Archive for the ‘McCarthy’ Category

Mid-week thoughts Packers/Seattle

January 14, 2015

As I read more about this game I am noticing that the story lines are mostly about Rodgers, the calf, the Packers passing game, Richard Sherman, the “vaunted” Seattle D, Seattle’s 12th man, Lynch knocking people over, Seattle being at the beginning of a dynasty, Seattle being unbeatable, Seattle essentially already being awarded the Lombardi Trophy. But I have a few thoughts about some other potential post-game story lines:

  • Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart averaged 5.4 yards per carry and ran for 70 yards against Seattle last Saturday night. Seattle’s unstoppable defense struggled to contain the guy. (Actually all 3 Carolina RBs averaged over 5 yards per carry.) Eddie Lacy is a better RB than Stewart – though Stewart has been very good the last 5-6 weeks. While it may seem like Lacy could struggle against a speedy/aggressive defensive style like Seattle’s because he’s not fast, I’m guessing MM and staff are putting quite a bit of time into making sure the O-Line is prepared to open holes and Lacy is ready to give Seattle a taste of its own medicine (won’t just be Lynch knocking guys over). This would be advisable both for time of possession reasons and to open up the passing game. I think there is a real chance Lacy has a career game Sunday. Also worth noting, his asthma shouldn’t be much of an issue. I have asthma too and can attest to how difficult it can be to run in cold weather – really does make it worse. But forecast is for 51 degrees and rain – he should be fine with that. Lacy had 100 yards rushing against Detroit, the NFL’s #1 run defense, in Week 17 – in a meaningful game. And Detroit was only giving up about 60 rushing yards per game at that point. Against Dallas, the #8 rush defense on the year, Lacy had 101 yards. Look for Lacy to assert himself and deliver a quality game. This will be a real test for the O-Line as Seattle has to know the Pack will try to run a fair amount. I’m guessing Chancellor will be playing a condensed field – which should eventually help Rodgers. But if the O-Line can win this battle, there is a good chance Lacy could be a bigger factor than people are talking about now.
  • Seattle gave up 377 yards to Carolina last weekend. Carolina is not an offensive powerhouse so at the least, this kind of defensive performance does not align well with the reputation of Seattle’s D. I watched the game and came away thinking that D is not as flawless as the media makes it out to be.
  • The Packers defense was not great last week. Dallas had their way for much of the game. Romo and company were solid, the playcalling was solid and the clock management was solid. But the defense woke up a bit in the second half. Peppers got in there with a few huge plays and the D seemed to step up some. Still, I would not rate the overall defensive performance very highly. Clay Matthews was just plain absent. Tramon Williams had a poor game (except for some decent man coverage on Dez at times…though Shields I think should get more credit for that). Morgan Burnett was also absent, barely contributed. Yet, this defense has shown over the course of the second half of the season that it can play at a high level. And many of these guys who were absent last week have had some monster games this year. Yes, I am worried Seattle’s quality O-Line will handle our D-Line like the Cowboys line did for a while. Yes, I am worried about Marshawn Lynch being a beast. And of course, I worry about Russell Wilson’s special ability to make the exact right decision on the football field nearly every time. These are scary things. But I think the Packers defense – much maligned for their poor playoff performances in recent years – may be ready to spring a surprise. Seattle’s offense is well-balanced and they play smart but there have been a few games in the last 6-7 weeks when Capers has drawn up exquisite game plans. I’m not going to guarantee anything here, but I think it’s actually quite possible that our defense, a quiet and often not-talked-about piece of this team, makes a statement and rises up to help the offense in a game when the offense will probably need a bit more help than usual. And importantly, there isn’t a whole lot of pressure on the Packers D right now as I think most expect a fairly pedestrian performance. If Peppers is himself, Matthews makes a difference and Tramon and Burnett play like they can play, there may be a few articles about the Packers defense come Monday morning.

Mike McCarthy – A Class Act

October 4, 2012

After the immaculate intertouchdownception in Seattle, I was all in with many of you who felt the Packers should NOT have come out for the extra point. The call was absurd. It cost us a very valuable conference game. And it was on the heels of 2 other calls that were so bad it seemed we were playing a team owned by the Corleone family. But our coach marched his players back out there, made them stand there for the excruciating 2 second extra point kick – and then he didn’t totally trash the officiating over the course of the next week.

Now make no mistake, it was visually evident McCarthy was angry and frustrated with the refereeing. And his disposition in the press conference after the game should have made it obvious to anyone watching that he was furious. But in the days that followed, Mike McCarthy took the high road – a road that I refused to acknowledge existed in the face of such injustice. McCarthy knew continued bellyaching wouldn’t do any good – even though he surely believes it was the least fortunate call he’s been a part of (he said as much). But today I read something I find incredible: apparently last week, Mike McCarthy called official Wayne Elliott to essentially check in and see how the guy was doing. WHAT? McCarthy did this at a time when the official was still stubbornly unwilling to admit wrongdoing. Suddenly I feel so small. Suddenly I feel like a 10 year old in tears after losing a poorly officiated soccer game, whining incessantly in the car ride home to my father who never once would allow it to be as much the ref’s fault as I insisted it was. As a fan, forgiveness for such a brutally awful call hadn’t even crossed my mind. Yet for McCarthy, within days of such a terrible gaffe, he was calling the official to see how he was doing. Incredible.

After reading about this I had one of those realizations that this is the kind of thing classy, big-hearted human beings do. And this is the kind of thing that probably shouldn’t be just another story in the “Latest News and Rumors” section over at It should be a major headline everywhere. At the risk of going overboard here, I think this is the kind of thing that should make fans stop and think for a minute about the unique organization we support. Many a pundit and many of you have said that the Packers have handled this whole situation with class. They have – and frankly, the organization almost always does. And we should be grateful for this.

McCarthy’s odd press conference

December 27, 2010

Now, all of what I’m about to say can be chucked out the window if the Pack lose next week and puke up their playoff chances. But I was listening to part of McCarthy’s press conference today and something seemed to me to be quite a bit different. HE was different. Over time, I have come to know McCarthy by virtue of watching and listening to tons of his press conferences, seeing him be interviewed, reading millions of articles, etc. But something was definitely different about how he answered questions today.

While I realize it’s a heck of a lot easier conducting a press conference after an impressive victory, McCarthy was far less defensive than he usually is and it seemed he wasn’t dreading the whole press conference thing as much as he seems to most of the time. Historically, whenever I’ve listened to the guy, he often starts interactions assuming folks doubt him and doubt his ability to coach. This puts him in somewhat of a defensive posture – sometimes from the first question on. He’s never been one to get nasty with responses or anything, but just a bit defensive – like he needs to justify what he’s done. And he also seems to generally dislike the whole press conference experience – while he’s doing it he just wants it to end. In the press conference today, he seemed very free explaining his take on the game yesterday, his philosophies, his goals etc – like he wasn’t going to limit himself for fear of it opening up the possibility of being second-guessed. Again, it’s easier when you’ve just coached a gem of a game and most questions/answers are positive, but there was a resoluteness, a confidence, a lack of easy cliches and a firmness of tone that I’m not sure I’ve heard from him before. Like he may be starting to trust himself or something.

Like I indicated in my post game post last night, I wonder if McCarthy may be developing that edge that coaches need to have to be good. It’s as though he seems to be realizing that he can’t control what others think so he might as well not worry about it so much anymore. This can be very liberating. (It’s something we see in the counseling world when a person’s self-esteem increases – a fundamentally less debilitating concern about what others think.) In fact, I’m starting to believe that perhaps McCarthy is turning into Peter from Office Space – he is becoming good because he’s not limiting himself and frankly – he’s stopped pressing so much. Wonder if “the Bobs” visited Lambeau recently.

As a final re-face if you will (opposite of preface, a preface made after a statement), I’ll say again that I’m not sold on McCarthy and I’ve had serious concerns about him over time. And I don’t agree with those indicating he should be in the discussion for coach of the year, at least up until this point. But if he can lead us to a big victory next week and then a respectable playoff showing, I’m wondering if he may have just turned a critical corner in his coaching career.

Finley out for the season???

October 13, 2010

Ugly, ugly info coming in. Read here from Brad Biggs says that Finley’s injury may put him out for the season. Brother Steve indicates that Fox 11 in Green Bay is also reporting this. And now, Bedard at jsonline who initially had a more optimistic read on the news this morning, is indicating Finley is looking at, at the least, 8-10 weeks of recovery – making it a tough decision for the team w/re to placing him on IR. Ugh. Anyway you look at it, this sucks.

I realize it’s highly doubtful that we’ll leave a roster spot open for a guy whose recovery is expected to be at least 8-10 weeks, but frankly, I’m annoyed by the thought that we’ll probably end up filling Finley’s roster spot with an undrafted free agent who is presently working at a factory (assuming TT won’t trade for someone, which would be the only way to acquire quality right now). But with all the other injuries and needs for guys on special teams etc, my guess is that Finley’s done for the year.

Just a nasty situation. The guy is very good but staying healthy already seems like a problem for him in his young career.

One thought on all these injuries – in the next 4-5 weeks, I think we may get a better sense for how good McCarthy, Capers and TT are at their respective jobs. In tough times, we look to leadership – it’s an opportunity now for them.

Interesting article re Packers’ running game

October 13, 2010

Read here. Well written. The author generally argues that the Pack needs better offensive balance and that Brandon Jackson should have gotten more carries last week because he was playing well. Generally I agree that we need better offensive balance and agree that going with the hot hand makes sense. But I don’t entirely agree with the author’s argument – I’ll get to this in a minute.

As I’ve said before, when we don’t/can’t run the ball effectively, defenses know exactly what’s coming and it makes defending our passing game easier. It’s that simple. And this a big reason why I wanted Marshawn Lynch (or another decent RB) on this team. Just planting the very basic thought that a big run is possible can alter defensive game plans. When there is a strong run game, defenses feel more compelled to stay in the box and not over-play the pass. And this can then open up passing lanes – making it easier to stretch the field. If upcoming opponents base their game plans on game film from the last 4 games, it’s likely that we will see defenses totally disrespecting our run game. Even if some defenses have a bit more respect for it after Jackson’s good game last week, they will still most likely dare us to beat them with the run versus leaving themselves vulnerable to the pass. I think there is a good chance there will be some huge holes for our RBs in the upcoming games (yes, even with Finley out).

One shortcoming of the author’s argument, though, is that it was too focused on just the Washington game. When this matter is considered within the context of the previous games this year, McCarthy’s pass bias may be slightly more justified. In the first three games of this season without Ryan Grant (Buff, Chicago, Detroit), McCarthy started out the games with a clear intent to mix run/pass, but due primarily to a serious lack of productivity in the run game, he abandoned the run. McCarthy may have decided to do this (albeit, arguably prematurely) in games prior to the Wash game because the lack of productivity was coming against defenses that were far more focused on stopping the pass. In the first 3 games without Grant, the Packers’ RBs averaged 3.3 yards per carry – hardly an inspiring YPC average. (And interestingly, Kuhn’s average in those games was significantly better than Jackson’s). So, McCarthy may have thought “if we can’t even run it effectively when defenses are focused on stopping the pass, let’s just pass.” (Actually, McCarthy’s actual thoughts were probably closer to “if we can’t get our pad level right, and run the football in the National Football League, we might as well pass the football, because passing for us is a paaauuusitive, and because this team is more of a passing football team made up of lots of guys who are good at passing and catching the football, for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League.”

So, the situation is a bit more complicated than the author allows – especially when considered within the context of recent history. However, one fair question this discussion does raise is this: While MM may not have had confidence in the running game and consequently didn’t use it much in previous games, when he saw it working fairly well against Wash, why didn’t he make in-game adjustments and run the ball more? Again, fair question. If Jackson did have big holes to run through and Wash was dropping back in clear pass defense formations, why not run the ball a bit more? Not sure why, but I will say this: McCarthy is a lot quicker to pull the plug on the run than he ever will be on ditching the pass. That’s partly due to his own offensive philosophy, partly due now from some quiet pressure from Rodgers to pass more and partly due to the make-up of the team and the fact that our team pass game personnel are better than our run game personnel.

Anyway, the question now is what do we do going forward? I don’t want to discount Brandon Jackson’s big game last week. He was good and the big game brought his per-carry average up to 4.6 yards – tied with John Kuhn. (Quick side note: John Kuhn may actually be the one, of the two, who has a decent argument for more playing time/run plays. Kuhn’s per carry average of 4.6 is especially impressive because it’s more representative of a typical run play for him – his average is less skewed by long runs because Kuhn only has a long run of 18 yards. Of course, conversely, it also may demonstrate just how slow Kuhn is and how he’s less able to break one off like Jackson clearly can.) While I’m definitely not ready to jump on a Brandon Jackson or John Kuhn bandwagon (TT, we have 6 days until the trade deadline), I am a bit more hopeful after sorting through some stats and watching Jackson last week and seeing Kuhn close out the Detroit game. Maybe both are becoming more comfortable with their respective roles? Maybe Bulaga is a better guy to have in there than Tausch or Clifton for run blocking in particular?

However you look at it, it’s time for McCarthy to bring about some good offensive rhythm this week. Miami has a quality defense and if we can get something going against them, we should feel pretty good going into the Minnesota game.

McCarthy needs to learn from Mike Shanahan

October 11, 2010

I’ve written about this before, but I just want to point it out again. While most of the penalties called against the Pack this year have been have absolutely legit penalties – some of them haven’t been legit. There have been some questionable calls. And instead of pointing that out live during the game, MM always just says it has to get cleaned up and that he’ll watch the film.Lots of times it does just need to be cleaned up and lots of times it’s just sloppiness on our part. But at least sometimes, it’s crappy officiating that MM needs to address head on.

MM needs to be both more proactive and more reactive. In fact, he should borrow a page from Mike Shanahan. Yesterday, after a couple possible pass interference plays by our secondary weren’t called earlier in the game, Shanahan got after the officials big-time. He planted a seed for later in the game – and I’d argue it worked when Wash got a couple key pass interference calls at the end of the game…that were close. I actually think that’s good coaching. No, you don’t want to just scream at the officials all game – that’s lame. But if there is a particularly questionable call against your team, I think not questioning it can leave your team feeling a bit like you don’t have their back. It seems to me that officials never feel badly at all about calling penalties against the Pack because we never let them hear it if it’s a weak call. Psychologically, there is no negative consequence, so the behavior continues. Sherman was passive like this too. Holmgren wasn’t. Mike Shanahan isn’t. A coach needs to stick up for his players when there is a perceived injustice and MM doesn’t do it. I really think he needs to work on this.

Interesting Rodgers/Finley info from Scott W

October 4, 2010

Check out this comment from reader Scott W (thanks Scott):

“Madison sports talk this morning mentioned Rodgers angrily threw his towel into his locker when asked about the play calling. Finley also expressed his feelings comparable to Rodgers.”

Maybe this is a bigger deal than I thought (or hoped) it is. Just read through Greg Bedard’s updates at jsonline – here is what McCarthy had to say. Read here, for Rodgers comments.

Tough to know what’s really going on here. My guess again is that it’s probably pretty basic. Rodgers wants the offense to be super-explosive mostly because he just wants to win and he knows that our defense and special teams won’t always be able to bail this team out. He knows that without a decent RB, the offense won’t produce like he knows it can considering the overall talent level – so he wants to go back to that dink and dunk offense that moved the ball quite easily against the Bears.

Again, my lean here is with Rodgers. I think he’s right – the offense hasn’t crafted a strong identity yet and they haven’t put together a solid game. But I can’t help but wonder if at least part of this is Rodgers voicing sideways frustration at TT for not picking up another running back. I think the real thrust of his comments might have been aimed at our RBs – and by extension at McCarthy for putting these guys on the field when they aren’t our “best players”.

Maybe this is what needs to happen to force TT to make a move – Rodgers is his boy after all.

McCarthy pleased with running game production

September 29, 2010

Thanks Schaef for pointing this article out.

McCarthy said yesterday that he thought our RBs did well Monday night and were productive. Here is the direct quote:

“You have to look at what’s the definition of the run game. I looked at this particular game, and I felt that our running backs were productive,” McCarthy said. “I thought Brandon and John played well with the opportunities that they were given with the ball in their hands and what was put in front of them. I thought the running back production was a positive in the game.”

I know what he’s saying – that considering the opponent, limited opportunities and the environment etc, they did as well as they could. That’s kind of like saying about your defense “well, we were up against Peyton Manning and while he had 5TDs and 425 yards passing, he’s really good and our guys did what they could with the opportunities they were given.” THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH MM. I realize that MM’s hands may be tied here somewhat w/re to getting a new RB and of course we don’t know if he’s beating down TT’s door telling him to pick someone else up. But my concern is that TT, MM and even Capers (whom I’m guessing weighs in on such matters) are content holding out for the return of James Starks after Week 6 – a guy who hasn’t played football in 2 years because of injuries. I hope Starks can be the guy and that he’s awesome…of course. But I’ll say it again – it’s time for TT to make a splash and pick up someone who can not only carry us this year, but then run with Grant next year.

(Note:  a stat I just noticed an interesting stat looking through the stats from Monday night: John Kuhn had 6 rushes for 31 yards. That’s over 5 yards a carry. Though at first blush this stat may appear to sort of undo my argument above/my lobbying for a new RB, he had 18 of those yards on one incredibly well-designed run play – that one where we spread 3 TEs out to the right and all 3 blocked downfield for him. And, we all know Kuhn is not the answer at RB. If TT doesn’t call Steve Slaton or Lynch or someone, I’m going to start making calls saying I’m with the Packers. I’ll let you know how that goes.)

Pressure mounting…

September 7, 2010

Check this out from USA Today – 5 of their 8 staff writers pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Several of you have noted the increasing amount of positive press the Packers have received heading into the season. Lots of the expert types are picking the Pack to win the Super Bowl. Normally, I would be a bit concerned about it – will the players be able to handle the weight of expectation? will they keep their heads? and just as importantly, how will the coaching staff respond to this kind of pressure?

So far, I like the way the team has responded to this pressure. It seems the players may have been given the “OK” to simply address questions about expectations head on – instead of offering up the usual cliche crap like “we’re only focused on the Philly game”. Really, since the team regrouped this spring, it seems to me that generally, the players have not avoided questions about expectations. After the Family Night scrimmage for example, Jermichael Finley and a few others talked very directly about the expectations indicating that the team has the same expectations and the team believes they belong in the Super Bowl. McCarthy must be coaching the guys up to believe that these are not unrealistic expectations and I really like this. There seems to be a message floating around Lambeau that players/coaches ought to embrace this goal publicly rather than avoid it at all costs.

For some reason, I suspect that one guy who may be behind this head-on approach to managing expectations may be Dom Capers. I think Capers, a veteran coach who has seen a lot throughout his NFL coaching career, may be encouraging this open attitude about expectations in part because he knows on one side of the ball, he has a QB who can handle it mentally and on the other side, he has a veteran leader who can handle it mentally – and who wants it so badly (Woodson). One thing that will continue to impress people in the next 3-4 years in particular, is just how strong Aaron Rodgers is mentally. I’m not quite sure the same open approach toward expectations would have been encouraged if we had a different QB.

Bulaga at left guard now?

August 10, 2010

Reader Katie asked what we thought of this move: moving first round pick Brian Bulaga from left tackle to left guard. Mike McCarthy is apparently trying this and has indicated that the competition for the LG spot is open. Interesting. As Bob McGinn speculates, this means that McCarthy is either not satisfied with Colledge’s play over the last few years or that he just thinks Bulaga has THAT much upside. (Or, of course most likely, both.)

I have written before about my concerns with McCarthy shuffling the O-Line and how this has can be disruptive to team chemistry and disruptive to the overall development of our O-Linemen. I generally believe that players are drafted to play certain positions because they played those positions well in college. Messing with that too much is usually not a good idea.

However, there are exceptions. When one guy just isn’t that good, it is the job of the coach (and the GM) to figure out how to get a better player in there. And when a guy is talented enough to make a position change at the NFL level, it might be worth at least investigating because if it works out, fundamentally, the coach is doing his job of putting the best players on the field. So in this particular case with Colledge and Bulaga, I’m all for trying Bulaga out at LG mostly because Daryn Colledge is not that good. Colledge isn’t terrible and he’s had some good games. But overall, he’s just not that good and replacing him might yield better overall productivity from our LG position. I’ve said this before about Colledge: he strikes me as one of those guys who doesn’t have that nasty streak you want your O-Linemen to have. (The tattoos are a farce, my guess is that they are of the stick-on variety…) Colledge just seems too comfortable with his station in life as an NFL player – earning a nice paycheck, having a nice life – he appears to me to lack that edge.  So again, because Bulaga by most accounts appears to be extra talented and the coach believes that he would be talented enough to be able to make a position switch at the NFL level, I’m all for trying it out at least. One very important part of any experiment like this, however, is that the coaches monitor the situation carefully and that they not be afraid to abandon the whole thing if it’s not working. It’s not good to have starting positions up for grabs right up to Week One. Try this for a few weeks to see how it works out and go from there.

What do you all think about this proposed move?