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Cory's Corner: Mike McCarthy should stop playing telephone

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Cory's Corner: Mike McCarthy should stop playing telephone

I imagine you’ve all played the age-old game of telephone. It’s where a message gets whispered to someone and by the time that message makes its way back to the original sender, it usually is drastically revised.

Has this season been a game of telephone for the Packers?

Tom Clements recently walked away as the associate head coach for offense. If Clements’ title sounds confusing, you’re not alone. He just wrapped up his 11th season with the Packers and second in that mystifying role.

Clements was given the play-calling duties to start the 2015 season. That’s when coach Mike McCarthy had more of a CEO role — trying to get his fingers into more aspects of the team. 

“It’s something I almost did back in 2012, but that’s when Joe [Philbin] left to coach the Dolphins,” McCarthy said in an interview with The MMQB. “I would have been comfortable doing it then. Now, with Tom and with Aaron [Rodgers] being so advanced in the system, it just makes sense. It’s time. I think it’s going to help us, and help them.”

Rodgers’ intricate development can be traced back to when Clements started out in Green Bay as a quarterbacks coach.

“You’ve seen it in the West Coast offenses over the years—Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren giving up play calling, Mike Sherman giving up play calling,” said Rodgers. “This is a natural progression I think, and for Mike [McCarthy], this is an opportunity to get closer to other areas of our team, defense and special teams, which he is more than capable of helping out with. I think it has helped the total football IQ on our team.”

IQ be damned because that lasted all of 12 games when McCarthy proudly snatched the laminated color-coated play chart back. McCarthy was even quoted as saying, “I’ll never do that again.”

I’m sure that made Clements feel all warm and snuggly inside, especially after he led the Packers to an 8-4 record in those 12 games.

Add in offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and you’ve got a disaster brewing. Clements likely had enough and just decided to leave. How many offensive minds do you really need along with McCarthy and Rodgers?

The Packers need to subscribe to the less is more theory. Just let McCarthy and the quarterbacks sit in a room and shape the offense for the upcoming week. Don’t let outside noise change or alter the message. If McCarthy wants the offensive reins, he needs to grab hold of them without pulling back.

There’s no need to have Bennett be the offensive coordinator. What exactly is he doing different and how is that being communicated to McCarthy and Rodgers?

When you play telephone, it’s amazing how far off the messages can be. With more sets of eyes, isn’t McCarthy just setting himself up for failure? There’s no way that McCarthy, Rodgers, Clements and Bennett all saw things the same way. And even so, McCarthy would obviously overrule anyway.

So stop playing telephone McCarthy. You and Rodgers are the strategists of the Packers offense. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Horse's picture

Almost spit my coffee. Is this a parody? If not,
Fan Blogger Overreach: Achieved.

marpag1's picture

Nah, it's just an article written in complete ignorance, which is something that happens with regularity in this little "Corner" of the internet. If anyone thinks that the word "ignorance" is overly harsh, please explain in detail how the specific duties were divided between each coach. Otherwise you are just saying, "I don't have the slightest freakin' clue how the coaching staff was organized, but gol' darn it, I'm sure it must be really, really bad... or at least that's what I'm claiming in my article." And that's ignorance.

The Packers are certainly not the only team to have an "associate" head coach. The Ravens and the Dolphins do, too. And then there are "assistant" head coaches at BUF, MIA, NYJ, CIN, PIT, HOU, IND, TEN, OAK, DAL, DET, ATL, CAR, NO, ARI, LAR and SEA.

Maybe I got one or two of these teams wrong. But anyone who has even the foggiest clue about NFL coaching staffs knows perfectly well that the majority of teams have a coach that is called either "associate head coach" or "assistant head coach."

Maybe someone on this board even knows that the Packers also had a second associate head coach (this one on defense), and that was Winston Moss.

**eye roll**

Since '61's picture

Clements should have taken Capers with him. Maybe that message got lost in the game of telephone!? Thanks, Since '61

Finwiz's picture

LOL - no kidding, why didn't they let Clements stay, and tell Capers to walk? Maybe I'm missing something, but didn't the offense play rather well in the last 10 games? I certainly have no complaints about the offense whatsoever. You can win championships with that offense. The defense.....arrghhh...why waste my F'n time, it's such a joke. It's a total waste of the finger energy to type these posts, all we're doing is venting, nothing is gonna change because of what I write on here.

Since '61's picture

Fin it's true our comments won't result in any changes. However, for a long distance fan like myself it's great to have the opportunity to share my thoughts, concerns, celebrations and frustrations with other Packer fans. Here in the NYC area I have always been surrounded by Jets, Giants and Eagles fans mostly and of course the various waves of Cowboy, Steeler, 49er and Patriot fans. I've met a number of local Packer fans over the years but we're a definite minority around here. In any case it's good to have a venue that provides access to Packer fans from all over the U.S. and even around the globe. Jersey Al and his team have done a great job for us. Thanks, Since '61

ironman3169's picture

Holy cow! It's cool to know there's other fans in the NYC area.

Tundraboy's picture

We are everywhere!!!

Nick Perry's picture

That's right, we're coast to coast!

PETER MAIZ's picture

Mr. McCarthy is the head coach and is ultimately responsible for the defense, or lack thereof and special teams. It has to be a win-win situation on all aspects of the team.
"In Ted, we trust" and his famous "draft and develop" has led the Packers on a downhill spiral on defense to the point that defending the pass was rated next to last in the NFL. McCarthy knew this well but neither Thompson or McCarthy accommodated Dom with more speed and more talent. One assumes that FAS would have given the Packers a fighting chance. It seemed that every week, almost, the Packers were giving up over 30 points per game and with some teams that grandma wasn't even willing to write home about.
So the real problem is Thompson's philosophy and some ghastly draft choices that were coming out of left feel. Remember Khyri Thompson and Carl Bradford? Or Demetri Goodson, for that matter. Although Randall and Rollings were injured this year and may, therefore, make the third year jump, there is no guarantee. And Shields will never see the field again, for his own good. So" nothing doing" on defense will not improve anything. We will eventually see if the Packers are again in the last places defending the pass. If so, the team won"t run the table or any table.

Horse's picture

Yeah, but there was a lot of "perfect storm" bad luck too. If Shields hadn't missed 15.5 games, who knows. Neither Randall nor Rollins were ready to be a #1 CB (not surprising) and their injuries made it worse.

dobber's picture

Very true. At the START of the season, they felt that they'd made some changes to help the pass rush...moving CMIII back outside on a permanent basis, Jones to elephant, Perry on a one-year deal, drafting Fackrell for depth and as a future contributor. In August, CB was arguably so deep that the discussion was about how many of those guys they could afford to keep. That was AUGUST, well after the time when the kinds of changes in personnel people are harping on are long past.

RobinsonDavis's picture

In total agreement dobber. What also is true, and that I wrote about earlier, is that despite all the DBs in-house, at the trading deadline (after the Falcon - October game) the Packer's were confronted with the following: Rollins, Randall, and Shields ALL out, Goodson with a concussion, and Gunter mending a shoulder. I have to really wonder why Ted did not pull the trigger when the Brown's (reportedly were willing to trade Joe Hayden and Tramon Williams - who know's for how much though?) and others had DBs they were willing to part with. Right now, some are saying a good CB will cost $10-15 million per year, and in retrospect, resigning Hayward, who signed for $5 mil/year, or trading for another looks more prudent.

The October Falcon game began the losing streak confounded by a defense that could not stop the pass that was exposed on WEEK 2! This game was also the beginning of the re-invigorated offense. Regardless of the retrospective view, how many GMs would witness nearly their entire CB personnel inactive or injured and struggling previous to this, and not do anything! We had Hyde, and I believe Hawkins, a bevy of safeties (some also not 100%), and still had options via the trade wire and cap, yet did nothing. I like TTs build through the draft philosophy, but his stubborness baffles me sometimes. This is what frustrates me.

Finwiz's picture

The problem with that logic is, there's significant injuries every single year, so the backups have to be ready to play. Shields was good for 3-4 missed games every year anyways, so this year he missed 15. It's par for the course.

Horse's picture

3 or 4 is not 15.

Packer_Pete's picture

I've really never understood Clements' role. Neither do I understand Edgar Bennett's role. He was an awesome WR coach, but I am not sure he can take the next step. But what do I know? All I know is Clements has interviewed with quite a few teams in the past and nobody really hired him. So I am not sure what his next opportunities will be.

McCarthy is good enough as offensive mastermind. I'm glad there is one less cook in the kitchen now.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Exactly. The message has less distractions and therefore will ultimately reach its receiver in its original form.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

If you study Complexity Theory you know communication overhead scales exponentially. If you don't you just say, "too many cooks in the pot".

marpag1's picture

Too many cooks in the pot? We eatin' the cooks now??

Slim11's picture

I think it is "too many cooks in the kitchen" along with "too many chiefs and not enough Indians."

I always questioned Clements' first promotion to OC several seasons back. He was a decent QB coach. He was an OC with Buffalo before coming to GB. He was not very good in Buffalo as an OC.

Then, he was "promoted" to OC/associate HC-offense. With Bennett as OC, I questioned whether Bennett felt snubbed or if MM didn't trust Bennett. Now, I believe we're about to find out.

Another poster on this thread mentioned multiple teams with assistant or associate HCs. This is true. Designating an assistant HC is not bad. This identifies whom the HC will be if the actual HC is unavailable for any reason. I'm not certain multiple assistant/associate HCs are necessary.

Tarynfor12's picture

I cannot help but feel this article is dead on arrival since McCarthy took the reins back last season. This is why imo, only Rodgers is discussing game plays/ plan with McCarthy and why Clements left and Bennett is simply a holder of a job title only via a respect for him until Thompson retires.
The only telephone game that needs mention is the one that starts with.. " Get me some damn defensive talent and remove all brittle before arrival."!

zoellner25's picture

Some blogs on this site have gotten ridiculous, come on Corey. Just because a guy isn't the play caller doesn't mean he does nothing. You don't think Clements or Edgar help scout defenses and prepare game plans and work with the offense all the time? Clements is 63, maybe he's just tired. Write better content

RobinsonDavis's picture

Although, I agree with your comment Zoellner, and likewise think Cory went over the top, I do not disagree with Cory's premise that the offense eventually changed for the better when McCarthy took back over the reigns. You saw increased productiveness and innovation return to the Packers offense. Rodgers, likewise, surged when he and MM got serious. and started to "walk the talk" of the press conferences.

Rossonero's picture

While I don't know what went on behind closed doors with Clements and his role, what we DO know now is that the Packers felt he wasn't adding enough value to justify keeping him.

More cooks in the kitchen, too many layers, however you want to say it, he wasn't worth keeping to them.

It would be reckless and irresponsible of Ted Thompson to naively think this team is so close to a SB with a defense like this.

We still will have to beat Dallas, Atlanta, the Giants, Cardinals, Seattle, etc. who have better defenses than we do.

Rodgers already said he wants to play til he's 40, but the difference between him and Tom Brady is that Brady has a championship defense.

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