Mike McCarthy discusses QB's critique
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are on the same page, one day after Rodgers offered a polite but pointed public critique of the team's game plan in the wake of Sunday's narrow victory over the Detroit Lions.
Clearly, Rodgers prefers some pages of the playbook to others.
Asked about Rodgers' suggestion that Green Bay should have used more multiple-receiver shotgun formations to spread out the Lions' defense and get their best players on the field on Sunday, McCarthy said the offense is designed to use a wide variety of formations.
And while Rodgers certainly has input on weekly game plans, there's no question who has the final say.
"Did we have plays called in the game that put our players in position to win? Yes we did, and that's the bottom line," McCarthy said Monday. "How much we spread out and how much we don't spread out, the coaches coach, and the players play."
Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Packers took a 21-7 lead. But Green Bay's only points the rest of the way would come on a defensive touchdown by Charles Woodson, and they barely held on for a 28-26 win.
After the game, Rodgers said he felt the Packers had gone away from the strength of their offense -- a deep group of wide receivers and athletic tight end Jermichael Finley, especially in the wake of a season-ending ankle injury to running back Ryan Grant.
"It's a win, so we're happy about that," Rodgers said. "Offensively, we've got to find our identity again. I think we've got to make sure that we've got our best players on the field at all times and find ways to get them the ball."
Rodgers said the Packers had success spreading out the Bears' defense in a loss at Chicago last Monday night, and wanted to see more of the same against the Lions.
"I think we had great production last week being in the shotgun a lot, spreading them out, and Chicago has a tough scheme," Rodgers said. "I think Detroit runs their scheme well, but I don't think we gave them a chance [by] spreading them out enough to find those mismatches. When we did, I think we were pretty productive."
Rodgers made an appearance in the Packers' locker room while it was open to the media Monday, but didn't want to expand on his remarks.
Rodgers chooses his words carefully in front of the media and generally avoids controversy. But in his third season as a starter, Rodgers is emerging as a team leader -- and, quite possibly, the new face of the franchise -- and might be exploring the boundaries of his newfound stature.
McCarthy said Rodgers has a lot of input as the team puts together its offensive game plan every week.
"I have not talked to Aaron yet," McCarthy said. "I'll see him today, like I always do, in the meetings. We'll talk about the game. We'll talk about the things I thought he did very well, and we'll talk about the things that he needs corrections on. As far as getting our best guys on the field, I was very confident in the game plan."
McCarthy said turnovers -- including two interceptions by Rodgers -- made Sunday's game a strange one for the offense. The Packers ran only 40 offensive plays, and their time of possession was only 22:23.
"I think anytime that happens, right there, that's out of balance for us from the beginning," McCarthy said. "We want to be 70, 75 plays in the ballgame, and we were just a little over half of that. I'm sure everybody was wanting more opportunities."
And McCarthy was far more concerned about his team's four turnovers and 3-for-7 effort on third-down conversions than he was about the Packers somehow getting away from their offensive identity.
"Our identity hasn't changed," McCarthy said. "We're a multiple offense. We have the ability to get in and out of a number of different personnel groups. We spend a lot of time trying to stress out our opponent from a personnel standpoint, formations included, and at the end of the day we're about the fundamentals of football. That's what I focus on."
Meanwhile, rookie safety Morgan Burnett will miss the rest of the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in the victory over Detroit, leaving the Packers scrambling for a backup.
The third-round pick out of Georgia Tech started the Packers' first four games after veteran Atari Bigby had surgery on his left ankle at the beginning of training camp and began the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.
McCarthy said Burnett had to grow up fast and was getting better every week before Sunday's injury.
"You could see he was really comfortable," McCarthy said. "For a first-year player, being in a key communicating spot in our defense, I thought he did an exceptional job. He was getting more comfortable and you could see his athletic ability taking over. You feel bad for Morgan."
McCarthy says the team has not yet decided who will take Burnett's place in the starting lineup for Sunday's game at Washington.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.