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A Plus For Packers Mike McCarthy

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A Plus For Packers Mike McCarthy

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is much like any other head coach in the league when it comes to dealing with the media. He has a slew of stock answers and uses a few key phrases on a regular basis.

This season, he has added the notion that every injury can be described as a “bruise,” but throughout his tenure he has regularly responded to questions and criticisms with variations of his team or players having “plusses” or “minuses” on specific plays or games.

When asked about penalties, McCarthy commonly responds that his team will have to “clean some things up,” and halfway through the 2011 season, the head coach seems to have put his key phrase into action. Through seven games, the Packers have had the fewest penalties of any other team in the NFC North:

Team Penalties Accepted Yards Lost
Detroit Lions 58 485
Minnesota Vikings 52 433
Chicago Bears 53 391
Green Bay Packers 38 282

...

Both the Packers and Bears enjoyed a bye in week 8 as the Lions and Vikings each added 4 more penalties to their totals. One might assume the Lions young, undisciplined roster is the reason for their division leading number of penalties, but that is simply not true. In fact, at the start of the season, the Lions were the fourth oldest team in the league whereas the Packers were the second youngest. The only reasonable conclusion is the coaching staff.

And Mike McCarthy expects perfection on every play. This idea is well exemplified through his grading system of plusses and minuses.

"We have a different grading system obviously than the people outside of our meeting room," McCarthy said. "It's based on the performance of every individual. Based on the level and the standard that we can play this game, we're playing above average right now. And I think that's very exciting because we feel strongly as a football team our best football is in front of us. It's clearly evident when we go through the grades and corrections."

McCarthy and his coaches grade every player on every play, and even if a player scores a touchdown, pulls down an interception, or sacks the quarterback, he can still be given a negative mark for form or execution.

I suppose to be the best, you have to expect the best. And the Packers players have met Mike McCarthy’s expectations so far this year.

In other words, I think it’s safe to say that McCarthy has “cleaned some things up” this season.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

I think one big thing with penalties is comfort with scheme. Players know exactly what each play is and they know Rodgers' cadence.

And on defense, they'll still play aggressive, but they know that, most of the time, they don't have to tackle a guy by the facemask or hold a receiver, if they get beat the other guys will make the play.

MarkinMadison's picture

Nice to see things getting cleaned up. This was one of my beefs with MM last year. I thought that maybe it was indicative of lax discipline, but I'll defer to your comment on comfort with scheme.

On an unrelated note, remember how many of us were drooling over the idea of adding Larry English via the draft a couple of years ago? Yeah. GBPG says that he just went on injured reserve, and is looking like a bust.

PackersRS's picture

I've thought and said plenty of times that it was MM's fault for the penalties, and that it was because of discipline. But logic must prevail.

Same system, with big progression over time? It musn't be the system that was causing the problem...

Of course, there's the possibility that, for that time, for those players, the system was wrong. That it's working better now because it's the right situation.

But when every other aspect of the franchise has really progressed with this system, I tend to believe it was something else... What I said is just fact based guesswork, though.

Bohj's picture

Most football teams grade out their players performance for every snap. That's what coaches use to review the next day to improve performance of individual players. They usually get a -3 to +3 depending on whether they were assignment sound or technique sound. The sum of their individual grades for the entire game yields a final grade for the game. When McCarthy says things like Matthews graded out very well for the game, he means to say that he had a high (+) number. Most of his plays, his assignments were carried out. Hitting, hurrying or sacking the QB yields a +2 or +3 etc... Personnel Units get a total grade also. You can imagine what failed blocks, penalties, or straight up missed assignments would yield. This is not unique to the Packers. However, the Packers are playing very assignment sound football, which is a testament to our coaching staff teaching better technique. With McCarthy's attention to detail and fundamentals, our true advantage is probably how we use our grading system for individual motivation. The beauty of it is, is they still have a huge upside. The D has not been satisfied with some of their grades as of late. Bishop's latest interview proves this.

PackersRS's picture

Bishop has mentioned on twitter, in a series of posts (twits, whatever), about his desire to achieve true greatness. He said he was watching old superbowls, and kept noticing some players he had never heard about, that then he searched them on wikipedia. He thought about how he wanted his name to be remembered, to leave a mark in this game, and demonstraded appreciation for how those guys played in their time.

That struck me as a driven guy. He isn't very fast or strong, but he's very instinctual and sound fundamentally, and with that kind of determination and work ethic, he could be a real Packer great.

Jersey Al's picture

Sounds like the old Lombardi approach to grading. You could score a TD, but if you ran through the wrong hole are ran a sloppy pass pattern, you got a negative. Strive for perfection...

Bohj's picture

I've been an avid Michigan fan forever and read MGOBLOG as religiously as I read this site and few others. MGOBLOG is by far the best breakdown of ones team one could ever want and then some. They go as far as to grade each player on every snap and tally their scores for every game. Really puts in perspective who is grading out well on a consistent basis. When people gripe about certain players on our squad, they should really break it down with grades and film. ie.... sacks equals matthews production....i think not. More like..... check out Walden and Wynn's grades for the game. If Nagler ever gets bored enough this could be the next step in the evolution of football blogging.

packeraaron's picture

If I wasn't married with three kids and working a full time day job - this is exactly the type of thing I'd love to be doing... (sigh)

Greg C.'s picture

It's a good trend, but on the other hand, I'm not sure if there's a strong relationship between winning and having fewer penalties. I seem to recall some pretty good teams getting penalized a lot.

I don't necessarily attribute penalties to a lack of discipline. I think penalties usually happen when players are losing their matchups. They start pressing, trying to make up for the deficit, and that's when they commit penalties. But usually when players are losing their matchups, they don't get penalized, they just get beaten. So penalties are just a small part of a big picture, the way I see it.

Still, I'm not going to complain about the Packers committing fewer. It seemed like last year the DBs cut down on the pass interference and defensive holding penalties, which was a big help, because those are automatic first downs. They tend to occur a lot on third downs, when defenders are pressing hard, trying to make a big stop.

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