GREEN BAY – The Packers have an extra day to prepare for the next contest, a week from Monday vs. San Francisco, and they’re going to use it to physically recover and mentally dial in.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday the team will have its usual three practices – pushed back one day each to Thursday, Friday and Sunday – with the extra day Wednesday serving as game-plan installation in the classroom.
“Our focus is going to be more on the details of this next game plan, and we’ll use the extra time to treat the things a lot of guys are fighting,” McCarthy said.
“We’ll spend more time in the mental department. We are physically beat up.”
Ideally, the extra prep time will lead to a faster start against the 49ers, as the Packers have been bogged down by poor starts in three of their first five games.
McCarthy isn’t as zeroed in on that specifically as the other issues that have contributed to the slow starts – namely, poor ball security and penalties.
The Packers were minus-three in turnovers in Detroit during Sunday’s 31-23 loss. Those plus a number of penalties on special teams contributed to a massive field-position differential that played into Detroit’s 24-0 halftime lead and Green Bay’s struggles to get back into the game.
“We were minus-300-plus yards in field position. That’s extremely difficult on everybody,” McCarthy said. “We’re minus-one (in turnovers) as a football team. That’s not part of our DNA. In the games we did win, we were minus-two in both of those wins.
“The common thread I’m focused on is taking care of the football. Slow start, fast finish, loose in the middle – it’s irrelevant if you don’t take care of the football. There are going to be negative statistics that come off of that.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was responsible for two of the turnovers against the Lions, fumbling on sacks, which led to 10 Detroit points. McCarthy said he wasn’t going to make excuses for Rodgers, who has a bad left knee, but said he’s “playing through a lot,” without going into specifics.
McCarthy did like what he saw in the second half and the effort put forth, both from receiver Davante Adams and rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
On a bad calf, Adams (nine catches, 140 yards, TD) wasn’t expected to play as much as he did, but ended up “having a heck of a day against one of the top corners in the league” in Detroit’s Darius Slay.
The rookies also had to adjust to a constant no-huddle, catch-up mode they weren’t necessarily prepared for, but they adjusted and produced.
“Anytime you have swings that your football team has to overcome, especially early in the season, it’s a good thing,” McCarthy said. “The adversity you experience in this league, … it’s the same every year, but when it comes is different every year.”
The adversity extends, unfortunately, to the kicking game and a forgettable day for veteran kicker Mason Crosby. His five missed kicks (four field goals, one extra point) factored considerably in the outcome of the game, particularly in McCarthy scrapping his game plan at halftime because the team’s deficit was so large.
It wasn’t the first time this season the Packers entered a second half no longer working off their original game plan, but it didn’t need to be that way in Detroit if there are two or three field goals on the board in the first half.
“He’s got to make those kicks,” McCarthy said of Crosby’s misses, with all three in the first half under 45 yards in length. “He’s a proven, highly successful kicker. I still believe in him. He knows it – he has to make those kicks. It’s a different game at halftime.
“Too many calls are going home on the call sheet that you work on during the week. This is not a get-close-enough type sport. We get that.”