Packers’ Mike McCarthy: Stubborn and Loyal to a Fault? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Mike McCarthy
Is Mike McCarthy becoming so stubborn he’s hurting his own team?

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has many admirable qualities, both as a head coach and as a person.

One such quality is that he is incredibly loyal.  McCarthy has stood by his coaches and his players when someone’s ability or dedication has been called into question. That is something so many people struggle with. When the stuff hits the fan, someone usually goes under the bus.  That’s just the way society works, but such is not the case with McCarthy.

That said, at what point does loyalty evolve into stubbornness and when does that stubbornness turn into a negative instead of a positive?

That is the point where McCarthy has fallen in the eyes of many Packers fans as well as beat writers in the wake of the Packers’ stunning 45-31 season-ending playoff defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

After yet another defensive implosion in the postseason, McCarthy remained so steadfast in his support of his allegedly beleaguered defensive coordinator that he said he was “appalled” that Dom Capers’ job security should even be in doubt during his season ending press conference.  That comment in turn sparked passionate reactions from fans and local media alike.

While McCarthy should again be commended for feeling loyal to Capers, at what point does this stubbornness start to hurt the Packers?

One could argue that it already has and it has nothing to do with Capers.   Look at how Mason Crosby struggled this season.   Crosby flirted dangerously close the 50% rate on his field goals, which is horrible by NFL standards, yet McCarthy remained steadfast in his support for Crosby. While a missed Crosby field goal didn’t cost the Packers a game in the end, it was a big risk by McCarthy and he’s lucky he didn’t get burned by it.

In fact, what would have happened had Crosby cost the Packers a game? It would fair to assume that McCarthy would have then been forced to at least bring a kicker in to compete with Crosby.  While that would have satisfied fan anger to a certain extent, it still should not have gotten to that point.  McCarthy is beginning to show a habit of not making a change until the Packers lose because of it.

With Capers, McCarthy finds himself in the same predicament.  The defense statistically improved over last season but the Packers coach of all people will tell you that stats do not necessarily tell the entire story.  That’s true in this case as well. The defense showed flashes of brilliance all season, but it also was terribly inconsistent.  Just when you thought the woes were over, the defense would lay an egg.

While some of that can be traced to injuries, particularly at linebacker, some also can be pinned at the feet of both Capers and McCarthy.  The infamous “soft zone” comes to mind for one. The Packers would get up by around 10 points and the defense would go from an attack more to a “bend but don’t break” mindset. This often let teams back into games and was very evident in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Look also at the loss last week against the 49ers. The Packers were getting run over by Colin Kaepernick.  The quarterback ran for over 180 yards for the game, but the sad part was that the Packers continued to get torched in the second half.  Capers didn’t make the proper adjustments (if he even made any) and McCarthy mentioned that he hears the defensive calls in his headset when he held his press conference earlier in the week.

Changing defensive coordinators can have a tremendous impact on a team and so can making change just for the sake of making change.  Thankfully, McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson aren’t like some in the league that go with a “flavor of the month” approach to coaching and building a football team.  They are firmly committed to their plans for the Packers and that does deserve some praise.

Unfortunately, at times being stubborn can hurt a team more than it can help it.  In the NFL, you need to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to making changes. Yes, sometimes things blow up so suddenly you realize you never saw it coming but turning the other cheek to an obvious and glaring problem is playing Russian roulette.

The Packers have not been burned badly yet by McCarthy’s stubbornness to make changes but the time is coming when they will be.  He needs to be more flexible when it comes to making adjustments in season and in game.  It’s not the fact that he wants to keep Capers is stunning but rather the fact that the thought of making a change never crossed his mind if his “appalled” remark is to be believed that is so concerning.

McCarthy on the other hand has his finger on the pulse of his team and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, blind loyalty and stubbornness have taken down coaches before.

Let’s hope that’s not the case with McCarthy.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and


60 thoughts on “Packers’ Mike McCarthy: Stubborn and Loyal to a Fault?

  1. I think Capers is a great coach, and i believe he always does his utmost to win. I wonder if the 3-4 is mot the best run stopping defense. Maybe TT did provide the best players. Maybe the best players werent on the field. I could also be that the players on the field werent executing as well as they should. Or maybe Capers is no good. Do you even have knowledge or information.

    In the end it really came down to stopping the 49ers on 3rd and long. Had the D done that the game would have been the Packers. Why was it so difficult.

    I really dont get the anger over this. This team and it coaches are great. If you need a superbowl every year, move to Boston and complain when if they dont always win it.

    1. I think that instead of paying attention to all the fan bombast (which he doesn’t appear to be doing), MM needs to take a long hard look at the following numbers along with TT, Capers and whoever else he wants in the discussion:

      3 of the past 4 years, or 75% of the post-seasons.

      Average yards surrendered by Packers defense – 510

      Average points surrendered by Packers defense – 44

      All week long we’ve heard over and over about how hard it is to reach the playoffs, how special it is and how you have to make the most of those opportunities.

      So it begs the question – Why is any aspect of this post season performance acceptable and not being corrected in either scheme or coaching. Personnel was added, but it got worse!

    2. Mccarthy’s stubbornness is an issue. he seems to make some decisions just to fly in the face of critics. he said everything and everyone would be reviewed but immediately comes to the defense of capers. I like him but he contradicts his word too much.

  2. Sven is right. Remember September when it looked like the team was going to be a 500 team at best? So many injuries, expecially to LB’s that the coaches did a wonderful job winning the Division.

    Sven asks the right question. 3rd and long was our archilles heal.

    1. Tramon got a holding call. It appears that going into camp next spring he is not the #1 but fighting for a position.

    2. Hawk got beat 30 yards down the field but was close. Maybe Safety help for the LB was appropriate? Where was Woodson?

    3. Is woodson really up to the task. That is the question for the coaches.

    4. If you look at the player roster there are 70 players coming to camp next year which includes 3 FIRST round picks off of IR. The team will be better.

    5. The offence needs to drive the ball for more 1st downs. Rodgers is throwning deep on too many 3rd and shorts. A better running game that is used (not called off by Rodgers) will help keep our D on the sidelines. When Rodgers throws he needs to go to the short guy for the 1st down (FIRST).

    6. A kid from Wisconsin can play center and Guard. TT needs to target him to be able to have a brute in the 4th quarter to drive the ball and keep our D off the field. Let the big guys run the ball in the 4th.

    7. Too many 3rds and short where wasted this year by our offence!

    1. You are right on some of your points

      1. Way to many third and shorts, and not converting. O-line issues.

      2. Rodgers is throwing to many deep balls on 3rd, down when there is someone underneath who is open for the 1st down.

      1. two points I saw in the game that changed things. Up 14-7 and we stoped them. We fumble a punt we should have never have tried to field, worst case were downed at the five. Or it goes for a touchback, and we start from the 20 and we might just go down the field and score and now were up by 2 TD’s. Changes the game a little. Then to start the second half we do nothing with our opening drive, which has been the case most of the season. It seemed to me that AR did not want to pull the ball down and run like he use too. As I don’t know the #’s maybe he did more this year. I know he took to many sacks that he could have at least took off and got 2-5 yds. Beats a sack. Though again O-line issues.

      3. Change in personel, I hate to see Jennings leave, but unless he takes less money, cause we did win without him the money is better served elsewhere. I know its a business and they have to look out for themselves, but how much is enough.DD retire you are doing a #4 BF act. you’re better than that.Get rid of AJ, if Bishop is 100% move him to middle. Some of your bench, like Zombo, he must be cheap he is never healthy. AR is going to need a new contract and what do you do to keep one of the best QB’s in the history of the game at this early part of his career. Scarey thought.

      4. MM you need to get your head out of your @$$. I do not think AR changed as many plays as one thinks. Many a dead play on third down was followed by AR on the sidelines shaking his head and even voicing his dis-pleasure with the play call. Maybe there is a bit of angst going on behind the scenes. If changes don’t get made, we will be nothing more than winning our division, or being a wild card team and winning one or none and done team. With a QB who we will not see the likes of for a long time once his career is done.

  3. As for loyalty – the benefits will pay off over the long run. Players will believe MM when he tells them something. FA will want to come because they trust MM.

    I’m still pissed that the team did’nt do better but heh – SF out played, out coached and won a close game until the muffed punt. The kid will grow and be better next year and has a lot of potential.

    Ask yourself what will be the reaction if DOM is fired….from the players and the coaches. MM believes there will be more downside than good. I trust in MM to make the right call as his job depends upon it.

  4. As a guy calling for Capers to go, my frustration is based on watching the same play beat the team over and over again. Hell, if the Vikings had just run the read option all game they would have moved on, not us. At least try something different. If it’s on Walden for always losing contain then put someone else in. Do something different. That’s why I’m so frustrated over it.

    1. the Vikings couldn’t because it was stuffed. The same execution wasn’t there with SF; perhaps a better Offensive Line?

      1. I heard it said that either the 49ers or Patriots have the best offensive line. I sure hope that the Packers upgrade the offensive line for next year.

    2. Joe Webb = Kapernick? ah, no.

      A lot of the difference had to be the guy running the offense, don’t you think? Kapernick made some great throws in addition to his runs. He is just a far superior player and to suggest that Joe Webb could have just run a single play the whole game is a little silly.

  5. it is the outcoached part of the sf debacle that i cannot shake: most college D-coordinators do not find the read option that hard to defense, or to figure out how to make it harder for a gifted running QB just to take off at will for a free 20 yards. it ain’t rocket science. you would have thought they had worked on what to do during the week, and after the second third and long that Kaepernick reeled off the necessary changes would have been made. i saw none. i am not going to argue with MM’s success, except to note that with AR the team should be doing just as well as the Pats do every year with Brady.

  6. I have an aunt who drives with two feet. Either you are accelerating or bouncing off the windshield. Your thinking reminds me of riding in her car. All coaches make mistakes but that is not what happened to this team. We got beat by a healthy, more talented and stronger squad. Do we add some talent and keep building or do you start tearing things apart? People want to lay the blame at Capers feet and label MM as loyal or stubborn because he isn’t reacting to that assessment.

    Crosby goes through a funk that doesn’t cost us a game. Do we show the team that you are gone if you make a mistake or do you stick by your teammates? It happens to all players and all teams. Personally, I think that Shaun Slocum should be punched in the face for benching the Ross kid. Mistake yes – knee-jerk reaction no. It only undermines your team effort.

    The only thing that MM is too stubborn about is his highschool playcalling. He needs to distribute this task. I won’t call him stubborn but I will call him blind on this front.

  7. This seems like a rehash of a story from yesterday…but it’s spot on just like that one was.

    I think McCarthy saying he was “appalled” was in regards to people asking on that specific day about Capers’ future. I don’t think it implied that he’s safe at all, I think McCarthy was stating he was personally appalled that he would be expected to, or could possibly know the fate of Capers so early…without having reviewed the whole season.

    1. For the record, we don’t re-hash anything here. Whatever we write are our own ideas and if we are expanding on something someone else has written, we give them credit. That was not the case here.

  8. MM said at the beginning he hates this presser because of the total lack of time that is afforded to complete the evaluation of not only all the players but the coaches as well.

    He said he was appalled that he was not only asked that question about Capers but was expected to make a decision without full evalutions of the staff.

    I actually applaud MM for showing such bravado toward a media group who along with their microphnes in one hand were wiping away their drool in anticipation of the perceived scalpling of Capers from MM’s staff with the other.

    I get the angst that many feel with another loss in the playoffs but,I don’t get the irrational thinking that calls for the Black Monday type firings that are synominous with teams of total disastrous seasons.

    Sit back,put your feet up,have some coffee or whatever and accept that any answer as to the direction of this defense,either staying the coarse or change,will not be known until after the Pro Bowl,the Shrine and Senior Bowls.

    1. as i recall crosby could arguably be claimed to have cost us the colts and seahawks game. he missed in both and it was the difference.

      1. The team collapse in Indy only underlines my point that I was trying to make. Picking Crosby as the difference is like saying that Capers lost the San Fran game.

        MM stuck by our kicker, it didn’t cost this team and definitely reinforced the concept that your coach and team sticks by you.

  9. I do not get how Mason Crosby is an example where Mike McCarthy’s loyalty failed. It paid off. Crosby was 100% the last two games of the season and both playoff games. It’s difficult to see where a free agent kicker would have been an improvement. You say what if he missed? He did not! McCarthy’s loyalty paid off.

    1. What if he missed?

      He did!

      Did you catch the second Bares game? Y’know, the one where the just off the street FA kicker made two FG & Crosby missed 2. Kinda put the old kibosh on the “nobody better out there” argument.

      But you’re right, Crosby probably isn’t MM’s fault. I think Crosby’s on the team because TT gave him a 5 yr ~15 mil contract in 2011.

  10. Keeping Crosby looked to be the right decision, but McCarthy better bring in some competition next year. Crosby has been a below average kicker most of his career.

    1. If you want to win a lot of games and fall short of the goal, the past few years have been glorious (for me, only 2010). Again, for me, it’s all about expectations. During the 70s and 80s, any time they beat anyone, I was thrilled because they were living up to expectations with the lousy talent they had. Now, especially with the QB window they have, it’s Super-Bowl-or-Bust.

      I don’t believe anyone suggested rapid fire changes, throwing players or coaches under the bus, but recognizing when something or someone isn’t working any more and changing it then. Commitment is fine up to a point, but after that, it IS stubbornness.

      Regarding the Patriots, I hate ’em mostly because I envy them. Sure, they won three close SB, but aren’t most fans of the “a win is a win” mentality? If not, remember that they lost the last two by a combined 7 points and were only a ridiculous NYG catch in each away from being 5-for-5 this century. Sure, there was the cheating, but when did that happen, and who is more likely to be in the SB again this year, the Pack or the Pats?

  11. First I would like to say the MM has done a great job sonce taking over as the Packers head coach. During the last 4 seasons the Packers (with Capers BTW) are 51 – 21 including the playoffs, with 2 division titles and an SB win. This is a .708 winning percentage. This is one of the highest in the league if not the highest during this period. His total record is 79 – 43 for .648 winning percentage, again one of the best in the league. As for Mike’s loyalty is critical to his approach with his players and coaches. Players in particular need a consistent environment and a consistent message. If you make rapid fire changes and/or throw your players under the bus every week, your players will go south pretty quick like the Lions or the Jets. Also, as a leader it is critical to maintain your commitment to your approach, your staff and your players. Commitment should not be equated with stubbornness. As for being like the Patriots, you can have them. The Patiots have not won a Super Bowl since 2005. Each of their SB wins were only by 3 points, so they were a play away from losing. They gave us Spygate, which ruined the careers of some fine people, like Kurt Warner and Mike Martz. When the Packers last played the Patriots in Foxboro, in 2010, the Packers nearly beat them with Mike Flynn in his first game as an NFL starter. If AR lays in that game GB wins easily in my opinion. If we played the Patiots now, I believe the Packers would rip them apart, given the miserable pass defense, the great Belichicken has developed. Yes, the Patiots win a their division every year, a division which includes the Dophins, Bills and Jets. An automatic 6 easy wins, give me a break. I’ll take TT, MM, Capers and Rodgers any day over the Cheatalots. BTW, if you want to learn about MM read the recent released biography about Mike titled, “Mike McCarthy, Nobody’s Under Dog”. There you will find out about his character, what he brings to the Packers and why he is loyal.
    Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Haven’t posted here much, certainly haven’t replied. Evidently, I replied to my own post above instead of this one, but one extra point is that, if you’re going to knock the Pats for ALMOST losing to Flynn, better not look back over the record of the Pack when facing no-name QBs.

  12. Mike spofford has a great breakdown on the 4 SCRAMBLE’s (not option read) that Kapernick beat the team with. 4 plays for 82 of 107 (1st half) yards.

    Four plays that were out executed by the SF offense. In particular – Kapernick scrambling like Fran Tarkenton.

    It really shows the problem was a very good Player beat us. Watch it a couple of times – it helped me calm down.

    1. Had Hayward not missed his blitz hit..success
      had CM3 not had his legs taken out..success
      had Walden not bit on the RB..success

      Is it Capers fault Hayward missed a wide open untouched
      Is it Capers fault the Walden didn’t maintain his spy and bit on the RB
      Is it Capers fault the CM3 allows his legs to be taken so easily while knowing he was the only contain on defense on the right
      etc etc etc.
      The sum of all parts game long doesn’t justify the hacking off of Dom Capers.

      Thanks for bringing the article up.

      1. You are welcome. I think it is instructive to actually see the plays to do the analysis properly.

        The best thing is Hayward will be coached up on the blitz and be sucessful.

        CM3 will be coached up on the RB and how to avoid losing his legs.

        Walden will be coached up on maintaining the spy and not biting.

        All coachable issues for next year that will make a difference.

  13. My take on McCarthy, as misguided as my take may be, is that he is suddenly flashing all of the danger signs of a coach who’s been around for 7 years. When he got to Green Bay, he strongly demanded accountability, even from the guy who, in many ways, had become bigger than the Packer franchise itself – Brett Favre.

    Now, IMO, he does not demand that same accountability and appears to ignore repeated failures of his players, for instance his kicker Mason Crosby, and adamantly excuses repeated playoff failures of his defense

    Sometimes, once a coach accomplishes something, like winning a Championship, and settles into a comfort zone, he is loathe (hates, detests, resents) to make tough, tough decisions on personnel. I believe that because McCarthy loathes to make tough decisions on personnel, that is why he was “appalled” by the questions about Capers during his press conference.

    I think it is time for Ted Thompson to put McCarthy on notice. However, it remains to be seen if Thompson will do it.

  14. I am not so sure it’s that McCarthy is stubborn. It may be that Capers is becoming predictable. I don’t know if his creative adjustments to opposing offensive teams, is as flexible as it used to be.
    Plus… “Players make plays.” I don’t think the “pieces of the puzzle” are all in place yet even after drafting 6 quality defensive players last season.

    1. The ultimate in predictable was Lombardi’s offense. Six total plays. (We will out-execute you because we are better. Yes the sweep is coming…try and stop it.)

      1. Lombardi won because he had Starr at Qb and GB always won the key factor in football-Passer Rating Differental.

  15. While we all have our weaknesses to deal with in the jobs we do, I feel good knowing that McCarthy takes the time to self scout and evaluate his team from top to bottom. We also can’t confuse what he says to the media with what he says to and does with the team behind closed practice and meeting room doors.

  16. I also saw the Mike Spofford video on the Official Green Bay Packer site.

    What I noticed was that on the first 3
    scrambles we had only 2 big lineman up
    front and the last we had only one up
    front. That leaves 3 – 4 big O lineman
    free to block lighter LBs & DBs.

    We are losing the battle at the line
    of scrimmage by giving away 50 – 75 lbs
    a man.

    As Claire Pellar said: WHERE’S THE BEEF!

    1. I agree. We need another big body to be able to take Pickett’s spot in a year or two.

      However, the blitz by Hayward was a rookie mistake. He did the same thing a month ago from the left side. Next year I expect he will be coached up and blitzing from both sides effectively.

      On the one play where CM3 had his legs taken out, that is coachable. I do fully expect CM3 to not have that repeat itself.

      On one play CM3 and Mike Neal were not on the same page. CM3 blitz outside and Mike Neal blitz inside. That left a hole for the QB to run through. This is coachable.

      On the fourth play, Walden was leaning too far to the right. Brad jones followed the RB. The hole opened up. Either Walden needs to be coached up on staying in the middle or they need to switch players. Again, coachable.

      These 4 plays accounted for 92 of 107 yards in the first half. The D will win their share of these plays next year.

      The point of the article is about MM being stubborn. I think MM wants to take the time to evaulate the plays, players, coaches before making any decisions. After looking at these 4 plays it is obviously not DOM’s fault. A very good athlete beat our team on 4 plays. MM deserves credit for having the smarts to take the time and really evaluate before making any decisions.

  17. Capers stays, Crosby HAS to compete for his job. He’s been more lackluster to me, apparantly, than to the rest of the World, but I’ve never been impressed with him. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think he’s all that and a cheeto, too.

    1. I think Crosby is an indoor kicker… He’ll be great when he moves to an indoor team…

  18. We need to admit that MM is a f….pompous…and his gameplan is only throw deep and deep and deep,we havent OC,tom clements its not philbin,and rodgers and his no huddle offense is awful.
    We need a better gameplan and fired capers,he is so conformist and our defense is bad coached,
    We need a romeo crennel,maybe he is our answer and if jennings goes,rodgers will be incomplete.

    1. Had to give a thumbs-up just to keep it visible for a while. Obviously, most of the posters are folks from X4, where one can’t criticize Packer coaches or players.

  19. I am not one for firing Dom, but to me this is about a lot more than the 49er game. 51, 45 and 38 are the point totals allowed in the last three playoff losses. We certainly need an upgrade on the defensive side of the ball. We still don’t have the guy to play opposite of Clay, and it has been proven that he’s the only guy that can get home with any consistency. Hopefully when Bishop, Smith, Worthy and Perry come back healthy we see a difference. If we don’t see it come next year, it’s time for change.

    1. Mark, you can’t always wait till next year. That’s assuming that Packers will be there again, what happens if Rodgers gets injured by an O-line that doesn’t play any better than this season against D-lines like the Giants or Niners? Coaches and players have to have accountability–that window of opportunity may not remain open as long as many think. Some people don’t LIKE change-whether it means a player not getting the job done or a coach whose schemes no longer work. For all their wins, Favre only got two SB opportunities and one win, Marino one-a loss, Steve Young one. Packers have made early exits for two consecutive years now, it won’t get any easier.

  20. Immediately after the game I thought it was the dl and LB’s fault for the loss to SF. After seeing a replay of the game a poor defensive plan might have had more to do with it. The 49ers lost and tied the Rams and lost to Seattle. I watched those games and Settle and the Rams were rushing 4 or 5 most of the game. We rushed 3 and sometimes 4. No wonder we got no pressure and containment on Colin K. What was Capers thinking? Why no adjustment?

  21. On if McCarthy is to loyal look no further then Don Shula. He was one of the great coaches in history until his last 5 years. He had a defensive coach name Tom Olivadotti for 9 years. For 9 years the Dolphin offense was top ranked and Olivadotti’s defense was near the bottom. Shula never fired a coach of his during his career. Finally after the dolphins consistently getting into the playoffs and getting out scored each year Shula was given an ultimatum by owner Wayne Huizenga to get a new def coordinator. Shula refused and retired.

  22. My cousin Nolan is calling for McCarthy’s head. My cousin Nolan is a misguided Douche (still love him though)… Give me a bunch of likes guys! 🙂

    GBP 4 LIFE

  23. Capers didn’t change his defense in the second half, just ran his vanilla 3/4 and watched his defense get DETROYED for 579 yards! McCarthy gets into a close game, and it’s 5 wide and throw every down, lets not forget the sneaky 3rd and 1 long pass that 31 teams in the league know all about! The offensive line STINKS! They cannot pass block, and that stupid zone blocking scheme is suppose to be great to run behind, but McCarthy ignores the run, so they should just get a few maulers up front, instead of watching them get run over everytime they play a good defensive line! When is someone going to tell McCarthy that Campen may be the worst O-Line coach in the league! TT is really good at drafting WR’s and DB’s, but his drafting of Linemen, for both lines, is horrid! Everybody thinks Raji is so good, I’d like to see him hold the middle, like a nosegaurd is suppose too. I also love all his games with zero tackles and zero assists. Pickett cannot move anymore. Hawk is USELESS, unless you like to see him tackle players 8 yards downfield! And of course he can’t cover ANYONE! This team has more than a few holes, and having an 11-5 record won’t mean anything. It’s how you play in the playoffs. And in 3 of the last 4 playoffs, this teams defense has sucked! And outside of ’09 so has the offense!

    1. Sorry Scott, but me glass is half full on most of your observations. I used to call for Campens head because, like you, I thought that he was awful. Now I see a guy who lost his starting center, both his first round tackles and was left with two undrafted FA, a fourth rounder and some 6th and 7th round projects. In a couple of months he actually cobbled together an O-line that held its own against the 49ers. We ran the ball well and they gave Rodgers enough time to make a pass. Blaming Campen for poor playcalling or MM’s and Rodger’s insistence to ignore anything underneath or failure to use a TE is not fair. Sorry, Campen isn’t the problem.

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