GREEN BAY — After watching his offense struggle with its Aaron Rodgers-less passing game and his defense tank in the second half, coach Mike McCarthy knows it’s on him and his coaching staff to figure out game plans on each side of the ball to get the Green Bay Packers going in the right direction again.
That’s why the 12th-year coach is still giving his players the full bye week off instead of altering course and having them stick around for a few days for extra practices, which the collective bargaining agreement would allow.
NFL rules say teams on their bye must give players four consecutive days off, and one of those days must be Saturday. McCarthy had his players in for a team meeting on Monday, the gave them Tuesday through Sunday off. Players will travel back to Green Bay on Monday, and return to practice on Tuesday.
“We definitely need the bye week, I think our injury report going into the game reflects that,” McCarthy said, one day after a 26-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. “It comes at a good time for us.”
The coaches won’t take nearly as much time off. McCarthy said they’ll be working on self-scouting their own team’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies, and they’ll also do what he calls an “across-the-hall project” where defensive coaches examine something offense-related and vice-versa to give a fresh perspective.
While there were multiple national reports about the Packers’ hopes and expectations for Rodgers’ comeback from a fractured right collarbone, McCarthy said the quarterback’s surgery last week in Southern California led to no definitive timeline for Rodgers to be able to play again.
Rodgers was placed on injured reserve following surgery, meaning he cannot practice for six weeks and cannot play in a game for eight weeks. The first game he’d theoretically be able to play in would be Dec. 17 at Carolina.
“All the things you’re hearing, you know more than I do,” McCarthy said.
“I’ve been in regular contact with Aaron. There’s a reason why he’s on IR. So it’s at a minimum of eight weeks and worst-case scenario he would be lost for the season.”
According to one NFL source, Rodgers wants to play again this season and is hoping the Packers can stay afloat with Brett Hundley at quarterback. If they do, Rodgers will see how he has healed and whether he could come back for the final weeks of the regular season if the team is still in playoff contention. If the Packers tank and are out of the playoff picture or are longshots to reach the postseason, he would not risk re-injuring the collarbone by playing.
Exactly when he would be able to play, though, is predicated on how the bone has healed — just as he approached it in 2013, when he fractured his left collarbone and allowed the bone to knit on its own, without surgery.
Still in the mix
While rookie running back Aaron Jones’ two 100-yard games this season — including Sunday’s 131-yard effort — have placed him ahead of converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery on the depth chart, McCarthy insisted that Montgomery still is a vital part of the offense. Jones played 44 snaps Sunday to Montgomery’s seven; Jones carried 17 times to Montgomery’s four.
“Ty Montgomery is an outstanding football player,” McCarthy said of Montgomery, who broke multiple ribs Sept. 28 against Chicago, opening the door for Jones. “This has never been a one-man deal with running backs. I look for Ty to just keep going. Aaron has done some really good things. Aaron needs to be better on third down, frankly. He did a great job on first and second down. Ty Montgomery is still a big part of our offense.”
McCarthy offered no injury information entering the bye, but left guard Lane Taylor, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, appeared to be moving OK when he came through the locker room and wasn’t wearing any sort of brace on the ankle. “Hopefully I can get back after this bye,” Taylor said. … Asked why no one called time out when the Packers only had 10 men on the field for the Saints’ second touchdown, defensive coordinator Dom Capers replied, “It happened so late that it was hard, you didn’t realize (there were only 10 players on the field). They were up there and snapping the ball and all of a sudden one of our guys at the critical spot wasn’t out there.” … Special teams coordinator Ron Zook acknowledged Taybor Pepper’s snap on the field goal was off but commended punter Justin Vogel for getting the ball down for Mason Crosby to make a 46-yarder. “We didn’t have camp or all that stuff to work through those things so we’re working through it now,” Zook said. “Just got to continue to work it and coach it and get it right.”