While I am quick to sing his praises these days, I must admit that Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy often had me shaking my head during his first few seasons as the head of the Pack.
Yes, I was one of those that answered with a resounding “who?” when he was first announced as the newest tenant in Coach Lombardi’s office, but I was positive that they knew what they were doing, had made the right choice, and road to Titletown would once again be a busy avenue.
It was obvious from the start that the man knew his X’s and O’s and that he had some very strong leadership skills.
As an example, once the Packers had decided to pull the pin on the Brett Farve era, his eyes seemed to be locked straight ahead, never wavering on the decision to install Aaron Rodgers as the man behind center. And once Brett tried to come back and then went into the Green Bay to New York to Minnesota shuffle, which many of us found pretty “icky”, McCarthy’s resolve was absolute and, as we all know now, well placed.
The new coach and I did not have a bump-free honeymoon, however.
For the longest time, I felt like once the Packers had gotten a lead he would go into the mode where he was trying not to lose instead of trying to win. Oftentimes, it seemed to me like once the scoreboard had tilted in his favor, he would take his foot off of the throttle and allow other teams to get back into the game.
To my line of thinking, which, granted, might be a road less taken, this habit didn’t really disappear until the run to the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2010 season. That, of course, was the cure to all ailments, and I have had few, if any, doubts about his coaching decisions since.
I was shocked to hear this weekend that starting center Jeff Saturday had been pulled from the starting lineup and replaced by Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Sure, the Packers O-line has allowed more sacks this year than any other club, and the running game struggled mightily throughout portions of the season, but I hardly think that Saturday is the reason behind all the problems. Injuries have led to different lineups, and different lineups have led to missed assignments, and missed assignments have led to Number 12 getting way more grass stains on his uniform than the faithful would prefer.
Still, in all, the change comes as the team seems to be re-establishing its ground game, has just wrapped up its second consecutive NFC Northern Division title, has a lot of players returning from the injured list, and looks to be hitting its playoff stride.
I am well aware that there are things seen in the film room that fans and us shareholders aren’t privy to, and the grading system used following each game would probably be like advanced calculus to someone like me. Reports also indicate that the Packers center is suffering from aches and pains but that he feels like he is still ready to go. I think it’s fair to say that Jeff Saturday was demoted because the coaching staff determined he wasn’t doing his job well enough.
Finally, then, we get to my real question.
What about Mason Crosby?
I am a big Crosby fan. I appreciate all he has done for the team. I also think it is time for him to hit the sidelines..at least for the time being.
It has been several weeks now that Crosby’s kicks have been, well, adventurous. Wide left, wide right, against the uprights, almost anyplace but through the chute.
I think he has the “yips”, but I don’t know for sure. It could be mechanics. It could be a lack of confidence. It could be injury-related. Whatever it is, it’s got me thinking that Mason Crosby, right now, couldn’t hit water if he fell from a boat.
Still, the coaching staff stands firmly behind him despite his struggles. Hopefully they see something that I don’t. They must.
All I know is, right now, if the Packers needed a 45-yard field goal to stay alive in a playoff game, I would almost prefer that Jeff Saturday be the one doing the kicking.