Archive for the ‘McCarthy’ Category

A subtle factor in the Favre divorce?

August 31, 2009

Here is a question: what role did Aaron Rodgers’ high football IQ play in the Brett Favre divorce process? At one point I believe in 2007, McCarthy said that the offense under Favre had only learned 1/4 of his total playbook. McCarthy didn’t say this as a crack on Favre – more as a matter of fact. Was Favre reluctant to learn the other 3/4 of the playbook? It’s well documented that Favre has a narrowed preference for all things West Coast and that learning new plays especially later in his career was not something he was much interested in. Did MM ever feel like the true potential of his offensive ideas could only be realized with a potentially more cerebral (or at least more willing-to-learn) QB like Rodgers? Again, I’m not saying Favre is dumb, I don’t think he is, and I know there were lots of other factors in the divorce – but I wonder if this was even a small part of the discussion.

This year, my guess is that we’ll see Rodgers run a huge variety of plays – leaving defenses often guessing and fans once again praising McCarthy’s creativity. While there were times last year when the playcalling was poor/predictable, that seemed to me to be toward the beginning of the year when I think MM was trying to make it easy for Rodgers. But starting with the last 4-5 games of last year through this preseason especially, it seems Rodgers has grown more comfortable calling a greater variety of plays. Perhaps he’s now tapped into the other 3/4 of MM’s ideas.

Your thoughts?


Rodgers calling plays?

May 20, 2009

This morning on 620 WTMJ radio, I heard an interesting quote from Aaron Rodgers. He was talking about how close he and Mike McCarthy are and how he feels confident that McCarthy has lots of confidence in him. Rodgers said something to the effect of “he trusts me to call the plays…”

While this may not be a big deal really, and it may in fact be a simple reference to him being granted the ability to audible when he sees fit – it make me wonder if Rodgers may have more of a role in play-calling than Favre ever seemed to. I wouldn’t be surprised because I think Rodgers has a very good understanding of the offense, the coaches clearly have lots of confidence in him andĀ  he is very bright and quick to diagnose. I wonder if Rodgers may get to a point with McCarthy like Peyton Manning in Indy: where he knows the offensive system so well he’ll be able to call most plays. Anyway, I just thought this was an interesting comment for a 1-year starter to make when his predecessor, outside of an occasional audible or freak play, seemed to take most offensive play-calling direction from the sidelines.

McCarthy facing must-win season

February 5, 2009

We have written on a few occasions about how this season will be a critical one for the future of the franchise, particularly for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. If it’s bad, TT and MM may both be ushered out. If it’s OK (.500ish), my guess is that they’ll be given one more year to improve the team. If it’s good, they may end up being safe through the respective ends of their contracts.

Rob Reischel, a writer I must admit I’m not too familiar with, wrote a thoughtful piece this morning over at jsonline. Read here. His contention is similar to ours’ – that MM in particular needs to put together a decent season or he could lose his job.

For what it’s worth, I want to clarify my present position on Mike McCarthy. I know we were critical of him last year and I stand by that criticism. He made poor decisions at some crucial moments and his play-calling didn’t flow well too often. And, our team finished a disappointing 6-10 – which was due to some seriously poor play by some of our players, but also coaching. I like that MM took ownership of this – the first step to improving oneself of course, is admitting the problem (actually, that’s not really true – the first step is creating a problem in the first place, then you can admit it…)

But I still think he’s a good coach. I think this year, we’ll be reminded quickly that our coach does indeed have a gifted offensive mind. I have a hunch that because McCarthy has put the defense in the hands of someone he has more faith in, he’ll be able to focus more on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pack’s offense ends up a top 5 offense this coming year (don’t want to reveal too much this early, but for some reason, I’m quite optimistic about this coming season). Anyway, I just wanted to make sure readers knew that I do support McCarthy and thinks he’s a good coach. Of course, if we’re 2-14 next year, I reserve the right to modify my opinion!

Ditch mediocrity by switching to a 3-4 defense

January 9, 2009

One common argument I have heard against moving to a 3-4 defense is that we presently don’t have the personnel for it. I have three thoughts on this: 1) we obviously don’t have the personnel for a 4-3 either; 2) don’t we have to make serious personnel changes anyway?; and 3) why are we clinging to a style of defense that has yielded mediocre results at best for years? Would it hurt to try something new like a 3-4? The only time I remember the Packers D being good in the last few decades was during the mid 90s with Reggie and company. Well, boredom carried me to ridiculous levels just now because I decided to see how the Packers have finished in the main defensive category of yards per game over the course of the last 12 years or so. (I didn’t go back further in part because this took too long and also because our defenses just sucked before that.)

  • 2008 = #20 overall, #26 rush, #12 pass
  • 2007 = #11 overall, #14 rush, #12 pass
  • 2006 = #12 overall, #13 rush, #17 pass
  • 2005 = #7 overall, #23 rush, #1 pass
  • 2004 = #25 overall, #14 rush, #25 pass
  • 2003 = #17 overall, #10 rush, #23 pass
  • 2002 = #12 overall, #21 rush, #3 pass
  • 2001 = #12 overall, #16 rush, #15 pass
  • 2000 = #15 overall, #8 rush, #19 pass
  • 1999 = #19 overall, #22 rush, #18 pass
  • 1998 = #4 overall, #4 rush, #10 pass
  • 1997 = #7 overall, #20 rush, #8 pass
  • 1996 = #1 overall, #4 rush, #1 pass

Sure there were a couple decent seasons from the pass D, but overall, the defense has been consistently mediocre. Only 2 times in the last 12 years have the Packers had a defense finish in the top 5 overall in yards per game allowed, 1996 and 1998. Of course, LeRoy Butler recently shared with the 1250 WSSP listening audience that during thoseĀ  years it was common for the defense to shift from their 4-3 base to a 3-4 set. On the show, LeRoy talked about how effective their use of the 3-4 was back then and how in general, a 3-4 defense gives a team a greater variety of looks/options with regard to blitzing, coverage and gap fills (if you will, I made that expression up…I have to admit, I did consider not admitting I made this expression up so I could mislead you all into believing I’m down with modern defensive lingo – but I’m not down with any defensive lingo so I decided to come clean).

Anyway, my point is this: why not just give it a try? Whether it’s Mike Nolan or Keith Butler or Andy Hayes. Just give it a try.

(Note: as I sifted through the defensive stats of the last 12 years, it wasn’t surprising to me to see Pittsburgh up near the top almost every year in every defensive category. By now, you all know of my developing man-crush on Pittsburgh’s D Coordinator Dick LeBeau – he’s a genius. Oh, and he has used a 3-4 for years.)

Packergeek applying for defensive coordinator position

January 5, 2009

Mike – Teddy – Marcus:

My name is Andy Hayes and I am writing to apply for the Defensive Coordinator position. I have never coached football and I have virtually no contacts in the sport of football at any level, much less the NFL. In my personal history of playing sports, I have never played a defensive position, and if the opportunity to play defense ever presented itself in a game situation, I demonstrated an alarming lack of defensive instinct. I am relatively weak physically, have a growing gut and due perhaps to excessive Pabst consumption, have some trouble processing thoughts quickly and/or remembering most things. I do speak Spanish.

Once you choose me as your defensive coordinator, the first thing I will do is cut Brady Poppinga (though Ted, Mark Murphy, I would be OK if you guys wanted to offer him a non-severance/severance package including a salaried position as a PR rep for the organizationgoing forward if that made you feel more comfortable). Then, I would put huge pressure on you Tedster, to sign UFAs OJ Atogwe, Terrell Suggs, James Farrior, Albert Haynesworth, Nnandi Asomugha, Julius Peppers and for field position purposes…Shane Lechler. Once we had those guys in the fold, I would spend most of my time in the booth upstairs sitting in an obnoxiously large leather recliner, drinking free beer, eating free sausages, socializing, talking about non-football things like the weather in Puerto Vallarta or my new roof rake and occasionally checking out the field to catch one of the 4 interceptions or 8 sacks my defense would average per game.

In short, if you want a dominant, creative, unpredictable defense, hire me. If you want a mediocre, offer-false-hope-because-of-two-good-games-only-to-be-followed-by-many-horrible-games kind of defense, hire one of the many re-treads you are rumored to be considering. (Though if you do hire Keith Butler or anyone who has ever seen Dick LeBeau live for that matter, I would be very understanding).

I would expect a salary of $1.4 million per year, with a bunch of performance clauses thrown in there. My contract should also include a membership to all golf courses in Wisconsin and a helicopter to take me to Door County whenever I deem it necessary.

Call anytime…Packergeek

Over-emphasis on versatility?

December 30, 2008

Throughout the 2008 season, I heard Mike McCarthy laud the versatility of his players on many occasions – especially those guys on the O-Line. I can see the value, to some extent, of players being versatile and filling other roles when needed – especially because of injuries. But as this season played out, I really began to wonder if there may be too much emphasis on versatility – to the point where the over-emphasis damaged our team.

  • The O-Line: over and over we’ve heard about how many of our O-Line guys were rotated in at different positions. I understand that injuries took their toll on the line and some of this was done out of desperation. And, I recognize that in some instances, poor play by certain players (like Moll) required certain changes. But I believe that basically, it makes the most sense to have back-ups for each position and insert them as needed instead of rotating everyone around. Colledge talked about this in an interview the other day – not blaming anyone really, but just saying that when you practice all week (or all season) at one position but then need to shift to another, the transition can be difficult.
  • Linebacker: To me, it would have made the most sense to insert Desmond Bishop, THE back-up middle linebacker, into the line-up when Barnett went down. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Hawk did not flourish at MLB like the team assumed he would. It is another example of needlessly imposing versatility when we had a seemingly competent back-up for that position who had practiced all year as the back-up for that position.
  • Safety: Charles Woodson is very talented. I am not entirely sure transitioning him to safety someday is a bad idea. He could probably learn that position well. However, the experiment with him at safety this year didn’t work out too well and again, I wonder if going with the true back-up safeties would have been smarter. I know Rouse/Bigby/Peprah have all been injured here and there but I don’t think all at the same time (could be wrong there). But especially after Woodson’s first game at safety didn’t go well (I believe the New Orleans game), I would have quickly gone to someone who is designated as a back-up safety.

Bears Game – Thoughts

December 23, 2008
  • Just once, I would like to see MM gather his special teamers or his defense before a critical play in the game and give them a talk or at the very least, remind them of the importance of what’s going on. Maybe he did that – I don’t know I wasn’t at the game – but I doubt it because I haven’t seen him address the defense as a whole or the offense as a whole or ST as a whole. He’s the coach – he needs to step in sometimes and help re-focus his players – especially the special teamers who by the end of the game, had clearly lost focus. Other coaches would have done that. Some might say that’s not MM’s style, but you know what…then he needs to adopt that style. As a coach you need to be very involved IN THE MOMENT. I have a post coming on this very topic. I don’t question MM’s dedication to the team etc or his will to win. He is a likable guy whom I know doesn’t sleep after losses like this. He cares, I know he does. But what I do question this year is his ability to be IN THE MOMENT with the team. His critical decision-making and sense for the game is not like it was last year – when I thought it was quite good. By the way, I have always questioned Lovie Smith’s ability to be IN THE MOMENT. That guy seems to have no clue and he never says anything to anyone on his headset. Sorry, but sometimes he looks high or something.
  • This is the 3rd or 4th game I remember seeing Mason Crosby kick that go nowhere kick. You know what I mean. The 38 yarder to win the game was low and plenty bad, yes. But his first miss was even worse – and we’ve seen him do that several times now in bad weather. Kicking a field goal in weather like that does take extra concentration and kicking field goals is not an easy thing to do in the first place. But for professional kickers who do it every day – kicking a 38 yarder when there is no precipitation or major wind, shouldn’t be that difficult even if it’s 0 degrees. Mason Crosby owns a lot of this loss because the team actually put him in a great position to win the game. I suppose the ST’s O-Line also owns some of it for allowing Alex Brown penetration – though the kick still should have been higher than it was at that point in trajectory.
  • When the Packers had the ball at the Bears’ 3 yard-line and we called 3 pass plays, I really wondered. Grant had begun to create some running room for himself just prior to that and the Bears D seemed to be a bit tired. Now, I can’t fault MM necessarily for calling 2 of the pass plays because we’d lost 5 yards on the first pass play. But my point is that down by the goal line, he seems to get it in his head that we either need to pass all 3 downs or run all 3 downs. Of course, neither answer is correct – a good play mix is what is needed.
  • I disagreed with the announcers when they kept saying “Rodgers and the offense are fine”, it’s just defense and special teams. While I agreed that over the season we’ve had an unreliable D and ST, I don’t think our offense is fine. I would love to see a stat on how many run plays we ran that gained us 2 yards or less. I would bet nearly 75% of our plays had that result. What I really don’t like is that we have “obvious run plays”. Sort of like Sherman’s U-71 package with Kevin Barry – everyone knew it was coming…of course the difference is that back then we had such a good o-line we’d still get yards on it. We start with the obvious run offensive set: there is always a FB, maybe a TE shifting around seemingly cluelessly in the backfield (last night anyway), 1 or 2 WRs and Grant. I think MM might say when he calls in the play. “Ok Aaron, we’re going to run an “obvious run play” to Clifton’s side”. I think what happens is that the defense simply sees the grouping on the field for the Pack, stacks the box, sees the line go one way, sees Rodgers hand-off obviously in one direction – all leading to another no-gainer. I can hear those who don’t like people criticizing play-calling saying: what would you propose? How about giving the ball to Grant on less obvious run plays – LIKE THE FREAKIN’ SCREEN PLAY FOR THE TD!!! I just don’t understand why they didn’t try a few more screens last night. Or calling running plays with a 3-4 WR set. The one screen they did run worked beautifully in part because they had either a 3 or 4 WR set (not sure), and it looked very much like the Pack was calling their “obvious pass play”. We fooled them badly – that was a great play call by MM. Or how about misdirection plays where everyone goes one way and Rodgers runs a naked bootleg keeper himself the other – or throws a screen to Grant running the opposite way of the blocking or just having Grant run opposite the blocking direction. Last year I thought MM was really good at that – at crossing defenses and making them have to guess re what’s coming next. This year, it seems so predictable. So in long, the offense too owns some of the responsibility for all of this.
  • When I really got to thinking about the above point, it made me realize one thing: Aaron Rodgers has had a hell of season. Not just a good season/good for him kind of thing. He’s had a hell of a season. To operate as he has in what has been a fairly predictable offense with a weakish run game and a shoddy O-Line, is a credit to his accuracy and his quick thinking that leads him to take whatever he’s given by the defense. The only thing I’d have him work on is the hand-off. Just making a bit more subtle and less obvious – again, of all people to consider for an example, Seneca Wallace is quite good at disguising the direction of the play because of his hand-off style.
  • Did anyone hear Poppinga’s name all night? Why is he on the field? I’ll tell you why. He is very popular in the locker room and in Green Bay. He’s funny, very bright and people really like the guy. I even like the guy. But that won’t interfere with my ability to see that he does nothing. It’s really weird that nobody in the organization has the sense to fairly rate him on his play and not on whether they like him or not. He is so absent on the field it is absolutely unreal. Bishop was on the field for some ST plays and in his 45 seconds of total play, he managed to make a phenomenal tackle on Hester – preventing a big gainer (while being held by someone no less). There is a stubbornness among coaches/staff that is really starting to concern me and remind me of Mike Sherman.
  • Hawk is really…slow.
  • Chillar may not be too bad. He made a few mistakes last night, but I am getting more of the sense that if he were playing next to competent LBs, he might be pretty good.
  • Our defense last night did play with some abandon. The D-Line woke up (and again switching Kampman around made a big difference). Montgomery, Pickett, Jolly, Kampman – all of those guys played quite well. Our secondary was mostly solid (though we probably could have had 3-4 more picks) and the LB play while weak, wasn’t killing us.
  • One interesting thing about Aaron Rouse is that coming into the NFL, the knock on him was that he tended to be inconsistent w/re to being the physical presence many think he should be (at 6’4″ and a good number of pounds). Last night, he looked physical and played pretty well – but he’s had other games this year where he’s been tentative and and not as involved as I think he should have been. Maybe with time, he can perform more like he did last night (outside of the boneheaded ST play he made that essentially gift-wrapped the game for the Bears).
  • We should have won that game. We totally outplayed the Bears and it didn’t help that they were gifted that TD by being arbitrarily given that first down (and we didn’t challenge it of course either). The Bears last night proved to me to be a really bad team. How the Bears are 9-6 I’ll never understand – they looked more like a 4-11 team than a 9-6 team.

Game Keys – Chicago

December 22, 2008
  • Big game for Tony Moll (assuming he’ll take over for Tauscher at right tackle). He needs to do a bang-up job in these last two games if he wants a shot at playing much next year.
  • Our O-Line as a whole must open up more holes than they have all year to win tonight and that could be a tall order. I expect Grant to be fired up and running hard. As always he owns some of the responsibility for hitting the holes when they’re there. But I’ll say it again – I keep watching other teams and their O-Lines and am struck by how many chances other RBs have to run through big holes. Grant rarely has the chance though it does seem whenever he has even a tiny hole, he doesn’t do his part to hit it. Even if the line can open up 2-3 lines in the whole game, that just might spring the big gainer that has been sorely missing from Grant all year.
  • Grant Grant Grant. Throw him screens, let him throw the ball, let him run – whatever it takes, involve him and make sure the Bears can’t just drop back into easy pass coverage.
  • Turnovers. Has anyone else noticed the sharp decline in forced turnovers during this losing streak? At one point, between picks and fumbles etc, we were one of the better teams in the league. Now we totally suck at it. Orton is the kind of guy who struggles once he makes a mistake. Make him fumble, pick it off. Also, punch at the ball when Forte is carrying it. It will be freezing cold and he’ll be thinking just a bit about his toe – just punch at it. I don’t care if our defense gives up an extra 10 yards on a run as long as we’re punching at the ball. If we don’t force a turnover tonight, I don’t see how we can win unless Rodgers throws for 400 or Grant runs for 200.
  • Do something in the first 5 minutes to shut up annoying Bears’ fans. They are going to be pumped because they have an outside shot at the playoffs (though I don’t see MN losing to the NYG’s 3rd stringers next week). But these are annoying fans as we all know, so it’s best to just silence them with greatness immediately.
  • Block a punt. Not sure when the last time the Packers blocked a punt was but I’m guessing it was probably leRoy Butler or someone like that. We never put pressure on the punter so punters probably love punting against us.
  • Let Jennings or someone else pass the ball. If we were all back in grade school, we’d say “Aaron, you’re hogging it – let someone else throw it for once”. Run the Wildcat maybe – anything to just mix it up. (As ridiculous as this may sound, I have a feeling McCarthy has a trick play up his sleeve tonight – and for some reason, I can see Jennings throwing a pass on a reverse of some kind. If this happens, it will be similar to my friend predicting a triple play once at a Brewer game – it happened on the very next play and goes down for me as one of the greatest sports predictions ever.
  • McCarthy needs to quickly re-examine his own approach to these final 2 games. He said something the other day like “this won’t be a tryout for anyone – we’re playing to win these games”. This strongly implies that he plans to stick with the starting units that have been playing like crap for weeks now. He needs to think about getting other players in there because there is no substitute for live game action – it is the best time to evaluate what a player may be able to bring. You’re out of playoff contention and we have some players who need serious observation before the off-season so we can evaluate what our needs are. Don’t try to lose obviously and fine, stick with a general game plan. But mix in some guys who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance like Josh Sitton, Bishop and Lansanah, Wynn – throw it to Humphrey more, try Will Blackmon at safety? let Kampman or Jeremy Thompson play off the line/in space like Wash did so effectively yesterday with Jason Taylor…anything…

Better news – congrats papa McCarthy

October 22, 2008

From Silvertstein at jsonline.:

It’s a girl

By Tom Silverstein
Wednesday, Oct 22 2008, 11:45 AM

Green Bay — Packers coach Mike McCarthy and his wife, Jessica, welcomed a new addition to the family Wednesday morning.

According to the Packers, Jessica McCarthy gave birth to Gabrielle Kathleen this morning. Mother and daughter are resting at a Green Bay hospital.

McCarthy said on Monday that the birth could happen this week and joked that he had gas in the car and a bag packed in case the time came.

Boss just told me to watch my pad level

August 25, 2008

Is it me or is everything under the McCarthy regime about pad level? Between “pad level” and “football” I’m not sure McCarthy says much else. I am imagining myself in the locker room after a typical practice:

“Team, when you play football, you must maintain a good pad level. Pad level is everything in the game of football. When I take the football and hand it off to the football player who plays the running back position, it is crucial that he maintain the proper pad level. Good pad level helps you maintain proper balance on the football field, during fall football season playing in the National Football League. I love football and pad level.”