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Packers offense must step on the gas
In a lengthy profile of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon in this month’s Vanity Fair, it is revealed that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reached out to the embattled financier after a particularly bad week of news. Dimon had been dragged through the media mud in the wake of a reported $6 billion loss.
The three-time Super Bowl champion gave Dimon a call.
“Brady reminded Dimon that even Super Bowl champions have bad days,” the profile explains. “[He] to told him to hang in there.”
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy recently made a phone call to a guy who’d had a pretty rough week, too.
In the 72 hours after replacement referee Wayne Elliott officiated the controversial Packers-Seahawks Monday night game, the Austin, Texas-based real estate agent received several threatening voicemails from a variety Wisconsin area codes.
Though he initially resisted, Elliott eventually listened to the messages. One, in particular, blew him away.
“[McCarthy] called me at my house last week because he had heard I was having a rough week with all the calls and everything," Elliott told James Brown and Cris Collinsworth on this week’s episode of "Inside the NFL." "[He] wanted me to know that he thought what I did was controversial and maybe he didn't agree with it, but he thought I handled it with class."
When asked about the call the following day on SiriusXM radio, McCarthy downplayed the act altogether. He shrugged it off modestly. He never wanted it to become public.
High-powered, efficient offense is McCarthy, too. And for whatever reason, his Packers hadn’t put together a complete offensive performance three games into the 2012 season. Dating back to last season’s head-scratching playoff loss to the New York Giants, it’d been four straight sluggish, inconsistent and non-characteristic efforts for the once unstoppable offense. McCarthy — via his offense — just wasn’t himself.
Then Green Bay woke up. Against a porous Saints secondary and on national television, Aaron Rodgers had his best game since early December, 2011, and put up 28 points in a dramatic Week 4 victory. The Packers rolled up 30 first downs, 421 total yards and took played at a tempo reminiscent of the McCarthy offense of "old."
"You're always searching for that perfect game. The first three were pretty far off,” Rodgers told reporters on Wednesday. “Last week was a little close, but you can't turn the ball over like we did. This is going to be the start of a very important stretch for us. We've got to learn to win on the road, and we've got three in a row here.”
Though there were turnovers, the Green Bay offense looked crisp and efficient last week.
"I think our offense is no-huddle," tight end Jermichael Finley said. "If we keep that going, we can run the table here. You have thoroughbreds over there. With the receiving corps we have, why not do it? With the quarterback we have, why not do it? I think we need to go up-tempo the whole game to tell you the truth."
McCarthy knows the Packers are at their best when they’re moving the ball -- and fast. He, like Finley, would love to see the unit travel swifter, faster. All training camp and in practice, the Packers head coach had something known as a “2.5 second clock” installed on practice field. Anytime Rodgers took more than 2.5 seconds to get the ball from his center to a receiver, a blaring alarm sounded. If it’s difficult to imagine a Super Bowl winning MVP quarterback having an alarm blare in his ear on hot August nights, you don’t know the McCarthy-Rodgers relationship.
It’s more than just coach-player. It’s two colleagues who will do anything — installing a blaring alarm clock, included — to get things the way they have to be.
The Colts run a feisty 3-4 defense, will be coming off a bye, and have one of the loudest home crowds in the league. The defense — the brainchild of coach Chuck Pagano — will be playing inspired football coming off the news of Pagano’s acute promyelocytic leukemia diagnosis.
On paper, one wouldn’t expect the 1-2 Colts — a season removed from a 2-14 campaign — to give the Packers much of a game. But the Colts defense has been sneaky good this season. They’ve had 13 days to prepare for Green Bay.
Which Packers offense will we see?
If it’s the fast-paced, high-scoring aerial attack we saw all last regular season and in last week’s win, things will be somewhat back to normal for McCarthy.
If it’s the sloppy, turnover and drop-riddled unit that we got in the playoffs and the first three games of 2012, someone may need to be making an uplifting phone call to the Packers head coach.