Gray: On the same page

McCarthy's relationship with players beginning to blossom

The cliché of "a win is a win" serves its purpose in more ways than one. Granted the Pack has beaten teams with worse records, but remember this is the re-tooling year, and I like the rebuilding phrase personally. The whole idea, or the big picture, is to improve each game against teams that are more experienced and dominate the bad teams.

Already, this young team has experienced the importance of how one or two plays can make the difference between winning and losing against above-average teams. The losses to the Rams and Saints were a great lesson learned, and the Packers used those lessons to get wins over the Dolphins and the Cardinals in convincing fashion. By getting these wins in the fashion that they have, it proves that the system works when executed to perfection. Sure, against better and more experienced talent it will take a lot more effort, but the point is that it works and that's all that the coaching staff wants. Just for the guys to believe.

Many thought that hiring Mike McCarthy was a bit of a reach considering that he lacked head coaching experience. Plus, his resume, as an offensive coordinator, was somewhat non-impressive. Sometimes it's not about experience, but more about a solid working relationship, like a quarterbacks coach and a Hall of Fame quarterback looking to revive his love for the game.

The Cardinals showed multiple fronts with as many as seven players on the line of scrimmage several times, and Brett Favre answered with his best play-calling and audible-changing game in a long time. The best play of the game was on Chad Clifton's penalty for holding that negated a 48-yard pass that would have put the ball on the 9-yard line and a possible seven points. The penalty resulted in a field goal. Donald Driver was aligned wide right, Favre motioned him in and then out before calling a timeout as the play clock was winding down. Favre and McCarthy conferred on the sidelines and came back with the same alignment with Driver beating the corner and safety for the catch. Here, I'm thinking that the coach asked Favre what he saw and they both agreed and coach saying, ‘Let's go with it.'

It seems that McCarthy has brought back a working relationship, which Favre so desperately needed, along with a coaching staff with the same philosophy.

Another one of my likes again happened in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals were driving down the field. On a defensive timeout, the defense, defensive staff, defensive players that were not in the game, and players that weren't even suited all gathered about ten yards onto the field. It looked like a college game time out. That's what I call a ‘wanting to win' attitude and winning atmosphere.

Johnnie Gray

Editor's note: Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at

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