Here’s the counterpart to the previous “Five Best” list. These are Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s five worst traits.
1. Play Calling
A consensus has emerged that McCarthy calls extremely predictable and uncreative plays for his offense to execute. Because it takes so long to get young and new players up to speed with the playbook, McCarthy vowed to simplify matters and shrink the number of plays – but there’s no sign he has done so. Rarely does a McCarthy game plan seem to focus on the opponent’s weak areas, and rarely are weaknesses and mismatches fully exploited. Passes to running backs are way down from past years. Tight ends are under-utilized as receivers. The Packers almost never resort to gimmick or gadget plays, though most of the better teams use them effectively in almost every game.
2. Game Management/Adjustments
In the playoffs, cornerback LaDarius Gunter was overmatched by two of the league’s best and fastest receivers, and Damarious Randall didn’t seem to even want to be on the field, and yet these problems went unfixed all game long. The hurry-up offense has become hit and miss. The team often avoids huddling up, but they seldom proceed to rapidly set up for and run the next play. The run game often disappears after a few unsuccessful plays. Rarely does any running back attempt to go wide or run a sweep. Aaron Rodgers takes too many sacks, though the coach doesn’t seem concerned about the potential for injury to his most valuable player. The prevent defense is routinely over-used, and the offense also tends to go too conservative when the team has a lead – allowing teams to come back from large deficits way too often.
3. Player Selection and Substitutions
McCarthy just keeps playing injured players, at risk of further injury and even though they can’t perform well. He punishes players by putting them in his doghouse, or simply ignoring them, for weeks or more at a time (Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, Josh Hawkins, Richard Rodgers, Jermaine Whitehead, etc.) He’s very slow to insert new players into the lineup or meaningfully utilize his players’ individual talents (Jared Cook, Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael). He and GM Ted Thompson continue to retain and utilize high draft choices in favor of lower draft choices and undrafted players who are outperforming them.
4. Defensive Coaching Oversight
In McCarthy’s 11 years in Green Bay, his team finished in the top 10 in total defense only twice. McCarthy needs to assume more control over the defense, not merely delegate those duties to defensive coordinator Dom Capers – especially when things go awry, as they did this past year. Entirely too many average QBs had huge yardage games against Green Bay, including: Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and Matt Barkley – all who threw for 320 yards or more. Far too many average receivers also went wild, including: Marvin Jones (205 yards), Adam Thielen (202), Stefon Diggs (182); Delanie Walker (124), Pierre Garcon (116), and Deonte Thompson (110).
5. Fragile Ego – Public Relations
Increasing over the past two years, McCarthy’s relations with the press, and public, have become chilly at best, and hostile at worst. He gets very defensive when it comes to any form of personal criticism. Examples: the manner in which he sent Packers great Josh Sitton packing after Sitton dared to express some frustration with the offensive scheme; “Let’s just state the facts: I’m a highly successful NFL head coach;” “I don’t know why the hell I’ve got to come in here and answer questions about the things you [reporters] think that went wrong.”