The natives are restless.
And the natives – the exasperated fans of the Green Bay Packers – aren’t going to like this comment from coach Mike McCarthy one bit.
“Let’s just state the facts: I’m a highly successful NFL head coach,” McCarthy said on Monday, a day after the Packers were trounced 47-25 at Tennessee.
The Packers have lost three consecutive games for the second consecutive year. Before that, they hadn’t dropped three straight since 2008. At 4-5 for the first time since 2008, the Packers are in 12th place in the NFC and in jeopardy of having their streak of seven consecutive playoff berths – tied for the longest in the league – come to a crashing halt. Regardless, McCarthy was overwhelmingly positive throughout a news conference that ran more than 13 minutes.
“I’ve never looked at the ride to this point as smooth,” he said immediately after his “highly successful” line. “It’s always bumpy and, to me, that’s the joy of it. That’s this game. That’s how hard it is in the NFL. Really, what you did last year or 2010, as we know, doesn’t factor. It’s even more so with the parity and the youth of the team. To me, you have to stay in tune with the now. Obviously, people outside of our room don’t feel really good about the now. Personally, I enjoy these type of moments. I think this is kind of how my life has gone professionally; that’s just a personal thought. This is about our team and I trust and believe in what we do every day: what they do on the practice field, the conversations in the room, the conversations during the game, the reaction to the tough moments.”
Since the Packers’ rise to power during the second half of the 2009 season, there haven’t been many of these moments during the midst of a season. But the Packers are in a slump that has ratcheted up the pressure – at least from the outside. The offense the last two weeks has functioned only after falling way behind on the scoreboard. The defense, with an evaporating pass rush and a lack of playmakers in the secondary, has given up at least 30 points in three consecutive games for the first time since 2006. When the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, they didn’t allow more than 26 points in any of their 20 games.
Moreover, when the going’s gotten tough, the Packers haven’t gotten going. Against Atlanta, the offense had a meek four-and-out after the Falcons’ game-winning touchdown. Against Indianapolis, they failed to respond adequately to a game-opening return touchdown. Against Tennessee, they failed to respond to DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard touchdown.
“Our adversity football production is not high enough right now,” McCarthy continued. “We need to improve there. We know it, our players know it. That’s really where our focus is. That’s the difference in this league. There’s a fine line between winning and losing, and we are on the wrong side of the line right now. We clearly understand how and why we’re here. That’s what we’re focused on.”
While some fans no doubt will see stubbornness, McCarthy sees track record. And his track record is impressive. McCarthy ranks 36th in NFL history with 108 regular-season victories. His career winning percentage is .642. Of the 35 coaches ahead of him on the career wins list, only seven can top McCarthy’s winning percentage. Before Sunday, McCarthy’s record during the second half of the season in games quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers over the previous seven seasons was a sizzling 36-10.
“Every team’s different, every opportunity’s different, every season is a different ride,” he continued. “It’s a different journey, it really is. We knew that when the schedule came out. We knew there was going to be a lot of twists and turn of this season. Did I still think we were going to win them all? Hell, yeah. I’ve never entered a contest ever that I didn’t feel we were going to beat the other guy. That won’t change, especially this week. That part of it is real and that’s what we’re focused on.”
McCarthy continued by pointing out that “big-picture stuff, it’s all there in front of you.” For a man leading a slumping team that has played worse instead of better, McCarthy had a remarkably positive message on Monday. How? And why?
It stems from a belief in what he’s done and those around him.
“I look at it differently than you are,” he said. “I think the way I view our football team, the way I work every day, where I work every day and, most importantly, who I work with is clearly a reflection of my attitude and my belief.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.