In a moment of candor and self-reflection after the Green Bay Packers lost 26-17 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy implored Packers fans to put the blame on him instead of on first-time starting quarterback Brett Hundley.
“On our passing game, we can sit here and pick it apart all you want,” McCarthy told reporters in his post-game press conference. “Let's just blame it on the head coach today.”
There should be plenty of blame to go around. Hundley completed less than half of his passes, going just 12 of 25 for 86 yards and one interception. Almost half of that yardage came on a single drive, the Packers’ fourth series of the game. That drive ended in a 14-yard Hundley touchdown run, but he completed three passes for 35 yards to set up the scoring run.
Outside of that, it was a brutal day for Hundley, who appeared to be kept on a short leash. He only attempted a handful of deep passes, and his longest completion was just 14 yards.
While the Packers’ running game in particular was working early in the game, as Aaron Jones got off to a great start, a surprising pass call was a bad sign for the playcalling in the game overall. Facing third and one at the Packers’ own 29-yard line, Hundley attempted a short pass to Davante Adams, who was blanketed in press-man coverage. The pass fell incomplete and the Packers were forced to punt. One series later, after the Packers intercepted their second Drew Brees pass of the first quarter, McCarthy called three straight runs with Ty Montgomery, including a toss play on another third and one. Montgomery was stuffed for a loss of three yards, forcing another punt.
It was the team’s next series that saw McCarthy begin to move the pocket for Hundley and get him throwing in rhythm, but after that the passing game lacked any semblance of flow. In fact, the second half, saw Hundley throw for just 31 yards on five-of-ten passing. “I was particularly disgusted with the second half,” McCarthy said, later adding “we’ve got to play better (and) I’ve got to coach better.”
For now, McCarthy has told fans and the media to blame him for the loss. The Packers will now have 15 days before the team’s next game, as a bye in week eight sets up a Monday Night matchup with the Detroit Lions. Hopefully McCarthy and Hundley will feel more comfortable in opening up the offense for the young quarterback after having a lengthy period of time to work on the passing game before the next contest.