GREEN BAY—The division of labor in the running game on Sunday won’t be the norm for the Packers, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday.
Eddie Lacy had 13 rushes, Randall Cobb two and John Kuhn one, with none for either James Starks or DuJuan Harris in the 31-24 victory over the Jets.
It played out that way for a couple of reasons. The Jets lined up to stop the run, which led to Lacy getting only three carries in the first half as quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to take advantage of matchups on the perimeter.
As a result, in the second half McCarthy stuck with Lacy rather than turn the ground game over to his primary backups.
“It was more of Eddie not getting touches,” McCarthy said. “In the big picture over 16 games, the distribution of reps at the running back position will not reflect what we did yesterday. Eddie is one of our best players on offense and his opportunities were limited.”
Falling behind early had something to do with it, but so did the Jets defense, which crowded the line of scrimmage. By the end of the first half, Rodgers had thrown 30 passes and scrambled four times. Lacy had two catches and Harris one out of the backfield.
“They were playing to their strength,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said. “Their base defensive personnel are very stout. They had a good game plan against us.”
In response, the Packers tried to get the ball to the outside, specifically to receiver Jordy Nelson, who was the target of 16 of Rodgers’ 42 pass attempts. Neither McCarthy nor Clements had a problem with that, as Nelson posted a career-best 209 yards on nine receptions, including the game-winning 80-yard TD.
It’s not like Rodgers to rely so much on one pass-catcher (Nelson was responsible for 60 percent of Rodgers’ 346 passing yards), but if the matchup for a No. 1 receiver is in Rodgers’ favor, he’d be a fool not to attack it.
“You can sit in your office all day and scheme and watch film, but that’s the beauty of the game,” McCarthy said. “Which direction is it going to go and where’s the production going to come from?”
More production than expected came from rookie receiver Davante Adams, whom McCarthy praised after his five-catch, 50-yard outing. Adams played little in Week 1 in Seattle but got more snaps after Jarrett Boykin dropped a pass over the middle in the red zone on Sunday, and he made the most of them.
“I said about a week ago he’s starting to come on,” Clements said of Adams.
McCarthy defended his attempt to get his offense an extra opportunity late in the second quarter with a pooch onside kick. The Jets recovered and returned the ball near midfield.
The sequence nearly proved disastrous, as the Jets – already leading 21-9 – moved inside the Green Bay 30-yard line before Tramon Williams intercepted a Geno Smith pass near the goal line. But McCarthy wasn’t second-guessing his decision.
“I was trying to steal a series back that we lost at the beginning of the game,” McCarthy said, referring to the fumbled snap on Green Bay’s first offensive play. “They had the ball coming out second half. The timing of it, I thought the risk was definitely worth it.
“If we tackle (the returner), they have the ball on the 35-, 37-yard line, so I thought it was a good call.”
Injury-wise, defensive back Micah Hyde appears to have avoided a serious knee injury when he was hit while charging full speed ahead to return a short punt. McCarthy said he should be fine, and Hyde confirmed that.
“I just took a little shot on the kneecap,” Hyde said. “Nothing serious, nothing major. Just a little soreness. I’m good to go.”
Linebacker and special-teamer Andy Mulumba is not, however. McCarthy termed his knee injury “significant.”
“We’re waiting on some other results,” McCarthy said. “It didn’t look good during the game and it doesn’t sound very good.”
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