GREEN BAY – As Packernation celebrated a win that left the Packers 2-0 in December and on a solid course for the postseason, the plays vs. players debate no doubt raged. Sunday’s 28-7 win over the Cowboys was a victory for Madden players everywhere.
Ah, yes, the play-calling. Mike McCarthy took it back. It’s why the Packers won, right?
“I don’t think it’s been about the play-calling. It was about the execution. Today the execution was a little better,” no less an authority on both subjects than MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Rodgers knew what he would face in the postgame interview room. Back when preparation for this game began, Rodgers knew what the storyline would be for this game. It’s all about the play-calling. That’s the NFL today.
“I’m not going to get into that. I don’t think it’s that important. We won tonight,” Rodgers said, rejecting the subject the second time it was broached.
He knows the dangers associated with an over-emphasis on plays. They have to be executed by players. Players can’t depend on plays. Plays depend on players.
“We leaned on the run because of the weather, and because of the way Eddie and James were running,” Rodgers said of 44 rushing attempts, 24 by Eddie Lacy that produced 124 bruising yards. Starks added 71 yards rushing, which included a game-clinching 30-yard touchdown run.
In a season lacking Rodgers’ deep threat, Jordy Nelson, the Packers haven’t been the explosive pass offense they had been over the previous several years, and they weren’t on this Sunday, either. What we saw today were the new Packers, the run-the-ball-down-your-throat Packers. More of it is planned for the future.
“We have to run the ball in winter time. We needed him to keep the chains moving. The key is third-down conversions. Eddie ran the ball really well. The important thing for him is to continue every week to be great about his preparation. Athletically, he’s about as good as they come for a man his size,” Rodgers said.
Yeah, but what about that play-calling? Who called the quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1?
“That was called by Mike. I like the call. I was happy with the call. I should’ve gotten in,” Rodgers said.
The 13-yard, swing-pass touchdown play to Starks?
“Very good play call, very good scheme,” Rodgers said in complimenting McCarthy.
This had been one of the best play-caller/quarterback combinations in the league since 2009. It’s not as though they hadn’t done this before.
“It starts with the run game. When you can run the football, you can get some clean pockets. We ran some passes from under center, which we hadn’t done in a while. All of that starts with the run game,” Rodgers said. “December football and the way we’re going right now, it’s going to start with the run.”
Left on the schedule are consecutive trips to Oakland and Arizona, followed by a visit from the Vikings that could determine the NFC North title.
“Keep doing the things we did tonight. That’s what you need in the winter time. We have to get Eddie his touches. You put James in there and you have a great 1-2 punch,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said he retains the opportunity to change plays at the line of scrimmage and get the Packers into “the best situation possible when I feel it’s needed.” There was only one problem with the play-calling switch on Sunday.
“Trying to understand what he was saying. He has that Pittsburgh dialect. The touchdown to James, I didn’t know what he was saying,” Rodgers said.
Yinz can’t have everything.
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