Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Is Greg Jennings right about McCarthy?

Mike Clemens
July 13, 2017 - 6:00 pm
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Greg Jennings accused Mike McCarthy of taking his foot off the gas in games.

He might have a point.

How many times have Packer fans questioned over the years - rightfully so - why did Green Bay’s offense in the second half of a game  diveate from what was working so well for them in the first half?  

Most recently the Packers were up 21-3 over rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Championship. The Packers held on to win 34-31 thanks to a spectacular throw from Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook (winner Wednesday night of “Best Play” at the ESPY Awards) that set up Mason Crosby’s winning field goal.

Last November, with a record of 4 – 6, Rodgers said his biggest concern for the Packers offense was their performance in the third quarter. He was right.

Rodgers, who midway turned around his season, finished with 40 touchdown passes, against only 10 interceptions. There are only two quarterbacks in the history of the league who have done that – Tom Brady – and Aaron Rodgers, in 2011, and last year.

But in 2016, in the third quarter, things went flat for the Pack’s offense. They couldn’t close the deal. Or convert first downs, much less sustain drives. Of the 40 TD’s Rodgers completed in 2016, only 3 came in the third quarter. While his passer rating for games in November and December was 100.0 or better, his rating during the third quarter only came out to 89.7 for the season. As a team the Packers were 20th in scoring in the NFL during the third quarter last season.

Jennings, a wide receiver drafted by the Packers in 2006 in the 2nd round, appeared on “Undisputed” a sports talk show with Skip Bayless. Before you dismiss Jennings comments as just for ratings, I would submit that 99% of the things these hosts and former players/coaches discuss are from the heart, and not the wallet. They’re all competitive and want to be the one credited with being right. “He called it. Last year.” That’s what gets contracts renewed in sports talk. Along with ratings.

Jennings was asked about the importance of a dominate defense in order to win a Super Bowl.

His response began with the Packers march to win Super Bowl XLV in 2010-11.

“The year we won it, we had a great defense. The year after - it took a step back,” said Jennings.

VIDEO: Greg Jennings rips Mike McCarthy on FS1

“I’m just going to flat out say it: if we had a lead, our issue wasn’t the defense. Our issue was Mike McCarthy. He would cuff us. When you watch New England play, when they have a lead, they go for your throat. They don’t relax.” Jennings went on to praise Tom Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as the best in the business.

I can tell you there are times the Packers players have said after a lop-sided win the team had more in the game plan they didn’t get to. Even McCarthy has said it himself. Save it for the next time.

I’m not sure I understand Jennings’ logic about the 2011 season. They went 15-1. They annihilated opponents week after week.  Six times they scored 40 points or more. 49-23 over the Broncos. They embarrassed the Raiders 46-16. They throttled the Vikings 45-7.

Took the foot off the gas? Hardly.

Greg Jennings has detached himself with most Packers fans because he, of course, left the team in free agency to sign with the rival Minnesota Vikings. Jennings told The FAN’s Bill Michaels on air at the Super Bowl the following year that Green Bay’s offer was “not even close” to what he received from Minnesota (five years, $47.5 , million, $18 million guaranteed.)  “It was a no brainer.”

During training camp, August 2013, both Jennings and Donald Driver questioned Aaron Rodgers leadership and personality as a great NFL quarterback. Driver retired as a Packer. Therefore he didn’t take as much heat for it from football fans here.

Jennings once told CBS’s 60 Minutes, with Clay Matthews at his side, that little things bother Aaron Rodgers, saying he’s “over-sensitive” to comments regarding his appearance or height.

“Don’t ever come up to Aaron and say ‘Gee. I thought you were taller ?,” Jennings told CBS reporter Steve Kroft and 20 million Americans watching that night.

Having covered Greg Jennings from 2007 through 2012 I can say he learned to cover up some of Brett Favre’s mistakes, and play along with a few of Aaron Rodgers peccadilloes.  And why not? He got the opportunity to play with two of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

Just don’t be so quick to discredit former team employees. Often they’re the best sources of the truth.

I think a case can be made that "ball security" zealot Mike McCarthy would rather punt than turn over a football in enemy territory even if he’s up by three scores. The same can be said for Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers who won’t turn on the blitz without first looking at the scoreboard.

With a spectacular come-from-behind overtime victory in Super Bowl LI over the Falcons last February, the Patriots Bill Belichik sealed the deal as the best coach ever in the NFL. He’ll never top Vince Lombardi as a personality, orator, and motivator. But Belichick is the best coach, teacher, and evaluator. Five Super Bowl wins in 7 attempts. Which brings up an interesting point.

The only Super Bowls Tom Brady and Belichik have lost were to Eli Manning and the Giants, twice,  after they had eliminated McCarthy’s Packers, against Favre, then Rodgers, both at Lambeau Field. In 2007-08, after going 18-0 in the regular season, Belichick and the Patriots were 12.5 point favorites over the Giants to win Super Bowl XLII, the most lopsided prediction in over ten years.

New England lost.

Now that’s what I call taking your foot off the gas.

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