Burke Blotter: Packers’ Mike McCarthy Shuts Up Critics

Sixty minutes. Sometimes that’s all you need to silence some of your critics.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did that last Sunday after the Packers defeated the New England Patriots 26-21 at Lambeau Field. It was as big of a game as you can get during the regular season with Aaron Rodgers facing off against Tom Brady and McCarthy matching wits with the mad genius himself, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

It was particularly a big game for McCarthy. Despite a Super Bowl win, three straight division titles and even more wins than the immortal Vince Lombardi, there are many Packers fans who still do not like McCarthy.

They point to his flawed game management style. Critics have admitted McCarthy is a good leader when it comes to facing adversity (see the 2010 and 2013 seasons) but slam his game management style and willingness to budge from his game plan when things go awry.

Well, the game against the Patriots should silence all those doubts. It’s not another Super Bowl, but the fact McCarthy went toe-to-toe against Belichick, the master of the unscouted look, and beat him at his own game shows how good McCarthy really is.

The Packers deployed so many looks on offense that it made your head spin. Randall Cobb was moved all over, including in the backfield. James Starks, a running back, was lined up wide and ran a go route that resulted in one of the game’s biggest plays. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers even got involved and caught a 32-yard touchdown pass, his second touchdown in as many weeks.

It was clear as the game went on McCarthy was not afraid of Belichick. He might respect the man, and he said as much in his post game press conference, but he wasn’t afraid. Not many people thought the Packers would win this game, including a majority of writers at this website (yours truly included). A good deal of that had to with many thinking Belichick would outwit McCarthy.

Consider us wrong and (myself anyways) humbled.

There may still be some skeptics out there regarding McCarthy but one scene after the game should have silenced them. Anyone who has watched the Patriots know that after a loss, Belichick is usually very brief and almost curt when meeting the opposing head coach on the field.

Not with McCarthy. Belichick actually embraced the Packers head coach and talked with him for a long time, at least for Belichick. It was such an unusual scene many wondered if that was the longest Belichick ever met with an opponent after a game. That is unknown, but it is possible.

What is clear is that it was the ultimate sign of respect from Belichick, whom many consider the best head coach in this era of professional football if not one of the best of all time. McCarthy declined to say what Belichick said to him but said he was “gracious” which is un-Belichickian in and of itself.

So to coin a phrase popular on the Internet, “haters gonna hate.”

Mike McCarthy is one the best coaches in football. Even Bill Belichick sees that.

That should be enough to make the opinions of a few fringe fans irrelevant.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com 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 CBSSports.com.


33 thoughts on “Burke Blotter: Packers’ Mike McCarthy Shuts Up Critics

  1. Nice article. It is good for everyone to be “humbled” from time to time. It gives us perspective… But that is what is the most valuble on this web site and why all of you are so good. You are not afraid to say that you are wrong, when you are… Besides good observations and good football knowledge… It is pleasure to read articles here…

      1. I think you all deserve it. I wrote something I consider to be truth! Keep that way…

  2. Great article! In the past, McCarthy’s play calling has been a little predictable, but yes, against the Patriots he showed another side of him that we had not seen yet. I had been waiting for that for SO long. I remember watching all the formations that the Seahawks used to use Percy Harvin in, and wondered, “why can’t we do that with Randall Cobb?” I had to wait 11 weeks later to find out, but it was worth the wait. McCarthy and Capers have deserved some criticism in the past, but right now, in this moment, they deserve recognition. Well done coach McCarthy!

      1. Yes sir! I’ve been supporting AC Milan since ’95 and have been a Packer fan since ’91. I’m from the U.S., (dad’s side of my family is from northern Wisconsin) and also a lifelong soccer player.

  3. I see a remarkable change in McCarthy’s game planning this year. This game plan was masterful. I particularly like NOT deferring possession until the second half when winning the coin toss. We have been able to get several good teams out of their plans early due to early leads, Pats and Philly immediately come to mind. I was worried Pats would rush the ball all day. Couldn’t be happier with McCarthy. I always thoughts Pat and Packers were the best organizations in NFL, perhaps along with Steelers, Happy to have been a fan since “65”.

  4. As frustrating as MM’s game management strategy can look from the cheap seats, there’s nothing more deadly to the success of any organization than a leader that’s indecisive and waffles in his decision-making.

    Love him or hate him, you have to admire and respect his commitment to the path he chooses and his unwavering determination to follow the course he’s defined. And as the guy with the desk where the dollars pile up, that’s not only his right, but his responsibility.

    Fewer things will slow the progress of a ship more than ‘a captain’ who constantly makes capricious ‘course corrections’ while underway.

  5. Good article and everything you said is accurate. My questions are (1) why did it take so long to see this kind of game-planning and (2) are we going to see this kind of preparation more frequently?

    My answers to those questions are (1) I don’t know, and (2) I hope so!


    1. Maybe he does not want to put everything on the film to others to prepare for it. If you can win with regular schemes, why to give special ones. To please fans? I know that Packers has a lot up to the sleeve for every hard match. That is why first week went like it is. He fooled lot of opponents. He is one of the best Head coaches in NFL. His record say that!

      1. Maybe, but I don’t think so, Croatpackfan. I don’t think MM played vanilla against Seattle, a conference opponent, so he could save the creative scheming for NE, a non-divisional, non-conference opponent. I have never been a MM hater and have always considered him to be an above average HC, but I believe that most of the criticisms have some basis in truth.

        By the way, I was happy to watch Marin Cilic win the US Open.

        1. Well, I might be wrong, of course. But I did not have Patriots in my mind, but post season, when I was talking about covering the depth of play book. Patriots pull out some of those plays because there is huge opportunity to win 1st seed and home field advantage with win over Patriots. Mike McCarthy is strategist. He know very well that he can lose number of battles, but only if he can win the war… With home field advantage, it will be easier… That is what I have in mind when I was talking about hiding the large portion of play book….

          1. Croatpackfan says:

            “He know very well that he can lose number of battles, but only if he can win the war…”

            This is an excellent point. However, I’m not saying open up the playbook for every opponent. There are some basic coaching principles that I see MM (and other coaches) violate routinely.

            For example, screen passes are working in the first quarter of a game, why stop using that tactic in the second half? If the other team made an adjustment taking away the screen passing game, I understand but what did they expose themselves too? Are they keying on Eddie Lacy? If so, bring Cobb in motion to use him as a screen option in addition to Lacy.

            Another coaching mistake I’ve seen MM make is shuffling the o-line to get the “five best players on the field” at the same time. Thankfully, he hasn’t done it this season. He made changes in the pre-season and stuck with those changes. In previous seasons, he didn’t do that. One of the best decisions I’ve seen recently is leaving Linsley as the starter once JC Tretter came off short-IR.

            He’s getting better. I want to see this type of decision-making more frequently.

  6. MM is great when he starts listening to the fans. If he continues to listen to us he may become a great coach some day.

    1. i agree, he HAS to read the comments sections, i know i try to get some good plays to him every week, i hope he gets them, i think he does….he still is very stubborn at times though….and still throws dumb red flags…

      1. Can you imagine if we could talk into his headset during the games. “Mike don’t throw the red flag you dumbazz” He would become the best coach ever. I do believe Mike reads these comments and he is finally getting it. Kudos to Mike for finally letting us help run the show…

      2. According to Pro Football Reference, McCarthy has thrown one challenge flag all season. Is that the one you thought was dumb?


        Also, in the past decade and a half, only 15 coaches have thrown the red challenge flag more than 20 times. Of those 15 coaches, McCarthy has the fourth highest winning percentage on his challenges.


        Can we end this nonsensical argument that McCarthy doesn’t know how and when to challenge?

        1. Um, Marpag, I often agree with you, but your assertion simply is not true. MM has thrown the challenge flag 4 times this season, and has been unsuccessful all 4 times. You must have misread pro football reference.

        2. As stated in my post, this information is “according to Pro Football Reference.” As for misreading the information, if you’d like to click on the links above, the magic of internet technology will transport you to that website and you can check for yourselves.

          I myself had assumed that there had been more challenges, so maybe PFR is wrong. But my memory isn’t good enough to remember what the other challenges were. The only one I remember was the challenge of a short yardage play a few weeks ago in a blowout (Chicago maybe?), and yes, it was a very dumb challenge. But can someone identify the other ones?

    2. Big T — You gotta admit, you were wrong about MM last week. You said before the game, “MM is Belichick’s bitch…” Not really sure of the reasoning behind that. MM is 1-2 vs. Belichick. MM’s first loss was a 35-0 drubbing in New England in 2006, but that was his 1st year in charge and that team was not very good at 8-8. Then the Packers lost in New England again in 2010, but Rodgers didn’t play because of a concussion. So MM sucks because he had a back-up QB play in New England and then got blown out with an 8-8 team?

      1. I did admit I was wrong about MM last week… You have to admit Belichick did not seem himself however. I admit MM called a great game but Belichick was like a deer in the headlights.b

    3. Big T, did your letter to Santa arrive to the North Pole yet? I hope Santa reads it and gives you everything you ask for. lol

        1. The chances of MM spending any time reading our posts is way below zero. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want MM wasting his time reading our posts when he is preparing for a game. Exactly what plays would he be getting from us anyway? After spending all of training camp and pre-season putting in an offense do you really believe that a few games into the season he says to himself, I better check in with the bloggers to see which plays I should put in for this weeks game. Sure. or maybe after studying film for endless hours and reviewing all of the scouting reports he says well after looking at all the stuff prepared by professionals let me see what I can pick up from amateurs who never spent a second coaching or calling plays in the NFL. Yeah right. Earth to T shut off the radio now. Thanks, Since ’61

          1. Hey, we do own the team so he has to listen to us “shareholders”. When he sneaks out of bed at 3 a.m. to hit the fridge for a snack, that’s when he reads our posts. Then the next day he tells the rest of the coaches that he had a vision last night and this is what the game plan is. 61 don’t sell yourself short as an amateur, trust me, MM has used some of your knowledge as well.

            1. I’m not sure whether to take you seriously or not. Who are you George Steinbrenner? When Vince Lombardi arrived in Green Bay the board of directors wanted to tell him what to do. He told them to go pound sand. You have every right to express your opinion but I doubt that I, you or any other fan knows more about football than Mike McCarthy. We are all outsiders, do not watch film, go to player meetings or practice. What are your football credentials besides being a fan.

              1. You must not forget Vince had a huge sack. MM not so much. MM gets by with a little help from his friends…

  7. MMs play calling appears to be improving because he has a healthy team this late in the season for the first time in a few seasons. Play calling is a matter of utilizing the players you have. When you constantly have players injured, even Offensive linemen it is difficult to add wrinkles to your game plans. Players need to practice and play together to become consistent, once they are there you can add plays and make the required adjustments for adding plays and formations. If you have OLs coming and going, or WRs coming and going due to injuries it takes time for second and third stringers to learn the offense to the point where you can change it from game to game. This team needs to stay healthy and we’ll see the games plan evolve from week to week. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. On spot again. I have to admit your comments are really balanced and it is obvious you have large football knowledge and understanding for the game. Still I think some of the best plays are still hidden in the play book of Mike McCarthy…

      1. Croat – you are correct. We will continue to see some new plays as the season continues. Thanks, Since ’61

  8. People who bitch about play calling in general don’t know shit. The Packers have score more points than even the renowned combo of Payton/Brees since the start of the 2008 season. In other words McCarthy knows how to call plays. In McCarthy’s case when a play does fail the least likely reason for that failure is the call itself. Plus any smart play caller knows a ‘failure’ is only a failure if you don’t use it to your advantage later.

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