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Mike McCarthy's Off Season Homework

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It's been a week since the Packers loss in the NFC championship game. I had been thinking all week about how similar both teams played and the Giants were able to take advantage of QB Brett Favre's bad pass at the start of overtime to win a close game. Looking back over the play-by-play it's clear the defense played an above average game and the offense was the problem. The offense was so far below average in every area that you have to look at the top.

The Giants run offense was limited, they average 4.6 yards/carry during the regular season but only 3.4 yards/carry against the Packers, but QB Eli Manning had a typical game for him with a completion percentage and QB rating (52.5 and 72) that were under his regular season averages (56.2 and 72). The only big improvement he made was avoiding turnovers, but the Packers aren't great at forcing turnovers either. Also, the Giants only converted on 37% of their 3rd downs after converting on 42% during the regular season. You can find fault with the awful roughing the passer penalty on S Nick Collins that kept a TD drive alive, or the awful game by CB Al Harris, but other than forcing a much needed turnover, the defense did their job.

The offense was the dog in this game. Mike McCarthy seems to have no plan to play in cold weather. The bad offensive play was very similar to the awful loss at Chicago during week 16. Favre had a similar completion percentage (53 vs. 54) and threw 2 INTs in both games. He had trouble throwing towards the sidelines and a tendency to throw into too much coverage in the middle of the field. In both games, McCarthy gave up on the run too soon and RB Ryan Grant only had 13 and 14 carries in the two games while Favre threw 32 and 35 passes. The thing that disappointed McCarthy the most were the team's fundamentals because they didn't run the ball and stop the run very well. The offense sure didn't have too many chances to show off whether they could run block or not, and he didn't do a great job of finding passes that Favre can complete in cold weather.

McCarthy had a great 2007 season and is a very good head coach, but the last two extreme cold weather games the Packers played in were disappointing losses. He has to figure out a better way to play on offense in cold weather next season.