GREEN BAY – One of the calling cards of Mike McCarthy’s high-powered offenses has been his ability to change personnel groupings on play after play after play, but the Green Bay Packers coach doesn’t believe the team’s extensive use of the no-huddle offense is reducing how creative he can be with personnel.
It was striking in the second half of the Packers’ season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers that the Packers were almost exclusively in a four-wide receiver, one-tight end set, with Greg Jennings (67), Jordy Nelson (69), James Jones (62), Randall Cobb (38) and Jermichael Finley (62) playing far and away the most snaps among skill position players on the team’s 72 offensive plays.
“We liked the matchup. We liked some of the stuff we could do with Randall moving him around in the backfield and putting him out in the slot. That’s just kind of the way we went with that,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Still, those snap counts stood in stark contrast to the snap counts of fullback/third-down back John Kuhn (14), No. 2 tight end Tom Crabtree (14), tight end Ryan Taylor (three), tight end D.J. Williams (three) and wide receiver Donald Driver (three). Running back Cedric Benson (25) played less in the second half because of the score, while running backs Alex Green and Brandon Saine did not play a snap from scrimmage.
“I wasn’t really disappointed. I know the coaches do what they can to put is in the best situation to win. Me being in wasn’t the best situation. That’s how it is,” Green said. “I’m just going hard in practice and hopefully I’ll be in there soon.
“It was just a game-plan thing. We got in a tough situation early, we got down, so we kept the starters on the field, try to make things happen, try to catch up. We were playing catch up early on, so putting the backup in probably wasn’t really in the game plan when you’re down. When the coaches tell us to go in, we go in. You have to be ready to go. They just kept telling me to stay ready, and I was ready the whole game.”
Driver’s limited role – his three snaps as the end of the game were only because Jennings suffered a groin injury that’s likely to keep him out of Thursday night’s game against the Bears – got a lot of attention this week, but he certainly wasn’t the only one not involved in the offense.
McCarthy, who said the Packers “had three different (personnel) groups in the game” against the 49ers, wasn’t a huge fan of the topic earlier in the week, and said the decision to stick with the same players on offense for much of the game wasn’t because of the no-huddle offense but rather falling behind 23-7 and 30-15. It'll be interesting to see whether McCarthy takes a similar approach againts the Chicago Bears Thursday night, even with Jennings listed as doubtful with the injury.
“There’s things you do. Maybe the score, the matchups – they all factor into that,” McCarthy said. “We’re not limited in the no-huddle. I still have the ability to talk to Aaron and he has great capabilities at the line of scrimmage. So we can run the whole plan in no-huddle.”
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