January 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiverRandall Cobb
(18) catches a touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
In The Red
This team, despite its abilities on offense, just seemed to have scoring issues pop up in the areas where it should be easier to make something happen.
Last year, when Green Bay was terrible in the red-zone (#26 overall). That made sense, however, considering half of the season saw the team with the Wallace/Tolzien/Flynn trifecta heading the charge with Randall Cobb being injured as well.
This year, Green Bay was better overall (#11 overall), but for some reason they seemed to have a tendency to bundle together bunches of ineptitude within singular games. I wrote about it during my recap of the Packers-Patriots tilt, but never really saw a major common denominator for why it was happening.
January 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) misses catching a pass against the defense of Seattle Seahawks cornerbackJeremy Lane
(20) during the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
One that would make sense would be the defenses they faced. That may not have been a reason during the season per se, but it definitely was a key reason in this matchup.
Green Bay managed to get into the red-zone three times on the day, but only forced their way into the end zone once.
Now 1-3 is bad, but that isn’t exactly a large sample size.
The thing is the attempts themselves when looked at more closely show that the play-calling may have been overly conservative at a time it would have been best to be aggressive.
Those first two attempts ended up being a 17-yard and 18-yard field goal on the second and third Green Bay drives of the day.
You would think that having players like Eddie Lacy and John Kuhn (part of #6 rush DVOA unit) behind a vastly improved offensive line (#8 run block DVOA) would be able to get a yard or less at least once, right?
Mike McCarthy must have scared himself out of this type of play after having it fail versus Detroit in Week 17, because with two opportunities that close with top-10 options in blocking and running at his disposal he decided to play it safe.
That was way too early in the game to say it truly cost them late (way too much game left at that point), but a touchdown at either point gives Green Bay at least four more points to work with later on. In a spot where they ended up down by 3 before forcing overtime, that could have helped immensely.
Just think: Instead of being up 19-7, it could have been 23-7 or even 27-7. Then, even with that TD with 2:09 left, we have a situation where multiple onside kicks are needed – not just the one – because it would be 23-14 or 27-14.
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Let’s say that situation happened just how it did with the onside kick, then they go score.
It’d be 23-21 (no 2-pt since it adds nothing there) or 27-21 (same deal), with another one needed. Everyone would be even more alert and especially focused on doing exactly what they are supposed to do.
Odds of two onside kick successes aren’t good even in the best of circumstances. And even if they did, by then we are looking at practically no time and not enough timeouts to run the ball.
So best case probably puts the ball in the air against a defense who’s already got 4 INTs and now expecting the ball to go through the air again, with a good probability of a Hail-Mary situation.
January 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerbackRichard Sherman
(25) intercepts a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiverDavante Adams
(17) during the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Scary as that sounds based on the circumstances, I would’ve liked those odds so much more than the already advantageous ones Green Bay had played their way to.
Unfortunately, this is all hindsight speculation, but predicting the future circumstances is one of many things that coaches must weigh when making their decisions.
Green Bay being unable to make things happen in the red zone early wasn’t the main cause, but it ended up lending plenty of unnecessary fuel to the fire of Seattle’s comeback.
Next: Important Junctures