At 7-4, the Green Bay Packers' season hasn't ended. However, given the team's performance over the last five games, the time for reevaluation has arrived.
Green Bay has fallen into a rut and don't seem to know how to navigate themselves out. While many of their problems can't be resolved until the offseason, perhaps they can fix some over the coming weeks, starting with the play-caller.
McCarthy should reclaim play-calling duties
For several years, hordes of Packers fans clamored for Mike McCarthy to relinquish his play-calling responsibilities. Perhaps persuaded by the debacle in the NFC title game last season, McCarthy finally made the move, handing over the play sheet to top assistant Tom Clements. Many celebrated the decision. Others, while acknowledging the potential, saw the change as a risk for an offense that consistently dominated the NFL for a prolonged period of time.
Nearly a full season into the experiment, it looks like McCarthy should never have handed off the play-calling duties.
Since the bye week, Green Bay has averaged just 19.6 points. Though pulled from a relatively small sample size, that figure includes three games where the offense produced 16 points or less. Largely as a result, the Packers dropped two home games in the same season to NFC North opponents for the first time with Aaron Rodgers as the starter.
Not all the blame should fall on Clements. The loss of Jordy Nelson for the entire season, not to mention plethora of injuries that hit the team's remaining pass catchers and offensive line, would have negatively effected the offense regardless of play-caller. Still, opposing defenses have decoded Clements' ticks as a tactician, particularly in the passing game. McCarthy, while imperfect, changed up his approach often enough to avoid long stretches of subpar play. The time has come for him to bring that flexibility back to the offense.
Fumbles be damned, the Packers need to ride Lacy
The one consistently effective part of the Packers' offense of late has been the play of Eddie Lacy, who topped 100 rushing yards each of the last two games. Lacy averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Bears, bowling over defenders with ease. However, after nearly fumbling away a touchdown -- followed by an actual fumble on the subsequent drive -- Green Bay's coaching staff benched Lacy for much of the second quarter.
Lacy returned to the field in the second half, but the team limited him to just seven touches (he finished with 21) and refused to use him during the game-deciding drive at the end of the game.
While the concerns regarding Lacy's fumblitis are easy to understand, forgetting about a player averaging more than a yard and a half more than Rodgers as a passer makes little sense. Opposing defenses approach the Packers offense much differently with Lacy in the backfield, opening up more opportunities in the passing game as a result. That could have helped the Green Bay significantly on its final drive, where the receivers were well covered on all but a few snaps.