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McCarthy Has A Choice To Make

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McCarthy Has A Choice To Make

The Redskins played just as expected on defense yesterday, going to a two deep shell almost exclusively against the Packers offense and their pass-happy coach Mike McCarthy. You can expect to see more and more of that as the year goes on until McCarthy and, perhaps, quarterback Aaron Rodgers stop being stubborn to the point where it hurts their team.

I had zero problem with McCarthy and Rodgers spreading the Bears out two weeks ago, throwing the ball all over the yard and completely abandoning the running game for two reasons: The passing was working and the running was not.

But yesterday, with a dysfunctional passing game staring him in the face and Brandon Jackson picking up solid yardage almost every time he touched the ball, McCarthy and Rodgers refused to change gears and start mixing in more called running plays. Again and again, the Packers came out in three and four wide receiver sets and kept going three and out. Drive after drive resulted in no points and limited production - yet they kept going to the same type of plays, again and again and again.

To quote McCarthy after the game:

We missed way too many opportunities on offense particularly in the passing game. Brandon Jackson, for the opportunities he had, he did a good job running the football, but we were not very good in the passing game today.

So by all means Mike, keep passing the ball.

Look, I am on record saying this team can win without a running game. That Rodgers is good enough to win passing to his receivers out of their spread formations. And I still believe that.

But I'm also realistic enough to recognize what is and isn't working. Brandon Jackson, for all his faults, was making hay against the Redskins yesterday, especially on the sprint draw out of the shotgun. But rather than feed the hot hand, McCarthy and Rodgers insisted on trotting out their passing attack, drive after drive, regardless of whether it was working or not.

You can be sure that teams will continue to sit back with two safeties deep, taking away Greg Jennings' best routes in the process, forcing the Packers to play mistake-free football in the passing game for 10+ plays. The two times the Packers have been forced to do so, they have not been up to the challenge. Self inflicted wounds are killing this team in the passing game, be it false starts, blown protections or dropped passes. Something is always wrong in the execution and that - more than any injury or defense, is what is beating the Packers right now.

How can McCarthy get those safeties to walk down? Run the football. If his passing game is shooting itself in the foot the way it was yesterday and he's got a back making positive yardage the way Jackson was yesterday - run the damn football. Get the safeties down and then go to town with a shot to Jennings. Sometimes, this isn't rocket science (though coaches would have you think so) and sometimes, just sometimes, football 101 is exactly what the doctor ordered. And the Packers could have used a large dose of it during yesterday's game.

After the Lions game, McCarthy (jokingly?) said that his offense could play "tripleheaders", a nod to his voluminous playbook. It sure would seem a good time to dust off a few unused chapters - because right now this offense is as staid and as predictable as possible.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (46) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

BBalzWI's picture

To be honest, if we didn't have the 7 dropped balls. . .which the majority came on 3rd downs. This story would read differently.

I do agree though, no reason to not give BJax more of a chance yesterday. But we all know McCarthy is a pass first, run second type of coach. We all know that he's going to spread it out and pass much more than running it, even if it's not working. Not sure why he doesn't adjust or see when something isn't working but he just doesn't.

bogmon's picture

Aaron, weren't you just calling for him to scale it back a few days ago?
Something to the effect of "keep it simple, stupid"?

Can't have it all as a fan and an analyst. There is often an intellectual "schism" (love that word) at the juxtapostion between passionate fanaticism and critical thinking.

I personally say we offer this one up to the 'football gods' and move on. The ball really bounced the wrong way on Sunday.

packeraaron's picture

I don't recall that, but maybe so. I do recall on Transplants going off about not needing a running game - which, as I state above, I still think is true. But to deny what is and isn't working when its staring you right in the face is just bad coaching.

bogmon's picture

I think it's just in a Coach's personality profile to be a stubborn S.O.B.
Coach Mike likes to stick to his plan and continue with the plan based on a week's worth of game analysis and planning.
I think he often does get detached from the moment...He needs to be more zen.

I COMPLETELY agree with you pn this topic,Aaron. My point is that it's tough to swallow it when you are breaking things down objectively when you have such passionate bias.

zub_a_dub's picture

you know MM has to watch the tape to understand what happen right infront of him in real time.

MM latest challenge says all you need to know about his split second hand to flag contemplation/decision making abilities.

He had a front row seat to make a decision on that play, so how do you expect him to understand what is happening with his running back on complex plays with 22 men running around.

Sorry, I am just going out of my mind the more I think about this game, and looking back to the bears and lions.

Just a waste of talent and opportunity for the Packers this season.

bleedsgreen's picture

Yeah, I read, "keep it simple" as, don't force a strategy on a battlefield that doesn't allow it. That is, take what they give you! That overall strategy doesn't change, the tactics, of course, can be diametrically different game to game, half to half, even.

c.d. angeli's picture

Well said, Aaron. Go back and watch the game. EVERY time the Packers had a successful run, Rodgers had successful passing plays pressure, receivers wide open. The Packers don't have to become a run-only team, or even be balanced. But the more the Packers keep the run as an option, the more successful the passing game will be. Running 80% of your plays out of the shotgun (when up by 10) doesn't do it.

nerdmann's picture

Did Rodgers suffer a concussion early in the game?
By Greg A. Bedard of the Journal Sentinel

WoodyG's picture

QB sneak on 3rd & goal ?? ..... Why? ..... GB doesn't have a short-yardage back nor are the RB trio of BJ, Kuhn & Nance a threat ...... Give BJ credit with fewer carries than he should have gotten but .... Washington's rushing defense gives up 4.5 per carry ....... Here's the future ....... Miami- 4.2, Vikings- 3.6, Jets- 3.2 ..... Throw in SF-3.9, Atl & Miami at 4.2 & finally da Bears at 3.5 .....

AR will not survive the season with BJ, Kuhn & Nance/Starks as the RB class ..... Grant was at the very least, a threat, & someone that defenses had to game plan for ..... Not so with the present RB corp.

Cole's picture

We haven't seen Starks or Nance play so I don't think you can make that assumption.

AR will survive if they stop putting him in the shotgun with no back 30 times a game.

WoodyG's picture

I agree but the odds are slim that someone else's PS RB or a rookie 6th rd. draft pick (who hasn't played football in nearly two years) will turn around a running game ..... GB will need a major surprise (ala Grant in 2007) ...... High risk non-move by TT. (Lynch)

Jersey Al's picture

Nagler coming over to the dark side. McCarthy sucks and the Packers do need a running game. What's next?

packeraaron's picture

Lol. Not QUITE what I said...

Jersey Al's picture

for you, close enough...

lars's picture

C'mon, Al. Admit it---you're missing Grant.

fish's picture

I thought the play calling was a little better only because he didn't have a list of substitutions to keep rotating in and out. He could only let his players play (good or bad). Still a putrid game considering the injuries. They definitely would have won had the receivers made there catches and moved the chains. One TD and stalled drives the rest of the day, WTF??? If Jackson can't break the line, he's also good at short passes out of the backfield, where were those plays? Nelson got robbed of 6 points, and Crosby got robbed of 3, WTF??? I thought the rookies and backups did pretty well considering. There's just way to many negatives in this game to feel good about this seasons direction if things aren't cleaned up soon.

WoodyG's picture

" There’s just way to many negatives in this game to feel good about this seasons direction if things aren’t cleaned up soon. "

This is the real issue at this point ..... How do you wait out injuries & fix the obvious problems in a few days? ....... I'd like to think GB could go into their bye week at 6-3 or at least 5-4 ...... But this season could turn to sh*t even before the bye.

Cole's picture

How amazingly lucky would it be if Favre was suspended for at least one of the games we play the Vikings.

Tarynfor12's picture

I find it very hard to imagine Goodell doing that to Favre(especially a first offense).

This investigation is 'Internal" and a Jet workplace incident.If true,the findings of such will be months away of the needed police part, which Goodell will wait for as with Big Ben,and Favre and the season will be "RETIRED" for good.

Ruppert's picture

3rd and goal, and 4th and goal were two of the worst plays of the year to me. Hopefully, at least, we have seen the LAST QB sneak in Rodgers' career. So ONE good thing might come of it.

But I went nuts when we went for it on 4th and goal. In a big road game, you HAVE to kick that FG and go up by 2 scores. At home--different story. Ask yourself: WWHD..What would Holmgren do?

It's like the 4th and 26 game part deux: Blow a 4th and goal to go up 14-0 (or maybe 14-3 in 2003..I don't recall exactly), then end up watching Donovan McNabb move the ball 10 yards to a winning chip shot FG after a bad INT in OT.

bomdad's picture

I guess simpler plays and more running will be in store when Flynn hits field.

WoodyG's picture

Also, less audibles from run to pass ...

Paulina's picture

The Bottom line is our coach sucks and almost half the team is out with injuries.. and there is nothing we can do about it but hope it gets better week by week..and someone knocks some sense in Coach McCarthy.. He is the one that should have gotten the helmet to helmet hit and a concussion!!!

WoodyG's picture

A simply absurd post ....

Chad's picture

McCarthy and Capers need to both figure out how to change their initial game plan based on how things are playing out.

The stubborn attitude has to stop, or more games will be lost like this.

I chalk up the loss against Chicago to the players, but this one goes to McCarthy.

Bogmon's picture

Coach Mike's new mantra "BE HERE NOW"

Planning is good; reacting to what is happening in the moment is better.

Jay's picture

MM has many positive qualities, including a demonstrated ability to develop QBs, which is critical in today's NFL. While I have given him the benefit of the doubt for 3 seasons, I’m with Nagler, our two losses this season are on MM. It’s clear he has a tough time managing the game clock and challenges, instilling a sense of disciple and accountability (penalties), special teams, and remaining flexible. The same issues characterize his teams every year. A slow start including poor offensive line play, a lack of discipline including inexcusable penalties at the most inopportune times, lack of accountability when it comes to those penalties, and extremely poor special teams play. How many times during his tenure have the GBP put together a solid performance in all phases of the game? They lack a killer instinct (in particular against good teams) and IMO have a strong tendency to play to the level of their competition. I’m starting to believe that MM doesn’t have what it takes to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. My take is based upon his entire body of work, not just these two losses. However, nearly each big loss since his arrival is due to the same issues (penalties & ST) and I'm afraid he just doesn't get it. Name one Super Bowl coach that would repeatedly tolerate the penalties and the poor ST play, especially when their role is so evident in big losses.

zub_a_dub's picture

DEFENSE did not lose the game, does not matter who went down to injury on defense, Capers did his part and held the Redskins to 13 points in 4 quarters of play.

If our Offense, lead by MM’s play calling, can’t score more than 13 points in 4 quarters, we lose.

Again the offensive INT gave up the field position in overtime to win the game, not the defense totally blowing it.

Capers without Clay Mathews III, Pickett, Shields, Burnett, Jolly, Bigby, AL Harris, Chillar, Barnett, Underwood, and Harrell, not to mention Woodson, Collins, Jenkins, and Brad Jones playing injured did a very good job on the road holding the Redskins to only 13 points. They only scored 13 points.

On offense MM had to deal with the loss of Finely, he new Grant was done before he started the game, yet Jackson was showing that he could replace that void early. In game #4 MM had the luxury of a first round draft pick to replace Tauscher.

Whats wrong with MM??? Capers sure looks like he knows how Handel things and make adjustments. MM clearly can not.

duffmon's picture

Cannot drop as many passes and win games. That let the Redskins back into the game. Defense play lights out until the end Offense needed to have put the game away before the fourth quarter. If the receivers did their jobs better, you would have seen more of a running game to run the clock.

duffmon's picture

Also would have to disagree about MM not kicking the field goal on fourth down. You MUST take the points!!! First you keep the offense feeling up When you didn't score you deflated the offense. If the offense is week in and week out scoring points that's one thing, but when your offense is struggling; take the points and keep their confidants up.

lars's picture

The Rodgers QB-sneak call was just awful: MM's worst of the game. What was he thinking in that situation?

BLACK HAWK's picture

Cole - No way do I want to see Favre suspended when we play the Vikes, I want to see CM3 or anyone knock him on his ass!

TT needs to have a strict talk w/ MM and put his job on the line. Let's bring Jon Gruden home.

Paul Ott Caruth's picture

This loss is on MM. No discipline, no killer instinct in the team.

Paul Ott Caruth's picture

Mike McCarthy needs to go. Plain and simple. It boils down to a couple of things. First, MM is a HORRIBLE play caller. It seems as if we're trying to push the ball 20 yards down field. With the exception of the quicks in the first half, all we did was push the ball. Doesn't work against Tampa 2. Middle of the field is occupied and the seams are tight. Middle hook checkdowns would be nice....but that would require RBs to be in the game. That brings me to point #2. Excluding the 71 yard run by BJ, we averaged 56 yards on 12 carries between Kuhn and Jackson. That's a 4.6 yd. per carry average. We ran the ball a total of 13 times with our RBs. I don't care what team you're on.....If you aren't going to have a threat of the run you won't win. It's not the number of yards per run as it is the number of times you run it. 2 x 2 sets and Empty sets in 3rd and 2 without running flanker drives and mesh routes fools no one and makes it pretty easy to cover. When all you do is run vertical and outside stems, it's hard to find voids in the T2. I think I saw one crosser....the drop by Jones... and that was it. You have to have the threat of run at all levels.'s zone running...blade of grass is all they want to get in the first half. By the second half, those 1 and 2 yard runs can become 10 yd runs...but you have to have a commitment.
Third....James Campen needs to be fired. Our OL is SOFT. Bulaga and Sitton are tough. Clifton is old. Tauscher is old and SOFT. Colledge is abysmal. Wells is okay....short arms and gets leveraged often. MM has not done Campen any favors by not willing to line up and be physical. Sometimes you have to line up in I formation and run Iso's Leads and Power O. It's about developing a tough attitude. If I recall, when he was hired, TT remarked he picked McCarthy because of his "Pittsburgh toughness." When I think of Pittsburgh I think of a tough running game....not in terms of yards but in terms of just being physical at times to set a tone. Haven't seen it for this clown.
Frankly, no one is afraid to lose their job in GB. Holmgren put players on notice often. He pulled Verba and chewed on him after 2 holding penalites in one particular game and then put him back in. Ever see McCarthy do that? Nope. The role players are not afraid of losing their jobs. They have not edge. This team has no killer instinct...and that begins and ends with the head coach setting the tone. Until these issues get corrected the Packers will never be anything better than a 1st round playoff team.

PkrNboro's picture

One thing I've noticed in several posts is that with a catch here, a none-mistake there -- we would have won the game. And by implication, we'd all be fat/drunk/happy, with none of the doom and gloom since.

Well, with a catch here, and a no-mistake there -- we would have *barely* won.
Which is everything short of being a SB contender.
A SB contender should be blowing out a few opponents, if not thoroughly dominating most (say, winning by 2 touchdowns on the road).

I don't see it with this club.
Are they so young that they've bought into the media hype?
Or are they just being mis-coached?
I'm beginning to think the latter...
...and it's because of three reasons.

-----REASON 1
Recurrent problems are not fixed.

Take Hawk for example. He can wait for an opponent to come to him, while he's stationary. He should be coached to accelerate to a player and tackle, or perhaps to secure a gap -- in hopes, that a teammate will make the play when Hawk denies the alternative. Time and again, he waits flat-footed -- as if coach-approved -- and Hawk eventually makes a tackle, but after a first-down is secured.

Here's another example -- if you're gonna run ZBS, then have some quick pitches or tosses to the running back. Let your smaller, and (allegedly) more athletic OL get in space and defeat their heavier, more clumsy counterparts -- and allow the running back to totally avoid either OL, or DL. If the runner can juke one tackler, he may make a big run. Instead, there is a *telegraphed* tippy-toe-with-ball-stuck-out hand-off to a back that then has eleven people on him like white on rice. This doesn't make sense, especially with a suspect OL.

-----REASON 2
Adjustments are nonexistent/ineffective.

An expression I've heard to describe warfare -- which may have more of a parallel to football, than not -- loosely paraphrased here: the battle plan goes to hell the moment the first shot is fired.

I don't see sensible *in-game* responses from the coaching staff -- instead, more of an insistence of keeping to a game plan that was dreamed up in the cozy, theoretical confines of Lombardi Avenue.

Whether it's offense -- 3rd and short, and-by-god-we're-gonna-pass-it, or...
whether it's defense -- 3rd and long, and we're gonna send 3 and let you have all day to pick us apart. I don't see many adjustments that yield good results.

-----REASON 3
Availability & Accountability.
A&A sounds good from the coach, until he establishes double standards.
A&A applied to Blackmon and Brad Jones -- and they're gone, or benched.
But not so much with Clifton, or Tauscher, or Colledge, or Hawk, or Woodson. The players I've mentioned (a) have not been healthy (ie: available), (b) have had poor outings (ie: accountable), or (c) both. Yet they still start, are never benched -- and at press conferences they're treated like they're untouchable, when their play is questioned.

Can you really bench the DPOY? I don't know -- but you've got to send a message as a coach, in order to get some credibility. Instead, we're treated to talking-head/horseshit non-answers -- like we're kids and can simply be told to shutup and go to our rooms.

I see a team that is scared.
Scared to deviate from set-in-stone garbage, for fear of losing authority.
A team scared to test it's depth, for fear of that newcomer making a mistake.

I see a brittle/scared/constipated team in need of high colonic.

keith's picture

off topic and probably alittle sour grapes too on my part....but didn't it look like j.nelson scored on that did too me..oh well

CSS's picture

"Well, with a catch here, and a no-mistake there — we would have *barely* won"

Barely won, on the road, is the name of the game in the NFL. What's your point? It's all about making the playoffs. Wins make the playoffs.

"and Hawk eventually makes a tackle, but after a first-down is secured."

You have zero evidance of this in the Washington game, just parroting what you believe is consensus comment section opinion.

"An expression I’ve heard to describe warfare — which may have more of a parallel to football, than not — loosely paraphrased here: the battle plan goes to hell the moment the first shot is fired."

Taking english lessons from Tyranfan12?

"Whether it’s offense — 3rd and short, and-by-god-we’re-gonna-pass-it, or…
whether it’s defense — 3rd and long, and we’re gonna send 3 and let you have all day to pick us apart. I don’t see many adjustments that yield good results."

You've never seen coaches tape in your life and know diddly squat about what a pre-snap read looks like. Bravado, bluster, blovation and bullshit.

"Can you really bench the DPOY? I don’t know — but you’ve got to send a message as a coach, in order to get some credibility. Instead, we’re treated to talking-head/horseshit non-answers — like we’re kids and can simply be told to shutup and go to our rooms."

What the 'F' does this even mean? English, speak it.

I feel dumber having read this unsubstantiated blather. Really, dissention is great, but this makes no sense whatsoever.

WoodyG's picture

Sorry PkrNboro .... But CSS has pretty much nullified your post ...... You bench your best players in HS to make a point ...... Bench Woodson & all you have is a hole at CB .....

Tarynfor12's picture

WOW,I had no idea I got so embedded in your brain.

I shall now "CURTSY" for the "HONOR BESTOWED" upon me.

PkrNboro's picture

I guess I'm running interference for you to some extent -- as I've fallen under the harsh glare of the "flamer".

CSS lambasted me for "blather", but took the time to respond to each point -- albeit with nothing to substantiate his/her point.

PS -- my "English" you referenced passes the MS Word "test" -- so go fuck yourself.

I stand by my original post:
1 -- McCarthy can't "coach-out" mistakes
2 -- his in-game adjustments are ineffective/non-existent
3 -- some players are held to different standards.

I come here to talk about the Packers, not to tear into someone else. I'll leave that for I try to be supportive when I agree with someone, silent if not. I disagreed with Brian -- about Jenkins dropping into coverage -- but that was only because Jenkins has a "club". I didn't try to beat him up about it...

Tarynfor 12's picture

Sorry you were made to feel like that,but my only consolation would be to tell you that there are a couple of these "I know all because I have stats about the past" even though the past DOES NOT AFFECT the immediate now or future.
I will also say to continue visiting this site as the opinions,mindsets and overall viewing of events differ from one to another,dissidents have not been censored.
Regretfully,we must endure the persistent rants of those who feel they have been denied their right and opportunity to coach an NFL team,as they continuously attempt to remind many of us that we know shit.
What is becoming more evident in this site,as well as going unchecked by the esteemed publishers of it,is how the number of different participants is dwindling and now the we read the same spell-binding bloggings of a few.
I'm a Packer fan and not a Packer Homer and the difference in them,which no doubt you are aware,is one can admit things and the other denies things incessantly.
Those who think out side the box of the norm here,will be chastised but need to remain vigilant to only keep from becoming a HOMER,the blindest fan of them all!
I'm always willing to run interference and take the heat for those being lambasted.
Proof will be coming ASAP.

packeraaron's picture

We welcome all view point, you know that. As for being a "homer" did you miss my posts on McCarthy and Rodgers? Not exactly rose-colored glasses, yes?

SpiderPack's picture

There ya go Aaron. When I look at this team and it's performances, I don't see many mysteries. The whole team knows they could use a RB. Coaches, players, & scouts reported (JSOnline) as being frustrated with TT's unwillingness to pull the trigger.  Players trying to "take on" a burden because they are trying to take up the slack for the loss of Grant while they deep down know they need a RB. Woodson's escalating penalties & frustration-worse than Wilde has ever seen him. Finley's comments regarding his sense of hesitation in the moments b4 his injury-when that's lingering in your head you become injury prone. MM's stubbornness trying to force the offense in dysfunctional ways/playcalls-probably because he talked TT into going w/2 HBs & won't admit to himself it was the wrong decision. This team WREAKS of concentration errors & it's not coincidental. The management's lack of movement to give our team what they need to make a SB run is undermining the team's cohesiveness & confidence. Coincidences are overrated & things happen for a reason. A team is a complex, highly sensitive entity, and unfortunately the 2010 Packers are being built on sand instead of rock. 

glorious80s's picture

Maybe the players should just concentrate on what they're supposed to be doing, like catching passes, not holding, executing plays they've practiced since summer. The greater the pressure in later quarters, the more they seem to lose it. They need to take accountability for themselves and stop looking outside of themselves. That is to say, grow up.
Maybe MM's plays would look more logical if they didn't have all those penalties and mistakes. And they work on these things between games. When things work this team looks dynamic.
You'd all be profoundly bored with Cowher's game.
As for the ground game, AR publicly asked for the short passing game that they used against Chicago and MM gave it to him. AR is calling the Offensive plays. MM has said he turned the playbook over to him to a greater extent than any other qb in his experience.
Not only that, they did get over 100 yards rushing. In a pass rich offense, that should be enough. AR has the ability, knowledge and skill set, all he needs, all the team needs, is the focus in pressure situations.

Irish Cheesehaed's picture

Fire McCarthy. Oh, and while you're at it... Fire McCarthy.

wingnuts's picture

I've been watching the MM press conferences and does anyone else think that MM looks like he is going to cry at any moment during the course of any one?

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