Cory’s Corner: Criticize Mike McCarthy not Dom Capers All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Mike McCarthy turned up the conservative calls when Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 9.
Mike McCarthy turned up the conservative calls when Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 9.

Now that you’ve all had some time to thaw out after watching Phil Dawson put this season’s hopes and dreams on ice, it’s time to reflect on what just happened.

First of all, Mike McCarthy needs to get the lion’s share of criticism. He is under contract through the 2015 season at roughly $5 million per year. If any season was a good example of how much he needed to prove his coaching mettle, this was the one. He lost his star quarterback in Week 9 and magically backed into the playoffs thanks to the combined efforts of said quarterback’s right arm and the inept Bears’ defense.

He was also dealt the second-most important injury on the team in Jermichael Finley. Without him eating up the middle of the field, receivers had more work to do to get separation and move the chains.

Granted, he was blessed with the Offensive Rookie of the Year in my opinion in Eddie Lacy but McCarthy didn’t exactly utilize him very well. Too often when backups Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn were under center he was more apt to call the predictable running plays on first and second down which usually set up the usual 3rd-and-7. That’s a tall task for an NFL starter let alone a backup.

As soon as the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers they lost who they were. And the head coach, who is also known as a quarterback guru, cannot let that happen. I’m not saying McCarthy should expect left rollouts thrown on a dime by his backups, but he shouldn’t pare the playbook down to the JV level either. The best example is that fateful game when Rodgers suffered that left collarbone injury.

With the Bears beating the Packers 24-20 very early in the fourth quarter, McCarthy dialed up a Lacy run on 2nd-and-7 from the 50. The run around the left end generated two yards setting up a tough third down which ultimately failed. And that came on the heels of the Packers throwing for 29 yards on back-to-back plays that took place on second and first down.

There’s a time and place to be conservative. I realize that coaches’ jobs have been lost due to knee-jerk risky decisions but when your team is losing in the fourth quarter, it’s at least a good time to start contemplating moves against the grain.

The second aspect I want to draw on is likely going to ruffle a few feathers. Heck, I’ve been hearing about it nearly all year.

But, I’m glad that Dom Capers got a vote of confidence from McCarthy. Don’t worry, I watched the games and realized that unit finished the regular season ranked 25th in total defense, 24th in passing defense and 25th in rushing defense. The tackling was bad, some of the schemes were inefficient and perhaps at times it appeared this unit lacked a deep fire in its belly.

Dom Capers coached the defense that finished ranked 25th in total defense.
Dom Capers coached the defense that finished ranked 25th in total defense.

However, with all that said, Capers is still the right man for the job. Next to Dick LeBeau, Capers has one of the best 3-4 defenses in the league. The reason it didn’t show itself this season was because the Packers don’t have the horses on defense to get the job done.

B.J. Raji decided to take a sabbatical in his contract year, Nick Perry looks like he is running with a flat tire and A.J. Hawk still cannot guard a folding chair, even though this was one the best seasons he’s ever had.

No matter who was leading this unit, there still would have been breakdowns, mental lapses and missed tackles. Every week I surprise myself when I see that Jarrett Bush is still a professional football player for all his limitations in the secondary.

I know that Clay Matthews is supposed to be the heart and soul of the defense, but how can that be when he hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year of 2009?

The thinking was that Morgan Burnett would replace Nick Collins, which is why he was rewarded with a five-year deal this past July. Collins would eat nails and urinate vinegar, which would force opponents to always check where he was. Burnett doesn’t get that kind of respect.

Johnny Jolly sure helped, but remember that the 30-year-old who hadn’t played in three years was behind the eight ball to begin with.

It’s not on Capers to lasso up some toughness and give it to his defense through osmosis. That’s something the veterans preach to the rookies, it gets passed on and before long, you’ve got a whole defense cued up on toughness expectations and how to go about it.

The defense looked awful this year, but there’s plenty of room to grow. Don’t forget that when Capers gets the guys he wants, he is great at devising creative schemes like the infamous Psycho and Jumbo packages.

He just needs the guys that can do it.


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


48 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Criticize Mike McCarthy not Dom Capers

  1. Many would argue, Cory, that MM did prove his coaching mettle this year as the number of injuries reached a level unseen by any other season, including 2010. Not only did he lose his most talented and important players all over the field but you totally gloss over the timing of injuries. Hard to get backup QB’s into the gameplan when the starter goes out in the first drive of the game. — Our ability to make the playoff’s and for our team to continue to play hard while fielding an injury-riddled lineup with key cogs coming and going all season was actually amazing. — This article you have written seems to wander in subject matter. Are you criticizing MM? Are you ripping the roster (thus criticizing TT)? You have taken a shot at MM playcalling, but only given one example in the Bears game 2 1/2 months ago. My opinion is that you need to tighten up the narrative. GoPack!

    1. I couldn’t even read the article. Why bother… THe premise is completely BackAssWards! McCarthy PROVED his coaching ability, if it was even open for debate, with the job he did this season.

      Capers issue is that he Defense is so complex it takes a few years to learn and it keeps players from playing fast and aggressive. Its a scheme that requires experienced players to execute and the Packers are very young on Defense. Pitts w/ the same scheme typically gives rookies 2 full years to learn and sometimes 3. Capers needs to find a way to make the scheme less complex and allow young players to learn it so they can contribute quicker! The D is entirely on Capers.

      Trying to find a way to blame McCarthy for this season is just asinine!

      1. “Our ability to make the playoff’s and for our team to continue to play hard while fielding an injury-riddled lineup with key cogs coming and going all season was actually amazing”

        Scheny, this “ability to make the play-offs” you mention? Doesn’t it have something to do with a total collapse by the Lions, major injuries to the Bear’s defense, and a typically weak Minnesota team? I think it does.

        1. Has to do w/ Rodgers missing 1/2 the season. We would have won 12 games w/ Rodgers. Look what happened to Indy when Manning was out for a year! If #12 plays the full season, nothing the Leo’s or bares do matters!

  2. Wake up Cory, Capers is awful. Even during the Super Bowl year, the D was only average.

    The are two ways a Dom Capers defense gets off the field. They get gutted like a fish, and the other team scores, which is most of the time or the D gets a turnover. Without turnovers the opposing punter can be deactivated because he will not be needed.

    Capers is horrible.

    Do agree with your assessment of MM. With backup QB’s it was run, run and then third and long. Disgusting. Packers had to drives that stalled inside the 10 in the 49’s game due to terrible playing by MM.

    He got Lacy hurt in the Atlanta game. Just ask how if you don’t remember.

    TT needs some blame as well because there is very little talent on the defensive side of the ball.

    Just saying…

    1. Even average in the Super Bowl??? Am I the only one who remembers that Sam Shields, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins all left the game to injury???

      Get real dude, Capers scoring defense was one of the best in the NFL his first two years. He lost the best penetrating pass rusher in Cullen Jenkins, he lost flexible play-making Charles Woodson to age and later from being cut, he lost B.J. Raji to money entitlement or something like that, he lost Tramon Williams up until late last year, and he lost Nick Collins to injury. Those were Arguably his five best defensive players outside of Matthews.

      Like somehow he’s supposed to just magically overcome those losses?

      1. Not only that, Donald Driver as well. It should also be noted the score was 21-3 when Woodson was on the field. He ran stride for stride with Wallace and kept him from catching the ball on the play he snapped his collarbone. That game totally switched when Wood went down. The Packers missed his leadership in 2012 and when he came back father time caught him. I’m still not to sure he wouldn’t have been worse than Jennings, no matter HOW many steps he lost. Jennings sucks!

    2. In the Superbowl year, that “average” Packer defense was 5th best in total yards, and 2nd best in fewest points allowed.

      Please define “average.” Your ignorance is showing.

  3. this article is drivel. McCarthy did a good job with the offense considering the injuries. His worst mistake was not having a good backup to step in when Rogers got hurt. It took three weeks to get Flynn in and then he had to get acclimated. The defense under Capers has been bad the last 3 years! There is talent on the defense because our players leave and play on other teams. what a hog wash article!

  4. I agree with the article. Vince Lombardi couldn’t get the bozo’s on defense to play decent. Fat blob Raji, whiny injury prone Perry, injured more than playing Matthews, we can’t tackle secondary(with the exception:Micah Hyde), etc. etc. etc..
    Hawk actually is the rock of the defense, say what you want about him but the man comes to play. Lets see take a pay cut and actually play the best season yet. Always out on the field not being a pussy claiming I am injured. I don’t care how great a player is, if he’s not on the field Hawk is better, so there take that…

  5. I totally agree one the MM angle, way too conservative on his play calling with the back up QB’s. Turn them loose on first and second downs and pass to set up the run, not the other way around.

    I am always entertained by fans that think Capers is the problem. NFL insiders, former coaches and personnel guys all profess he is one of the best DC’s. One gauge on how good any coach is to see how long he stays unemployed if you fire him. Case in point, Andy Reid. If the Packers fired Capers (and its not going to happen), he would be hired within one weeks time.

    1. Agree with you Don, Capers is not the problem,injuries and lack of talent.There is where the problem lies. If only the Packers Defense can muster up a better Pass Rush. It would certainly mask a lot of the deficiencies in the secondary. I remember watching the game against the Cowboys, during the first half it looked like Tony Romo had enough time to sit down and play a few hands of Texas Hold’em before the Packers D got to him.

      1. “If only the Packers Defense can muster up a better Pass Rush”

        The Packer Defense was 6th in sacks and 5th in sack percentage in the NFL this year. Better than many teams people associate with being good at pressuring the QB. I think we’re confusing general pass rush with getting the clutch sack.

  6. The premise for this article is incorrect. MM’s play calling was consistent over the course of the season. First, with 4 different QBs GB has the # 3 offense in the league. 6th in passing, 7th in rushing. The play calling was 45 % rushing, 55% passing. Considering Rodgers missed 8 games that is great offensive play balance and much better than some previous seasons. MM did call some runs when he should have passed but with Wallace and Tolzien he had to learn their capabilities rather than risk turnovers and put the opponent in good field position. BTW, if the running plays are executed they don’t look like bad play calls. Also, who called the plays during the comebacks in Minn., Atl., and Dallas games? My frustration is while MM and the offense was adapting to new QBs every week, where was the defense? No where! Capers schemes etc…, useless, and beaten bad. 9 minute drive against Bears in a 3 point game at home, 7 minute drive against Eagles at home! Players who can’t get off blocks and make a play, secondary out of position way too often. Can’t happen. That’s on the defense. When the star QB goes down the defense needs to step up so the backup QB has a chance to win a 20-14 type of game or a 17-13 game. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. This defense needs an attitude change. They need a sense of urgency and an infusion of bad attitude, not just better talent as some positions. They need to make opponents pay for yardage. When was the last time our defense stopped a 3rd and 2 or 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1? Rarely! Those are not scheme plays, those are man on man plays and attitude plays. BTW, Cory, Lombardi took a 1-10-1 team and with mostly the same players they became the greatest dynasty in NFL history, and first he changed their attitude because the talent was there since 10 of them became Hall of Famers. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. MM’s play calling always sucks. Nonetheless, it was even worse after AROD went down for the count. I agree with what you say about the defense – TT drafted a bunch of pussies. And the current defensive coaching staff seems unable to be able to transform them as VTL once did.

  7. The article title is correct, but that is about it. Why not talk about play calling as opposed to personnel? Every Packer fan knows that TT makes those decisions and rewarding Burnett an extension and not addressing the other safety is on him. If you want to discuss MM’s ineptitude, look no further than the Packers last drive against the 49er’s. Lacy and Starks ran hard to put then in first and goal from the 9. What was the play call? Randall Cobb run play, pass, pass. Made zero sense. MM, gets a little wiggle room since winning a SB in 2010, but those are things that normally warm a head coach’s seat. Pulling Tolzein for Flynn was one of the best decisions made by a head coach this season and ultimately put the Packers in the playoffs. The personnel combined with Dom not willing to make halftime adjustments is what really drags the defense down. Do a little more work before you post your next article as this one’s content was off base.

    1. “Pulling Tolzein for Flynn was one of the best decisions made by a head coach this season and ultimately put the Packers in the playoffs.”

      Except we don’t know what would have happened if he stuck with Tolzein. Flynn is horrible. We won those games despite Flynn, not because of him, IMO. Tolzein at least has an upside. And winning the division got us what? 1 and done and a drop of 10 slots in the draft. No teams deserves the playoffs with a defense like ours. Get real.

  8. Cory – I also don’t understand that you’re willing to criticize MMs play calling when he is playing without Rodgers (arguably the best player in the league and around who the offense is built) Cobb and Finley and an Oline that had basically 2 rookie tackles. Do you think some of those factors entered into his play calling? Yet, you are willing to give Capers a pass because of the talent level on defense. This is 3 seasons of poor defense. If it was just this season I would be OK with the results but I am not OK with 3 seasons of bad defensive play. If MM has a fault it’s sticking with Capers. How long do we accept this level of play from our defense? Thanks, Since ’61

  9. “He lost his star quarterback in Week 9 and magically backed into the playoffs thanks to the combined efforts of said quarterback’s right arm and the inept Bears’ defense.”

    We all agree that the season was a let-down in many ways, but when you win the game(s) you need to win to get into the playoffs, that ain’t backing in. 3-1 down the stretch to rally from an ARod=less swoon isn’t backing in.

    Going 9-3 and then losing your last 4 but still managing to get in because the other divisional or WC contenders stink on ice down the stretch, too…that’s backing in.

  10. 3 straight division titles, 4 to titles in 8 years, 5 straight playoff appearances, 1 Super Bowl win. All this while playing in a division that has had two or three 10 win teams. Come on guys, quit whining. These are great days to be a Packer fan. I was a fan during the 70s and 80s and there was only one good season during all those years.

    1. Mark, those were tough years but the Lynn Dickey to Lofton and Jefferson days were actually pretty fun to watch. Seeing the blizzard game against the Redskins when it finished something like 48-45 was a blast! GoPack!

    2. Fans like you are reason teams go into long term declines. Management changes when the fans scream for it. When they don’t, they get long-term mediocrity at best.

  11. We always must play with the cards that we were dealt. Let us hope that the replacement players give us some big play capability and more depth. Green bay has three in TT,MM, and Rogers that plenty of teams would love to have on their side. I think that Cory needs a needs to get a new line of work!

  12. Mark and James David – thank you and I agree with both you. Based on MM’s record I am perfectly fine to leave the play calling to him and Rodgers. Their .640+ winning percentage, plus SB and other titles convinces me that their play calling is better than any of ours could be. We haven’t lost many games because of the play calling. Plus, I am sure that Cory’s criticisms are based on all those hours and hours spent watching film of the opposing defenses and therefore he knows what plays should be called on every down. Thanks, Since ’61

  13. I think it is funny how people profess things to be the truth just because they have heard them before, not because it is what they see. Hawk is bad in coverage- really i have seen him make some good plays and have tight coverage when the pass was caught-= Jared Bush is awful- really wonder why he makes it thru training camp every year, I have seen him make some stellar plays also- it is the nature of the position to get beat far as MM goes I remember what one ex coach commentator said once “every play is designed to work” and if it doesn’t it is the wrong one and if does it was the right one. The only genius move I would like to see is to figure a way to avoid injuries

  14. Think about the season, we were 5-2 with a flukey loss to Cincy at the time the Bears came to town. The D at that point was near top 10 in the league (yardage and scoring). Then Rodgers goes out, Matthews goes out, Perry and Neal pick up nagging injuries, our backup QB goes out, we are forced to elevate multiple practice squad players, our center goes in and out a few games and forces us to shuffle the OL, injuries to backups forces our ST’s to have a different lineup every week and after all that we still somehow manage to squeak into the playoffs. Was it frustrating as ever, especially for fans? Yes. Was it a bad coaching job? No. GoPack!

  15. I think our problem is accountability on defense. I am a capers supporter, but something has to change so that players are held accountable. I personally think our defensive coordinator should be on the sidelines during games and helping players make adjustments not in a booth. I think everyone will be more accountable and try harder when your boss is close by you and watching over you. There are no consequences for poor play. A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji, md Jennings, brad jones keep seeing playing time and starting even though their play was atrocious. I would like to see more players get benched if they are playing poorly. We are a draft and develop team, give the young players the opportunity, if they fail then go back to the veteran. At worst you could light a fire under the veteran player.

    1. David, who do you advocate Capers put in the lineup instead of Hawk? Which guy is going to play better? Jones/Lattimore/Barrington? Its easy to say bench people, but far more difficult to actually do it. GoPack!

    2. The problem w/ Capers Defenes is its way to complex. It requires players w/ experience to execute it. When Capers arrived the D was pretty experienced. Since then we’ve lost a few playmakers to age and injury. Now they are using young players in their 1st and 2nd year to play a scheme that Pitts uses and generally gives a minimum of 2 years and sometimes 3 years to learn.

      Quoting Jason Wilde, and what I’ve said on other occasions…

      “Does what he can with young, inexperienced players in his complex system, but might be better served to dumb down some of its more challenging aspects as simplifying may allow some younger players to play faster and more decisively. Will never have a unit that will be comprised of solely veteran players, not with Thompson as the GM, but getting some impact players would help ease the pain of playing youngsters.”

      1. Stroh you bring up a good point. I knew the Packers were one of the youngest teams in the NFL but I was surprised to hear they have the youngest roster in the league! Make the Scheme less complex for the younger guys, makes sense.

      2. If in fact it takes 2 to 3 years to learn the Capers’ system, then the GM must resign himself to having an expensive defense since by the time the player learns the system, the player is on his 2nd contract or close to it. GB’s defense is relatively experienced.

        CBs: Shields (4th yr), Williams (8th yr), Bush (8th yr), House (3rd yr) and Hyde (rookie).

        Safeties: Burnett (4th yr), M.D. Jennings (3rd yr), McMillan (2nd Yr), Richardson (2nd Yr*), Banjo (2nd yr 1st w Packers).

        LBs: Matthews (5th yr), hawk (8th), B. Jones (5th yr but some at outside LB), Perry (2) Neal (4 but DE for 3 years), Lattimore (3), Francois (5).

        D-line: Pickett (13 yrs – 8 w GB), Raji (5), Wilson and Jolly* (4 yrs), Daniels worthy (2) D. Jones (rookie).

        IDK, looks to me like the defense had as much experience last year as it is likely to ever have. Obviously in years past we had rookies playing key positions, but not so much this year, and most of the rookies this year like Hyde played well. One might consider Neal and Perry essentially rookies at their position. I suppose TT has to draft smart players or instinctive players, which limits his options.

        1. Perry, Hayward, Worthy, Datone Jones, Richardson, Neal learning a new position, Mulumba, Jennings among others that need to gain expeeience.

          Apparently you also missed the part about playmakers. Does Jenning, McMillan (no longer on the team), Banjo Brad Jones, remind you of Collins, Woodson, Bishop?

        2. Also it only takes ONE player out of position to ruin the integrity of the scheme and allow a big play. Like a house of cards. Take one card out and the house crumbles!

      3. This defense is comprised of almost all veterans:

        CJ Wilson

        Heck, Daniels and Hyde played the best and they were 1 and 2 year men. What are you guys talking about? There is no excuse for veterans not understanding Don’s system. These players suck (thanks TT) and these coaches seem unable to light a fire in anybody. Many are vastly overpaid. It’s a freakin mess – a veritable clown show led by the head assclown himself — In Ted We Trust Thompson except he can’t draft/develop defensive players to save his life. Oh, but he’s had only 9 drafts to get it right, the poor assclown!

  16. Dom Capers may not be the best defensive coordinator but he is the very same coordinator who took us to the promise land because he had enough to create turnovers.
    with this roster we had I’m not surprised we got eliminated in the Wild Card Round we couldn’t stop a nose bleed.
    If nothing else TT, and MM a new training staff and to seriously evaluate resigning anyone beside , Kuhn ,Jones, Lattimore, Shields, Starks, Neal, Flynn, Quarless and EDS.

  17. To say that McCarthy or capers or Thompson did a horrible job, I don’t agree with that. There were games where I believe the play calling was bad, the defense underperformed, and special teams had their problems. Sure, the coaches had a hand in it. Most teams have imperfect managers. The pack didn’t go all the way because we just lost too much talent to injury. I think its a lot to ask to be a championship team in that environment. The teams we were up against didn’t have that high a hurdle. Why that happened is the first thing to figure out. They do need change on special teams, offense and defense. I hope they do an honest assessment and make those changes. I don’t think getting rid of McCarthy is one of them. His track record, and that of the entire staff and management over the years is second to none. They need to make the changes, all teams need to do that if they hope to get better, but lets not be to hard on them. They hard pretty tall obstacles this year.

  18. Mark, I remember thoseean years too! They had some real managemnt and coaching issues then. It is a good time to be a packer fan.

  19. You can blame anyone of the decision makers on this team as you know there seem to be some strange things going on in Lambeau. Started out in the Pre season MM did not play the starters like every other team has done since I can remember. Usually they play more and more as the pre season goes on but no, not this guy. I don’t think he instilled a winning attitude right from the start. The Pacers were not in any of the preseason games. Yes I know they don’t count but it’s the attitude that counts. How do the fans feel about buying tickets and seeing a team that is not playing to win. I don’t know how the packers got so high on the sack list. Probably because teams were making the long pass attempts. I would like to see how the sacks stack up to attempts and completions in the league. I have been watching the playoff’s and what a difference to see teams that can block, tackle and cover on passes. The packers have a long way to go. Forget about blaming anyone they just don’t have the talent to compete with the big boys.

    1. “I don’t think he instilled a winning attitude right from the start.”

      Huh? Sure the Packers dropped two of their first three–close games on the road to teams that ended up winning 10 and 12 games on the season–but when ARod got hurt they’d rattled off 4 in a row and even the defense had been playing well with very good showings against Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore. Usually I agree with much of what you say, but I don’t see this.

      “I don’t know how the packers got so high on the sack list. Probably because teams were making the long pass attempts. I would like to see how the sacks stack up to attempts and completions in the league.”

      Hard to say, but they were top quarter in both sacks and sack pct (sacks per opponent dropback). I haven’t found blitz percentages, though. Anyone know where to find those?

      “I have been watching the playoff’s and what a difference to see teams that can block, tackle and cover on passes. ”


  20. I agree that needing the backup QB proved to be a disaster for the Packers this year. But I disagree that McCarthy’s playcalling was any part of the disaster. I would call the playcalling a side effect of the true disaster.

    The problem at backup QB really started last March. Graham Harrell and BJ Cunningham were not good enough. Nobody else was brought in. In August, they compounded the problem by signing Vince Young and then cutting him.

    So they went into the season with 2 backup QBs that did not even get to spend training camp in GB, much less the offseason. Once the season starts, teaching backup QBs the offense is a low priority. So both Wallace and Tolzein were thrown into the fire without them knowing what to do nor the coaches knowing what they can do. Both had to be learned on the fly in game situations. Even when they signed Flynn, who knew them and they knew, the coaches needed a couple weeks refresher course on the offense to get things settled.

  21. All of this coaching criticism especially play calling is laughable. Evryone is an expert after the fact. However, the fact remains our O scored enough pts to be champions, even with all the many injuries.WE NEED MORE PLAY MAKERS ON D.

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