Week 1 is a liar.
The first week of the NFL season assured us, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Rams were an irretrievable trash fire, the Cardinals were in trouble, Jameis Winston was an MVP front-runner, and the Cowboys couldn’t score with Dak Prescott at quarterback.
Remember? Yeah, not so much on those.
Week 2 is also a liar, as is any NFL week if taken as a singular entity. The difference is that Week 2 is only 50 percent of our evidence when we sit down to sort through it. Week 1, at its expiration, is 100 percent.
“It’s like anything in this game, you really have a decision one way or the other,” McCarthy said Monday. “Do you want to play personnel formation [and match] exactly this player to this play? We played like that at one time here. We do that sometimes in situations, and there’s times where we don’t. We play tempo and no-huddle. So the ability to do both is important, I feel, especially over the course of the season, and the utilization of the players in both formats is important because it definitely challenges the defense.”
McCarthy likely was referring to 2011, when the Packers led the NFL so many offensive categories it was difficult to keep a count, and Rodgers won the first of his two NFL MVP awards. That year, McCarthy changed personnel groups often. He still relied on the three-receiver, single-tight-end, single-back set but only at a rate of 45.2 percent of the snaps. There were games when he seemingly changed personnel play after play after play. He used four-receiver sets on 29.9 percent of his snaps.
The more McCarthy wanted to play faster on offense, the more he used the no-huddle which inherently limits his chances to change personnel from play to play.
Since 2011, his use of the “11” personnel group has spiked. Last season, he used it on 62.1 percent of his offensive players, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It was roughly the same in 2014 (62.3 percent) and even higher in 2013 (72.0 percent).
The four- and five-receiver sets that were used liberally in 2011 have all but disappointed. Last year, McCarthy employed a four-receiver set on just 81 of 1,050 plays (7.7 percent). So far this year, it’s slightly higher at 11.4 percent.
Perhaps at some point McCarthy will try different combinations but to date his other receivers have played only sparingly on offense. Jared Abbrederis has played just 20 snaps in two games, and that’s the most of any receiver outside the top three. Ty Montgomery played 11 snaps in the opener and none in Week 2. Trevor Davis was inactive for the opener and then played five snaps. Janis, because of the hand injury, has played only on special teams so there’s no way to know yet if he can add the deep-threat dynamic he did when he finally got his chance in the playoff loss at Arizona.
“We certainly have and are capable of doing both,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said when asked why they prefer the no-huddle, limited-substitution philosophy on offense. “Obviously the no-huddle situation, we’ve got to clean up a few things and make sure we’re operating at a high level as far as our tempo.
Make no mistake: It isn’t easy volunteering for social-media scorn and racial hostility from those who have forgotten the equal-opportunity tenets that are supposed to define us. The default position for far too many — that multimillionaire athletes have no business assailing the very nation that provided them the opportunity to become rich and famous — is a losing argument for people who conveniently forget that the multimillionaire athletes created their own opportunities, and often feel a moral obligation to use their platforms to help those without a voice.
“Whenever you talk about race or just anything to do with social injustice,” Jenkins said, “usually it’s a hard conversation to have. … A lot of arguments you hear is, ‘Do it on your own time. Do it in a different way.’ Well, the truth of the matter is, if you do it in a different way, that just allows you to ignore the issue.