Cory's Corner: Mike McCarthy deserves his due

Obviously nobody was giving Mike McCarthy any credit when the Packers were stuck in idle with a 4-6 record.

But now that the Packers are rolling after five straight wins, it’s time to give the Packers head coach some credit. This may be hard for some in the #FireMcCarthy crowd, but it’s true.

The warts are all over the schedule. Stefon Diggs didn’t just torch the Packers in Week 2, he had a career-high in receiving by a cool 53 yards. A 99-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff by the Colts set the tone for a bad performance in Week 9. The following week, the Packers were just 4-for-15 on third down in a 22-point loss to the Titans.

After all that, it would be easy for any team to pack it in and think about next year.

But McCarthy made changes. He sprinkled in more of the short passing game that has been a steady diet of past success. And the person that benefitted the most from this was Jordy Nelson, who has thrived by getting an increased role from the slot.

Another change was no longer teasing defenses with Ty Montgomery and making him the featured back. He’s the best running back on the team right now and McCarthy knew that in order to secure late-season wins, he needs a big back that he trusts to salt the game away. Enter Montgomery, No. 88 and all.

And finally, ever since Sam Shields went down with what appears to be a Packers career ender in Week 1, Damarious Randall assumed the No. 1 cover corner role. Randall has had his moments this season as he has tried to get up to speed on the fly. However, the second-year pro looked overmatched and confused at Chicago in Week 15. It’s not popular to bench first round picks, but Randall looked dreadful in allowing the Bears to have a heartbeat from a 17-point deficit. And McCarthy was consistent by starting Quinten Rollins over Randall vs. Minnesota on Saturday.

There were many people saying that McCarthy should’ve been on the hot seat or fired because the Packers looked unprepared and lost. But we all know that McCarthy would be available for about 15 minutes before getting a phone call to be another head coach.

Can he be conservative at times? Sure. But on Saturday he went for the throat. He had Rodgers come out throwing it all over the place and he never let off the gas.

If McCarthy ever lost the locker room back in November, he’s got it back now. Even Clay Matthews, who has looked invisible at times this year, was his vintage self by getting in the backfield and disrupting the Bears’ offense.

Even though the Cowboys have the shiny No. 1 seed and just dropped 42 points on an unassuming Detroit team, the Packers have the best offense in the NFC right now. You can tell me all about Dallas’ offensive line, but the Cowboys are leaning heavily on two rookies that are unproven when the calendar turns to January.

You can choose to dislike McCarthy all you want. Just remember, if he didn’t change things up, the Packers would likely be missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.  Instead, Green Bay has a great chance to host a playoff game.

Who thought that was possible a month ago?

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (44)

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CJ Bauckham's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:24 am

On the contrary, I think alot of people gave Mike credit for the 4-6 record. Lol

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The TKstinator's picture

December 27, 2016 at 05:55 pm

I don't think MM ever lost the locker room.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

January 11, 2017 at 08:58 am

I agree. Isn't it "funny" how winning changes everything?

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Dan Collins's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:33 am

By definition, everyone deserves his due.

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NickPerry's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:37 am

I'll be the first to say I wanted McCarthy gone at the end of the season. Being in the same place for 11 years and counting is a difficult task. It's gotta be hard to keep things fresh and not have the players that have been there a long time tune you out. But McCarthy has managed to turn this team around. I love being wrong in cases like this and will admit it happily. Well done Mike, let's finish it!

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NashvilleCheesehead's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:42 am

Ditto. An impressive turnaround. The fact this team held together and believed in the "run the table" mantra speaks volumes to both MM's and QB1's leadership. I hereby retract my calls for "regime change".

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rdent's picture

December 30, 2016 at 10:26 am

I talk to a lot of random fans at the local diner and the consensus still favors TT retires and Wolf takes over but I have to give MM a nod for a job well done turning it around. Edit: There was an article today on acmepackingco. about TT retiring after this year so dislike all you want, I am not the only one who acknowledges it.

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Oppy's picture

December 28, 2016 at 07:44 pm

The good news is random fans don't really know much about how professional football works.

By the way, we're all random fans. All of us. And we really don't know much about how professional football works.

There's a reason why we're at the local diner talking about football instead of in the coaches room breaking down tape for an NFL franchise, talking about football.

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rdent's picture

December 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

True we are all just fans but according to you, what we think doesn't matter so why are you posting on this site?

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dobber's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:52 am

I think this is one of his better coaching jobs. Some will say that he had ARod which makes the turnaround easy, but he had ARod when they were 4-6, too.

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rdent's picture

December 27, 2016 at 08:02 am

I too was one of the many who had my doubts whether MM should return and I am somewhat amazed at how they have turned it around and like Nick Perry said above, let's see them finish this.

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carusotrap's picture

December 27, 2016 at 08:24 am

I was sitting in economy class on the #FireMcCarthy bandwagon - I had a ticket, but I was willing to sell it. However...

I am driving the #FireTedThompson train. I own it. It's parked in my garage. I've bought custom floor mats, and I have green and gold fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror.

The reason for the angst at 4-6 and the reason we'll be biting our fingernails down to the second knuckle on Sunday is Ted and his immovable personnel concept. And don't say "Ty Montgomery." We all know they lucked into that. They drafted him as an WR...He had to come to them to get into the game as an RB.

I am completely happy to let Ted retire gracefully....and soon. Formally appoint Eliot Wolf, and retain Ted as a consultant or something. If you look at just about every problem on this team, it boils down to overmatched personnel. It would be one thing if that was simply an injury situation, but check out our secondary. We chose those guys over other guys. Really? (And yes, the #FireCapers train is warming up one track over.)

I agree that considering where they were, you have to give MM serious credit, but the curmudgeon in me wonders what would have happened if it hadn't taken 10 games for him to start coaching the team he had instead of the team he planned to have.

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NickPerry's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:27 am

Ted's drafts have slipped somewhat since 2010, 2011 but I suppose it was inevitable when you have had your front office raided year after year after year. A drop off HAD to happen right? You can't expect to lose guys like Schneider, McKinzie, and Dorsey and not expect it to effect "The Process". Personally I'd like to see Thompson stay on as a consultant for a year or two.

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Hematite's picture

December 28, 2016 at 06:12 pm

Ted Thompson needs to be completely gone .
His personnel decisions are getting more and more bizarre.
I wouldn't want him influencing the next GM on a daily basis.

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:34 am

Love the descriptions in the post.

However, I'll respectfully disagree with firing a GM who has drafted well enough to get his team into the playoffs for eight straight years.

Hindsight is 20/20. While the 2011 and 2012 drafts were deplorable, they've done much better in recent years. HHCD, Lindsley, and others have been as solid as they come. Bahktiari in the R4? What a steal. And yes I'll use Ty Montgomery as an example of good scouting and a wise selection on draft day. Choosing a kid with versatile athletic ability who can play different positions is a testament to TT and his team. You can't just say it was entirely luck.

Yes, the secondary is struggling this year. Every team has a position group that struggles. Everybody has holes to fill. Green Bay is not immune to the realities of the league.

Don't make perfect the enemy of the good.

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Packer_Pete's picture

December 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I completely agree with you. In addition, I would like to point out that not a single team in the NFL is able to overcame an extended period of having to play without the top 3 CBs and still field a decent passing D. I know, there certainly are better Defenses than the Packers can field right now, there certainly are better DB position groups on other teams. But take out the top 3 CBs from any team for a few weeks (and the top CB away for basically the whole season!), and then I'd like to see the current top NFL Defenses play with such handicap...

Sometimes even 1 player makes a big difference - Seattle's secondary and whole D is not the same without Earl Thomas! Take Lee out at MLB and the Dallas D becomes worse. Take Von Miller out and the Denver D is not as fearsome anymore. I'm not trying to provide excuses for Capers or Whitt (and I am very critical of Whitt!) or the Packers in general, but I think a lot of people should also be a lot more realistic here. Playing your no 4 CB on the depth chart as top corner means for all teams that this is most likely not an all-pro player, and covering the likes of Dez Bryant, Beckham, or Julio Jones will become extremely difficult...

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croatpackfan's picture

January 11, 2017 at 08:48 am

Take D. Rodgers-Cromarti from the 2nd best D by allowing points and? What happened?

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marpag1's picture

December 27, 2016 at 02:32 pm

No one writes a name on a draft card and turns it in by "luck." You do it - always - by conscious decision because you think that guy is a good player at a good value for that point in the draft. Ted Thompson was the first GM to pull the trigger on Ty Montgomery, and "luck" has nothing at all to do with it. You can absolutely point to Ty Montgomery as a feather in TT's cap.

People use the same weak argument about Aaron Rodgers... "oh, TT just got lucky and picked up a guy at 24 who just somehow managed to become great." If that's luck, then let's all admit that Bill Bellichick and the Pats are the luckiest SOBs on the planet because they "lucked into Tom Brady." Or do people actually think that Bellichick is pretty good?

Obviously, some draft picks are pleasant surprises. No one can deny that. But if we are going to attribute all of Ted's successes to "good luck" then how come no one is willing to attribute his wiffs to "bad luck?" Oh, he picked Jerrel Worthy and it was just bad luck that he sucked?

The draft is hit or miss. Everybody knows that. Some players overachieve, some underachieve. But a good general manager has more of the good kind than the bad kind. And TT's rosters - for as much as people inexplicably want to bash them - have been good enough to make the playoffs almost every dang year and even to win a Superbowl. And this is because Ted Thompson is a good general manager.

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 05:25 pm

I would further add that TT has been a genius at signing core players at discount rates. He got Bulaga and Cobb to sign for reasonable new contracts. Jordy was signed for way under market value based on his 2014 numbers. Daniels's signing was a bargain too compared to what other D-linemen signed for this past off season.

To some people the grass is always greener.

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4thand1's picture

December 27, 2016 at 08:41 pm

There was no reason to let Hayward walk.

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croatpackfan's picture

January 11, 2017 at 08:49 am

There was every reason to let Hayward walk. Look at his data in 2015 season. Way down what is expected and he asked for to much money!

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Since'61's picture

December 27, 2016 at 09:01 am

While I agree that MM deserves his due for getting the Packers this far and turning around the Packers 4-6 season I would have waited for him to finish the "run" this week before posting this article. This is MM's 3rd impressive run during his coaching tenure in GB. His first was the 2010 SB run. The second was 2013 when AR was injured and the Packers were demolished 42-10 by the Lions on Turkey day but yet still made the playoffs. Now 2016 and running the table after starting 4-6. We've got to finish this run and then we can heap the well earned laurels upon MM. I have supported MM over the years and I have no problem with him as our HC no matter how far we go from here. He has integrity, he is resilient, he believes in his players and his program, and he values the Packers heritage and tradition. However, as others have mentioned before me, It's time for TT to go and to promote Eliott Wolf. TT left with no RBs after 31 year old Starks!? Monty came out of luck and desperation, fortunately. Also, and more importantly, no experienced CBs after Shields. Why?? We have had seasons with no safeties, no ILBs, no backup QB, no TE for ever until Cook, and this year no RBs and now no CBs. I realize that the salary cap is a factor but how often have these on going weaknesses cost us a chance at the SB? Why is nothing done when the weakness becomes apparent and another season is lost and then we wait for the draft hoping that the draftees or UDFAs develop into the answer which takes another 2-3 seasons while another weakness festers and causes losses in the meantime. The GM provides the players, the coach utilizes the players to win games, the players execute the coaches schemes and game plans. When there is a breakdown in the players provided by the GM there is only so much the coach can do. MM has done a magnificient job when you consider the glaring weaknesses that TT leaves him with season after season after season. Go Pack go! Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

December 27, 2016 at 09:55 pm

I agree about waiting til season is over. I am more inclined now to push TT aside. I will give MM the credit he deserves for saving the season before it ended prematurely with a crash.

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:48 am

I'll respectfully disagree on TT. He's not perfect, but this team has been competitive year in and year out due to TT's draft and develop strategy. Bahktiari, Taylor, Lang, Daniels...there's a lot there to work with.

Every team has holes or as you put it 'glaring weaknesses'. The concept of 'just do something different' doesn't mean the result will necessarily be better.

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Since'61's picture

December 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm

I agree it doesn't guarantee better results, but the concept of doing nothing as injuries mount during the season assures that results will not get better and probably worse. The worst thing for management to do is nothing when a problem arises. A commitment to draft and develop is fine as long as it is part of a larger commitment to win. Some posters here like to post that Belicheck is a better coach than MM but that's not the case, the case is that Belicheck is a better GM than TT and he gets the players that he needs to win as Head Coach. That's the difference between NE and GB. The NE GM is committed to winning because it's his job. TT needs the same or greater commitment to winning that he has to draft and develop. Thanks, Since '61

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marpag1's picture

December 27, 2016 at 02:54 pm

"The concept of doing nothing as injuries mount during the season assures that results will not get better and probably worse."

Except that this year things did get better and did not get worse. Or are you saying that the Packers improved dramatically because of Knile Davis and Christine Michael?

"Belicheck is a better GM than TT and he gets the players that he needs to win as Head Coach. That's the difference between NE and GB. The NE GM is committed to winning because it's his job. TT needs the same or greater commitment to winning that he has to draft and develop. "

I don't have time to look up the exact numbers as of today, but when it comes to this mysterious "commitment to winning" - is that something similar to just plain "winning?" - I think TT's Packers stack up pretty well against the rest of the league during TT's tenure, and aren't much worse than a few points behind the Patriots. So is this your argument that TT needs to go because he's better than damn near everyone except Bill Bellichick?

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 05:15 pm

I agree with your rebuttal here, marpag1.

I would also add that when Problems arise the worst thing you can do is overreact and sign a bunch of dead weight past their prime veterans, not 'do nothing'.

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Since'61's picture

December 27, 2016 at 06:20 pm

Marpag - my argument is that TT's approach inevitably leaves us coming up short in the playoffs. We make the playoffs because we have a great QB. However, when you get to the playoffs your weaknesses get exposed. If you do nothing to shore up your weaknesses you can't expect that suddenly your players will become better against stronger opponents in the playoffs. Do we really want to face Atlanta and Julio Jones against our secondary in the playoffs. Not to mention the rest of Atlanta's offense. Anything can happen and I am usually the only poster here who never gave up on the team during the losing streak and who posts that I expect victory every week. That doesn't mean that I blindly follow and accept everything that TT does. Thanks, Since '61

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:24 pm

i'm with you on blindly following "In TT we trust", he done his greatest success in the fourth round. the man is really good at targeting late round players, but like since 61 says in the playoffs it has hurt us. i cant tell you how many times, i get in arguments about rodgers the playoff choker. aaron has his flaws, but most of our playoffs one and done, hes not even on the field when the game is decided. also the man is always trying to put square pegs into round holes on defense. if we somehow win it all, pres. MM should push him to step down and give him the role, he loves the most head of scouting. TT greatest strength is that finding the hidden gems in the late rounds and guys falling through the cracks. the defense is still what it is, and we have spent alot over the last few years in the early rounds on it. all i'm saying is TT may get into hof one day, but for me its time for new blood, and how people just love wolf, and the recent success of other tt disciples, if rodgers window is closing lets see another approach. one last thing when we were 4-6 most people were calling for his head, if anything MM may have saved his job.

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 07:24 pm

"TT's approach inevitably leaves us coming up short in the playoffs."

"Anything can happen..."

Not sure how to reconcile these two contradictory statements.

We understand your broader argument S61. We just disagree. I'm sure there are ATL fans on Falcon websites who complain Dimitroff hasn't done enough to shore up the porous Falcon defense. Or MIN/SEA fans who are beside themselves because Spielman/ Schneider can't get an O-lineman to save their lives.

None of these guys are on the hot seat and for good reason. They've drafted well enough for their teams to be competitive late in the season/playoffs. None are perfect, but they have filled most of the holes on their rosters. TT has done this as well for a longer period of time.

I don't blindly follow or accept everything TT does. That's different than saying he should be fired or let go.

Good debate. Enjoy your evening!

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marpag1's picture

December 28, 2016 at 01:43 am

"My argument is that TT's approach inevitably leaves us coming up short in the playoffs."

But that's just the thing, '61. Unless 2010 was just a mirage, your argument is clearly, undeniably and demonstrably wrong.

In 2010, when Ryan Grant went to IR, Ted "did nothing" and rode some horse named "James Starks" that he had picked up in the 6th round out of Buffalo. When Mark Tauscher went down, TT "did nothing" and plugged in Bryan Bulaga. When Nick Barnett went down, TT "did nothing" and went with some dude named Desmond Bishop. And it seems to have worked out pretty well.

Let's not forget that TT needed to clean up the Mike Sherman mess... and it truly was a mess. And let's also remember that even though TT inherited Favre, he did draft ARod and he needed to make the horribly difficult call to move on from the Hall of Famer... and he did it masterfully. But let's put all that to the side for now and focus on the winning.

In the 11 seasons since TT took over there have been 8 playoff appearances - 2 wildcard rounds, 3 divisional rounds, two conference rounds and one superbowl, a victory. This does not argue for "inevitably coming up short." His regular season record is 108-67, which is a fantastic .617 winning percentage that will put him on a par with anyone, ever. In the time that TT was GM, only Pittsburgh has won more than one Superbowl.

If winning is your standard, who do you like better than Thompson? Bellichick... right. Anyone else?

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croatpackfan's picture

January 11, 2017 at 09:14 am

No, we made play offs because we have great team. In which one of very important links is QB. But not alone. He has almost perfect protection on his OL. Oh, sorry, it looks like TT had luck with them, too. Also, Aaron is that good because he has some additional weapon on the WR side. How many teams may say that?
Also, can you explain me, Since 61, how many teams lost their 3 starting CB (one for season, other 2 for many games), 2 starting ILB, 3 OLB for some period of season.
Also I know we all scratched our heads when TT released Masthay and brought Schum - no complaints at the moment on that? But, yes that was luck, not knowledge.
Can I remind you how many fans was screaming against TT when he picked Ty Montgomery? But that was luck, I know...
And, please, stop with the claims: "That doesn't mean that I blindly follow and accept everything that TT does." because it is very clear that you are not follower, blind or not blind, of TT. You are follower of Aaron Rodgers. Only and exclusivelly...
While I'm ready to accept and admit some mistakes, which every person have, are present in TT work, (I think you should listen to Wolf senior who said about TT that TT is one of the best GMs ever) when you look at whole picture there is no reason to blame TT for many holes Packers has. With rush of injuries we have to be happy that Packers do not have more holes than they have now (and that is because of TT)...
Also, your claiming that Ty was just one lucky pick sounds wrong to my ears, because I think the reason why Packers went with only 2 RB on the roster (+1 on PS) was because they had Ty and Randall at WR group!
I really enjoy your posts about games, tactics, execution and similar, but with mentioned claims I can not agree.
Anyhow I wish all of us another 3 Packers victories this season!
Thank you from croatpackfan

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 27, 2016 at 09:01 am

If you want to get rid of MM, or if you used to want to, step #1 is get rid of TT. TT will be gone one way or the other within three years. I thought the season was lost five weeks ago. I stand corrected - we all do. Murphy is going to let TT decide when he wants to go. There is nothing anyone can do about it. Personally, I'm willing to eat some humble pie.

I have to disagree with Caruso81 about lucking into Montgomery. When he was drafted I and a lot of other folks immediately saw what they had picked up: a guy with Randle Cobb skills in a 220 lb. body. You knew this guy would be used to carry the ball out of the backfield at least as a gimmick. At his size it is not surprising that he could carry the load if needed. And I'm willing to give TT credit for seeing that potential when he decided to keep 7 WRs and only 2 RBs. If you honestly think they didn't have that conversation then I think you give them too little credit.

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stockholder's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Murphy doesn't have the balls to push TT out the door. The stockholders do. TT is a GM with Bohica. Got it! He drafted Monty because Adams was smelling up the place. He wanted a Kick returner plan and simple. Had nothing to do with Cobb.

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Gianich's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:28 am

Mashed Potato Mike scheming again! He deserves credit for sure. He kept them focused and righted the ship! That a boy, Tater!

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Lphill's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:49 am

I still would not mind a coaching change next season MM or Capers , sometimes fresh ideas is a good thing as long as it's the right fit . I actually would like Rex Ryan as the DC I think that's a good fit for him .

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Amanofthenorth's picture

December 29, 2016 at 04:31 pm

Fresh ideas are good!!!!! I can't believe I'm still
Reading stuff like this. The GBP have a coach for as long as he wants to be a coach. Amen. Most of the regime change puppets were Viking fans

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chugwater's picture

December 27, 2016 at 10:56 am

I think the best illustration of MM coaching this team away from the brink is moving personnel around and still getting production.

Ty Mont is the obvious example, but putting Burnett in as a defacto ILB while Ryan and Martinez were hurt was genius.

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Rossonero's picture

December 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

Same here. Glad I was wrong. **Rossonero makes bowing motion towards McCarthy's photo**

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LayingTheLawe's picture

December 27, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Before the season I think everyone would have agreed that if the Packers lost Rodgers their offense is toast. What was less obvious was the impact losing Shields had on this defense. Suddenly without a solid number 1 corner, the collection of athletic guys they had behind him have been struggling to replace him. At times they look positively lost and helpless back there. So taking that situation and turning it into a division championship would be quite a feat. Let's hope they finish the job this weekend.

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stockholder's picture

December 27, 2016 at 01:14 pm

It's nice to see all you guys reverse your opinions and comments. I hate to say I told you so. But I told you so. The players show respect for him. Their emotion has been displayed on the field.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 27, 2016 at 04:20 pm

The black and white viewpoint by some people of fire MM and TT vs they are Above Question is a false dichotomy.

Mike absolutely deserves credit for turning the season around. So does Aaron Rodgers. They did the right things to get here. It also took them way to long to adjust away from strategies that clearly where never going to work. Next time they need to be more agile. Whatever they are doing now that is working might stop working at any moment.

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4thand1's picture

December 27, 2016 at 08:47 pm

After the league has witnessed what McKenzie has done in Oakland, Synder in Seattle, Wolf will be impossible to keep.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 28, 2016 at 01:29 am

GB needs to "commit to commitment."

[Cory might get this obscure reference; others might as well of course.]

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