McCarthy knows Packers have to improve for post-bye stretch
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy heads into the bye week well aware of his team's shortcomings.
And he knows how crucial it is to fix them in advance of the most challenging portion of the schedule.
"It was important to win the game on so many different fronts," McCarthy said on Tuesday, a day after his team's 33-30 win over San Francisco. "Let's be honest, you have to win your home games."
At 3-2-1, all three of the Packers' victories have come at home, along with a Week 2 tie with NFC North rival Minnesota. Their two losses were on the road at Washington and at Detroit.
And they're about to be on the road a lot in the next month, with four of their next five games away from Lambeau Field.
With post-bye games at the Los Angeles Rams (6-0) and New England Patriots (4-2) looming — then two more road games at Seattle (3-3) and at Minnesota (3-2-1) after a Nov. 11 home game against Miami (4-2) — the Packers' next five opponents are a combined 20-9-1.
"Obviously, I understand what the next four games look like. But they don't mean anything outside of the Rams because that's the next game," McCarthy said.
"We get a chance to work this week, get a head start on those guys, but we've got a lot of work to do on ourselves — and that's really where the energy will go."
McCarthy said players had a weightlifting session Tuesday morning before getting the rest of the week off. Players will travel back to Green Bay on Sunday and get back to work on Monday.
The coaches, meanwhile, will do their traditional self-scouting, which includes what McCarthy calls "across-the-hall" evaluations, where the defensive coaches break down what they see from the Packers' offense and vice versa.
What they'll find are inconsistencies on both sides of the ball.
Green Bay's offense is fourth in total offense (421 yards per game), but a middling 15th in scoring (24.7 points per game), 16th in third down conversion rate (40.2 percent) and 22nd in red zone offense (50 percent touchdown rate).
The defense is seventh in total defense (328.3 yards per game), but 15th in scoring defense (24 points per game) and gave up several big plays to the 49ers on Monday night.
Even as important as Monday night's win was, it epitomized the Packers' inconsistency. The defense allowed the 49ers just 3 yards on their final three possessions, with Kevin King's interception squelching San Francisco's final chance to win in regulation and setting up the Packers' winning field-goal drive.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers led a pair of successful two-minute drives at the end of the game — the first for the game-tying touchdown and the second for kicker Mason Crosby's 27-yard walk-off field goal — but the offense continues to struggle outside of the two-minute drill.
"We're going to enjoy this one for sure, but correct it at some point," Rodgers said. "Thankfully, we're going to get into our bye week pretty quickly, but I'm sure next Monday we'll take a good, hard look at this and take a look at what we did well our first six weeks.
"We're a couple plays away from being 4-2 or 5-1, and definitely a couple plays from being the other way. So we're thankful to be 3-2-1 right now and realize what's in front of us, and how this type of play might not get it done against the next opponents. We've got to play better."
Rodgers, who led the Packers to a 24-23 comeback win over Chicago in the season opener despite suffering a left knee injury during the first half of that game, has attempted at least 40 passes in the past five games, and McCarthy admitted he'd like the offense to be more balanced.
But McCarthy also feels those two fourth-quarter comebacks will benefit the team during the upcoming challenging stretch.
"The adversity component as far as the number of times we've been in these situations so far this year, I'm hopeful," McCarthy said. "And going off of past experience, I think this will pay dividends for us as a football team."
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