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A Plus For Packers Mike McCarthy

November 1, 2011

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is much like any other head coach in the league when it comes to dealing with the media. He has a slew of stock answers and uses a few key phrases on a regular basis.

This season, he has added the notion that every injury can be described as a “bruise,” but throughout his tenure he has regularly responded to questions and criticisms with variations of his team or players having “plusses” or “minuses” on specific plays or games.

When asked about penalties, McCarthy commonly responds that his team will have to “clean some things up,” and halfway through the 2011 season, the head coach seems to have put his key phrase into action. Through seven games, the Packers have had the fewest penalties of any other team in the NFC North:

Team Penalties Accepted Yards Lost
Detroit Lions 58 485
Minnesota Vikings 52 433
Chicago Bears 53 391
Green Bay Packers 38 282


Both the Packers and Bears enjoyed a bye in week 8 as the Lions and Vikings each added 4 more penalties to their totals. One might assume the Lions young, undisciplined roster is the reason for their division leading number of penalties, but that is simply not true. In fact, at the start of the season, the Lions were the fourth oldest team in the league whereas the Packers were the second youngest. The only reasonable conclusion is the coaching staff.

And Mike McCarthy expects perfection on every play. This idea is well exemplified through his grading system of plusses and minuses.

“We have a different grading system obviously than the people outside of our meeting room,” McCarthy said. “It’s based on the performance of every individual. Based on the level and the standard that we can play this game, we’re playing above average right now. And I think that’s very exciting because we feel strongly as a football team our best football is in front of us. It’s clearly evident when we go through the grades and corrections.”

McCarthy and his coaches grade every player on every play, and even if a player scores a touchdown, pulls down an interception, or sacks the quarterback, he can still be given a negative mark for form or execution.

I suppose to be the best, you have to expect the best. And the Packers players have met Mike McCarthy’s expectations so far this year.

In other words, I think it’s safe to say that McCarthy has “cleaned some things up” this season.

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