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McCarthy's predictions right on the mark


Michael from Dallas, TX

I enjoyed your bit in point/counterpoint this week. No one appreciates good satire anymore.

I don't know what you're talkin' about.

Kylon from Ipan Talofofo, Guam

While watching the Packers games (at 3 a.m.), I have never had any doubt they could win, and recently I realized that I unwittingly expect this team to win every game because I believe they are that good. I know that if they do somehow lose, they will bounce back. I see the Packers now like I viewed the "dynasty" Patriots. Is that the atmosphere over there?

I think a lot of Packers fans share your sentiments, but with a reluctance to express that opinion for fear of disappointment. I have a motto that works for me: "I like to watch." It levels me, grounds me. What it means is that there's nothing I can do to affect the outcome of a game, so why worry about it? Whether I drop to the floor in a pool of angst, or sleep through the game, nothing will change the outcome. All I can do is watch. My advice to fans is to not worry as much about what the Packers are doing to prepare, but to spend more effort on what you're doing to prepare for the game. Fans should prepare themselves to watch the game, so they are able to accept victory or defeat without either outcome affecting their everyday lives.

Robert from Harvel, IL

Is bump-and-run coverage a lost art? There is not a single cornerback in this league that is coming up and jamming the receiver at the line anymore.

Bump-and-run is a lost art because the rules don't permit it. You can bump but you can't continue to bump beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage, but there's still a lot of press coverage played. Receivers have to prove they can get off the jam or they will be jammed. What makes one guy an X and another guy a Y? The X is usually a bigger guy that can get off the jam, which he almost certainly is going to face because he's on the line of scrimmage. The Y-receiver is off the line and is often sent in motion to help avoid the jam. I would agree that we're seeing more zone coverage, and it's because playing pass-defense is becoming more difficult every year, because the league has tilted the rules to favor the passing game and because passing attacks become more sophisticated and efficient every year. I actually saw the Packers playing some "Cover Three" on Sunday against the Broncos. The premier cornerbacks, however, the ones that can really mirror a receiver, love to come up, press the receiver and get in a jam to knock him off his route for just a beat. It's a way of redirecting the receiver so you can play the technique you wanna play on him, therefore, jamming a receiver has become more of a tactic than an act of physical aggression.

Roland from Glen Cove, NY

At the beginning of training camp, you told us about how you enjoy watching the fringe players working so hard to make any team, earn a paycheck and fulfill their dream. We know about the guys that made it, can you tell us about some of the practice-squad guys and how they are looking?

I can't because other than the early portion of practice, stretching and a few drills, practice is closed to the media when the team breaks training camp. Training camp is about fringe players and rookies. The regular season is about a team's core players. When an injury or promotion brings one of those fringe players into the spotlight, as was the case last year with James Starks, we'll catch up with him. Otherwise, see you next summer.

Ari from Las Vegas, NV

What are your thoughts on Favre's comments on Rodgers taking him this long to win a championship?

I read them and didn't understand them, so I didn't spend much time on them.

Steven from Irving, TX

Is it me or was your counterpoint loaded with sarcasm? I've been reading a lot of your columns and can't really believe that you would prefer sushi for tailgating.

Me, sarcastic?

Matthew from Burlington, Ontario

In the offseason when McCarthy was asked about where his offense needed to improve, he mentioned they needed to improve its points per possession.

You're referencing the interview Mike McCarthy did at the scouting combine, a few weeks after the Super Bowl. If you ever wanted a season's preview that was right on the mark, that was it. He talked in that interview about needing to score more points and he flat-out predicted the emergence of the Detroit Lions. So what are two of the top stories of this season? The Packers' prolific offense and the meteoric rise of the Detroit Lions. Maybe the coach knows what he's talking about, huh?

Mike from Langdon, ND

You referenced John McKay. Who's been your favorite coach to cover?

I have been so fortunate. I'm only on my fifth head coach in 40 years, and one of them is in the Hall of Fame and there's a strong possibility three others might be headed there. Chuck Noll is my favorite because I covered him the longest and because he taught me the game of professional football. You truly are blessed when you are able to cover one of the legendary coaches of the game. Between Noll and McCarthy, I covered Bill Cowher, Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio, and I learned new stuff from every one of them. Now I'm getting a second dose of Coughlin with McCarthy. Yes, they are very similar. They have similar pass-offenses and they are each very disciplined and demand discipline from their players. They're also similar in their play-calling tendencies. I've always favored defense, so it's good to be exposed to offensive-minded coaches such as Coughlin and McCarthy. They've opened my mind to offense.

Brennan from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

You say the Atlanta Falcons will be ready for the Packers next week, but why wouldn't the Packers be ready for the Falcons?

They will be, and that's why I expect that this will be one of the feature games on the Packers' schedule. Don't be fooled by the Falcons' early-season struggles; that's a talented team. I know Mike Smith; they will be ready.

Rod from Ogema, WI

My impression of Head Coach McCarthy is that he is the kind of coach that can be successful for a long time. What are your thoughts on that?

I would be shocked if he isn't successful for a long time. The Packers have an unbeatable combination: good players and a good coach. To the point, Aaron Rodgers can really, really play, and Mike McCarthy can really, really coach. Enjoy the ride.

Deanna from Canton, GA

What a great time to be from Wisconsin. The Brewers, Badgers and Packers are all performing like champs. Has it ever happened in the past that a state's teams won the World Series, national championship and Super Bowl in one year? Do we have a shot at making history this year?

Did you watch Alabama on Saturday night?

Harry from Brentwood, TN

Why is it on third-and-short teams like to go deep? Football is a game of field position. If you can win that battle, then you can control the game. Is it to surprise opponents? It doesn't surprise me. Personally, I believe a slant can get you the first down very consistently.

I thought for a minute you might be a run-the-ball guy. Never mind. Why do teams go deep on third-and-short? For the same reason they throw short on third-and-short. Because they can't run the ball. A lot of people call it gutsy when a team throws deep on third-and-short. In my mind, unless they run the ball on fourth-and-short, I call it surrender when a team throws deep on third-and-short. There's a message in it: We can't bang up front. We're a will of the wisp. We lack muscle. Hey, if you can make it work, go ahead and do it, but that's not my kind of football and I don't wanna play that way. In my mind, you have to be able to do it all, if you wanna be a good football team. You have to be able to throw it and run it. You have to be able to stir in a little finesse when your opponent is unsuspecting, and you have to be able to pound it when the game has reached the point of physical confrontation. Avoiding those physical confrontations is worse than losing them. Avoiding them will make you soft. It'll cause a team to lose its soul.

Scott from Onalaska, WI

You nailed it. It is winter and the fear of it. If the Packers win the Super Bowl, then fans don't feel the cold of winter until late February, when the Super Bowl afterglow starts to cool down a little. But if they get knocked out of the playoffs or, heaven forbid, don't make the playoffs, then the fan's winter will start much sooner.

A Super Bowl win turns 180 days of unhappiness into 90 days of unhappiness. Go Packers!

Henry from Jackson, WY

Am I wrong or is Tramon Williams being targeted a bit more this season?

It's common for any player coming off the injured list to be targeted.

Bob from Colby, KS

In your opinion, what position player makes for the best head coach?

I used to think offensive linemen made the best head coaches, because they had a feel for the importance of and what it takes to win the battle of the line of scrimmage. That was then. Now, I tend to believe coaches that were involved in the passing game – a defensive back, receiver or quarterback, for example – make the best head coaches, because they have a feel for the importance of and what it takes to win the battle of the passing games. The game has evolved. Lombardi said it was first and foremost a running game. These days, football is first and foremost a passing game.

Raymond from Murfreesboro, TN

Can a quarterback get any better than Aaron Rodgers?

No, it can't be done. All he or anyone else playing at this level can do is sustain it. That's his challenge now. He's the player of the month for September, already has a leg up on player of the month for October, and is the clear leader in the race for player of the year. I've never covered a quarterback who's played at this level of efficiency.

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