12.23.2010

Point-Counterpoint: Is Mike McCarthy Ned Yost?

53. That's the total number of points the Packers have lost by in their past 12 losses, spanning two seasons including playoffs. The worst loss in there was by 12 points to the Vikings last season, the closest a mere extra point vs. the Steelers, also in 2009. Meanwhile, the Packers have the best point differential in the NFC over that same span with +277, thanks to a number of blow-out wins.

So what gives? Is Mike McCarthy basically football's Ned Yost? Yost was brought into Milwaukee to turn a franchise around, and to an extent he succeeded. But he was never able to elevate the team from solid to elite. The same claim can be made of McCarthy. While he has helped develop a solid club and brought it to the brink of greatness, he has thus far failed to take them to the next level.

So is McCarthy's high number of close losses indicative of a failing in his coaching style, or is it just a fluke? The Bauhs brothers offer both arguments:

Brian: McCarthy is Yost

Tell me that there are a few close losses and I’d admit that it may be a fluke. But when the number reaches double digits, then it moves onto being a problem.

In an NFL where free agency has made a team’s window for success small, coaches have been put on shorter leashes than ever. Close losses are no longer moral victories to learn by, especially when they happen for the 10th time. It may not be fair, but a coach needs to show a willingness to change and learn on the fly. McCarthy hasn’t.

Last season’s close losses were often because of the defense letting the other team score at will. That year the Packers gave up a total of 225 points in their six losses. That’s an average of 37.5 points per game. An offense cannot be expected to compete with that every game.

This season, in its six losses, the defense has given up an average of 19.5 ppg. That cannot fall on the defense anymore, as the offense has been right there in these games but unable to stick Wayne Larrivee’s dagger in the opposing defense.

Not much has changed this season in terms of personnel, other than the rash of injuries the team has sustained. However following the performance the team put forth Sunday night against the Patriots, I have no doubt this team has the talent to beat anyone, but just isn’t cutting it.

The lack of a running game shouldn’t be attributed to Grant’s injury, but rather to the way the running plays have been simple, one dimensional and sparse all season until last week when they unveiled the pulling off tackle sweep, which got Brandon Jackson into the open where he shines. They ran it 38 times compared to their average of about 25 per game this season.

What this comes down to is the team being on the cusp of making it. The Brewers rode CC Sabathia to the playoffs in Yost’s last year even if he was let go before they made it. While McCarthy may find his way as a head coach, this is his first stop in the NFL in that role, and he has shown a hesitance to adapt to his team’s personnel. Perhaps it is time to move onto someone who will.

Dick: McCarthy is not Yost

It's a total fluke.

This was supposed to be the year. It's reasonable to expect a few injuries, and any worthwhile team should be built to withstand the loss of a key player here or there. But 5 starters? Its a miracle the team is even in contention for the playoffs, and that's a huge credit to Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff.

Ned Yost had a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal when he was axed. But against the Patriots Mike McCarthy went from Rodgers-Finley-Grant to Flynn-Quarless-Jackson. That's three Pro Bowl caliber players replaced with reserves, and McCarthy still had the team competing for a win. The team played so well that after the game Cris Collinsworth had more good to say about the Packers than the winning team.

But that's the question, right? Yost was great for getting the most out of mediocre teams, and that's exactly what McCarthy is doing right now. However, I look at this year's losses and see where he has corrected his mistakes. Example: Last season Green Bay was the most penalized team in the league, and after the 18-penalty Chicago game there was concern that the problem had resurfaced. But the Pack has averaged only 5.1 penalties per game this year, good for 5th in the NFL.

Its things like that that push the stubborn McCarthy to change his ways. Though very set in his convictions, he's shown a willingness to change when faced with clear evidence to support it. That's why I'm interested in seeing his approach against the Giants. At New England Brandon Jackson finally stopped dancing in the backfield and looked decisive in his runs with a nice 22 carry, 99 yard game. He gave his coach a reason to trust him.

If Mike McCarthy loses control of his team, then yes, he should be fired. But right now his Ryan Braun has concussion issues, his Prince Fielder is on the IR, and Ted Thompson decided not to get him a CC Sabathia. I think he deserves another year before we decide whether he can take his team to the next level.

Where do you stand? Comment below!


3 comments:

  1. Your comparison to Yost is an interesting one, but there is no way McCarthy is getting fired this year. I agree he needs one more year to prove himself, although I am certainly starting to doubt his coaching ability. The close losses can be attributed to two things for the most part, horrible special teams play and no running game. Both of which can be blamed more on Thompson rather than McCarthy. He has the power to fire the special teams coach and bring in a running back that is more than a 3rd down back. I'm not sure Jackson is even a decent 3rd down back much less a featured back. I do think that McCarthy needs to start holding coaches and players accountable rather than making excuses for them. One last thought. When asked about the clock management and the last 40 seconds at the end of the Patriot game McCarthy commented that he didn't see anything chaotic or out of the usual about the way it was managed. Really? That response should be a concern for all Packer fans if they watched the same game that I did.

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  2. So McCarthy is ... Norv Turner? Here's hoping he does find a way to win a close game or five.

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  3. As a Bears fan I like Mc Carthy's coaching style and overall game planning. The team is usually well prepped and adjusts well on the fly. The glaring weakness is clock management at the end of games. Not only the Pats game but the Lions game as well. If the Pack pulled out a win against the Lions the scenario would be utterly different going into week 17. Maybe Mc Carthy relies on Rodgers building a sizeable lead thereby negating the need to think about what to do with under 2 minutes to go.....

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