McCarthy Downplays GB's Squabbles
Next game: Monday, December 22nd at Chicago
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- There was finger-pointing in Jacksonville on Sunday, and it wasn't just metaphorical. Green Bay Packers players actually were gesturing at each other on the field during a 20-16 loss to the Jaguars, the latest step backward in a lost season.
The Packers have dropped six of their last seven, knocking them out of playoff contention.
And now they're losing some of their composure, as evidenced by on-field disagreements between offensive players Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley and defensive players Al Harris and Brady Poppinga.
"(Even) where you win football games by a big margin, you're going to have things happen," McCarthy said. "I learned that a long time ago in sports. What happens on the field, what's said on the field, stays on the field. I don't look at that as a mark of where we are. I understand how it's highlighted and what the perception may want to lead to. But hey, nobody is happy where we are. And I don't expect the players to be, and I know I am not also."
That unhappiness went public at least twice on Sunday.
First Rodgers became visibly annoyed with Finley, who didn't appear to be on the same page as the rest of the offense on a third-and-goal play on the Jaguars' 5-yard line near the end of the first half.
Then Poppinga and Harris began gesturing at one another before the snap of a play early in the third quarter, when a wide receiver stood uncovered at the line of scrimmage. The defense allowed a long completion to Dennis Northcutt on the other side of the field, and Poppinga and Harris had words after the whistle before defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and linebackers coach Winston Moss gathered the entire defense for an impromptu meeting on the sideline.
On Monday, McCarthy seemed more focused on fixing the communication problems that led to the players' disagreements than worrying about how they reacted afterward.
"I'm concerned about everything that's involved," McCarthy said. "When we're sitting here in Week 15 talking about miscommunication, that concerns me. ... Does it happen in games? Yes it does. Is it highlighted now because we lost the game? Absolutely, and I understand that, and there's more frustration involved because we did not win. That's the reality of it."
Coming out of a Jaguars timeout, Rodgers and Finley were talking as they walked onto the field together. But as soon as the Packers lined up, Rodgers, wide receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Donald Lee all began motioning to Finley to move to the other side of the formation.
Finley eventually moved as the play clock wound down, then Rodgers took the snap and threw a short pass to Lee. The Packers had to settle for a field goal.
"It was really just miscommunication with the play call," Finley said Sunday. "It wasn't on me at all. But I went with it."
According to McCarthy, Finley misheard a reminder from Rodgers during the timeout.
"Without getting too detailed about it, that's what happened, and once again, it falls under the category of miscommunication," McCarthy said. "It's not OK. It's not OK."
As for the Harris-Poppinga disagreement, Harris said only that it was an "animated discussion" and Poppinga insisted it wasn't as bad as it looked.
"I don't have hard feelings against him and he doesn't hard feelings against me," Poppinga said Sunday. "Things weren't unraveling, it wasn't a frenzy. If anything, it lighted a fire in us."
Moss said the incident wasn't an indication that discipline was breaking down.
"Absolutely not," Moss said. "I think when you look at it, Brady's a very passionate guy, Al is exactly the same thing. And then guys are trying to find ways to help win a football game, they're trying to do whatever it takes. It's behind us right now. They've talked it through, and it's not a situation, so we've moved on."
But it might be a sign of things to come, according to defensive back Charles Woodson.
"When you see what you saw today, you know how bad it is," Woodson said Sunday. "When you have two players on the field arguing with each other, you have them on the sideline arguing with each other, then you know it's bad.
"Look at the Washington Redskins. Earlier in the season, (Jim) Zorn was the best coach ever. Now, Clinton Portis thinks he's the worst coach. So when you lose, everything is going to blow up. And there'll probably be more of that to come."
Notes:@ McCarthy said LT Chad Clifton is expected to play at Chicago next Monday night despite injuring both of his thumbs Sunday. TE Tory Humphrey (concussion) also is expected to play. ... McCarthy said RB Brandon Jackson sprained his wrist and would be re-evaluated later in the week. ... The Packers signed P Durant Brooks to their practice squad and released RB Steven Korte.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)