certainly needs to win out to have any chance of making the playoffs for a fifth straight year.
“We’re in a hole. We thought we were in a hole going into the Detroit game,” said McCarthy, barely 16 hours after his team fell to 5-6-1 with a 40-10 loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving. “We’ve got two division losses and a tie. That’s not where you want to be.
“This league is exciting each and every week, and that’s the way you have to approach it. Let’s get back to .500 and see what happens.”
McCarthy had no new update on Rodgers, who wasn’t medically cleared when the team finished practice on Wednesday. His absence has sent the Packers into an 0-4-1 tailspin that reached its greatest depth in the drubbing in Detroit.
“That’s one of the toughest losses I think I’ve ever been a part of,” McCarthy said. “The National Football League will humble you very quickly. That’s something that’s always been evident in this great game. By no means am I flipping this to the side.”
McCarthy said he hadn’t reviewed the offensive and defensive film from the game yet, but in his mind the game boiled down to the Lions dictating how they wanted to play, and the Packers not forcing them to adjust.
Detroit’s eight-man fronts on defense dared Green Bay to throw the ball against bump-and-run coverage, but backup QB Matt Flynn was sacked seven times, including once for a safety. The Lions’ three-receiver sets on offense put the Packers predominantly in their nickel defense, which Detroit attacked with the ground game to overwhelming success.
“It was on right at the line of scrimmage, and we didn’t handle it,” McCarthy said.
He estimated that between defense and special teams, there were at least 20 missed tackles when more than 10 is “a long day.” Losing center Evan Dietrich-Smith to a knee injury and shuffling the offensive line again didn’t help, though he acknowledged one positive was getting Derek Sherrod into the game in the fourth quarter at right tackle, his first game action in nearly two full calendar years.
There was no medical update on Dietrich-Smith, who was replaced at center by right guard T.J. Lang. Whether Sherrod’s cameo turns into something more remains to be seen.
The players are off for the long weekend, a physical reprieve that McCarthy believes is the first key step in preparing for the final four regular-season games.
In the meantime, he’ll be looking to see what can be done to turn things around, be it lineup changes, game-planning variations, practice structure or any combination thereof.
“We’re going to put the best ones out there,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to make changes to change, but I think like anything, when you get into decision making, you have beliefs, you have a style of play, you have an identity, and you have to develop a filter to make those key decisions.
“The three things always looked at are do you make a change, do you adjust or do you emphasize? Obviously, we’ll be doing that with a lot harder look as we go into the Atlanta game.” Complete game coverage