Instant Reaction: Bob McGinn rips Packers

James Jones dropped two key deep balls on Sunday. He is a free agent after this season.

As a young aspiring journalist, there are always established writers that you tend to identify yourself with. You try to emulate what has made them successful, and learn from their writing pieces. Those writers for me are ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Packer Report’s Bill Huber, CBS Chicago’s Dan Bernstein, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinels Bob McGinn.

The final writer listed wrote a very interesting piece following the Packers final game of the season. The full article can be read here.

With stories like these people tend to run all the way to one side of the other. Complete agreement, or complete disagreement with nowhere in between.

The story calls out the Packers, claiming they are being left behind by the NFL’s elite, due to the failures of the “core four” if you will of their team. Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, and Dom Capers. I, however, have found some middle ground with this story, and will address thie issues here.

 

Where I Agree:

McGinn as always has a way with words, and puts them together very well in this story again. No word is wasted, and he supports his claim with plenty of evidence to back it up. That caused me to agree with the majority of the article.

The first part where I’m prone to agree with McGinn is in his lead.  He says, “It’s one thing to be confident, it’s another thing to be smug.”

Mike McCarthy’s post season press conference could have led you to believe that there is some smugness in the Packers organization. The failures of the last three seasons appeared to come to a head after a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Nov. 10. McCarthy was clearly annoyed following the loss and discussed “recurring issues, that I am going to start fixing tomorrow morning.”

Many believed that there would be some changes in personnel to send a message, or perhaps a change at the defensive coordinator position. None of those things happened, as the team remained status quo throughout the season.

Following a third consecutive year where the Packers finished in the bottom half of the league on the defensive side of the ball McCarthy, instead of addressing the issue, gave Dom Capers a ringing endorsement. He called Capers an outstanding football coach several times, earlier claimed statistics were for losers. The smugness that comes off screams of the definition of insanity. The Packers have had a good overall defense just once in the last four years. Oddly enough that was the year they raised the Lombardi trophy. Including that year the Packers have ranked 28th, 26th, 26th, and 29th in yards allowed per rush.

This leads into a question about Ted Thompson. Another spot where I agree with McGinn. I have been a supporter of Ted Thompson for quite some time. I am a big believer in stability within an organization. With the presence of General Manager Ted Thompson, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the holy trinity of football if you will, are in good position to keep stability for the forseeable future. However, my support of Thompson does not mean he is free from criticism.

This season Thompson’s stubbornness, or downright smug attitude toward unrestricted free agency finally bit him. Something as simple as bringing in Matt Flynn following the injury to Aaron Rodgers took more time than it should have. It’s as if Thompson is trying to prove doing things strictly his way works. He failed to sign another center, or have a certifiable backup after Greg Van Roten was placed on IR, forcing the offensive line to play musical chairs when Evan Dietrich-Smith went down with an injury and missed some time.

Perhaps the biggest failure of Thompson this offseason, was the steadfast belief that Graham Harrell, and BJ Coleman could hold down the fort at the backup quarterback position. When it was finally clear to them, though it had been clear to America for a few years now, they signed Vince Young. Young has had questions about his mental capacity and football IQ for his entire career, so he never had a chance to make the roster, and finally they settled on Seneca Wallace.

The story of the backup quarterback situation in Green Bay this year is one of the most embarrassing things any organization has gone through. It was a circus, that eventually all came back to Matt Flynn. Thompson can correct his mistake this offseason by keeping Matt Flynn around, and at least having some knowledge of what they have in the event Aaron Rodgers goes down again.

Thompson must continue to draft well as he’s done for the most part in his tenure, but he must adapt or he will die. What I mean by that is the use of all avenues to improve the team. I am not a proponent of a Washington Redskins-esque spending spree, I don’t think anybody would. However, General Managers such as Trent Baalke of the San Francisco 49ers, or John Schneider, a former Thompson disciple, now in Seattle have found ways to use all avenues. To nobody’s surprise they are the two teams playing this Sunday for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They were the two best teams all season, and they are currently leaving the Packers in the dust in terms of the NFC’s elite.

 

Where I disagree:
This is where I found some middle ground. I definitely agree with a lot of the things McGinn said as they are listed above, but I do believe he missed the mark on some stuff. I credit him for having the guts to write a story like this, because many others would not. However, that does not mean I think he’s right with everything he said.

First I will start with his criticism of Mike McCarthy. I am fully aware McCarthy is far from a perfect coach. At times he attempts to be too exotic with his offensive play calling, and can even become predictable at times. Some of the criticism about his smugness was something I agreed with, however, McGinn made the comment that the Packers did not overcome adversity.

In my view, that could not be further from the truth. There is little doubt the Packers certainly had some help along the way with the collapses of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears on the big stage, but they had plenty of adverse situations to overcome. Early in the season they lost playmakers left and right, and with a healthy Aaron Rodgers they were sitting at 5-2. After Rodgers’ injury they went 2-5-1. Certainly not the cleanest record, but McGinn’s criticism of McCarthy during this time is misguided.

McGinn said, “He couldn’t get it done with Graham Harrell, BJ Coleman or Vince Young. He could not get it done with Seneca Wallace or Scott Tolzien either.”

My argument is that falls more so on the shoulders of Ted Thompson, with a slight degree of blame to McCarthy for believing he could develop Graham Harrell. I believe that Bill Belichick himself could not function with the likes of the quarterbacks listed above. The fact that this team won two games, and tied one with a journeyman like Matt Flynn, and kept believing throughout the season even when they faced a 26-3 halftime deficit speaks volumes about the steadiness of Mike McCarthy. He’s not perfect, he can be loyal to a fault, as evidenced by his Dom Capers statements, but the Packers should feel very comfortable with Mike McCarthy going forward as he is one of the best coaches in football.

My other disagreement with McGinn is on a smaller scale, comes on the subject of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers certainly has not played up to the standard that has been set by his brilliant play in the last two postseasons. Rodgers has been outplayed by Colin Kaepernick and Eli Manning in the Packers last three postseason losses. That, on the surface, appears to be something alarming. However, look around the league. Tom Brady this weekend went 13-28 for 195 0 TD’s 0 INT’s against the Indianapolis Colts. At home, the Patriots won that game by 21 points. Rodgers’ stat line against the 49ers was similar. 17-26 177 yards, 1 TD 0 INT’s. The Packers lost that game by three points.

Yesterday Peyton Manning’s stat line against the San Diego Chargers was 25-36,  230 yards, 2 TD’s 1 INT. The Broncos won that game 24-17.

Last year against the 49ers in the playoffs. Rodgers stat line was 26-39 257 yards, 2 TD’s 1 INT. The Packers lost that game 45-31.

The bottom line is winning Super Bowl’s is a team accomplishment. Something that we often lose sight of due to all of the attention that has been put on the quarterbacks in a quarterback driven league. The Packers cannot afford for Rodgers to have games like the Broncos and Patriots had their quarterbacks play this past weekend. The evidence says they tend to lose those games. In 2010, Rodgers played a below average game in the NFC Championship, and the Packers still won 21-14. They had the team who could pick up their best player when he struggled. Something that Manning and Brady are beneficiaries of now, and Rodgers is not.

One other thing lost in the shuffle is Rodgers is playing against a much tougher defense than his opposition is in facing the Packers. Rodgers has to play better in the playoffs, but the team around him must play better as well.

This offseason has kicked off with some shots fired, some are agreed upon. The Packers must change in order to get back to the NFL’s elite, but not all is lost in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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Jacob Westendorf is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Jacob on twitter at

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