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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
McCarthy still evaluating coaching staff

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy's season-ending press conference Wednesday morning was filled with platitudes and big-picture discussion, but pretty light on specifics. Speaking for about 30 minutes, McCarthy told Wisconsin reporters:

To me, the most interesting part of the session came when McCarthy was asked about the Packers' general lack of pass rush this season. Yes, Jenkins was injured and veteran Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila flamed out, but from a layman's perspective it didn't appear the Packers followed through on their offseason promises to bring more pressure through blitzes and other schematic adjustments.

McCarthy said he and Sanders will speak "at length" about the pass rush in the coming days. But didn't they have the same conversation last year? And the year before that? McCarthy said the Packers had the necessary blitzes in their game plans this season but suggested they didn't -- or couldn't -- use them as often as they would have liked:

"Defense is obviously different than offense. Offense, they determine how you line up and when the ball is snapped. Defense, you prepare for certain personnel groups and certain situations and when they do occur, you call certain defenses. If they don't occur, those types of packages may not be used. They are all still part of our defense."

It's awfully convenient, to use McCarthy's word, to blame offenses for taking you out of your blitz packages. In reality, it means you got out-schemed, and the exchange indicates it will be hard for Sanders to keep his job following this week's evaluation.

If McCarthy and Sanders left last year's meeting with a plan to blitz more frequently, then Sanders failed to execute it. That's a pretty significant omission, and the Packers have now ended three consecutive seasons saying they need to improve their pass rush. Coordinators don't often get a third chance to make that correction.