Will 'Patterns of Negativity' Lead to Change in Green Bay?

Mike McCarthy isn’t oblivious to the questions surrounding his football team. At 7-7 and eliminated from playoff contention, the Packers will watch the postseason from home for the first time since 2008—but the speculation about potential changes in Green Bay won’t be put off until the season ends on New Year’s Eve.

The last time McCarthy’s Packers missed the postseason, Aaron Rodgers was a first-year starter. In the eight years since, Green Bay has failed to reach 10 wins just once—in 2013, the last time Rodgers missed a portion of the season with a broken collarbone—as well as captured a Super Bowl championship and appeared in the NFC championship two other times. As the architect behind that run of success, McCarthy wasn’t all that interested in waxing nostalgic.

“You get these questions asked when things aren’t right,” he said when asked to reflect on the accomplishment of eight straight playoff berths. “It’s a memory, I guess.”

On multiple occasions during his tenure as head coach, McCarthy has referenced the high stakes that come with being a part of the Green Bay Packers, a sentiment he reiterated on Thursday.  

“Improvement comes through evaluation, application, and the hardest part is continuation,” he said. “This is a dip below the standard line, and everybody that has a part of it needs to be accountable and responsible. And that’s how we will grow moving forward.”

The Packers are now facing an unfamiliar scenario in which their last two games are meaningless in terms of the continuation of the season. According to McCarthy, however, the next two weeks will give him and his staff plenty of insight into how things will be handled going forward.

When asked whether he’d wait until the season is over to contemplate big-picture changes, he replied, “Unfortunately, I can do that right now.”

“Listening is the most important part of communication,” McCarthy continued. “Watching is another very important [part], so the non-verbal information you can gather these next two weeks is important. I think you have to make sure you look at everything and be direct and honest and keep the emotion out of it.”

Perhaps that means he’ll be monitoring the degree to which certain players take direction from certain coaches, or perhaps it means he simply wants to see how those involved respond to a scenario most of them haven’t experienced in eight years, or ever.

For someone who tends not to give much away publicly, though, McCarthy seemed to make it clear that major change is a real possibility for a team who looked among the league’s best before losing their two-time MVP to injury.

But what kind of change, exactly? That will be the million-dollar question over the last two weeks of 2017.

“We have to get better through the adversity we’ve been through this year,” said McCarthy on Wednesday. “We have to be honest about the patterns of negativity and positivity.”

If we’re being honest, patterns of negativity reigned in Green Bay for the majority of the 2017 season. Question is: will that lead to necessary change, or will the Packers stand pat and simply try again next year?

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Comments (35)

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Turophile's picture

December 22, 2017 at 04:00 pm

The feeling, the vibe, seems different this year. I sense significant change on the horizon.

A couple of coaching changes, a couple of veteran, well known (and well loved) players, gone.

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rdent's picture

December 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Morgan Burnett will more than likely be gone by next season.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:11 pm

Yep.... Packers will offer him a three-year deal but he'll take a 5 year deal someplace else

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KenEllis's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:21 pm

There have been plenty of PATTERNS OF NEGATIVITY, especially but not exclusively on the defensive side of the ball, in Green Bay over the prior six seasons (2011-2016).

Why would the PATTERNS OF NEGATIVITY all of the sudden lead to changes once the 2017 season is over?

Stability, continuity, and loyalty. Those are the characteristics that count in Green Bay.

I fully expect McCarthy to retain the defensive coordinator he defiantly called and OUTSTANDING coach earlier this year.

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dobber's picture

December 23, 2017 at 05:23 am

I don't think that's a shock. Packers have other mouths to feed, they've got other S who can play, #42 always misses time, and Burnett will command a bigger deal than he's likely worth at this stage in his career. This defense can be bottom of the barrel with him or without him.

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The TKstinator's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:53 pm

Yes.

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Duneslick's picture

December 22, 2017 at 08:42 pm

Packer Greg says the defense will have so new innovative drills to lower their pad level.

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pacman's picture

December 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

He's certainly talking like nobody has told HIM he's going anywhere.

Virtually everyone says DC has to go. But I don't see how MM gets off the hook for letting the defense drop continually and this far.

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zoellner25's picture

December 22, 2017 at 11:59 am

I wont believe MM will hold any coaches accountable until he actually fires someone.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:10 pm

Me too. And, I worry he will be indecisive and all of the good Defensive Coordinators will be gone once he finally pulls the trigger.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:13 pm

Yep.. is the Packers drag around all the time

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dobber's picture

December 22, 2017 at 04:36 pm

There will always be good candidates out there in the position coach ranks who will jump at the opportunity to run a defense.

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Rossonero's picture

December 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm

McCarthy's comment does mean something. The essence of leadership is managing change. What better time than now?

McCarthy knows this: it's either act now, or get bounced from the playoffs next year with another crappy defense and be faced with the realization that he simply must fire Capers.

With that in mind, it's easier and more reasonable to act now. Capers is 67 and will be 68 by the time next season starts. Let him retire and leave with some dignity. If he refuses and wants to coach into his 70s like Marv Levy, then fire him.

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Finwiz's picture

December 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm

The same could have been said the last 3 years, and nothing happened then either.
If MM thinks Capers isn't being given the talent by the GM, then he may not view the defensive problems as the fault of the DC.
Of course MM can't tell TT what he thinks, and even if he does, it's possible the criticism falls on deaf ears.

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Rossonero's picture

December 22, 2017 at 01:30 pm

However, the last 3 years, we went to the playoffs. It was easier to overlook then.

MM fired Shawn Slocum after special teams was consistently bad....and Slocum was a long-time friend from his Pitt days. It's plausible that MM fires Capers after the defense has been consistently bad.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:12 pm

You cannot get the proper def. with the 25th pick every year he needs Super Players to run a 3-4 defense it ain't going to happen. So goodbye Dom

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Portland Mark's picture

December 22, 2017 at 03:14 pm

When we see that Micah Hyde and Casey Heyward are all pros I think we can conclude that Mr. Capers doesn't know how to properly utilize the talent he has. Of course, I think they should have replaced him after their terrible performance in 2011.

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dobber's picture

December 23, 2017 at 05:20 am

"If MM thinks Capers isn't being given the talent by the GM, then he may not view the defensive problems as the fault of the DC."

The bottom line, if this is the case, is that DC hasn't been able to make lemonade out of these lemons. MM needs to find someone who can make the kind of beverage these fruits add up to.

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Ruppert's picture

December 22, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Did this team really look like one of the league's best early in the year? I remember the defense getting run over by Atlanta
and Dallas, and needing overtime to dispatch Cincinnati. The offense looked good, which is almost always the case when 12 is healthy... aside from the number of hits we was taking. I'm more concerned with the years-long patterns of declining defensive talent and performance than any pattern of negativity.

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TXCHEESE's picture

December 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm

McCarthy has to change the DC. Early in McCarthy's career, he repeatedly stated, that he believes in a strong defense as a must in his vision of a team. Capers has been given more benefit of the doubt than any other NFL coach I can think of. Remember those pathetic years with Slocum as ST coach? Only after they blew a chance for a SB berth in Seattle, did McCarthy do something about it. While the defense isn't the main reason the season is over this year, it can't be the reason next year. It just can't. They haven't been close to being a good defense in the last 5 or 6 years, and NOBODY wants to hear about injuries. Every NFL team has injuries.

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Ustabeayooper's picture

December 22, 2017 at 01:08 pm

While changes are coming, the biggest change will be the Packers picking 10 to 20 spots higher in the draft. Success comes at a price and after 8 years of picking in the last third of the draft, we have paid the price. All of the other teams have suffered ups and downs (NE excepted) and with the pack having 7 picks plus 4 comps there will be flexibility in this draft. There will be a definite change in the team with higher quality of players being added.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 22, 2017 at 01:17 pm

Patterns of negativity? Oh brother. Didn't expect anything insightful but this is just political nonsense talk. Own up to the fact that the defense stinks. End of story.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

December 22, 2017 at 01:48 pm

Totally disagree Tundra. A simple change in attitude would have made our DB's run fast enough to not have 4 yards between them and the receiver. PMA would make us tackle better. Our D should have willed themselves to make up for schemes that routinely left opposing players wide open over the middle. A positive outlook would have closed the 10 yard cushions on 3rd and 3. Simply turning those frowns upside down would have made us a top 20 defense.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2017 at 02:56 pm

Perhaps. Having the DC on the damn sidelines would help too, but where is MM on that one.

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stockholder's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:01 pm

How to Reduce Negativity - Psychology Today -

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flackcatcher's picture

December 22, 2017 at 02:44 pm

There will be change. The head coach just told us that. What kind of change is unknown. What we fans want, and what the team needs to do are two different things. First things the Packers need to to is decide the fate of TT and the direction of the front office. MM needs to know whom he will working with for 2018. After that comes Dom Capers. Even if Capers stays (I give better than even odds he does ) change will happen on the defensive staff. My guess is Moss and Perry get the 'boot' after the season. The constant disfunction on getting personal and sub packages out on the field on time can be put at their feet. There have been problems in house at 1265, minor ones, but problems none the less. It's good that MM is letting the team know that change is going to come.

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dobber's picture

December 22, 2017 at 04:42 pm

MM is always making changes, but usually he makes tweaks. He's not been someone to "shake things up." We can talk about Slocum's canning, but all he did was elevate the assistant special teams coach. That was hardly a bold move.

It's possible, if MM feels that TT is unresponsive to DCs needs, that he'll go over TTs head to make a plea to management for change. Let's be realistic, though: these guys are always powwowing in the war room on draft day. The party line is that draft picks are rated and agreed upon broadly by staff. Maybe that's not true, but the appearances certainly indicate that it's got some merit...at least on the surface.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 23, 2017 at 02:45 pm

Dobber, as '61 said down thread, it all comes down to the GM and front office. Does TT retire or remain till his contract. Until that's decided, everything else is frozen at 1265. As the season went on, more of the problems on the coaching side on defense showed up. We don't know if Capers has the power to fire his staff, or as I suspect it's MM call. In either case, MM likes ordered translations, Slocum being a prime example. You will not see a mass firing, nor is there any need for it. It is not the Packer way.

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Razor's picture

December 22, 2017 at 05:25 pm

Mark, Ted, Mike & Dom have been there every season since the last super bowl win. So if you keep doing the same things, how can you expect different/better results? My conclusions:

Defense must be better. I can't think of a single player who stands out as a consistent play maker.

Offense must be better. After AR who are we truly excited about every week. Maybe DA has reached that level. Maybe the young running backs are almost there.

Coaching must be better. Too many mental mistakes. Don't adjust to available players/skills before or during games. Predictable. HOF quarterback. NFC Central.

GM must be better. Basketball players. Linemen to play linebacker. Not the best outcomes when he does take a free agent. No pro bowl players.

President. How long are you going to waste AR? It's been seven seasons since super bowl.

Are Mark, Ted, Mike and Dom accountable?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 22, 2017 at 07:37 pm

I'm left wondering when Taryn got the new gig as MM's speechwriter.

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Samson's picture

December 22, 2017 at 09:05 pm

“We have to be honest about the patterns of negativity and positivity.”

Typical MM. -- Say something at a presser but "say nothing". --- This is why I'd like a COMPLETE overhaul of the Pack hierarchy, including MM.

The BS needs to end.

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dobber's picture

December 22, 2017 at 09:28 pm

The amount of transparency from any HC or GM is likely to always be low. Teams try not to air their laundry in the media, nor do they give away information that can help opponents. If you're asking for a significant change from the present in that regard, you're in for a disappointment.

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cheesycowboy's picture

December 22, 2017 at 09:24 pm

3-4. 4-3. 5-2-2. Who cares? Nickel. Dime. Physco.
Who cares? The fact remains the Packers defense
is atrocious and has been since 2012. Draft and develop?
OK. Free agents? OK. Direction and commitment? OK.
Results? SSDD. BODs should be more concerned with the product on the field rather than the Titletown District.

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ggritschke's picture

December 23, 2017 at 08:14 am

Dom Capers must be fired. This defense 15 weeks into the season still is lost. With the season on the line Greg Olsen walks into the end zone untouched. It happens time and time again. If McCarthy won't get rid of Capers he can go to. How is it that the Vikings can sent out a third string quarterback and make him look like a MVP. Our head coach who has had Hundley in our system for three years looks awful. The blame for this season lies with Capers and McCarthy. Change needs to start this off season. you are wasting a hall of fame Quarterbacks career

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Since'61's picture

December 23, 2017 at 09:29 am

One of the keys to changes in Green Bay will be the status of MMs contract. If he is given an extension it will be time for MM to fire Capers and Zook. If MM does not receive an extension then he will be a lame duck for 2018 and will be unlikely to make changes to his coaching staff. TT is also entering the final year of his contract in 2018. Will he choose to retire? Receive an extension? Or just be let go? If the Packers hire a new GM from the outside the organization will the new GM want to hire his own HC? An internal hire for GM is more likely so stay with MM.
To me these management decisions need to be settled before the free agency period. The Packers have decisions to make with some of their core players. Burnett, Linsley, and D. Adams are all FAs. Can the Packers afford to re-sign all 3? Should they? Jahri Evans and House, are they worth resigning as well?
The Packers need to keep Linsley, he has been solid and knows the offense and the OL calls. Adams is an all-pro if Rodgers remains healthy for the season. Evans has played well and should be kept for depth at least if not to remain in his starting role. House is serviceable for depth and experience.
With an early end to the season, I believe that we will see whatever changes are to take place within early January.
After that comes the FA period and which may bring the first glimpse of what the new approach to roster building (if any) will be. Thanks, Since '61

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