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Packers coach Mike McCarthy: 'It's the players' job to run the plays'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy tried Josh Sitton at left tackle in place of the injured David Bakhtiari in last Sunday’s regular season finale. That didn’t work, and regardless of Bakhtiari’s status Sitton will return to his regular left guard position for Sunday’s playoff game at the Washington Redskins.

Apparently Sitton doesn’t have a future as McCarthy’s offensive coordinator, either.

Sitton, among other players, has been saying for weeks that the Green Bay Packers need to find a way to run the ball more, something he reiterated this week when he called for Eddie Lacy and James Starks to get “30-plus carries” against the Redskins.

“Well, first of all, Josh Sitton needs to play guard, and that's where he'll play this week, he'll play left guard,” McCarthy said Thursday. “As far as how many times you run it, how many times you pass it, in regards to the last game, we ran the ball out of a particular personnel group, the first series was successful [and] went with the similar concepts out of a personnel group that we majored in, in preparation, and didn't run the ball very well at all.

“So that's the facts of the matter. So how you go into games with a direction and which direction the game takes you, it happens usually every time you line up and play the game of football. So it's my job to call the plays, and it's the players' job to run the plays.”

It’s not that Sitton was necessarily questioning the play-calling, because he’s acknowledged in the past that it’s hard to stick with the run in games like the 38-8 loss at Arizona, when the Packers fell behind early. But the Packers’ most impressive offensive showings have come when they were able to run the ball extensively -- in the Week 11 win at Minnesota (when they had 34 runs and 34 passes) and the Week 14 win over Dallas (when they rushed for 230 yards).

“We've just got to be able to get Eddie and James 30, 30-plus carries,” Sitton said. “And when we can do that I think we can be successful. Obviously, some games dictate otherwise. I think to be successful we've got to be able to do that."

Play-calling has been a topic of conversation ever since McCarthy decided to hand those duties to Tom Clements after last season and then took back the job before the Dallas game.

The Packers were most effective in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings when, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, they “threw caution to the wind” and starting throwing deep in the fourth quarter.

Yet even Rodgers, who has been sacked 13 times in the past two games and 46 times overall this season, was championing the run game this week.

“We have to be balanced running the football and throwing it to keep them honest on their coverages and their rush lanes, and we’ll do that,” Rodgers said. “I’m confident that those guys are going to have their best performance of the year and I will as well.”