Schein: NFL Nuggets, McCarthy's Packers

FOXSports.com columnist and Sirius NFL Radio host Adam Schein weighs in on Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, the Patriots-Cowboys game, RBs Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson, Santana Moss, and the Chiefs, Jaguars, Ravens and Browns.

The Green Bay Packers are flawed.

They are also 5-1.

The main reason for the success is head coach Mike McCarthy.

Green Bay's second-year head man has done wonders with this outfit. McCarthy's firm, be accountable approach has worked brilliantly with the Packers. He is universally respected in the locker room. When you talk to the Packers players, they praise his consistency, work ethic and daily message.

Take last week for example.

McCarthy was beside himself that Green Bay was so lackadaisical with taking care of football in the team's only loss, to the Bears. James Jones fumbled twice and it killed the Pack. McCarthy spent Wednesday and Thursday at practice drilling the Packers on ball security. It wasn't a problem against the Skins.

The defense has been really good this season. The 17-14 win against the Redskins was a microcosm of how the defense played. Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and company shut down the running attack. Corey Williams stripped Santana Moss of the ball and Charles Woodson took it to the house to change the game. All-Pro Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila made key, late sacks that the coach later praised.

McCarthy and his staff had a plan and stuck with it.

And McCarthy also deserves an enormous amount of credit for his work with Brett Favre. This can't be stressed enough.

McCarthy preached ball security all off-season and preseason to the future Hall of Famer. And look at the start for Favre.

McCarthy told us last week, "I think we have a really good working relationship. It started in 1999 when I was his position coach and it really is the foundation of what we are able to accomplish now. I look at the quarterback room as a vital part of the success of our football team. Tom Clemens does an outstanding job. It's really helped Tom being down on the field now as opposed to be up in the box. It's really helped the network of communication that goes on during game day. We all spend an incredible amount of time together.

"On Monday night, we spent 2½ hours watching film, watching games. On Tuesday, Brett comes in for a 4-5 hour period. When we break for lunch, I come in and visit with him again. And I'm in all the quarterback meetings and the quarterback and receiver meetings we do together. There's a lot of quality time spent together. It's so important, especially with me calling plays. The quarterback and the play caller have to be on the same page."

Green Bay's run game has been anemic. McCarthy wants to establish balance. Favre needs it. Turnovers are often the result of when too much is on the shoulder of the quarterback.

"Any time you have a problem area you need to take as close a look as possible," McCarthy said. "We, as a coaching staff, need to be critical of ourselves. Maybe we are trying to put the players in a perfect play every time. Running the ball is about attitude, approach and fundamentals. What I am referring to schematically is more run-at runs. In our play book, that's runs you run against any defense, get a hat on a hat even if you don't have the best angle. We need to get back to getting down hill and stop trying to be so perfect."

And someone needs to emerge among Vernand Morency, DeShawn Wynn, Brandon Jackson and Ryan Grant.

"I don't think we are in a position to go with one guy based on our experience at the position," McCarthy said. "We try to do the running back by committee, which for us is a product of three guys. But we might need to adjust. We are trying to go with more of a lead runner, normal down and distance guy, with the other runner being more of a situational player.

"I also think this would help the line be on the same page with the main running back."

Will it work this year? It probably won't because of a lack of a true lead runner. But you don't want to doubt McCarthy on a bye week examining the problem. Ted Thompson and the Packers will have gobs of money to pay Michael Turner next year.

The Packers have a three-game lead over the Bears. An improbable trip to the playoffs, with Favre listening to McCarthy, the defense among the best in the league, especially with two lockdown corners, is now highly likely. There aren't too many people who thought that in the preseason.

We asked McCarthy if he saw this coming. Without missing a beat, the coach said, "I honestly thought about 6-0. And we were a few plays away. I don't mean to sound cocky, but that's what I thought."

That's Mike McCarthy, Packers backbone. That's Mike McCarthy, Coach of the Year candidate. That's why these guys love playing for him and why this overachieving team is 5-1.

Schein's 9 Nuggets

1. What was amazing about New England's win in Dallas, in a highly entertaining and competitive game, was you never thought the Cowboys would win during the ebb and flow of the contest. You didn't even blink even when Dallas took the lead in the third quarter. Tom Brady calmly led the Pats down the field and hit Kyle Brady for a touchdown.

With Sammy Morris and Laurence Maroney hurt, this game became all about Brady and his weapons. And Brady delivered a sensational performance once again, hitting Wes Welker for two touchdowns, while Donte' Stallworth and Randy Moss each had one.

In talking to Stallworth on Monday, the speedy receiver, who totaled 136 receiving yards and scored on a 69-yard catch thanks to a stiff-arm, says Brady's greatness starts behind the scenes.

"He is definitely a student of the game," Stallworth said. "Your best player is the hardest worker on the team. He does a great job with communication and that's so imperative between quarterback and receiver, and he takes time to work on it with Randy, Wes and myself."

2. 'My Saints' finally joined the party, pummeling Seattle in every possible way. Do people want to keep criticizing Reggie Bush? Come on! New Orleans' defense was stout. And how about Lance Moore? When pressed this summer, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Moore could be this year's Marques Colston. Moore started at receiver and ran an end around into the end zone.


Running back Adrian Peterson
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

3. It's hard to stop gushing about Adrian Peterson. My rookie of the year choice is playing like a five-year megastar, with 224 powerful rushing yards against the Bears in Chicago. But his 53-yard kickoff return, which set up Ryan Longwell's game-winning field goal, was his most important scamper of the day.

What was Lovie Smith thinking about kicking to Peterson? If there's one coach who should know the difference a returner can make, it's Smith.

4. Donnie Edwards (8 tackles) and Jared Allen (2.5 sacks on overmatched Levi Jones in 10 minutes) were largely responsible for Kansas City's win against the Bengals.

But perhaps Edwards' biggest play was getting in the face of safety Bennie Sapp, who completely melted down. Edwards told us Monday, "Bennie got into it with T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) and he got two penalties on the play, defensive holding and unsportsmanlike conduct. And he just really lost his poise. Sometimes, guys aren't thinking. And guys need to step up and remove your teammate from the situation even if he's yelling at you. And that's what I did."

5. LaDainian Tomlinson was breathtaking with four touchdowns in another huge statement win for the Chargers.

But perhaps the biggest set of plays came when Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips sacked Daunte Culpepper when Oakland had a chance to tie the game at 14.

San Diego won 28-14 to improve to 3-3 before the bye week.

"I like to just go out there and pin my ears back and just go," Merriman told us Monday. "Whenever I get a chance to do that, it works. It is going to end up pretty good for us. Whenever my coach or my team needs me to drop back, I'll do it for the sake of winning. I did that a few weeks ago against Tony Gonzalez. But what I do is get after the quarterback."

Hopefully Ted Cottrell remembers that the rest of the season as the Chargers seem poised to go on a roll. What a novel concept! Let's not reinvent the wheel here.

6. Be careful before you question the aesthetic quality of Baltimore's 4-2 record, let's remember they start three rookies on the offensive line, two because of injuries. Kyle Boller looked pretty good this weekend, subbing for an injured Steve McNair. Todd Heap left the game early with an injury. Boller will get the nod again this weekend vs. the Bills. And with the way the Baltimore defense flew around Sunday, there's a realistic chance the Ravens will be 5-2 before their bye. That's pretty impressive when you consider they haven't hit a stride yet and Matt Stover represents the bulk of the offense.

7. I am so disappointed in Santana Moss. I am stunned he fumbled on the game-changing play and was guilty of several drops. But to then pull himself out of the game? Come on Santana. That's not you.

8. How about America's team with a thorough pounding of the Texans 37-17? Give Jack Del Rio credit for calling an onsides kick in the first half to be aggressive and wake everyone up. I thought that was a turning point. The Jags, behind a lockdown defense, an efficient Dave Garrard and an electric Maurice Jones-Drew, didn't look back.

I cannot wait for the Colts-Jags showdown Monday Night in Jacksonville.

9. The beauty of the Browns pouring 41 points on the Dolphins? Nobody is surprised anymore. Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards have been phenomenal. But to me, the real story is the play of Eric Steinbach, Joe Thomas and the offensive line. Yes, the Browns are 3-3. And yes, I was dead wrong about the Browns in the preseason.

Adam Schein hosts the Afternoon Blitz on Sirius NFL Radio with Solomon Wilcots and Jim Miller from 3-7 ET. His Scheintology columns appear daily and his video NFL picks reports appear every Friday during the season on FOXSports.com.


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