A Tale of Two McCarthys: Packers vs. Cowboys

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

Yes, I know that’s backwards (my apologies to Charles Dickens), but it fits the Packers Cowboys game doesn’t it?

The first half brought us as uninspired an effort as we have seen from this team. That’s saying a lot with some of the games we’ve endured this season.

My prediction for this game was that the Packers would need to score in the 30’s  on the 32nd ranked Cowboy’s defense to offset the bunch of points Dallas would put on the Packers D. I rarely get predictions right, but this one worked out.

However, never could I have predicted how this game evolved.

The first half was a symphony of horrible play by the Packers on both sides of the ball, but most shocking was the offensive ineptitude. A few people on twitter and even Troy Aikman used the line that the Packers offense were making the Cowboys defense look like the 1985 Chicago Bears.

From my perspective, Mike McCarthy’s play calling was horrendous. Both in type of play and situational play calling, he gave the Dallas defense nothing but vanilla looks and little to be concerned about.

I’ve been down this road before with McCarthy, most recently with my McCarthy did the Packers no Favors Against Giants post. The situation was even worse the first half of this game. Same old tired plays and some real head scratchers. Two yd pass route on third and nine? Four yard out route on third and ten? Keep giving the ball back to Romo and a hot Dallas offense? WHY????

I was beside myself. I lashed out on twitter. I said I’d be OK with the Packers losing out if it meant McCarthy was sent packing. Yes, I really said that.

I’n not normally the emotional lash out type of guy, but this one time I did. Next thing you know, the wrath of Packers apologists came down on me. I was a retard (not my word), an idiot, a dope. I wasn’t a true fan (guess I’ve been a poser for 45 years).

I don’t really care about what people say about me, but I tried to engage some of these people with some intelligent discussion. I suppose that part did, in fact, make me an idiot. More name calling. Then the excuses.

“The players are mediocre.”  “It’s all the injuries,” they wailed. “Look at all the money sitting on the bench. “The coach has nothing to do with it!” ” How could I be so stupid?

Fast forward to the second half.

Suddenly, the same “bad” players on offense looked unstoppable. Did some of those injured players magically come back at half time. No, these two incredibly different halves were played by the exact same players.

What was different? Two words: Mike McCarthy.

He was downright excellent in the second half. Yes, I said his playcalling was excellent. We saw plays we haven’t seen since last season. Middle screens, fake screens, misdirections, multiple rollouts and more.

The Cowboys were totally flummoxed. This was not the team they had watched on tape in preparation for this game. That team played in the first half, and Dallas was ready. They had no answers for McCarthy’s playcalling in the second half.

And there, folks is the crux of my criticism of Mike McCarthy. That’s his job as offensive play caller – totally befuddle the other team.

I know he has the ability to be a great play caller – but we don’t see it consistently. This season, we’ve hardly seen it at all – even when Rodgers was playing. Hell, we even saw Rodgers get into a tiff with McCarthy over a red zone play call.

Please don’t give me the argument that the players executed better. That might even be true but the point is, the play calling approach was completely different in the second half. If you don’t believe me, listen to McCarthy’s comments in his post game press conference. He admits his play calling veered off track in the first half, especially the second quarter.

McCarthy has been ultra conservative and predictable the entire season. Had he called plays creatively like the second half, the Packers would have beaten the Eagles and Giants and they’d be in first place in their division, not Detroit.

I am 100% convinced of this. Does that make me an idiot?


Follow Jersey Al:

                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.


113 thoughts on “A Tale of Two McCarthys: Packers vs. Cowboys

  1. His play calls have been pretty redundant most of the season. Although I didn’t think he deserved to fired.. I do still think changes need to be made on D. People say it’s not Capers fault but a fresh face running the show (on D) couldn’t make it worse could it? I mean that’s not saying the safetys LB’s etc get a pass cause they need to improve, but I think Capers play calling with the same predictable vanilla looks should also be brought into question as well.. If this game wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys they would have got creamed and we would be talking about whose getting canned…

    1. I think that generally a lot of the contributors here are ready to jump ship as soon as there is an issue. McCarthy’s long term track record is excellent, but when the Packers lose, so many people say fire MM or TT or Capers.

      Every play is uninspired. The defense is always poor. Blah blah, Boo hoo. after the Bengal’s game there was a mass exodus of confidence. It was sad.

      The team may win, but people will complain about the number of yards given up, even though that has very little today with the games outcome.

      I think we have it so good with this staff and many people only appreciate this when it is long gone and life if much sadder. We should enjoy what we have and try to understand why they call what they do, rather than always thinking we know better, which is likely a sign of a lack of understanding.

      1. Awesome win, great heart on both sides of the ball.

        Defense needs two or three turnovers every game or Packers get blown out. Period. No turnovers yesterday and we are indeed going boo hop.

        Not very much to understand, no pass rush, safeties are horrible. I, having watched football for 47 years have never seen a secondary that allows receivers to get WIDE open most of the game.

        Capers must go and more, FREE AGENT, talent in secondary.

        I DO understand, do you?

      2. The play of defense is PATHETIC, period. Ted Thompson has used 15 draft picks and brought in nearly 20 FA’s and UDFA’s for Capers to fix this defense-what we got was still the same old Packers’ problems-failure to tackle properly and well, too much soft zone and WIDE OPEN RECEIVERS–did you not see Witten WIDE OPEN on that TD pass? GB can’t continue with a DC whose unit continues to give up more points in second half and fourth quarters of games than the offense can score-this defense is continuously giving up too many points late to protect wins. They’ve show improvement only in the last two games-don’t forget, this is a defense that gave away a tie against the weakest team in their division, the Vikings and has been the single biggest reason for losses to Niners, Bengals,Bears, Lions, Eagles, and Giants. MEDIOCRE-that’s what the defense has become after being one of top 5 defenses in the 2010 season.

  2. You are correct in that analysis… what worries me is the fact that MM was not his normal self that second half. What happens when he goes back to his dumbazz predictable play calling. Hopefully Aaron will change it at the line…

    1. Jason, I think that you hit at the heart of at least part of the issue that Al was working toward. There are a lot of people in life that are outstanding at the technical, finite aspects of their craft yet have a great deal of difficulty finding the order and means of translating that to ‘shareable knowledge’. Kind of like Al coming up with the word ‘flummoxed’ as opposed to writing ‘all confused’ or ‘unsettled’.

      There’s little doubt that MM can scheme the bejeezus out of an offense, but I wonder sometimes if he doesn’t get brainlocked in trying to order that knowledge and translate it to his team. Kind of like a writer’s struggle to find the words that best convey his thoughts in the most economical and understandable way possible. A major difference in that comparison being that MM doesn’t have the time or luxury of edits, drafts and re-writes.

      We all know guys that have those rapid fire brains that can come up with the witty quips and rejoinders that escape the rest of us in the moment of truth, leaving us 10 minutes later re-thinking what we should have said. Kind of like the difference of having slow or fast-twitch mental muscles. MM is the prior, which enables him to be exceptional in the measured and deep thinking that is required in creating an effective overall offensive strategy.

      So, if MM is one of those slow-twitch guys, he needs to find his fast-twitch mouthpiece that understands his strategy, that can get inside his head but do a better job of lining plays up and has the fluidity of mind to be agile, creative and adaptive in the heat of the moment.

  3. A ‘good’ play call is one that works. A ‘bad’ play call is one that doesn’t. Sometimes that result is because the play was good or bad for the situation. And sometimes it is because the OG slips out of his stance, allowing a DL to blow up the play. Or any other number of things that can go wrong for reasons beyond a flawed design of how the X’s interact with the O’s in a particular situation.

    I noticed all those short dump/flare passes on 3rd in long in the first half that had little chance of converting, too. It was frustrating. My question is: What was the actual play call on those plays? Where they all designed to only work with big YAC or was a primary route option further downfield taken away? I missed that explanation on TV, saw nothing on twitter and didn’t catch a post game quote.

    One thing I know for sure: Matt Flynn was not missing dump off passes as much in the second half. Maybe that was because McCarthy’s play choices got him into a rhythm finally. But maybe it is because Flynn needs tons of time to warm up. He wouldn’t be the first QB like that. Those guys are referred to as “clutch QBs” because their slow starts dig a hole that they can pull out of later.

    1. “A ‘good’ play call is one that works. A ‘bad’ play call is one that doesn’t. ”

      Sorry, but I completely reject that notion. Sometimes great calls don’t work due to lack of execution and vica versa. Giving the defense a play they were not prepared for in a particular situation is good play calling. Whether it worked or not.

      1. Al,

        That wasn’t meant as an analysis of the quality play calls. That was an analysis of fan reaction to play calls.

        I’ve been reading fan reaction like that on the internet for 15 years now. Every single time there is a poor offensive game, or subset of a game, I read someone blaming the playcalling. I read it with Holmgren. I read it with Sherman. I read it with McCarthy. It all kind of blurs together after a while.

        Usually, if I try to get some more detail about the “bad calls”, I get a lot of double-talk or crickets. Much like I got to the question above about those first half 3rd and long dump off passes that stood no chance of converting. I’ll try again: What route combinations were in the play call(s) and why were they a bad choice? What defense was Dallas running that made them a bad choice? Was the dump off pass well short of the sticks the primary option?

        1. The one to Nelson was absolutely the primary route. it was their standard over-used play where they have two receivers blocking downfield in front of the receiver running the two-yard route. A lot has to go right to pick up 10 yards on that play. On the out pass to Quarless, Flynn never looked anywhere else, so I’m assuming that was the primary route as well. What defense the Cowboys were running is not as important on third and long. Your objective has to be to run a play that gives you a good chance to get a first down and avoid punting. Neither of those two plays, regardless of the defense qualify. And those are just two of the most flagrant examples. There were plenty more.

          1. “What defense the Cowboys were running is not as important on third and long. Your objective has to be to run a play that gives you a good chance to get a first down and avoid punting. ”

            And just what play call universe provides that? Teams do all they can to avoid 3rd and long for the very reason that you cited elsewhere in that post, ie “A lot has to go right to pick up 10 yards on that play.” That is more true than not of all plays, not just “that play”.

            I agree that the pass to Nelson was a designed WR screen with 2 blockers in front of him. Why is putting the ball in your best offensive player’s hands with blockers in front of him and asking him to convert a low percentage situation a bad choice? Because it didn’t work!

            The one to Quarless, you admit was poorly executed. “On the out pass to Quarless, Flynn never looked anywhere else..” Staring down your primary receiver is what they call “telegraphing the pass”. I hear that’s a bad thing. I bet McCarthy heard the same thing and scrapped any plays in the playbook that counted on telegraphing the pass as a means to trick the defense into vacating the area. If not, I agree with you that McCarthy is a bad playcaller.

            1. Both Hank and Al: what a great debate! Thank you both for serving up intelligent, meaty, well thought out arguments that are provocative and challenging without being rude or abrasive. Nice to see actual dialogue in these comments!

      2. Good post, Al. Both play calling and lack of execution are reasons why teams stall (or never get going).
        I don’t know if “Ultra conservative” play calling is what I would describe McCarthy has been doing this season.
        He now has a reliable running back in Lacy. The Cowboys were ready for the run calls. Bad play calls first half. As far as passing, Flynn was not executing too well because he was hesitant, trying to read defensive match ups and trying to figure out if he was going to change the play at line of scrimmage. Player executing.
        I think that was a big difference in the second half, because of Flynn taking a more decisive posture. But certainly, McCarthy changed it up also.
        I’m glad he didn’t give up on the run.

      3. We lose track of the fact that a good play call might be the result of being set up by several ho-hum or lousy-looking play calls. Sometimes the quality of a call doesn’t emerge for a possession or two.

        1. Excellent point. If football is a chess match, sometimes pawn movements are the most powerful. You can’t just ram-rod a queen all over. Sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made.

          I think all those who criticize MMs play calling owe us a favor. Sit with a pad and pencil and predict the play calls. Pass or run right, run middle, run left. See how you do. If MM is truly predictable, above 50% should be no problem, right? Oh…and for every play call you think is going to be a run and MM calls play action… Welcome to the NFL, rook.

          1. Great point.

            It is easy call something predictable, the key is to prove it. and If you guess wrong, that is when big plays can happen.

  4. It seems like MM is to old fashion and just expects every play to be successful no matter what by just being physical and executing the play to perfection. And really, this is what fundamental football is all about. This is what Lombardis approach was. Lombardi loved running plays that the opponent knew were coming but couldn’t do anything about it because Lombardi players were great , future hall of famers (mostly because of Lombardi, he unlocked the players best he had in him) and because it was a different game back then.

    In this age of football, the coaching staffs are larger, the scouting of other teams are off the charts with todays technology and scrutiny of the other teams players, trends , schemes, strengths and weaknesses. There is so much parity in thIis league. It’s a must to game plan and keep your opponents of balance and guessing. Its a must to attack your opponents weaknesses. Game planning and play calling is so important. The other team has put some much time in (even in the of season) to break down every past of your team and your trends and play calling. Its a must to be creative. Sure, it would be great if you could just call any play and just out execute your opponents and sometime thats just what needs to happen. But, when your team is not full of pro bowlers and the talent is on par (or below par) with your opponent, play calling is more important.

    MM needs to openly evaluate himself on his play calling. I’m glad Arod is able to change plays at the line to help cover up some of MMs play calling.

    Does MM have a great feel for the game as its unfolding , or does he just read of his chart and call whatever?

    1. This is exactly why no one here is quailified to critique MM’s playcalling. So much goes into the gameplan and playcalling that we have no idea about. Reminds me of people who want to get on the Board of Education so they can “straighten the schools out”…within 3 months they begin to realize just how little they actually know & end up really respecting people who do. My guess is that if any of us had complete access to all that goes into it, we would rarely question decisions. Part of being smart is knowing what you don’t know.

      1. A bigger part of being smart is the ability to form educated opinions and express them, whether you are an “insider” or not.

        If you don’t think we should be talking about such topics, then I guess you don’t understand the purpose of a fan blog? We’re here to talk football – what football fans do.

        1. Yes I understand the part of discussing topics, but the part that I disagree with is the “educated opinion” part. Reminds me of John Madden telling the story about when he was a college coach & (in his words) thought he knew everything there was to know about football. He went to a Vince Lombardi clinic & heard him speak 6 hours on one play…the Packer Sweep. Madden said he came out of there thinking “I don’t know anything about football”. Point is that IMHO, no one on here is “educated” enough to form theories on aspects of the game as specific as playcalling.

          1. Well I disagree. As someone who has played, watched and coached football (not at any high levels, however) I feel comfortable talking about play calling and play design. In the end, it’s just talk and discussion. I don’t see any problem with that, whether we are ultimately “qualified” or not.

            1. IMO, you two are missing each others points. Al, you are qualified to offer opinion, just like I’m qualified to vote w/o knowing candidates. NYPacker, you offer that, especially with NFL coaches, opinions are of greater value since they have proven to have what it takes to be at the show. I agree with both of you. Unless I’m missing the points

        2. Any moron can express an opinion. Do you REALLY think your in any way qualified to critique McCarthy? What NFL teams have you worked for? Do you have inside the lockerroom info? Come on Al, your no more qualified than any of us. That makes us and you Unqualified.

          1. As I said to NYPacker: “It’s just talk and discussion. I don’t see any problem with that, whether we are ultimately “qualified” or not.

            1. So you typically criticize people when your having a conversation? Havent you been taught if you don’t have anything good to say?

              1. And I used to have more respect for your knowledge too… We can all act like we think we know something about it. But knowing a little something about it doesn’t in any way qualify you to critique much less criticize and expert on the subject.

              2. Just like there is nothing that gives you the right to criticize someone for giving their opinion. You are not “qualified” to tell anyone they shouldn’t say what they believe. If you want to get into a pissing contest, you’ve come to the wrong place. Disagree with my opinion? tell me why I’m wrong without telling me I shouldn’t have an opinion. That’s how we do things here.

              3. So, Al, why isn’t NYPacker’s opinion valid that none of us have any credibility when it comes to play calling? He’s not saying you can’t have an opinion. All you can offer is an opinion. You have no NFL credentials to suggest that you are correct in your assessment.

              4. Wilk, where did I say anyone’s opinion was not “valid?”

                And who’s to decide if an opinion is “valid” anyway? You can agree or disagree, but an opinion is always valid – it resides in someones brain.

          2. If none of us know anything because we are not Packer insiders, then no one here has a valid opinion. That goes for yea-sayers, nay-sayers, Cow, you, me, everybody.

            As Al says, there’s no point in wasting time here if you don’t think anyone has a worthwhile opinion.

      2. Damn F’in right! Not one of us here is in any way remotely qualified to critique McCarthy or his playcalling. Lookin at you Al and Nick Perry… its very much the reason I don’t criticize it.

        Every play is called to work vs and expected look from the D. If that look isn’t shown the QB has as many as 4-6 sight adjustments the QB can easily change to. Virtually all the plays the Packers call have those built in so the QB Can get into a play that should work.

        Add in the fact that Flynn doesn’t have a firm grasp of all the plays muchless the adjustments to each of them based on the defensive look. Thats where this gets even more complicated.

        Like you said part of being smart is being able to understand when you DON’T know something or aren’t qualifid to criticize it!!

        Wish more understood that we, all of us, are not!

        1. So throwing a 2 yard pass as the primary route on third and 9 is “getting into a play that should work?” Calling a 4 yard sideline route on third and 10 is a good choice?

          Look, make it sound as complex as you like (and it is), but McCarthy himself admitted he made bad decisions in the first half. That’s what I saw during the game and what I’m reacting to. It was pretty obvious.

          1. And in what way do you KNOW that was the playcall? Or was a different receiver the primary, but not open or the D reacted to take him away? Teams don’t generally call plays on 3rd and 10 that only gain 2 yds, but you go ahead and keep believing it. Come on Al…

            You might as well criticize Rodgers for every playcall. That would be more likely the truth, given all things that go into it, the number of recievers and the unknown Defensive assignments, just automatically blaming the play call is foolhardy at best!

            1. So you’re saying you can’t recognize a play the Packers have used extensively all year? I’m sure you can, but you can’t seem to be objective, though.

              1. I can recognize a play, but I know that neither you or I are qualified to determine what the actual playcall was. If its one play, BFD! Sometimes when you don’t have a QB that can get the ball downfield it also makes some sense to try tp play field position or not put a QB in a position to make a throw that he isn’t capable of!

          2. McCarthy taking the heat off the players for the first half is just good coaching. He didn’t throw them under the bus and create locker room issues, unlike a certain other HC from yesterday’s Packer game.

            That doesn’t mean what he said is the entire story. Press conferences are as much about messaging as getting accurate, complete information out.

            1. I guess not even McCarthy’s own words will sway you. In that case, not much I can do. McCarthy was pretty forthcoming for once. I felt he was speaking rather honestly in saying he got away from what he should have been doing in the first half. Went to it in the second half and he got drastically different results. Ignore that all you like.

              1. I’m jaded enough to think it is naive to believe that press conferences are some incontrovertible font of truth and wisdom. People say what they want said in public. That isn’t always the entire story. I would suggest you think McCarthy was forthcoming because he said exactly what you think. If that is some of your best evidence, you have a weak case counselor.

          3. Stroh, If something doesn’t work over and over and over, guess what you have 2 choices 1. keep failing or 2. CHANGE and be sucessful. Stroh in my opinion I believe you are a lot like MM, if you walk under a tree everyday and a branch smacks you in the forehead, you just keep on keeping on or maybe put a hat on. You know what I would do? I would cut the branch off.

            1. MM has more knowledge about football in his wonky eye than any of us will ever have. But really smart and knowledgable people (there is a difference) can make mistakes. Do you think MM has not made bad play calls when the play clock is running down and emotions are running high? Warren Buffett has one of the greatest financial minds of the last two hundred years, and he has made very poor investment decisions at times. And this is a guy that has weeks to analyze and think over decisions. Great coaches and crazy intelligent people can make mistakes. It is okay to criticize someone. You do not have to be an expert to see that the play calling was vanilla and poor at times. Do I have to be a butcher to know if a steak looks good? Do I have to be Neil Armstrong to know if the moon is made of cheese?

              Football is a complex game, especially on the NFL level, but it is not splitting atoms guys. I am sure you could sit in the offensive meetings and MM would say, “Wow, that is just a shit play call. I was still pissed about the holding penalty on the play before this, and the wind was blowing my call sheet, and my headset wasnt working right, I just wanted to get a play in.” Hundreds of play calls are made in a season, if you think every coach makes good play calls all of the time I have an ice factory in antarctive i would like to sell you.

              1. Well said, FMMN. I would further opine that “crazy intelligent people” are some of the best coaches.

    2. MM seemed much smarter when Philben was here to help him and when Arod is under center to change the play…Sometimes i just wanna tell Mm, “throw those charts away and watch the game”….

  5. Today’s game is faster & more complex. I often wonder how MM can serve as both Head Coach & play caller? I wonder how he would fare in just managing the org?

    I’m also on board of giving Rodgers 20-25 plays to call per game. A no huddle mix up, then back to the coordinator. I think Rogers could easily call a great game.

    1. Been wanting for a few years for MM to hand the play calling reins over to someone else and do what he does best – manage the team.

      But let there be no mistake, I give him credit for the changes he made at halftime. What a different looking offense!

      1. Agree…it’s one of those balances that both success and egos determine. I put MM balancing his play calling and HC duties similar to guys like Holmgren wanting to be all of HC, play caller and GM at once. Time showed there’s no way someone can do all three and be effective at each. I such a change as MM handing over play calling duties won’t happen until TT steps in and strongly suggests it.

        1. I have always been of the opinion that the better the unit the more vanilla you can afford to be. If you can just impose your will on another team winning is easy.

          The less talent a unit has the more creative a playcaller has to be. He relies much more on fooling the opponent into giving him good looks and matchups. Nothing remarkable about my thinking, but I seldom see this mentioned.

    2. Rodgers already does that a lot. Hell when the Packers went no huddle this year, which they did ALOT to take advantage of his knowledge he gets a playcall that has as many as 4-6 sight adjust calls that Rodgers makes. In that way he has as much or more to do w/ playcalling than McCarthy does. The playcall he gets is a starting point at best. Besides the sight adjust play calls built in he can go to a completely different call (audible) if he feels necessary. Rodgers is also heavily involved in game planning during the week. He really is as much the playcaller as McCarthy is!

      1. Stroh, you are right on. When Rodgers is healthy he’s making 75-80 of the calls. At most he is getting the base formation and maybe a basic play. Rodgers then makes sight adjustments after reading the D. Then if he feels necessary he audibles out of the play. During the no huddle he probably runs the whole thing with some input from upstairs or MM. MM has less to do with play calling when Rodgers is playing than most fans realize. This year with all the injuries to the offense starters, even besides Rodgers he has been more involved and yes, more conservative as the inexperienced players need time to learn the plays and their assignments. Thanks, Since ’61

  6. I say what I said before. NEVER APOLOGIZE Al! Your followers weren’t thinking, in fact, they were being even more emotional than you were!

    I remember the articles you guys published where you did a thorough analysis of how the Packers were playing in the passing attack. You came to the educated and thorough conclusion that McCarthy could have easily changed his play-calling but stubbornly refused to do so. At this point, this is a fact, not an opinion.

    I’ve never understood when the commentators say “one of the underrated play-callers in the league”. WHERE DO THEY GET THIS IDEA???

    There is no doubt in my mind that Mike can just be on another planet sometimes. I know you say it’s stubbornness but I honestly think it’s complacency. Only when it’s pretty much already too late will McCarthy actually reluctantly change things up.

    Now, that all being said, LET’S GO RAVENS!

  7. The very best general stated that not a single plan survived “contact with the enemy”. Play calling involves a lot of film study and play design. The actual execution of the play design involves contact with the other team. Players either make or break the play on both sides. Has there been half time adjustments or just better play?

      1. Sorry, Al, but you definitely cannot claim that McCarthy is on your side in this debate. He’s not for you, he’s against you.

        It’s difficult to respond to your claims, because you haven’t actually quoted the words to which you are referring in McCarthy’s postgame comments. I assume you mean these words: “We really had a rough second quarter… At halftime, we really went back to the beginning. We went back to the first 10, first 15 calls of the game, and just really started over, just stayed committed that this was going to take the whole 30 minutes. We weren’t going to panic, weren’t going to come out and go into no-huddle, or two-minute to start the second half. I just felt we got into a bit of a track meet in the second quarter. I didn’t want to play that game coming in here, and really got back to playing the way we needed to.”

        Based on those words, McCarthy is definitely NOT saying, “I decided to change things up a bit, to throw in more middle screens, fake screens, misdirection, multiple rollouts, etc.” He’s saying that he went back to doing what he had planned to do all along, and what he had already started doing in the first quarter. But how does this mean that McCarthy made a change, that he “opened up the playbook” and got more creative than he had been in the past? McCarthy’s words simply do not say what you claim they say.

        If you want to go back to McCarthy’s words for your answer, try these words: “We just played clean football in the second half. I didn’t run any trick plays, didn’t run any deceptives, we didn’t do anything exotic. We just wanted to get after them fundamentally, and that’s what we did.”

        Sounds like MM agrees that it was about execution.

        1. I took MM’s comments to mean that we got into very poor down & distance situations which prevented us to successfully follow the game plan.

        2. What part of “I didn’t want to play that game coming in here, and really got back to playing the way we needed to” indicates there wasn’t a change in play calling philosophy in the second half? He went to what his original plan was coming in, as opposed to what he had ended up doing most of the first half. He changed things in the second half. He most certainly supports my assertion that there was a different in play calling in the second half.

          1. I really take it to mean that “playing how we needed to” was being more successful on 1st & 2nd downs & not having to get into 3rd & long play sheet options (which were numerous in the first half). I’m sure that without a strong armed QB MM came into the game not wanting to get behind the sticks, but penalties & negative plays on first downs hurt us badly in the second half.

          2. OK. We’re clearly talking past each other, so let’s just call a truce. I’ll just state what I think, and others can disagree.

            What we saw offensively in the second quarter was in no way out of character for Mike McCarthy. It was not more innovative, more creative, or less predictable than what we have seen from him in the past. If anyone doesn’t like my choice of wording here – creative, innovative or whatever – insert whatever words you like better. But I contend that what we saw was Mike McCarthy doing what Mike McCarthy has always done.

            Were there halftime adjustments? Sure, there always are, every single game. Were they hugely significant? I don’t think so. Does it mean that a supposedly bad play-caller took a step towards becoming a better one? No, it was the same ol’ Mike McCarthy that we’ve had in previous games and years.

            The beat writer for the Green Bay Press Gazette was asked directly if McCarthy made some sort of profound adjustments at halftime. This was his answer: “They made some slight alterations… they executed better and were more committed to the run game. It seemed like the play-calling was tailored a little better to Flynn’s skill set. They made more plays. Higher sense of urgency… They made some adjustments but gotta give credit to them just manning up.”

            That’s what I think. Over and out.

            1. “It seemed like the play-calling was tailored a little better to Flynn’s skill set.”

              Damn, if I didn’t have my kitchen renovation to finish up by Christmas, I’d soooo spend the weekend charting plays…

  8. Al – a good article. And yes, MM opened up the play book in the second half. But let’s expand on what goes into play calling. 1st is the skills set of the players. MM had been more conservative this season because even when Rodgers was healthy he was still dealing with many new players on offense. 2 basically rookie tackles starting. Then Cobb goes down, a talented player who can execute many of the more sophisticated plays. A rookie running back who needs time to learn his role on every play. Then we lose our starting tight end, causing another player to learn the plays. Then Rodgers goes down and we go through a stretch where we start 4 QBs over a 5 game period. Also, losing EDS for parts of games. It is difficult to be creative when you have inexperienced players at so many positions. Then you need to consider field position. The Packers have had bad field position a lot this year. Next you need to consider the score. When you play with a lead you can open the play book. I believe that MM opened the play book yesterday out of necessity and because he saw his team gaining momentum and Dallas D getting tired in the second half. Also, Flynn was into his 3rd game as a starter and had more practice and reps with the 1st team O. Of course down and distance are also a factor. And the Packers had positive 1st downs on offense yesterday in the 2nd half for the 1st time in a long time. In the end it still comes down to execution. When Rodgers is playing he can overcome some of the issues I mentioned above. Also, he makes many calls at the LOS now, since he knows the O so well. Therefore, when Rodgers plays it’s difficult to know what the original okay call was and whether it is good or bad. I agree that the right call in the right situation is crucial, but it still needs to be executed effectively. Give MM a healthy offense and you see a much different play caller. Yesterday, he made adjustments at the half based on the Dallas D in the first half and he called a strong game in the second half. Granted the Dallas D is not very good, but the Pack was on the road and scored 5 second half TDs. Good play calling, great execution, defense big when we needed them with sacks and TOs. Good special teams also. Bring on the Steelers, Go Pack Go! Thanks Since ’61

    1. And maybe MM’s dumbass play calling leads DC to do the same on defense? Packer fans need to face it, like so many Packer HCs over the years, McFatty is way over his head. Fans on these boards are so pro-management. Capers falls asleep when he calls a game for cripes sake.

      1. Yes, I’m sure that Mike Holmgren and Vince Lombardi were also in over their heads. Everyone but you Archie. We get it already. You think TT and MM are a** clowns. That’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion but I am falling asleep reading the same thing on every post you submit. Thanks, Since ’61

  9. Play calling was much aggressive in 2nd half. Maybe he was inspired by Lattimore.

    Sorry guys, but after studying MM for 8 years and TT for 9 (plus some of his time at SEA), my opinion of both will never change – they are both ass-clowns. That aside, I was very happy for the players. They gave Jerry Jones just what he deserved – an embarrassing exit from the post-season.

    Does everyone still thing Bulaga was a better choice than Dez Bryant or DeMarius Thomas? How about Raji over Crabtree or Oher? Or Worthy over Reyes? TT has a knack for WR talent but that’s about it. Plus his weird and stubborn ways about if I didn’t draft them I don’t want then on my team are C-R-A-Z-Y. He may have tried his best but he has failed. W/o our top QB we are a bad team.

    1. He didn’t draft Bulaga over Demarius Thomas. Demarius was drafted before the Packers picked.

  10. For 8 long years, the mantra of TT was we don’t need no running game. This is a passing league now. Well, ass-clown, what changed? Where would we be now w/o our run game. TT, the man who thought a low pick in R3 was too much to give up for the BEAST – Marshawn Lynch. SEA has out-personnelled Mr. TT big time, especially on defense. Heck, they even coached Giacobreni up to a decent starting RT. And DET has worked miracles with Jeremy Ross. Say what you want, TT/MM are ass clowns in my book. Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers? Really? Ass-clown (MM). Get a real play caller for cripes sake.

    1. This has nothing to do with TT or MM but my all time favorite was Tony Mandarich instead of Barry Sanders. Now for that I could use an Archie term ASS-Clown

      1. Mandarich was the best pick ever!!! IF GB took Barry, what are the odds Wolf trades for this Brent Favor guy? Without Brett, no Superbowl, no Reggie, etc.

  11. I agree with those who say that the vast majority of fans who criticize play calling don’t really have the wherewithal to back it up. And that’s what I would say about this post.

    You’ve stated your opinions, Al, and more power to you for that, even if I don’t agree with them. Heck, you might be exactly right and I could be completely wrong. That’s happened before.

    But I’M right when I say that you didn’t back it up. You didn’t prove anything to make me change my mind. Yeah, I get it that a lot of guys harshed out on you over Twitter, but that doesn’t make you right. In the same way, saying, “And then… BAM! Middle screens! Misdirection! Rollouts! Nifty stuff! …” doesn’t really prove anything either. Referring to an earlier article in which you said the same things does not prove your previous article to be correct. Saying, “You’d have to be blind not to see it” doesn’t really cut it, either.

    I know you said that you watch play calling closely. That doesn’t surprise me in the least… partly because you appear to be a very knowledgeable guy, and partly because every single serious football fan that I know pays close attention to the play calling. Frankly, I’m not sure what else you would be watching.

    If people want to be critical of MM’s play calling, fine. They’ve got as much right as I do. But I was hoping for something more from the article. Like evidence. Data. Stats. Fact. Without that stuff, all of the post start to sound a bit like Archie.

    1. That’s a lot of drama there. I’d love to have the 7-8 free hours it would take to back up my assertions, but that’s just not possible right now. So it remains purely my opinion. But I 100% believe I’m right. Nothing anyone has said here has changed my mind one bit.

      1. No problem, I’m willing to hear your opinion.

        As for my personal opinion, I agree with what coach McCarthy said on Monday: “We just played clean football in the second half. I didn’t run any trick plays, didn’t run any deceptives, we didn’t do anything exotic. We just wanted to get after them fundamentally, and that’s what we did.”

        Article here: http://www.packers.com/news-and-events/article-1/‘Nothing-exotic’-in-offensive-turnaround/bd6643a8-744e-4e11-a6c3-fba312ba7a52

        1. No one said anything about trick plays. He ran different plays. Multiple rollouts, a middle screen, a fake screen. etc, all plays we haven’t seen very much of the last two months. He got away from his plan the first half. Went back to it the second half. That’s change. In addition, I will believe what my eyes saw.

          1. Thanks for the great site, Al. We don’t always agree, but I love talking some Green Bay Packers football.

      2. Here’s some quick data for you to assess. Look at the number of comments your posts has generated. If Packer nation completely agreed with you, we would all be reading of comments of that nature. Sorry Al, not your best work. Data driven opinion.

        1. Just thought I’d mention that my “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” vote CAN be bought. 😀

  12. Two halves indeed. Capers has got to be on his way out, but when he was showing Mathews in the middle to allow him to free lance, it put pressure on Romo each time. First different look from Capers in his tenure at Green Bay. He still has to go.

  13. Al, love your site and appreciate your work. I’ve said before that this and CHTV are the places for Packer facts and opinions.

    Having said that, put me squarely in the group with NYPACKER, Hank Scorpio, and marpag. We simply lack sufficient information from which to derive a truly informed opinion regarding play calling. I believe your opinion is more informed than most, and that’s good enough for me to read and consider it. However, there are too many variables, and not enough available data, to know whether a single play was, or series of play were, appropriate for the particular situation. It is entertaining to discuss, except for those obviously uninformed opinions. Perhaps you could give Archie his own column to regale us with his self-admitted “good” analysis.

    I do take issue with one of your premises. All third and long plays should not be called to achieve a first down. Sometimes the situation requires a safe play, anticipating a punt and flipping field position. For example, what if MM had insisted on a deep pass into coverage yesterday in the first half on the plays you referenced? The odds of an interception, sack, or sack/fumble go way up. That would have been a disaster on top of an already deterioratng situation. Instead, field position helped the Pack D limit the Cowboys to FGs instead of TDs, allowing for the possibility of a most improbable comeback.

    1. Well I like intelligent responses, so you get points for that over some of the others here. However, when you’re getting your ass handed to you, there is little need for playing it safe and giving the ball back to a red hot offense that is torching your defense. I would argue the exact opposite is in order. maybe that’s just a difference in philosophies.

      1. Again we don’t know if MM was really “playing it safe”. Could it be that while researching every 3rd & 10 that the Lions defense played this season, our staff determined that they blitzed and took away the slant 71% of the time, thus going into the game MM had the quick pass to Jordy with WR’s blocking out in front of him, on his play sheet for this down & distance? Perhpas the Lions did not blitz, the play went nowhere, & everyone screams “why did he call that play on 3rd & 10”?

          1. I think that the senerio I laid out is pretty typical in the NFL. Tendancies as detailed as these have been used as far back as Lombardi’s time. Game plans involve a group of plays to use for every down & distance based on matchups, personel (both yours & theirs), hash spot, , & defensive tendacies. Of course with AR, many mmore adjustments can be made at the line of scrimmage.

  14. Just watched Ravens defeat Lions. Packer’s destiny in their own hands. Time to bring back Rodgers. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  15. Hope its not true but ESPN is reporting that Lions coach Gym Shorts may get the axe if the Lions fail to get into the post season.I like Schwartz he’s incompetent!

    1. As a Packers fan living in Lions country, I can tell you that this is more than just possible. You never know what’s in the heads of management, but he’s reportedly on a short leash.

  16. Awesome, lions lose. I agree ‘Since 61’ time for Rodgers to come back. He needs a warm up game this week at home before playing for the division title against the bearlys in the season finale.

  17. Best X-Mas gift for Packer fans:

    (1) MM goes back to college and signs with Texas; and,

    (2) TT retires.

    And the search for next great GM/HC would begin. There’s a Vince Lombardi or Bill Walsh out there somewhere. End this nightmare called the TT/MM Ass-Clown Show.

    1. Yes, but for every one Lombardi or Walsh, there’s hundreds of Marty Mornhinwegs, Scott Linehans and (God help us) Lindy Infantes.

      People may not agree with all of things coming from the front office and the HC in GB, but you have to recognize that there’s a precipitous drop to be had from the Packers ongoing record of success to mediocrity and then to doormat status.

      I’m not saying that everyone should always accept the status quo and be a good little zombie. I’m not saying that there isn’t a chance that things COULD get better with a housecleaning, but, frankly, the likelihood that things would get a whole lot worse (given there’s a lot more room to go down than up) should mitigate those feelings.

      1. I would like to know how the players feel about MM and TT… A secret survey of the players. They could simply check one box: Do you believe MM and TT are
        1. master minds___ or
        2. ass clowns___

        Then one has to agree with the players and either embrace them or kick them in the ding dings…

  18. Archie – your scenario for the post MM/TT era (whenever it begins)has some big assumptions. 1. That there is another Lombardi or Walsh out there (I agree there is probably someone out there). 2. That the Packers would be fortunate enough to find him and that he would accept the job. 3. That in this salary cap, free agent era they could create the dynasties of the pre- salary cap/free agent era. I have no doubt that both Lombardi and Walsh would be successful coaches in this era but the definition of success has changed with the times. Winning back to back, or even 2 out 3 SBs would take an enormous amount of luck never mind skill in the current NFL. 1st they would need to deal with the financial realities of today’s NFL. Then they would need to deal with the rate of player and assistant coaching turnover, thanks to free agency. Third, they would need to deal with the havoc created to their rosters created by the ever increasing rate of injury. If you took this year’s Packer injuries from Lombardi’s Packers he would have lost Bart Starr, Paul Hornung (for Cobb), Forrest Gregg and Bob Skoronski, (starting OTs) Marv Fleming TE, and Max McGee (for James Jones) for 2 games. On defense he would have lost Dave Robinson (for CM3) and Willie Wood for Morgan Burnett and Tom Brown (for Hayward). Lombardi is one of my all time heroes but I don’t know how well he does in that scenario. You could say that he would kick some butts, but Lombardi was smart enough to know you don’t get blood from stones. His intellect was his greatest strength. He lost Paul Hornung alone for the ’63 season and he couldn’t get past the Bears that year for the conference title. Lombardi’s defense remained intact for most of his tenure and of course they carried the team through the ’67 season and through the Ice Bowl, until Starr and the O-line, which was together for 9 seasons, made the famous final drive through the harsh elements. But ’67 was a tough season with many injuries to the offense including arm troubles for Starr. 67 was Lombardi’s greatest coaching job and the season which propelled him to legendary status. Look for another HC all you want but we won’t see a Vince, or a Mickey Mantle or a Secretariot again in our life times. We were lucky to have seen them at all. They are one in lifetime. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. The belief that change automatically improves things is fine, but the chances of it actually panning out are directly proportional to the room to move up.

  19. THANKS EVERYONE for reading and commenting. I never expect everyone to agree with my ramblings and it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t. Just present your case in an intelligent and non-aggressive manner and we all benefit!


  20. What I saw was an O line that came out with more resolve and a QB that started to throw the ball. The plays called were the same ones we have seen all year. When the O started clicking it got into a good groove. Which was helped immensely by moving Matthews to the middle.

  21. Late to the party here, but I think McCarthy ended the first half with a bad play call. I think having tolzien chuck a bomb into the endzone would have been better than the flynn dump off to lacy. We’ve been victimized by desperation bombs(vs. giants&seahawks) as have other teams. I’ve never seen the dump off ever score.

Comments are closed.