Obviously nobody was giving Mike McCarthy any credit when the Packers were stuck in idle with a 4-6 record.
But now that the Packers are rolling after five straight wins, it’s time to give the Packers head coach some credit. This may be hard for some in the #FireMcCarthy crowd, but it’s true.
The warts are all over the schedule. Stefon Diggs didn’t just torch the Packers in Week 2, he had a career-high in receiving by a cool 53 yards. A 99-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff by the Colts set the tone for a bad performance in Week 9. The following week, the Packers were just 4-for-15 on third down in a 22-point loss to the Titans.
After all that, it would be easy for any team to pack it in and think about next year.
But McCarthy made changes. He sprinkled in more of the short passing game that has been a steady diet of past success. And the person that benefitted the most from this was Jordy Nelson, who has thrived by getting an increased role from the slot.
Another change was no longer teasing defenses with Ty Montgomery and making him the featured back. He’s the best running back on the team right now and McCarthy knew that in order to secure late-season wins, he needs a big back that he trusts to salt the game away. Enter Montgomery, No. 88 and all.
And finally, ever since Sam Shields went down with what appears to be a Packers career ender in Week 1, Damarious Randall assumed the No. 1 cover corner role. Randall has had his moments this season as he has tried to get up to speed on the fly. However, the second-year pro looked overmatched and confused at Chicago in Week 15. It’s not popular to bench first round picks, but Randall looked dreadful in allowing the Bears to have a heartbeat from a 17-point deficit. And McCarthy was consistent by starting Quinten Rollins over Randall vs. Minnesota on Saturday.
There were many people saying that McCarthy should’ve been on the hot seat or fired because the Packers looked unprepared and lost. But we all know that McCarthy would be available for about 15 minutes before getting a phone call to be another head coach.
Can he be conservative at times? Sure. But on Saturday he went for the throat. He had Rodgers come out throwing it all over the place and he never let off the gas.
If McCarthy ever lost the locker room back in November, he’s got it back now. Even Clay Matthews, who has looked invisible at times this year, was his vintage self by getting in the backfield and disrupting the Bears’ offense.
Even though the Cowboys have the shiny No. 1 seed and just dropped 42 points on an unassuming Detroit team, the Packers have the best offense in the NFC right now. You can tell me all about Dallas’ offensive line, but the Cowboys are leaning heavily on two rookies that are unproven when the calendar turns to January.
You can choose to dislike McCarthy all you want. Just remember, if he didn’t change things up, the Packers would likely be missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Instead, Green Bay has a great chance to host a playoff game.
Who thought that was possible a month ago?
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