Given all the fan despair, gnashing of teeth, and twitter logic, I figured I would try to add some sensibility to the internet for all of you to enjoy. This has been a rough season, but I assure you it’s not time to fire everyone and start over.
Here’s the reasonable outlook for key Packer focus points.
This guy has an amazing wealth of football knowledge and history. I totally respect that. For years, I have used that, along with reasonable defensive showings (and a number 1 overall ranking in 2010), to understand why he was kept around and accept it.
This guy has done a lot in his career, but I think the game is passing him by and I think it’s time for him to ride off into the sunset. He could still be a consultant if he wanted, but I don’t think he can coordinate a successful defense in the game as it is today. His scheme is too passive. In a league that makes rules to favor the offense, you can’t play D with your safeties consistently 20-25 yards off the ball.
Look at the players he has: Clark, Daniels, and Lowry is a phenomenal 3-man front, CM3, Perry, and Jake-and-Blake is a very good LB core, Haha and Burnett are above average safeties, and King, House, and Randall is a good-enough trio of corners. You have to do more with that much talent. There’s really no weak spot, its just a matter of playing them in an aggressive manner – defenders want to hunt! Oh, defenders also want their DC on the sidelines talking to them.
I cannot fathom why on earth you wouldn’t just cut him and give Trgovac or Moss or Whitt a chance to see if they could be the long-term coordinator so you can make a call on if you want to stick with them or get a new DC in the offseason. Actually, I can fathom why – McCarthy thinks it would send a message that they’re quitting. I can understand that even if I don’t agree. I actually think the players would appreciate the change, though. My guess is they respect their position coaches more than him anyways.
I don’t hate Dom Capers. I don’t think he’s terrible. I just think we could do better (because I trust the Packers to evaluate and hire coaches very well) with an internal candidate or plucking someone off the staff of a more aggressive defensive approach. Note that I do not want to see crazy blitzes all day, but I want to see corners playing tighter with safeties closer to the line – smaller passing windows even if it potentially opens up more big shots downfield. No more 3 man rushes on 3rd down with corners playing at the first down marker.
This roster is talented and deep. Look at the defenders list rattled off in the section above. Their offense is always top 5 when the QB is healthy and, despite the injuries everywhere else that hit them all the time, they are still in contention every single year. Despite tons of injuries, often stacking at single positions, they have been to 2 of the last 3 NFCCGs and were an overtime 3rd down away from being at 3 in a row. I know we want Super Bowls, but, come on – you have admit that they’ve had a deep talented roster for as long as he’s been around. Plus, he showed in Seattle that building a winner here wasn’t a fluke.
He’s gonna have to ride into the sunset eventually (and maybe he already started ceding some of that power), but there’s no reason to fire him. Even if you want him gone, the team is better off using his expertise and letting Eliot Wolf or some other internal candidate start making the final calls. I think this is an organization that is well run enough to handle challenges like that.
Really, Bill Belichick is the only peer this guy has in the league. Seriously, that’s the only team that has sniffed Ted’s level of success over his tenure.
The Packers special teams consistently ranks among the worst in the league. When he joined the team, I was excited to see a guy with that much experience – a head coach at a major D1 school – as our special teams coordinator. I have been nothing but unpleasantly surprised. They have a great kicker, a decent punter, and all of their coverage and return games suck #ass (currently tied for 25th in average yards per punt return with 5.7 and last year their long return was 20 yards – good for 26th in the league). This on a team that values special teams ability when forming the roster. He’s done nothing with it. This guy needs to go if only for the fact that he still keeps Trevor Davis as the primary returner, despite him repeatedly showing he is far too hesitant to play a role that demands quick, decisive decision-making.
If you can buy into the crazy notion that injuries make it harder to win and you demand accountability for the Packers losing, here’s your scapegoat: the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator (maybe you’ve heard this before). Now, maybe his role is to get players in shape and not necessarily prevent injuries. If that’s the case, the Packers need to create yet another staff position to specialize in that. Otherwise, injury prevention needs to fall here and they need to get someone else in to do the job. I know he’s Tom Lovat’s son, but come on. The game has evolved to a place where injury prevention science needs to be at the forefront and I’m surprised more teams don’t seem to be doing it. Mike McCarhty has the Packers towards the front of the curve on training innovation and this is the next step.
Here’s the real polarizing figure. Is he a great leader like Vince Lombardi or did he just have great players (particularly at QB) like Mike Sherman?
He built an offense over a decade tailored to the the unique skills of the greatest player in the history of the game. When said player is out, this is what will happen (which is why you can’t fire Ted Thompson for not having a better backup QB). This is what it means to develop a successful scheme in today’s NFL.
Now, you can point to other teams that have had more success with backup QBs. That’s because their offense was not as detailed and tailored as this one – because they didn’t have an offense built to Rodgers’s skills. When he goes out, they basically have to start an offense from scratch midseason and that takes time (which is why Hundley and Scott Tolzien, got so many opportunities).
I want the Packers offense tailored specifically to 12 because that is what has made them a top offense every year he’s been in the league. I don’t want them to water down their system so that it would be easier for a backup in the event he went down – that’s a loser approach. Does it mean if 12 goes down, we’ll have problems? Yup, and I’m fine with that because he’ll be up a lot more than he’ll be down and as long as he’s up, we’ll be a contender. Rodgers going down will sink a season either way.
The thing I respect the most about McCarthy isn’t how he designed an offense for Aaron Rodgers, though. I most respect that he isn’t just a coach, he’s a leader of men. No one quits on his teams (except Martellus Bennett, but I think we’ll all agree that’s an outlier). This team has been through hard times, tough injuries, and all sorts of very bad odds Through it all, the players have responded to his leadership and given their all even in losing efforts.
That says a lot and it’s hard to replicate. Just look at the Giants, who came into the season with Super Bowl hopes.
QBs take time to develop in the NFL. Carson Wentz didn’t set the world on fire last year, heck Aaron Rodgers film from 2009 isn’t amazing and prior to that, it was just bad. Say what you want about Hundley’s “three years of film study and preseason,” but it takes time in live games to see what you have in a QB. He’s flashed here and there, but shown that he is a little slow in finding his receivers (but improving) and throws behind them a bit (which may be a timing issue that he can grow out of or just a deficiency that will bounce him out of the league). They have to figure out if they think he could ever grow beyond that and be a serviceable backup (in which case they would want to keep him around) or if they think those deficiencies will prevail and keep him from lasting in the NFL. Given where they are this year, I’m ok taking the rest of the games to figure that out – I wouldn’t consider it “giving up” or “doing nothing.” The Packers could use a higher pick and the bandwagon could use some thinning. Let’s see what we have here.
Teams without great QBs are bad. Bad teams draft early. Early picks can garner good QBs. It’s the circle of life in the NFL. So saying things like “they’re terrible without Rodgers” is just silly. Not only have they built everything around him, but of course losing the best player of all time will suck some wind out of a team. The Packers will snap an amazing playoff streak this year. Welp. They’ll get a high pick and come back next year as the probable Super Bowl favorites. We’ll do it all again and hope we stay healthy enough to have a shot at the end. That’s all you can (or should) hope for as a fan.
So Now What?
Enjoy the rest of the season. Accept that we won’t always be knocking on the championship door and don’t believe that anything short of first is a failure and cause for firing everyone. We’ve had back to back HOF QBs and we may not get a third. We may have to struggle with mediocrity for a while when Rodgers is gone, so let’s temper ourselves with a small serving of reality this year. The NFL is free entertainment. Let’s enjoy it when it’s going good and keep our blood pressure under control by making more Anthony Barr memes when it’s not.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.