Category Archives: Mike McCarthy

21

July

Packers Xs and Os: What We Might See From McCarthy’s Up-Tempo Offense (Part 1)

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

This off season, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned two philosophical adjustments he would like to see his offense implement this year: 1) run a faster up-tempo game plan with 75 plays per game, and 2) have three-down players on the field to limit the number of substitutions, which will speed up the game tempo.

These are pretty lofty goals, but the Packers do have the offensive personnel to execute it, particularly because their top three running backs (Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and DuJuan Harris) are three-down backs. The biggest question mark will be if their starting tight end is up to the task of multiple formations and assignments.

In order to execute those two offensive objectives, it’s more than just snapping the ball with plenty of time left on the play clock; it’s an elaborate implementation of situation football.

As my standard disclaimer, I’ve never seen McCarthy’s playbook and none of us will know how he will go about carrying out these plans until the week one opening game against the Seattle Seahawks. But, I will speculate about some things I expect us to see while the Packers are in their up-tempo game.

When to Go Up-Tempo

The offense should only go up-tempo when the score is close or they are behind. If they are sitting on a large lead, it makes sense to slow down the plays to bleed the clock. But, there’s also down and distance rules, as well as clock management strategies, that should be considered.

  • 1st and 2nd downs at almost any distance to gain are acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle.
  • 3rd down and 7 yards or less are also acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle. Longer 3rd downs often necessitate a huddle to ensure the best play call and allow the offense to slow down and gain composure. That is, unless, the offense is in a two-minute drill.
  • Re-huddle after clock stoppages (penalties, out of bounds, incomplete passes, change of possession, instant replay review, etc).

Three-Down 11 Personnel 

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16

July

Packers Speed Does Not Mean Packers Efficiency

One of these guys is going to lower the Packers offensive snap count.

One of these guys is going to lower the Packers offensive snap count.

Recently, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stated in an interview with Rob Demovsky that he plans for the Packers to run 75 offensive plays on average per game.  While this might seem like a great idea consider the Packers have one of the most high flying and potentially dangerous offenses in the NFL, one only needs to take a step back to realize how trying to shoot for 75 offensive plays per game on average doesn’t necessarily mean you are winning nor does it mean that your offense will get better.

First off context is important when considering how many plays the offense gets to make on average.  On one hand, obviously converting 3rd downs and extending drives will increase the total number of plays on offense and picking up the tempo of the offense with no huddle and hurry up offenses are things the Packers have done regularly with Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers will also likely increase how many offensive plays the Packers get.

However it’s also important to realize that snap count can also be inversely proportional to Packers offensive efficiency; for instance if the Packers are comfortably in the lead and are grinding out the clock by running the ball 3 times and punting (I like how fans complain when the Packers run the ball 3 times and punt but also complain when the Packers throw the ball when killing the clock as well) their total number of offensive plays will naturally decrease simply because they are waiting until the last second to snap the ball.

Furthermore, teams that are behind tend to play faster because they know they have get more done in a faster amount of time.  While the Denver Broncos, who had the best offense in the NFL last season, did have the highest number of offensive plays per game at 72, teams that also had higher average offensive plays per game were Buffalo (70), Washington (69), Houston (68) and Cleveland (67).  I don’t think anyone would argue that any of these teams fielded a top flight offense last year and it’s likely that playing from behind increases your offensive plays as opposing defenses are also playing more “prevent”/soft defenses in order to kill the clock further.

1

July

Cory’s Corner: Bucks prove that the Packers are first-rate

The Packers have an .800 winning percentage in Super Bowls, but what sets the organization apart is how up-front and honest it is.

The Packers have an .800 winning percentage in Super Bowls, but what sets the organization apart is how up-front and honest it is.

The Packers should never have a goal to be compared to the Bucks.

On Monday it was proven why.

The Milwaukee Bucks went behind its general manager’s (and head coach’s) back by bringing aboard the highly questionable Jason Kidd to coach his second season of pro ball.

That would never happen in Green Bay.

The entire fan base is split on the jobs that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy do, but what cannot be argued is that it truly is a first-class organization.

Is part of that because there isn’t an owner that’s meddling into player or coaching decisions? Perhaps.

But, even when the Packers were losing at an alarming rate in the 1970s and 1980s, a period that saw only four seasons over .500, the constant was how professional the team was.

Of course, the Packers had their fair share of coaching changes. They had five in that dry period alone. But at least the Packers had the decency to fire the coach first and then let the general manager begin the arduous task of trying to find the right fit.

And that’s why the Packers are one of the most respected NFL clubs along with the Steelers, 49ers and Giants. Green Bay knows it is fighting a losing battle against much larger cities — and many that boast warmer weather. But the one constant is how up front and transparent the Packers are.

I don’t expect the Packers to go and videotape an opponent’s practice anytime soon and I highly doubt that Lambeau will be able to generate anything close to the gobs of money that Jerry Jones makes at his AT&T Stadium.

The Packers have one of the richest traditions in all of sports and they play in a cathedral that serves as a Mecca for even non-Packers fans.

I guess it pays to do things the right way.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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26

June

Stinky Cheese: The Broken Bond Between the Packers and Fans

Something smells funny in Packer Nation.

Something smells funny in Packer Nation.

The relationship between the Green Bay Packers and their fans has been one of the most special in all of professional sports.

Instead of one deep-pocketed owner running the show, the Packers are literally owned by the fans. Each owner has stock in the team that gives them voting rights at the team’s annual shareholder meeting each summer at Lambeau Field.

The team has over 360,000 shareholders that can call tthemselves NFL owners.  Of course that many people can’t oversee the Packers’ day-to-day operations so that’s where the president and CEO, currently Mark Murphy, comes into play.

You would think that such a unique ownership structure would create the strongest bond between a team and its fans in the history of the NFL.

In the past it certainly has, but in this modern age of the NFL, the relationship between the Packers and their fans is not as harmonious as it has been even going back just one decade ago.

In fact, you could argue the Packers and their fans have a broken relationship and not everything is well in Packerland.  The team and its fans could even use some “couples therapy.”

It’s time to face the truth: the Packers don’t care about their fans as much as they used to.  The same, to be fair, could be said about the other 31 NFL franchises, but this realization will sting particularly hard for Packers fans given the ownership structure of the team.

The NFL is a money making machine.  Profit is what makes the league go round and after the lockout in 2011, the league knows fans will watch no matter what they do or change. They’re shaking their moneymaker for all it’s worth.

The same could be said for the Packers. The team’s decision making process is no longer driven by the well being of the fans but rather that of the almighty dollar.

Some of the decisions have been truly mind boggling as well.  Look at the sudden decision of the Packers to do away with Fan Fest, a multiple day gathering at the Lambeau Atrium for fans to mingle with players both past and present as well as other activities.

The team cited declining attendance as one reason for it’s demise (the 2011 event was canceled due to the lockout) but at $85 a ticket, there was a reason many people stopped showing up.

25

June

What is fair value for Eddie Lacy?

Eddie Lacy Pro Bowl

How much would you pay this guy?

Packers fans have been quipping that the running back is the most fungible position in the NFL; I’ve said it, my colleagues here on the blog have said it and tons of you have said it in your comments (yes we do read your comments).  In truth, it’s an easy thing for Packers fans to say simply because the Packers aren’t the type of team that revolves around running the ball; with Mike McCarthy at the helm, Aaron Rodgers behind center and Ted Thompson on top of the front office, the Packer’s have been a pass-first, pass-second, run as an afterthought type of franchise.

On the flip side, ask any Minnesota Vikings fans what they think about the running game and I’m sure you’ll get a completely different response.  Outside of a miraculous 2009 season, there hasn’t been much for Vikings fans to hang their hat on; sure the defense has been occasionally good but their football identity is running the ball with Adrian Peterson.  However Peterson is a once in a generation type of player and the simple fact is that running backs are not very valuable in the NFL; they’re production has plateaued lower than their receiving counterparts, the massive toll playing the position takes on their body and future production and the shift from the workhorse back to the running back by committee approach means you don’t need to find a running back that can do it all.  As a result, less and less running backs are being drafted, especially in the first round.

Packer’s fans might just have to start rethinking about the value of the running back position as the Packers might have a real star on their roster with Eddie Lacy in green and gold.  While Lacy was a godsend for the Packers last year and was essentially the offense while Aaron Rodgers recovered from his broken clavicle, Lacy was paid a mere $405,000 for perhaps the best season a running back has had since Ahman Green in his heyday. Keep in mind this is after winning rookie of the year honors; when Charles Woodson won defensive player of the year honors in 2010, the Packers responded by giving him a huge increase in pay even though he still had plenty of years left on his contract.

20

June

Packers Mini Camp and Offseason Recap

Jared Abbrederis

Abbrederis is one of many who need a strong training camp to crack the Packers final roster

The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their final mini camp practice on Thursday and thus ends another offseason in Green Bay.  The next team gathering will be on July 25th at the official opening of training camp.

Quite a few stories have come out during the team’s organized team activities (OTA’s) and this last week at mini camp so here is a recap of the highlights and latest on where the team stands as they prepare for the preseason.

Some of these notes are brought to you by a host of Packers beat writers and media including ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Ty Dunne.

Early offseason/free agency

The biggest move in terms of the interest and excitement created was the acquisition of defensive lineman and former second-overall draft pick Julius Peppers, who was released by the Chicago Bears shortly after the 2013 season ended.  The signing was significant in that it was the first time since 2006 that Packers general manager Ted Thompson signed a free agent of notable name.  Peppers was said to be in great shape during the offseason workouts and practices and is expected to provide a boost to the pass rush from the “elephant” end position.

Despite Peppers’ age (34), he says he has a lot left in the tank.  Playing in the same division against your former team who released you and may have thought you had nothing left to offer has served many past players in that same scenario.  Jay Cutler, you’ve been warned.

The Packers also signed former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Letroy Guion.  Guion is anything but a lock to make the team’s final roster, but he did choose Green Bay over other offers and if he can become serviceable, he could end up being a bargain.  Remember Howard Green in 2010?

The Packers re-signed cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year, $39 million contract.  The Packers also re-signed defensive lineman B.J. Raji to a one year “prove it” deal worth $4 million.  Other re-signings include Mike Neal, John Kuhn and Chris Banjo and Matt Flynn.  Shields was a must, in my opinion.  He knows the defense and has the speed to make up for errors.  He’s not the best corner in the league but he’s the best corner on the Packers.

18

June

What Can We Expect From Eddie Lacy In Year 2?

Eddie Lacy went from a too fat, too hyped running back out of Alabama to the 2013 NFL Rookie of the year (which I predicted right after he was drafted).  However, Lacy’s meteoric rise to the best football player from the 2013 NFL draft was probably not as the Packers predicted; with the injury to Aaron Rodgers collarbone the Packers morphed into a conservative, ball control offense lead by pounding Lacy behind Josh Sitton, TJ Land and Evan Dietrich-Smith.  Naturally as Lacy proved to be the most effective weapon the Packers had left, he got more carries, which lead to more yards, more touchdowns and naturally more accolades.  But with the return of Rodgers with a fully healed collarbone, what can the Packers expect from Lacy?

First off the disappointing news; successful rookie running backs don’t do as well on their second season.  According to statistics pulled from Rotoworld, of running backs who gained at least 600 yards during their rookie season in the last 10 years:

  1. 66% of running backs saw a decrease in their rushing production in year 2
  2. 72% of running backs who rushed for at least 7 or more touchdowns saw a decrease in their scoring in year 2
  3. 75% of running backs who rushed for at least 1,000 yards saw a decrease in their production in year 2

As the article states, there is really no concrete reason why running backs tend to decline going into their 2nd years; one possibility is that teams have a full year’s worth of film to watch and thus are able to properly analyze what types of plays, holes or cuts a running back typically executes and can plan accordingly.  Another possibility is that while running backs aren’t typically over utilized their rookie year, high drafted runners like Lacy already come into the league with a lot of tread off their tires; it’s quite well known that running backs have one of the shortest shelf lives of any position in the NFL and it’s possible that a rookie running back is already at his peak by the time he enters the NFL.  There’s also the increase responsibility of being “veteran” player; rookie running backs (as well as all rookies for that matter) are often given more simple assignments and only asked to do things they are already comfortable doing.  With another offseason, 2nd year running backs are expected to fully know the offense, which for a running back includes protecting the quarterback, running a more diverse route tree, etc.  With more things to think about and being put in more foreign situations likely results in a dip in production as well.