A look at the second half of the season and McCarthy’s future

B

Bob McGinn

Guest
By BOB McGINN

The last coach in Green Bay to miss the playoffs two seasons in a row and be invited back for a third was Lindy Infante almost 30 years ago.

At mid-season, Mike McCarthy finds himself saddled with the 10th best record in the NFC knowing his continued employment with the Packers could very well hinge on whether he can avert a second straight season without a post-season appearance.

McCarthy also must understand that a playoff berth alone might not be sufficient to save his job.

The Packers begin the second half of their season Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field with a strange cloud hanging over them. It’s likely this is the greatest percentage of fans clamoring for a coaching change since 2005, which was Mike Sherman’s last year at the helm.

When team president Mark Murphy signed McCarthy to a one-year extension in 2017, he talked about bringing “championships” back to Green Bay. Then he hired Brian Gutekunst as general manager to replace Ted Thompson, the executive that hired McCarthy 13 years ago and probably would always act like a firewall between the coach and anyone trying to fire him.

The first half season of the McCarthy-Gutekunst pairing has been unimpressive. The record is 3-4-1, McCarthy’s worst start since 2006. His team hasn’t played well on offense, defense or special teams despite rare good fortune on the injury front.

At times, the Packers resemble a tired old sedan trying to keep up with some sleek new sports cars. They probably need a 6-2 mark in the second half to have a chance for the post-season, but even then 9-6-1 might not be good enough.
In the NFC North Division, the Packers find themselves in the unaccustomed position of third place behind Chicago (5-3) and Minnesota (5-3-1), and ahead of Detroit (3-5).

Green Bay has played by far the most difficult schedule of the four teams. Its opponents own a 37-31-1 record, a winning percentage of .544 that was more challenging than that of Detroit (.478), Minnesota (.454) or Chicago (.434).

The worst portion of the Packers’ schedule is over: at the Los Angeles Rams, at New England on the last two Sundays. They were either tied or ahead in the fourth quarter before Ty Montgomery’s fumble did them in at the Memorial Coliseum, and then a collective collapse ended their upset bid at Gillette Stadium.

From this point forward, it’s the Vikings with the beastly schedule (.560) followed by the Lions (.552), the Packers (.470) and the Bears (.463).
Minnesota is the only team with more games on the road (four) than at home (three). The Vikings have trips to Chicago, New England, Seattle and Detroit around home games against the Packers, Dolphins and Bears. Three of their next four games will be played at night.

The defending divisional champions might be doing well to cobble together a 4-3 finish for a record of 9-6-1.
The Packers caught a break from the schedule-maker in that their three home foes in December – Arizona, Atlanta and Detroit – all play in enclosed stadiums, and the Cardinals and Falcons are warm-weather franchises.

Traditionally, Green Bay is a better second-half team largely because its’ home-field advantage becomes more pronounced when the mercury dips and the crowds at Lambeau Field seldom waver in parka-clad support.

Over the last 33 full seasons, the Packers have had a better record in the second half 18 times, a better record in the first half nine times and the same record six times.

McCarthy’s edge in the second half, however, has been miniscule: 61-34-1 (.641) compared to 60-36 (.625).
If you subscribe to trends, the Packers are due for a second-half surge because 2018 is an even year. They followed a 5-3 second half with a Super Bowl crown in 2010, a 6-2 second half and a berth in the divisional playoffs in 2012, a 7-1 second half and a berth in the NFC Championship Game in 2014 and a 6-2 second half and another berth in the NFC Championship Game in 2016.

Lest anyone rush to make a wager, let it be said these Packers won’t be going anywhere unless McCarthy can reverse results in four elements of performance that directly led to his approximately $9 million salary and having a street named after him.

All are foundational pieces that mark a well-coached team.

Nothing matters more to McCarthy than turnover differential. Only New England’s Bill Belichick has had better results here than McCarthy since 2006, and third place isn’t even close.

The Packers find themselves tied for 18th at minus-1 in the most telling category largely because they’re minus-4 in fumbles. Both the 15 fumbles and the eight fumbles lost are tied for 28th; from 2007-’17, their mid-season averages were 9.8 fumbles and four fumbles lost.

Aaron Jones’ lost fumble in New England shifted momentum from Green Bay. Montgomery’s fumble on a kickoff return scotched a comeback bid in Los Angeles and Kevin King’s inadvertent fumble on special teams got the Packers off to a terrible start in Detroit from which they never recovered.

Green Bay’s lost fumbles have led to 27 points for the opposition whereas the four fumbles recovered by Green Bay have led to just nine points of their own. Aaron Rodgers has a team-high six fumbles (three lost).

When it comes to interceptions, the Packers are plus-3 mainly because Rodgers almost never takes chances with the ball. He’d rather take a sack or simply throw the ball away than risk a passer rating-killing interception.

Coordinator Mike Pettine’s first defense in Green Bay is tied for 19th in takeaways. For whatever the reason, the Packers have merely 14 tackles for loss after posting almost three times as many (41) in the first eight games a year ago. Dom Capers’ defenses averaged 26.2 tackles for loss at the halfway mark of his nine seasons.

McCarthy has emphasized the giveaway-takeaway ratio above almost all else. When it comes to penalties, it was a wild west show for McCarthy in his first four years before he vowed, and successfully, to attack penalty avoidance.

Until this year, that is. The Packers find themselves tied for 20th in penalties with 58, which is tied for their most at mid-season since 2009. Even worse, the Packers’ 540 penalty yards, which rank 27th, represent their second highest mid-year total in the last 25 seasons.

All three phases probably have demonstrated an equal lack of discipline, poise and technique.
Several times this fall, Rodgers has repeated the Packers’ formula for success that includes winning all their games at Lambeau Field while gaining a split of their games away from home. They’re 3-0-1 in Green Bay but an unsightly 0-4 on the road.

Buoyed by thousands of green-and-gold clad fans almost wherever the Packers go, McCarthy enjoyed an enviable road record of 27-21 in the first halves of his first 12 seasons. Now the Packers find themselves associating with the riff-raff that also is winless as visitors this season: Cleveland, Dallas, Oakland and San Francisco.

And then there’s special teams, the overlook-at-your-own-peril phase that has bedeviled McCarthy from the onset. Under his offensive-minded leadership, the Packers almost never have been able to count on special teams for a big play when the other two phases needed a pick-me-up.

Based on a 10-category breakdown of special teams, Ron Zook’s units rank 24th. That rates as Green Bay’s poorest mid-season standing in eight years.
There is one dimension of these Packers that has been so effective it’s a wonder McCarthy hasn’t deigned to utilize it more. Ta da, it’s the running game, the old-fashioned method of moving the ball that slips farther and farther off McCarthy’s radar with each passing year.

Jones, who served a two-game suspension to start the season, still ranks 29th in rushing with 350 yards. His 6.0-yard average is the best of any running back among the top 40 rushers.

Largely because of Jones’ electric style of running, the Packers rank fifth as a team in yards per carry at 4.8.
Seven of the top 10 teams in rushing yards also rank among the top 10 in average per rush. Indianapolis, with Andrew Luck at quarterback, is 12th in rushing yards. Kansas City, with Patrick Mahomes, is 13th.

The outlier is Green Bay, which is the aforementioned fifth in yards per rush but merely 19th in rushing yards per game.
The Packers are running the ball at a 32.8% rate, which ranks 31st ahead of only the hapless Giants (30%). Five years ago, McCarthy’s mid-season run rate was 44.7%. He dipped to 36.1% in 2016 and 35.4% in ’17 before reaching his all-time low this season.

When asked about the imbalance, McCarthy will go on about game situations and personnel groupings, defensive strategy and offensive concepts, RPO’s and the need to score.

Let’s face it. When the sample size is half the season, all those variables tend to even out and what’s left is the preference of the man designing the offense and calling the plays.

The 10 teams that are running the ball the most have a combined record of 48-36 (.571). The 10 teams that are running the ball the least have a combined record of 34-46-2 (.427).

Maybe McCarthy will signal in a greater percentage of runs while also encouraging his quarterback to call more runs. Or McCarthy can always come up with a reason why passing is even more effective in the wind, the slop and the snow.
Certainly, from Rodgers on down, this is a roster that doesn’t appear to measure up against the best teams. The NFL, however, is a different animal. One never really knows about teams and what might lie ahead.

Does McCarthy still have it within him to inspire players, unify an organization and transform an inconsistent team into a dangerous force?

The answer could well determine if he has a future in Green Bay.







Become a Member

BobMcGinnFootball.com is an independent, member-based website dedicated to analysis, opinion and coverage of the Green Bay Packers and the National Football League draft. Our three writers have covered the NFL for more than 100 seasons combined.

SIGN UP


The post A look at the second half of the season and McCarthy’s future appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

Continue reading...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Mark87

Carpe Diem
Admin
Messages
5,092
Likes
1,279
Website
wisconsinsportstalk.net
I can't look in my crystal ball and figure this team out at all. I will predict much to many chagrin that MM will return next season. I still see full coffers and a conservative organization that doesn't want more change.
 

TW

Moderator
Moderator
Messages
1,695
Likes
806
I see McCarthy back. One caveat. They need to win 8 games. A losing record and I think it's a no-brainer for Murphy. He's gone. Murphy's concern wouldn't be lack of filled seats at Lambeau, there won't be any, but the total revenue stream produced in the entire "empire" surrounding the stadium.

I keep hearing how that the football enterprise is separate, and in some ways, that's true. But money always joins you by the hip, no matter how you want to parse words.
 
Messages
2,149
Likes
334
I don't think MM comes back. First the team would probably have to give him a contract ext as most teams including GB don't like having lame duck coaches. Second I don't know if MM would be open to only a 1 year ext he might demand either a multi year contract or be let go. Third MM and GB both need a change I think both sides might see that and part ways.
 

TW

Moderator
Moderator
Messages
1,695
Likes
806
If he demanded an extension with a year left, and walked, the Packers wouldn't need to pay for that last year. A win for the front office. If they gave him a one year extension, they'd make sure none of the coaches would have anything guaranteed beyond one year. They would definitely be a coaching staff with U-Haul trailers in their driveways, waiting for the season to end.
 

Cheesedog

Moderator
Moderator
Messages
2,545
Likes
520
If Murphy stays MM stays I think. They'll get one more year because they'll blame TT for the sorry state of the roster.

And GB hates turmoil. Even if it would end up being better in the long run.

GB is in complete turmoil right now. What really needs to happen is for the BOD to set the tone of what they want this team to look like and how they want it to function ...
 

rpiotr01

Lifetime Member
Lifetime Member
Messages
1,645
Likes
857
Said it before, will say it again. He’s gone after this year. MM was Ted’s man. I don’t think Murphy or Gute have much loyalty to him, and their reputations are on the line as well. No different than when TT fires Sherman. New bosses want to bring in their own man.
 

TW

Moderator
Moderator
Messages
1,695
Likes
806
There's times that I wondered if Murphy hadn't set McCarthy up to take the fall for failure this year, by giving him as much authority over the make up of the team, as the GM. In the real hierarchy of an NFL team, the way the Packers are set up, it would give Murphy license to fire McCarthy and his staff, yet keep Gutey on board, and let him determine who the next HC would be.
 

Wolfman

Member
Member
Messages
589
Likes
181
You guys who think McCarthy will be back depress me. That’s all I’ve got to add to the conversation right now. cloud)

On the plus side, my wife and I are in Cabo San Lucas right now and it is gorgeous! Between 80-90 degrees (I’m burnt to a crisp). So cheer up, Packer fans. It may not feel like it, but the sun is shining somewhere!! dance)
 
Messages
2,149
Likes
334
You guys who think McCarthy will be back depress me. That’s all I’ve got to add to the conversation right now. cloud)

On the plus side, my wife and I are in Cabo San Lucas right now and it is gorgeous! Between 80-90 degrees (I’m burnt to a crisp). So cheer up, Packer fans. It may not feel like it, but the sun is shining somewhere!! dance)
Then you get to come back to cold and snow just think of that and will depress you more than MM coming back
 
Top