GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers are going through arguably one of the most challenging periods of coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure.
They’ve lost three straight games to fall under .500 . The defense has crumbled. Injuries are mounting on the line in the pass-heavy offense.
McCarthy vowed Monday that mistakes will be addressed, and plans tweaked. He is confident that his message is getting through to players, and that the Packers, in part, must respond better to adversity.
Overall, the Packers have been a success with a record of 116-67-1 in McCarthy’s 11 seasons. They’ve made the playoffs seven straight seasons, with five division titles and a Super Bowl victory in the 2010 campaign.
But since winning the first six games of the 2015 season, Green Bay is 9-12, including the playoffs.
McCarthy, in part, referred to his track record when asked what kind of messaging he uses to make sure that the uncharacteristic losing doesn’t affect the Packers’ culture as they prepare for Sunday night’s game at Washington.
“Well, I mean, let’s just state the facts: I’m a highly successful NFL head coach. With that, I’ve never looked at the ride to this point as smooth … To me, it’s always bumpy and to me that’s the joy of it,” McCarthy said.
“Really, what you did last year or 2010, as we know, doesn’t factor. … To me, you have to stay in tune with the now. Obviously, people outside of our room don’t feel really good about the now. Personally, I enjoy these type of moments,” he added. “This is about our team and I trust and believe in what we do every day.”
He isn’t into dramatic midseason shake-ups.
“I’m not into shock and awe, or (a) torch the landscape-type person. I’m a builder, I’m a developer. I’ve said that since the first day I arrived here,” McCarthy said. “You build a program, culture is what makes it go, you have to invest in that culture every single day, and that’s my big picture focus.”
A popular pick to return to the Super Bowl, the Packers remain in the playoff picture, just a game back of Detroit and Minnesota in the mediocre NFC North.
In the short term, the Packers are focusing on fixing flaws exposed in the 47-25 loss to Tennessee on Sunday that dropped them to 4-5 and was likely the low point of the season.
The passing game is producing after a sluggish start, but the offense is missing physical running back Eddie Lacy, who is on injured reserve with an ankle injury. The plan on Sunday was to run the ball more with James Starks back from a knee injury, but the Titans built up such a big early lead that Packers were forced to throw more.
Playing catch-up all day, Aaron Rodgers was 31 of 51 for 371 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
McCarthy had no prognosis on injuries to starting offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (knee) and T.J. Lang (ankle). In the locker room, Bakhtiari said he was taking things day to day with the injury.
“I think everyone has got a lot of confidence in here. We know the guys we have in this locker room, and we know what we’re able to do. It’s just going out and executing,” he said.
The league-best Packers run defense allowed DeMarco Murray to rush for a 75-yard touchdown on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage, setting the tone for the afternoon. Pass coverage has been spotty, especially without injured cornerbacks Sam Shields (concussion) and Damarious Randall (groin). The pass rush has slowed down with linebacker Clay Matthews out the last three weeks with a hamstring injury.
Green Bay trailed Tennessee 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, the kind of start that the Packers were once known for.
“Our adversity football production is not high enough right now. We need to improve there. We know it, our players know it. That’s really where our focus is,” McCarthy said. “That’s the difference in this league.”
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