If you are a Vikings fan drowning in despair right now — and let’s be honest, that is pretty much a factory setting — perhaps I can divert your attention away from their 1-5 dumpster fire and onto the surprising Sunday failure of the Packers AND to the misery of former coach Mike McCarthy, now in Dallas.
In a game befitting an old feature in these parts — RandBallStu’s “Increasingly Lost Season” — Green Bay came into a meeting of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks riding high and came out of it with a lot of questions.
It started out the way I thought it would, with the Packers jumping to a quick 10-0 lead over the Buccaneers. That is, in fact, the point at which I started watching.
But then 6-foot-2 Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of uncharacteristic interceptions — one a pick-six, the other returned just short of the goal line — to completely change momentum.
From there, 6-foot-4 Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady directed a bunch of nice drives — punctuating one with a touchdown throw to ex-Gopher Tyler Johnson and another to longtime tight end Rob Gronkowski — and the end result was 38 consecutive Tampa Bay points in a runaway win.
Another ex-Gopher, Antoine Winfield Jr., delivered a hard hit on Rodgers that left the Packers looking for an explanation. Rodgers, one of just five quarterbacks with a lower QBR in Week 6 than Kirk Cousins, was left to explain how a 38-10 loss might be … a good thing?
“I think we needed a kick in the (butt) a little bit,” Rodgers said. “There’s a little bit of wake-up to stop feeling ourselves so much and get back to the things that got us to this position. I think this would be, unfortunately but fortunately, something we can really grow from.”
That is, of course, unless Sunday’s game gave defenses something to copy for the rest of the season to neutralize Rodgers.
It was reminiscent of the Packers’ 37-8 loss last year to the 49ers — not to be confused with the 37-20 loss to San Francisco in the NFC title game. But in terms of pure shock value, you might have to go back to the 2018 finale — a 31-0 home loss to the Lions — for a comparison.
That happened with an interim coach in place after Mike McCarthy was fired. If you’ve stayed with this post long enough to get here, you surely wouldn’t mind an extra paragraph or two of schadenfreude.
McCarthy landed a coveted job in Dallas this year. The good news? The Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East. The bad news? They got there in that woeful division with a 2-4 record, and players are already grumbling about the coaching staff.
Per NFL Network’s Jane Slater, these quotes were attributed to unnamed Dallas players: On the coaching staff “totally unprepared. They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly.” Another “they just aren’t good at their jobs.”
This is a good time to remind you that Matt LaFleur has an 18-5 record (including playoffs) since taking over for McCarthy, but that’s only because it’s also an opportunity to remind you that McCarthy very well might have wasted Rodgers prime with only one Super Bowl appearance to show for it.