GREEN BAY ? The Green Bay Packers offense gains yards and scores points with the best of them.
So what else is there?
Does anyone really have to ask?
?We have one black eye and right now that?s sacks,? guard Daryn Colledge said. ?We need to find a way to eliminate those because we could be a real special offense.?
And a lot better team.
Indeed, that shiner the Packers are sporting comes from an NFL-high 37 sacks halfway through the season ? the No. 1 reason for their unsatisfactory 4-4 record. Not all of those sacks are the fault of the beleaguered offensive line, but that?s where it starts. And that?s where this season will end if the Packers don?t do something to clean up the mess quickly.
Like, say, by Sunday because that?s when Dallas, a 6-2 team that has what Packers coach Mike McCarthy termed a ?top-ranked pass rush,? comes to Lambeau Field. If the likes of Detroit and Tampa Bay can pummel Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, imagine what the Cowboys will do.
A better question is, what will McCarthy do?
So far, it hasn?t been all that much.
Asked Wednesday if the growing sack total has altered his game plans or the way he calls a game, McCarthy said yes, but then indicated it was only schematic changes such as keeping a back or a tight end in as an extra blocker. Otherwise, little has changed outwardly with the offense.
Though his hand has been forced by injuries at times, McCarthy also didn?t make any performance-based changes on the line until Sunday at Tampa Bay, when emergency signee Mark Tauscher, a former starter coming off knee surgery, replaced struggling Allen Barbre at right tackle. However, Tauscher re-injured his knee and it looks like rookie T.J. Lang will move over from the left side against Dallas.
Given the Packers have allowed four or more sacks in six of their eight games, that hardly seems like an adequate response to a problem that has repeatedly stalled the offense by putting it in long down-and-distance situations. Nevertheless, it is the response McCarthy made.
?We?re not going to change what we do,? Colledge said. ?We?re going to re-establish our fundamentals, we?re going to make sure everybody?s on the same page communication-wise, the quarterback?s going to throw it better, the receivers are going to catch it better and the O-line plans on blocking better. That?s the plan going forward.?
That?s been the plan all season and it hasn?t worked yet, so what gives anyone hope that it will now? For whatever reason, the Packers are holding onto that hope.
?The only changes, in my opinion, that need to be made are with the players,? Rodgers said. ?We?ve got to play better. We believe in the scheme on both sides of the ball, and we haven?t been playing as well as we?re capable of playing.?
Sorry, but promising to play better and re-emphasizing fundamentals aren?t going to cure the problem. It?s time the coaches to stop fooling themselves into thinking that everything?s going to be OK, that their linemen are good enough to start winning the one-on-one battles they?ve been losing. Changes need to be made.
The Packers took a step in that direction when they signed Tauscher and another when they moved Lang, an impressive fourth-round draft pick, to right tackle in Tauscher?s absence. There is much more McCarthy can do, however.
He can commit to the run, an area where the Packers are showing improvement, even more than he has to take pressure off the passing game.
He can stop asking Rodgers take so many shots downfield and instead call for three-step drops and shorter routes to negate the pass rush.
He can insist that Rodgers get rid of the ball faster and trust the play call on the quick timing routes that are the staple of the offense.
He can, upon Tauscher?s return, move Lang to left guard, where flip-flopping between guard and tackle has hurt Colledge?s performance.
He can put offensive coordinator Joe Philbin in charge of the line he once coached, moving Philbin from the coaches box to the sideline so he can better make adjustments during games.
More than anything, McCarthy has to stop assuming that things are going to get better in time and realize that he has to do something dramatic to make them better.
Posted in [link=http://host.madison.com/sports/football/professional]Professional
[/link] on Thursday, November 12, 2009 5:00 am Updated: 11:24 am. Green Bay Packers
, Mike Mccarthy
, Tom Oates