“Nobody’s underdog”. The more things change, the more they stay the same. During a season in which many Packers writers surmised that McCarthy’s message might be getting stale, the 10th year head coach has stood firm in his message. Not only are the Packers sticking to the schemes that have allowed them seven consecutive playoff appearances, but Coach Mac isn’t changing his message, either.
“We’re not going to be an underdog. That’s not us. We’re going out to Arizona to win. We expect to win”
I don’t want to make comparisons to the 2010 Packers. I understand that the last time the Packers didn’t win the division, they won the Super Bowl. I understand that they were also 10-6 that season. I even understand that the Packers traveled to a heavily favored 13 win team whose primary team color was red and whose mascot was a bird in the divisional round. I EVEN understand that the Packers lost to those Falcons during the regular season, much like these Packers lost to the Cardinals.
These ain’t those. These Packers, ain’t those Packers. It doesn’t mean that Green Bay can’t win on Saturday (Jesus, I think that game was a Saturday night too) it just means that these are very different squads, with very different personnel.
The main thing that hasn’t changed is the trio that operates everything, Aaron Rodgers, Ted Thompson, and Coach McCarthy.
McCarthy’s my guy. I’ll more than likely never advocate for him to be fired. I think he’s one of the finest play callers in the NFL, and his level of success is not something that you come by easily. Here is where McCarthy’s packers have finished in his ten seasons:
Wild Card Round
Super Bowl Champions
Wild Card Round
Still going, baby
How is this possible? A trust in his process. He trusts in his process the same way that Ted Thompson sticks to his. He trusts his defensive coaches to do their jobs (I’m not sure this always happens) and he does his with the offense and the general direction of the franchise.
What went so wrong this season? Did McCarthy’s message get stale? Has the NFL suddenly adapted to his offense? Have they rendered his version of the west coast attack as useless as it looks? In a word, no.
Certainly McCarthy and his offensive staff could, and should have done a better job this season. They should have adjusted better to the loss of Jordy Nelson. They should have adjusted better to the struggles of an oft-injured offensive line. They should have adjusted better to the strengths (and weaknesses) of their players.
Richard Rodgers should not get the ball in the flat and be expected to make a play. Receivers that can’t get open one on one should be schemed open.
That doesn’t mean that McCarthy’s system doesn’t work when Jordy Nelson is the #1 receiver and the offensive line stays reasonably healthy. It certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t work next year when Nelson is back, Montgomery is back, the entire offensive line is back and whatever the Packers add in the draft or free agency (lol, I think) is part of the squad.
The Packers have finished 7th, 1st, 3rd, 9th (Rodgers was hurt for a lot of this), and again 1st in offensive DVOA over the course of the last five years. Green Bay is actually 11th in offensive DVOA in 2015. Better than you’d think, but among the worst outputs of McCarthy’s offenses historically.
To me, it’s far more likely that the team is really beat up, and that Rodgers hasn’t played well. When you look at his numbers, for a down year (especially when you compare them to Favre’s down years) this has been pretty digestable. I’m willing to bet that next year’s offense is going to look about as successful as the 6 good offenses that preceded it as opposed to the struggling unit that it is now. It’s more likely than not that McCarthy’s good offensive schemes will be good again than that the Packers should get rid of him.
That brings me back to the 2010 squad and the “nobody’s underdog” mentality. It’s the name of his biography by Rob Reischel. It has defined his tenure as Packers head coach. It started when Aaron Rodgers was given a concussion in Detroit. The Packers traveled to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots with their quarterback being Matt Flynn. Green Bay nearly won that game, and famously wouldn’t lose against until losing to the Kansas City Chiefs late int he 2011 season.
Being nobody’s underdog is part of being a part of McCarthy’s Packers. He won’t stand for it. It’s not part of his program. He and the rest of the Green Bay Packers fully expect to go into Arizona, a place where they just got their teeth kicked in, and get a win. It won’t be easy, but there’s a chance. The truth is, the Packers are underdogs. Just don’t tell the head coach.