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Exhuming McCarthy

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Mike McCarthy

Above: Congratulations to Seattle’s MVP in the NFC Championship Game!

Barnwell has an excellent analysis of Mike McCarthy’s hideously bad in-game tactics, putting it in the proper context of McCarthy’s extensive history of hideously bad in-game tactics. (There’s also some great stuff about how fans always assume that a late game offense that fails is a prevent defense even when there’s blitzing.)  But for whatever reason, lots of fans and most announcers love the kind of old-school bullshit that unnecessarily throws away football games like Murray Chass loves pitcher wins. So it’s worth addressing some of the more common illogical arguments used to defend McCarthyism:

  • There are some calls that are such close percentage plays that the general data doesn’t do much to inform the specific case, and it’s appropriate to defer to the coach’s assessment of the relevant factors. 4th and goal from the 1, or the 1/2, is not one of them. I linked to the 4th down bot yesterday, but again in these particular cases the odds overwhelmingly favor going for it. Only in very unusual circumstances should you kick a field goal, and the burden of proof weighs strongly against McCarthy’s apologists.
  • At this point, like Chass telling people who analyze the wrong statistics go get their nose out of their slide rules and watch the games, it is de riguier for the Phil Simms type to inform us that football games are played by human beings, and the general rule does not not always determine specific cases.  Well, duh.  But the arguments that proceed from this tend not to actually be arguments about the specific facts of a case but rather just meaningless cliches or useless tautologies.  “YOU HAVE TO PUT THE POINTS ON THE BOARD IN THE NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE.” is just a bunch of words next to each other. “I trust my defense” doesn’t tell us anything, because if you trust your defense why are you so terrified at the prospect of the other team getting the ball at their own 1/2 yard line?  “Rules” with no content and arguments that cut both ways aren’t reason to make bad percentage calls.
  • Was yesterday one of the extremely rare cases in which it’s correct not to play the overwhelming percentages? I can’t see that.  Yes, the Seahawks have an excellent run defense.  But the Packers have 1)an exceptional offensive line, 2)decent runners, and 3)the best QB in the world. Moreover, going up against the best team in football on the road should logically make you less risk-averse, not more.  The idea that the Packers were unlikely to get 18 feet on the ground doesn’t make any sense, and without that assumption you can’t defend McCarthy.
  • There’s a superficially more persuasive argument made by McCarthy apologists, namely that despite his horrible decisions Seattle had to have a large number of things go right to win the game at the end, and hey the odds of recovering an expected onside kick are a lot better than scoring on 4th-and-goal from the 1.  And, yes, after the Burnett interception Seattle’s win expectancy was south of 5% and a lot of things had to go right for them to win.  But the logical fallacy here should be obvious: it treats your good breaks as inevitable and knowable, while the other team’s good breaks are contingent and lucky.  McCarthy had no way of knowing at the time he screwed up the game that a QB long established as above-average would spend 3 1/2 quarters playing like Ryan Lindley’s less talented younger brother.  Nobody has ever confused Jermaine Kearse with Jerry Rice, but I don’t think expecting to get picks on 80% of his targets — two resulting from deflections directly into the hands of Green Bay defenders  — is realistic.  If all of this stuff had to happen for McCarthy’s decisions to be sound, then they were dumb.  The fact that coaches win all the time despite of making bad tactical decisions doesn’t make them less bad.  And, sometimes, those marginal decisions just do make the difference.
  • It’s also worth comparing McCarthy with Pete Carroll.  If Carroll went with the “YOU HAVE TO PUT THE POINTS ON THE BOARD IN THE NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THAT ZERO OFF THE SCOREBOARD. IT’S ABOUT THE JIMS AND JOES NOT THE XS AND OS JEEM” mentality and takes the 3 points at 16-0, as many coaches would have, the Packers almost certainly win.  And, as djw said in comments, I have less than no patience with claims that this was “luck.”  It was good coaching and good execution, and that McCarthy’s team wasn’t prepared for it is instructive.
  • As Barnwell says, we also shouldn’t overlook McCarthy’s conservatism also manifesting itself in taking the ball out of the hands of the best player in the world for much of the 4th quarter.  I know I’m supposed to be upset about Belichick “running up the score,” but leaving aside the fact that I think this is always nonsense in professional football, better that that playing not to lose.  There’s a reason that Belichick is 21-9 in the playoffs while McCarthy — with a quarterback at least as good as Brady — is 7-6.  And it ain’t inflated footballs or surreptitious videotapes.
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  • Joe_JP

    Guy deserves piling it on, I guess.

    I turned the game back on late. Did his conservative approach help explain why they only scored three points in the second half until the final seconds (where they finally had to go for it and probably took Seattle a bit off guard until they were basically in range for a tie)? They should have scored more than 16 in the First Half, but Seattle (if not necessary that way) can score 19 points in the Second. So, you have to score more than three points in that situation at least.

    • Kurzleg

      I thought they were conservative. I think McCarthy was really afraid of an interception turning the tide of the game. At half-time he told the sideline reporter that they expected more read option in the second half, which of course they could not defend when it counted (and really never have been able to defend). If he thought they’d see the read option, then he should have been a bit more aggressive in trying to put more points on the board. You could even say it was magical thinking to believe that his defense was going to continue to hold Wilson and Lynch down as well as they had.

  • djw

    The most shocking passage from the Barmwell article:

    What was bizarre, then, was McCarthy’s comment after the game that he was trying to hit a particular number. “The one statistic I had as far as a target to hit,” McCarthy said, “was 20 rushing attempts in the second half. I felt that would be a very important target to hit for our offense.”

    Dear God, man. This would be a mind-meltingly stupid thing to say if Rex Grossman was your QB. But with Rodgers?

    • howard

      i agree: that was the quote that caught my eye too, when i saw it in another writeup.

      • djw

        One way to interpret it is that Mike McCarthy knows that Mike McCarthy is an idiot who can’t be trusted to allow actual events and circumstances to determine how to approach offensive play-calling. Fair enough; unfortunately the idiot you don’t trust is also selecting the rule of thumb to do his thinking for him.

        • mattius3939

          I remember – vaguely – Bill Parcels talking about some combination of running attempts and time of possession as being keys to a winning formula.

          It’s no surprise to me that a lot of people hear “do A if X is true; do B if Y is true…” and reduce it down to “lead = grind out the clock,” like Parcels used to do.

          • Brien Jackson

            To be fair to Parcells, that was a different environment the game was being played in, where running was more important and passing more erratic.

            • BubbaDave

              Hey, he’s the one who convinced the Cowboys to go into the 2004 season with Vinny Testaverde as their starter…

    • royko

      Yeah, I mean at least I can kind of understand what he was thinking with all the FGs, even if he was making the wrong choices.

      But this statement was just crazy. It’s bad enough that he thought it, and that he based decisions on it, but the fact that he admits to the public that this was a real strategy he used makes me wonder if he needs to be in some kind of group home or care facility for awhile.

      • mpowell

        Yeah, that was inexplicitly stupid. I figured he was measuring the clock and figured he could win by running out the clock as long as Seattle didn’t get an onside kick. I thought this was pretty close to being true. But if this is what he was really thinking? Yikes.

        • Scott Lemieux

          and figured he could win by running out the clock as long as Seattle didn’t get an onside kick.

          Even this is a little dubious. He didn’t know exactly how long it would take Seattle to get the first TD. What if Lynch stays in bounds?

          • howard

            you know, i’ve been thinking about it a little more, and i wouldn’t be surprised if this is the comment of someone who hears about statistics but doesn’t really understand them.

            i wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some green bay running attempt correlation to victory that mccarthy has kind of absorbed as a strategic imperative….

            • cpinva

              “i wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some green bay running attempt correlation to victory that mccarthy has kind of absorbed as a strategic imperative….”

              if that’s the case, and I’m not saying it is, it would seem that those two first quarter 4th and inches to goal would have been a very appropriate time to have applied it.

              the general rule of thumb, on 4th down, is that if it’s a yard or less to a first down/TD, you’re within the opposing team’s 40 or better, you go for it. worst case, you don’t make it and the other team still has a long field ahead of them.

              granted, there are a few exceptions to take into account:

              1. there’s more than a minute left in the game, and you’re only ahead by 2 points. you might actually want to consider punting in this situation, and put the other team inside their own 20.

              2. you have the world’s worst defense, and giving the ball to the other team on their own 40 will almost surely result in them scoring. this wasn’t the case in the first quarter yesterday.

              I watched, in disbelief, both times they did this, and wondered what idiot offensive coordinator was making those decisions. I can only assume Rodgers and the rest of the offense was livid.

              • joe from Lowell

                if that’s the case, and I’m not saying it is, it would seem that those two first quarter 4th and inches to goal would have been a very appropriate time to have applied it.

                Yeah, this! If you’re going to go with the “make them respect the run” strategy, what possible better way can you do that than go for it on fourth and goal from inside the one?

                • politicalfootball

                  If you’re making them respect the run, you get the TD on third down.

    • brewmn

      That confirms what I’ve thought all season: the Packers were trying to establish the run to an almost absurd degree. Setting this as a primary goal in the NFC Championship game takes the almost out, and makes it simply absurd.

  • Mudge

    And then, of course, there was McCarthy’s decision to use a 3 man rush when it was 3rd and 20 (after it being 2nd and 31), having had a very competent 4 man rush all day. This gave Wilson about half an hour to find an open receiver..which he did. This series led to the fake field goal.

    • mpowell

      I missed that drive. That is pretty questionable. 3rd and 30, that might be okay. But 3rd and 20 is convertible if you give them forever to get open which is essentially what a 3 man rush does.

    • Rob Patterson

      One guy was spying Russell so it was really a 2-man rush, which is essentially a 0-man rush.

  • Murc

    I know I’m supposed to be upset about Belichick “running up the score,”

    … you are?

    Seriously though, that’s always been a crazy mentality. The only time to get upset about a team running up the score is if they’re doing something like clearly pushing their players very hard (risking exhaustion, injury, etc.) to turn a near-sure thing into a total embarrassing blowout. But otherwise, you can never have too big a margin, right?

    In fact, isn’t the conventional wisdom actually that if you have a big lead, that’s the best time to rotate in some of your second and third string guys, give them some more on-field experience, rest your heavy hitters?

    • timb

      I’m gonna disagree with this notion. That 16-0 Patriots team would be ahead by 35 points in the 4th quarter and running a no huddle, pass-happy offense. It was unseemly and embarrassing to one’s opponents.

      • Murc

        If their opponents did not want to be embarrassed, I would suggest ‘not being bad’ as an alternative.

        This isn’t t-ball.

        • Scott Lemieux

          If professional athletes and coaches don’t want the “unseemly” spectacle of opponents scoring points against them, they can 1)stop them, or 2)forfeit. Otherwise, if one team is competing the other one is allowed to.

          • timb

            By the way, pro athletes are not afforded the “walk away” option and you know it. the league which was gonna prohibit a star RB from playing with gold cleats might punish players who refuse to play the entirety of a game.

            • cpinva

              pro athletes can claim injury and sit down, it’s in their contract. if enough players are injured, play cannot continue, by the rules, and the team must then forfeit. and before you talk about “fake” injuries, clamping muscles happen all the time. then they unclamp, leaving little to no evidence it ever happened.

              • royko

                I gotta go with timb on at least this point. The league would never tolerate players or teams faking injury to the point of having to forfeit a game (that’s what, 35 simultaneous injuries?)

                There are TV contracts here. No one is going to get to end games prematurely. If any team tried it, Rog and the owners and the networks and the press would be screaming bloody murder.

                (But hey, they’re well paid, so the least they can do is take the full 60 minute ass-kicking.)

      • Rob in CT

        This same argument gets made in baseball, which is a sport I understand far better than football. And it drives me nuts.

        1. It’s a professional sport. Not only that, it’s the highest level of competition. There should be no whining.

        2. Shit happens. The only reason to take one’s foot off the pedal, so to speak, is if it’s a meaningless game (say you’ve got the division locked up) and/or you’re concerning about injury to your top players (in a meaningful game, this would mean a given player actually is battling nagging injuries, so you pull him to avoid exacerbating). Your opponents fee-fees shouldn’t even enter into consideration.

        I remember a game from 2001 when the 116-game-winning Mariners blew a game in which they were up by over 10 runs with something like 7 outs to go. It was a regular season game and it ultimately didn’t hurt them, but it could have. Every game counts, and there’s always the chance of shit happening.

        • howard

          i was at a red sox – yankee game at the stadium somewhere in the mid-late ’80s, and one friend didn’t arrive until the second inning, by which point clemens had a 9-0 lead, and i said “really, i’m impressed you made it all.”

          needless to say, i’m only bringing it up because the yankees eventually won the game in extra innings as clemens didn’t last 5 with such a big lead.

          it’s harder in clock-limited sports for such things to happen, but not impossible: i’m still bitter over the new york giants blowing a 24-point lead to the 49ers in a playoff game in 2003, and one reason they did is that shockey dropped a sure TD pass on 3rd down from about the 2 and they settled for a field goal instead of building the lead to 28….

          • efgoldman

            by which point clemens had a 9-0 lead, and i said “really, i’m impressed you made it all.”

            I remember that game (from TV).
            OTOH, the Sox, some time in the 60s (maybe ’67, but I don’t think so) made up 11 or 12 on the Angels at Fenway.

            • howard

              special for you, efgoldman, 6/26/87, the box score!

              for those who don’t want to bother, the sox staked clemens to a 9-0 lead in 2, the yanks then scored 11 off clemens and others in the third (i remember a big winfield home run), the sox score 2 in the top of the 4th, and the yanks finally sent us all home in the bottom of the 10th with a run.

              • efgoldman

                special for you, efgoldman, 6/26/87,

                Thx! I was also at the game (in ’86?) where Clemens had a hellacious win streak broken; Canseco and Dave Kingman hit the two longest bombs off him I ever saw at Fenway.

        • Rob in CT

          Ah-hah, found it!

          The comeback team was the Cleveland Indians.

          http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE200108050.shtml

          It was 14-2 with 9 outs to go. The Indians scored 13 unanswered runs. Just looking at the box score, it looks like Seattle basically used good pitchers the whole time. They pulled starting position players, but other than maybe John Halama it looks like they used their A-list relief corps.

          The win probability graph is hilarious.

          • djw

            I remember that one well because I was with a group of people and we were on some kind of road trip and going out of radio range for a while. We turned on the radio, 14-2 top of the 7th, ha ha ha let’s put on some music or something. We arrived at our destination hours later shocked to see the Mariners about to lose the game in the 11th.

        • Scott Lemieux

          As Whitey Herzog said when somebody complained about the Cardinals stealing bases with a big lead, if they quit trying to hit home runs, we’ll quit trying to steal.

        • Grumpus

          There’s another reason why a team should stop scoring.

          In test cricket, there’s a rule that the match is over after five days. Each team gets two chances to bat, and, if one of the teams is still batting at the end of the match, it’s a draw. In order to win, you have to take all ten of your opponent’s wickets in both of their innings (unless they declared in one innings before giving up all ten wickets).

          If you have a big lead and keep batting, you have less time to take all of your opponent’s wickets when they bat. If your lead is large enough, continuing to pick up runs can lower your chances of winning, and increase the chance that the opponent can make it to the end of day five without giving up all its wickets, thus increasing your chances of having to leave with a draw.

          Therefore, it is common for teams with a huge lead to declare, meaning that they are ending their turn at bat before giving up their wickets. With the five-day limit in test cricket, taking one’s foot off the pedal can maximize the team’s chance of winning as opposed to drawing.

          This is why some commentators criticized Australia for continuing to bat early on the fifth day of the most recent Boxing Day test. Australia did not stop batting until the lunch break, and were left with just two sessions to take all of India’s wickets. In the end, they took just six wickets, and failed to get India out, thus ending the match with a draw rather than a win.

          2014 Boxing Day Test

      • timb

        Well, I never thought you guys would agree with me, but remain wedded to my ideals of good sportsmanship, which means I don’t embarrass people when I am winning. Plus, as a baseball fan, which is a sport of good-humored graciousness compared to the disgusting, life-shortening barbarism that is football, I admire dudes who play by the unwritten rules and don’t steal when they’re up 7-0 in 8th

        As for Howard’s recollection, no lead is safe in the 2nd inning. Clemens would have pretty safe with that lead in the 6th.

        The Patriots still attempting to score when up 40 was childish. And, childish costs them nothing we know of in the pro sports world, but my softball team didn’t take extra bases on the deaf team when their backs were turned like other teams did and we still won. For some reason, I sure felt better about us beating them by 15, then I would have if we beat them by 30.

        Again, it’s a stylistic argument, having more to do with an individual’s idea of what’s at stake in a game.

        Nonetheless, being up 16-0 and 19-7 isn’t a mistake

        • Scott Lemieux

          I admire dudes who play by the unwritten rules and don’t steal when they’re up 7-0 in 8th

          I don’t. Again, if one team is competing both teams can.

          Clemens would have pretty safe with that lead in the 6th.

          See that Indians/Mariners game cited above. Plus, this si another problem — who’s to say when a lead is “safe”? You might want to ask some Green Bay fans about that.

          but my softball team didn’t take extra bases on the deaf team when their backs were turned like other teams did and we still won.

          Were you all being paid substantial sums of money? If not, I don’t understand the relevance of the argument.

        • efgoldman

          but my softball team didn’t take extra bases on the deaf team when their backs were turned like other teams did and we still won.

          That’s nice, and all, but you’re talking about, at best, a poor beer league. We’re talking about professionals, neither side with a disability. Sorry, there’s no comparison.

          • howard

            definitely: in the pros, i don’t get this.

            that doesn’t mean i don’t willingly lose to my 10-year-old….

          • cpinva

            “We’re talking about professionals, neither side with a disability.”

            I believe Green Bay’s coach was a disability, but that’s another story.

            however, let’s take up your “moral” thesis, just for giggles and grins. is it “moral” for one team to stop competing, so as not to hurt the other team’s feelings? wouldn’t that itself be an insult to the other team? I believe it would be.

            • if one team is competing both teams can
              A few times, my coach quoted approvingly the great Australian runner Ron Clarke, who said that his competitors were trying as hard as they possibly could to win, so it would be disrespectful of their efforts to take it easy on them but still beat them. Can’t find the exact wording on the ‘net, though.

            • Brien Jackson

              This gets taken to pretty ridiculous extremes in youth sports/high school too. We had one incident in a youth basketball game where we basically pulled out best five players entirely and let the other 6 kids take the entire second half. They still badly outscored the other team, and needless to say the other coach muttered some four letter words at our coaches about “poor sportsmanship” after the game. My feelings were basically what were we supposed to do? Give these kids a chance to get extra playing time, but tell them not to play hard or score any points? Such petty nonsense that’s only about protecting sore losers.

            • Scott Lemieux

              is it “moral” for one team to stop competing, so as not to hurt the other team’s feelings? wouldn’t that itself be an insult to the other team? I believe it would be.

              Agreed 100%.

        • Manju

          Brady’s been acting a little frothy of late…”riding the blue colt” tweet. I wonder if he plans to grab Richard Sherman’s ass.

        • djw

          The Patriots still attempting to score when up 40 was childish. And, childish costs them nothing we know of in the pro sports world, but my softball team didn’t take extra bases on the deaf team when their backs were turned like other teams did and we still won. For some reason, I sure felt better about us beating them by 15, then I would have if we beat them by 30.

          I see a pretty important difference between people having some fun and getting a bit of exercise and people being paid very well to do a very high stakes job.

        • Richard Hershberger

          Ah, the unwritten rules! There was a recent(ish) game (in San Diego, perhaps?) where the pitcher had a no-hitter going, and a batter laid down a bunt. Oh, the pissing and moaning that followed! The thing is, it was a close game. Had there not been a no-hitter going, everyone would have praised the batter for smart baseball, doing what it took to get on base and give his team a chance, yadda yadda yadda. And they would have been right. But apparently the unwritten rules say that if the pitcher has a no-hitter going, you are now limited in how you try to win the game. feh.

          • cpinva

            “unwritten” rules are no rules at all. if they aren’t written down, there’s probably a good reason why not.

            • Ann Outhouse

              This.

              Also, running up a big score doesn’t just affect that particular game — it also sends an intimidating message to future opponents. Image matters. The Seachickens, who had to pull one out of their collective arses to begin with, are going to be a lot more worried about an opponent who won their playoff game 45-7 than one who won 24-7.

              • Brien Jackson

                I’m gonna hazard a guess that the Seahawks aren’t even remotely afraid of the Patriots. I, personally, can’t wait to bet on the Seahawks to cover whatever line the Patriots get as inexplicable favorites.

                • marduk

                  Did you watch Sunday’s game? The Seahawks were pathetic and awful playing a team built like the Patriots but not quite as talented, with a crippled QB and a joke of a coach. If that version of the Seahawks shows up the Pats win in a laugher.

                • howard

                  you’re going to have to explain this talent gap you see between new england and green bay, because i do believe you are the only person in america who thinks that there is noticeable talent gap in new england’s favor.

                  as for the game i saw sunday, the seahawk defense was put in consistently poor field position by turnovers going up against the best qb in the game and they held them to 19 points (with some assistance from mccarthy, admittedly). i don’t see a team that should be fearing the pats.

                  they may or may not win, but i will bet any sum you want that there will be no laugher in the pats favor. for one thing, the seahawks can stop the run….

              • Fighting Words

                I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Patriots win over the Colts. Seattle has a much better defense and a much more multidimensional offense than the Colts do. Also, given the results of the Andrew Luck era Colts, the Patriots just seem to have their number.

      • mpowell

        It’s not that it’s unseemly or embarrassing to the opponent, it’s that they were clearly going for the TD record for Brady and Moss. Which is also fine. Except they denied it at the time and will for eternity. There is simply no reason to prioritize receiving TDs over running clock to reduce likelihood of injury in those situations.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right, that’s a different argument. Belichick definitely left Brady in too long last night, I thought.

          • efgoldman

            Belichick definitely left Brady in too long last night, I thought.

            I think most NE fans think so, too. However this is of a piece with the way they’ve done it for a decade or more. I don’t see them changing now.

          • Manju

            Meh. Bill knows he could always throw in Matt Cassell or somebody.

          • ColBatGuano

            And had him run an extraordinary number of QB sneaks. Can’t Blount pick up that last yard? He managed to rip off the first nine without too much trouble.

            • Manju

              If you run an extraordinary number of QB sneaks, are they still sneaks? At this point, RB sneaks are the real sneaks.

        • BoredJD

          That brings up another point- a lot of these guys have contract incentives and probably see a big blowout as an opportunity to sock away a few extra bucks for themselves, although a smart owner would draft a contract to avoid this. It’s hard to fault them for taking the opportunity to increase their salaries given the average length of an NFL career and the typical earnings of a player afterwards.

  • keta

    The only thing I’m getting out of all this yakety-yak-yak blatherblatherblather is your deep and disturbing desire to be right, Scott.

    I guess it was enough for me to be entertained by the game. For others, not so much. C’est la vie.

    • Joe_JP

      It is “entertaining” to watch a clusterf* and that is a good word, I guess (I wouldn’t label it a “good” game, for instance — a team, the putative underdog at that, giving away the game this badly isn’t suitable for that label imho).

      But, this level of screw-up does deserve some comment, especially as a warning to others, including the managers and coaches of teams the readers like. I do think we got this a few comments from Scott ago, but at times he likes to lay it on thick. See also, his posts on steroids in baseball etc.

    • howard

      i don’t follow this: he is right!

      i get that in-game decision-making is only part of the job of being a head coach, but too many coaches make bad choices too often for us to just shrug our shoulders.

      • sharonT

        I’m not sure why he keeps banging this point into the ground.

        Your team won! Luck, skill or combination of both.

        Enjoy it!

        • joe from Lowell

          I’m not sure why he keeps banging this point into the ground.

          Because it ties in with a broader theme that is near and dear to Scott’s Moneyball-marinated heart: the continuing, culturally-transmitted errors in understanding and evaluation among the top levels of sports management professionals.

          Scott is Billy Beane, throwing a clipboard while the grizzled old scouts talk about drafting a guy because he has a beautiful swing and an all-American look.

          • ColBatGuano

            Five tool guys.

      • timb

        Not to mention that both Scott, myself, and several other commentators were talking about it at the time it happened, when it assuredly looked like we were very wrong.

        • Scott Lemieux

          And, oddly, I don’t recall anyone saying that nobody should defend McCarthy because arguing about strategy sullies the pure unthinking enjoyment of the game.

          • cpinva

            “And, oddly, I don’t recall anyone saying that nobody should defend McCarthy because arguing about strategy sullies the pure unthinking enjoyment of the game.”

            sports are meaningless to most people’s lives, other than for pure entertainment value. arguing about games is part of that entertainment value. if it weren’t, sports talk/call-in shows wouldn’t exist.

            • sparks

              Yes, and it’s an alien world to me.

    • FMguru

      For someone so blissfully content to be simply entertained by the game you sure have a funny way of showing it.

      • keta

        Funny how? Noting the obvious?

        A big part of being a sports fan is rehashing the games. Making the same points over and over and over again speaks to a different need.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Making the same points over and over and over again speaks to a different need.

          Apart from a quick couple of sentences without elaboration, every one of these points are being made for the first time. But thanks for wasting everyone’s time anyway!

    • Murc

      The only thing I’m getting out of all this yakety-yak-yak blatherblatherblather is your deep and disturbing desire to be right, Scott.

      This is disturbing why?

      Being right is important. We’d all be a lot better if more people care about being right rather than just not giving a fuck.

      • keta

        Thanks for the chuckle.

      • sharonT

        It’s a freaking football game, after all the bets are settled, who gives a damn?

        Getting it “right” on public policy I’m with you, but thinking that blog posts and comments are going to affect coaching choices is delusional.

        • Joe_JP

          Are you being serious here?

          First, I’m unsure how much ANY posts here affect anything. He’s well aware of that. He’s expressing an opinion & has a tiny bit more effect given his wider readership.

          Second, people talk about sports, including Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It’s a large part of the fun of it all. If you don’t care much about sports, people do the same about t.v. shows, celebrities etc.

          • sharonT

            I enjoy football and I have been watching and rooting for teams, and yes discussing games since 1972.

            So, I get “Monday Morning.”

            • Joe_JP

              If you “get” it, I don’t know what this talk about ‘delusion’ is all about, particularly since people generally don’t do that with the assumption it is going to suddenly make a team change their approach.

              And, you’d know loads of people “give a damn” beyond bets etc. I take it YOU don’t give a damn though who knows. But, ‘k then.

        • howard

          then i would suggest you don’t read them and carry on!

        • Richard Hershberger

          The concern with being right is a defining characteristic of a geek. (Or a nerd: only a total dork wants to argue about which is which.) In its trivial form, it results in much time spent memorizing Star Trek episodes. In its perverse form, it results in some loser shouting that he is right–even though he has just been proved wrong–as he flounces out of the room. In its grand form, it drives forward the advance of human knowledge.

          Monday morning quarterbacking is closer to the trivial form than any other, but being a geek (or perhaps a nerd or a dork), I have a soft spot for such things so long as they avoid the perverse form.

    • elm

      I think what keta is trying to say is, “Scott, may we not drop this? We know he lost the game. Let us not assassinate this coach further, Scott. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, Scott? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

      • PhoenixRising

        Okay, we have a winner, everyone out of the thread.

      • ColBatGuano

        Scott has a list of 205 NFL front office personnel who do not take advanced statistical analysis of the game seriously.

    • Scott Lemieux

      “It’s OK for people to watch sports, but it’s not OK to argue about them.” I can see why criticism of Mike McCarthy makes you upset given that kind of logic.

    • Mudge

      Well, I have stumbled onto no blogs in which it was the intention of the owner to be wrong. Any number of right wing blogs are, of course, hideously wrong all the time, but that, as they say, is their nature.

    • joe from Lowell

      The only thing I’m getting out of all this yakety-yak-yak blatherblatherblather is your deep and disturbing desire to be right, Scott.

      Well…it’s Scott. Why shouldn’t he get to be right every once in a while?

      ;-P

  • howard

    although scott just made a throwaway comment, i think the heart of the matter is that if you don’t make it from the 1/2-yard line, that’s exactly the place to trust your defense to keep the other team bottled up, get the ball back at midfield, and give rodgers a new shot.

    • Kurzleg

      Exactly. Kicking the FGs was terribly timid as well as wrong on the merits.

  • Strongly agree re: 4th quarter tactics. GB had an insufficient lead to keep running on the 1st 2 downs & going 3-&-out. Just stupid, & threw the game away.

    • mpowell

      Can’t agree with this. When you have a multi-score lead taking time off of the clock is really valuable. A 3 and out with three runs can soak 2:30. A 3 and out with 3 passes can take 15 seconds. That’s more than enough time for the other team to score. Time was low enough that burning clock was pretty valuable. It took an onside keep by Seattle to win, and that’s an extremely low percentage play.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I’m sensing there is an excluded middle here.

        • mpowell

          Assuming they get the ball back (and this is what killed them) they had 6 plays to burn clock. Seattle had 3 timeouts and possibly the 2 min warning to work with. So they can kill about 2:10 on those two possessions if they stick to running the ball. They had possession with a two score lead and around 5:04 left in the game. Less than 3 min is not very much time for Seattle to score two TDs, using no timeouts on offense. It’s possible, since you can do it once without miraculous efforts in as little as 1:00, but that’s hard enough and then you are talking about doing it twice, back to back.

          The middle ground would involve throwing on 2nd or 3rd down, or rarely, on 1st down. Problem is GB ran it on 1st and lost 4 yards. Then ran it on 2nd and lost 2 more. At that point I think the correct decision is just to run the clock instead of trying to convert a 3rd and 16 since that is a pretty difficult conversion. A short pass on 2nd down was an alternative but I think running it was still quite reasonable. You keep claiming that GB had a great QB playing for them but I saw a guy whose mobility was substantially limited by a lower leg injury (also impacts throwing), who hadn’t actually played very well during the game (2 INT?) and probably was offering a quality of play in the range of 5-10th best QB in the league at that moment.

          • Kurzleg

            You keep claiming that GB had a great QB playing for them but I saw a guy whose mobility was substantially limited by a lower leg injury (also impacts throwing), who hadn’t actually played very well during the game (2 INT?) and probably was offering a quality of play in the range of 5-10th best QB in the league at that moment.

            Well, he clearly couldn’t run, and he was a bit out of sync with his receivers. The first INT was acceptable as far as I’m concerned, though the throw could have been better. The second was miscommunication between QB and receiver. Anyway, by Q4 Seattle was expecting runs, as evidenced by the losses. The o-line was blocking their butts off on pass plays, so you’d think between that and Seattle expecting run there were some passing plays to be made.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Don’t forget Sherman and Thomas being seriously hurt. The way Rodgers carved up the field on the final drive with Seattle knowing he was going to throw seems pretty relevant here.

      • shawn k

        But they didn’t burn up any clock, because Seattle kept calling time outs. So they ran it up the gut 3 times taking the ball out of Roger’s hand, ate hardly any clock, and gave it right back to Seattle. I don’t get that at all. If you can see in advance that the normal “run it up the middle” isn’t going to even burn any clock, at least throw some short passes and get a couple of first downs.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Right, one thing people are missing is that a QB of the caliber of Rogers throwing conservative passes has a very good chance of of keeping the clock running (or forcing the other team to burn timeouts.) Sure, there’s a better chance of the clock stopping by throwing, but there’s also a better chance of getting first downs.

          • howard

            if all you’re trying to do is complete 4-yard passes, rogers has an excellent chance of keeping the clock moving….

            • mpowell

              Trying completing 4 yard passes against a desperate, historically great pass defense that likes to play press coverage. Not nearly as easy as it is to do in the middle of the 2nd quarter.

              • Kurzleg

                Except that they were expecting run and were able to stop it, to say the least. Would take some creative play-calling to run successfully there. By contrast, GB has enough receivers and TE to make something happen there, especially with the O line playing so well in pass pro.

              • howard

                true enough, but part of what makes the seattle pass defense so great isn’t that they stop the 4-yarders, it’s that they keep the 4-yarders at 4 yards.

                which is great as an overall strategy, but all we’re talking about here is whether you could have killed clock equally way with pounding the run or pounding the short pass option….

                • Kurzleg

                  Good point, Howard. And a possible side benefit to this is Seattle overplaying the short pass and allowing a longer one at some point, especially if GB gets a 1st down or two..

              • Scott Lemieux

                a desperate, historically great pass defense that likes to play press coverage

                When Sherman and Thomas are healthy, Seattle has historically great pass defense. The defense Seattle was running out there late in the 4th quarter yesterday is another story.

                • erick

                  Another of the long list of “curious” McCarthy decisions is why no attempts at the one armed Sherman? Run some screens to his side at the very least.

                • Erick: fuck yeah! Twitter worried Sherman playing possum; maybe GB too? Inexplicable otherwise.

              • cpinva

                “Trying completing 4 yard passes against a desperate, historically great pass defense that likes to play press coverage.”

                a pass defense with one of its best players (Sherman) playing with only one good arm. why GB didn’t target him constantly I don’t know. in fact, they should have targeted him nearly exclusively. either he’s going to have to leave the game, or Seattle is going to have to move someone else over, every single play, to help him cover a single receiver. at that point, some part of the field is very wide open, on every play, and GB has sufficiently good receivers to take advantage of it.

                another demonstration of poor coaching on GB’s part.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Or, more likely, Richard Sherman dominates his side of the field with one arm.

  • Marek

    Between Hans Gruber and the R.E.M. reference, you are on fire.

    Have to disagree a bit about the luck point (not that I’m a McCarthy apologist, for any value of that term), if I understand you correctly. The Seahawks were incredibly lucky – and talented! – to come back in the last few minutes. That the Packers were arguably lucky up to that point doesn’t change that. If a metaphorical coin had come up heads for the Packers 20 times in a row up to the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were still lucky for the coin to come up tails 8 times in a row at the end.

    • djw

      Yes, obviously, but the point is that with better decision-making, the Seahawks luck-skill cocktail at the end of the game would have been considerably less likely to have been enough. There’s no objection to observing Seattle was very lucky at the end of the game; the objection is using that observation to deflect criticism of McCarthy.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The Seahawks were incredibly lucky – and talented! – to come back in the last few minutes.

      I don’t think anyone’s disputing that. What I’m disputing is that McCarthy could magically have known that Seattle would only score 7 points in the first 55 minutes of the game.

      • Joe_JP

        Or 18.

      • Marek

        I don’t think anyone is disputing that either, though. McCarthy made bad decisions throughout and likely cost his team the game. Who says that Green Bay’s good breaks were inevitable and knowable, but Seattle’s were fluky?

        • Scott Lemieux

          I’m not saying people are saying that per se, I’m saying that’s the assumption implicit in saying that “there’s a better chance of being stuffed 4th-and-1 than not recovering an onside kick” as is if it’s relevant to evaluating McCarthy’s decisions.

  • Jim Caldwell

    My biggest issue with McCarthy’s otherwise excellent coaching is I don’t think he used his punter effectively. That’s an awfully big weapon to leave just sitting on the sideline, especially late in the game. For example, on the last drive in regulation, I would have considered punting instead of kicking the field goal. McCarthy still had a timeout, and if he really pinned Seattle deep and trusted his defense, he could have forced a safety or a turnover. Then overtime wouldn’t have even been necessary.

    Though it is pretty hard to dispute that McCarthy coached circles around Carroll. I like Carroll’s idea to fake the field goal, but he completely botched it. The better call there is to have the punter/holder take the snap and pooch kick it. That’s what you do when you trust your defense. Having him throw it is a sign of serious weakness and lack of trust.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Excellent comment. Now if we can only get Mike Smith to weight in…

      • Jim Caldwell

        Mike’s a good dude, and you’re right that it would be interesting to hear his opinion on this, but he’s working a MLK/Robert E. Lee Day doubleshift at the Decatur Walmart. They won’t let greeters sit either, so he’s going be pretty tired when he gets off. So he’s probably going to need to punt on chiming in.

    • Joe_JP

      forced a safety

      He would have used that strategy if they didn’t get the two point conversion.

  • Rob Patterson

    I think I know the answer to this, but … are there any announcers who would side with Barnwell and Scott, or are 100% of them of the Simms/Aikman variety?

    Wouldn’t it be great if there was at least a halftime talking head that pointed out the percentages on 4th-and-1 plays, etc.? Just one?

    • howard

      fwiw – and yesterday’s first 55 minutes (right up to interception #4) was the first full 55 minutes i’ve watched all season – the announcers sounded as shocked as most of us in this thread when mccarthy didn’t go for the td on the 1/2 yard line….

      • cpinva

        they sounded dumbfounded.

    • Marek

      Driving back to Massachusetts today, I was shocked – pleasantly shocked! – to hear the NY sports radios guys lambasting the field goals.

  • wengler

    This was the best Vikings victory of the year.

    • joe from Lowell

      I’ve spent many an October rooting for the Not-Yankees.

  • nbeaudrot

    (1) So, what do we think of Carroll’s decision not to go for 2 down 16-6 with 4:44 left in the 3rd quarter and a sputtering offense?

    (2) I’m a general proponent of going for it more, but when I looked at the math, it’s something like 30% 14 points, 50% 7 points, 20% 0 points — and that’s under average conditions. Versus effectively 100% 6 points. And I … find myself thinking that a sure-shot at being on the board against a shitty offense in shitty weather is better than a 30% chance of demoralizing the opponent but also and, let’s say, a 10% chance of demoralizing my own team (call it a 50-50 chance of a “we can’t even get half a yard” reaction versus “we’re getting our chances, we’ll be back in the red zone again on the next drive”).

    (3) I’m having a devil of a time finding current stats, but reputation aside Belichick seems to have fallen to league-average aggressiveness in the past few years, with the decline starting shortly after the infamous 4th and 2 inside his own 30.

    • howard

      i thought about it a bit in real time, and i was ok with it: in the end, he probably rightly figured that he would need to score twice more anyhow, so his upside wasn’t all that big (the extreme upside being he only has to score once more to tie, but he does need to execute another 2 there to get that tie).

      i edited to add on that the other thing i thought in real time is “there’s supposed to be an assistant for having figured the odds out ahead of time in all of these situations, and someone damn well better have done that!”

      • erick

        Yeah with that much time left you have to figure the Packers are likely to score again. How often have you seen teams go for 2 early then later the 1 point would have really helped when the other team has scored? Seems pretty common.

        I usually Agree with the aggressive stats based stuff, going for 4th and short etc, but I differ with them on 2 pt conversions. My usual thought process is only go for 2 when either your only chance to come back is holding the other team scoreless or obvious situations like the Hawks last TD where 1 point makes no difference.

        • nbeaudrot

          I think my thought process at the time was that the Seahawks only path to victory was to hold the Packers scoreless the rest of the game.

          It does surprise me that more teams don’t have some assistant who’s sole job is things like 4th down and clock management.

          • howard

            that’s where i started from, but let’s run through on that basis first if the seahawks go for the 2 and make it, go for the 2 and don’t make it, or play it through with a pat.

            1. go for 2 and make it: the upside, as noted, is one more score ties you up – if you can make the second 2-pointer. if not, you’re still going to have to go ahead and score again, but at least you’ll win if you do (and have held them scoreless).

            2. go for 2, don’t make it: next time you need to make the 2 just to get away with a td + field goal to win; you could, next time, go for the PAT + field goal to tie; and of course if you don’t make the 2-pointer if you do go for it the second time, you need a td, not a field goal.

            3. kick the PAT now; still preserve the option to go for the 2-pointer on your next score and still just need a field goal to win.

            in the end, i can’t convince myself – and someone who is capable of running the probabilities can certainly step up and challenge me – that the upside is enough compared to the downside risk, particularly because the maximum downside risk is that you miss this 2-pointer, go for the next one and miss that too, and then need a third td.

  • MikeJake

    On 2nd and goal at the 1, I was screaming “PLAY ACTION PASS!” at my television to no avail. It’s like McCarthy outfoxed himself there. “We’ve got the run established, so they’ll be expecting it, but they’re probably expecting that we’ll expect it, so they’ll be defending against the pass, so we should run it up the middle again.”

    • efgoldman

      What has happened to the naked bootleg? I can’t remember how many times Steve Grogan scored from close in for the mid-70s Chuck Fairbanks Patriots.
      [:::Adjusts onion on belt, goes and yells at kids to get off his damn lawn:::]

      • erick

        Rodgers calf pretty ,ugh eliminated him running, you saw him scramble on the last drive and he could barely move, that was against a semi prevent defense, no way he could run on a short yardage play

    • Epsilon

      That’s an interesting theory, but I have a strong suspicion McCarthy’s actual thought process was something like, “Smash mouth football! Real teams run the ball! And then we kick a field goal from the half yard line because YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE POINTS ON THE ROAD!”

  • Epsilon

    From Barnwell:

    “In 10 years, when you think about this Seahawks era, the Wilson-Lynch-Sherman-Carroll teams, chances are that this will be the game you think of. When the announcers talk about Seattle’s home-field advantage in the years to come and how the Seahawks are virtually unbeatable at home, this is the game they’ll talk about, a comeback conjured seemingly out of thin air by noise.”

    Gag me. This is exactly what I told my buddy would happen. Possibly the most irritating aspect of all this is that Seattle fans really deserved a humbling kick in the mouth at home and instead got their ridiculously overhyped “legendary” status further entrenched. I’m sure the fans screaming is what caused Bostick to botch the onside kick and Clinton-Dix to stare off into space on that ludicrous two-point conversion. That surely must be it.

    Aside from this, can’t say I disagree with anything in his piece or Scott’s. It’s getting really tiresome seeing the same old horses trotted out every time things like this happen; for whatever reason I thought the old-school bullshit issue was mostly confined to baseball but it’s readily apparent that it’s infected football at a pretty dangerous level as well.

    I ESPECIALLY agree about how pathetic it was for McCarthy to get caught with his pants down on that fake FG. As they were lining up for it I started laughing and told my friend “if they actually kick this thing I’ll give you 20 bucks.” On what planet would PETE CARROLL take 3 points when trailing 16-0 at home late in the 3rd quarter? At first I thought it was crazy for Seattle to even bother lining up in a FG formation, but I think Scott’s right that this was a particularly artful piece of coaching psychological warfare. Carroll knew McCarthy would talk himself into thinking that “Hey, Pete thinks 3 points is fine here.” Unbelievable.

    • LosGatosCA

      Agreed on the fan noise – plus Wilson’s ‘heroics.’

      Complete post-game myth making.

      Seattle choked early, Packers choked late.

      One of the chokers had to win.

      The lesser choker was Seattle.

      • cpinva

        I’d call that two point conversion pass pretty exceptional. I wouldn’t go so far as heroic, since no one’s life was in danger, but still a gutsy play. why the CB decided that was a good time to check out ant hills on the field, I have no idea.

        • Epsilon

          I honestly don’t know how anyone can consider that two-point conversion pass “exceptional” except in the literal sense, as in, nobody in their right mind would expect a positive result on that throw. I suppose you have to give Wilson credit for at least getting the ball to the end zone instead of taking a sack, but honestly, with that particular trajectory/velocity to that part of the field, I think the likelihood of a game-winning “pick-two” for Green Bay was FAR higher than what actually happened.

          But hey, that’s why they play the games, and also why we watch them. Crazy stuff.

          • erick

            there is no pick 2 in the pros, that is just in college, in the Pros once it is picked off it is just a dead ball.

            The worst thing a QB can do on a 2pt attempt is throw it away or take a sack to avoid the risk of an INT, but it is amazing how offten QBs do it instead of throwing it up for grabs so there is at least a chance for their guy to make a play

            • Epsilon

              I’ll be damned. You learn something new every day.

            • joe from Lowell

              The worst thing a QB can do on a 2pt attempt is throw it away or take a sack to avoid the risk of an INT, but it is amazing how offten QBs do it instead of throwing it up for grabs so there is at least a chance for their guy to make a play

              I figure this is like defensive backs catching the Hail Mary for a pick on their own four yard line on 4th and 10. In the heat of the action – and when we’re talking about a quarterback who’s being pressured, facing a sack without seeing an open player, that’s the very peak of the action – it must all-but-impossible not to let your training take over.

    • erick

      Yeah, read the article on SI about that lay, the Hawks had scouted the Packers and knew that a certain LB always over committed to rushing on the edge and had an option for that play if he was on the field.

      Why even have your FG D in there? What are you going to do block the kick? You leave your Nickel D in and hope they kick and get only 3 points.

      • Epsilon

        I would have LOVED to see that. Send a regular defensive package out there, or even have them take their real positions after initially lining up as a FG block. Would Carroll have burned what would likely be a very important timeout? Would he go ahead and actually kick since the bluff was called?

        Unfortunately, we’ll never know, because McCarthy was playing tiddlywinks out there against a chess master.

        • erick

          the Hawks were ready for that, the kick was so short that they were just going to take the 5 yard delay penalty if they didn’t see the formation they wanted for the fake

    • Scott Lemieux

      Carroll knew McCarthy would talk himself into thinking that “Hey, Pete thinks 3 points is fine here.” Unbelievable.

      As djw said in the other thread, McCarthy not only screwed up his own calls eleven ways from Sunday but screwed up further by projecting his own bullshit onto Carroll. (Cf. also the cover zero on the last play of the game.)

  • LosGatosCA

    Comparative records since 2006, when McCarthy started at Green Bay

    Belichick

    10-7 0 Super Bowl wins

    McCarthy

    7-6, 1 Super Bowl win

    Whatever the respective merits of the post the discrepancy may not be as great as one imagines.

    • erick

      How many of those 6 losses were when they were favored at home? I remember at least 2.

      Yesterday was a great example of how the Packers need to win in spite of McCarthy, he is like spotting the other team 10 points, they need to be 2 TDs better to win. Their one SB was a perfect storm and I doubt they win another with him as coach

      • LosGatosCA

        It’s pretty hard to get to the conference championship game.

        And it’s even harder to win. EVERY great team, EVERY great coach, EVERY great player has had an embarrassing game. Much worse than this one.

        Johnny U – NFL championship loss 27-0
        Joe Montana – loses to Giants 49-3
        Belichick loses twice to Giants in Super Bowl – combined season records 19-13 vs 29-3.
        John Elway Super Bowls before Terrell Davis arrives

        The idea that the ‘winners’ always win and ‘winners’ never lose is complete utter crap.

        • joe from Lowell

          I don’t consider the Super Bowl losses under Belichick to be embarrassing at all. Who cares what their opponents’ regular-season records were? They won their way through the playoffs. Just look at the Ravens: some teams play best in the post-season.

          If I was going to list Belichick-era embarrassments, I’d point to those first-round losses to the Jets and Ravens after the 2009 and 2010 season. Those were just crap-the-bed awful performances.

          • LosGatosCA

            I don’t consider the Super Bowl losses under Belichick to be embarrassing at all.

            Good for you.

            • joe from Lowell

              I can empathize with substance-free, oppositional dickishness, but if that’s all you’ve got (and it really seems to be) then you’d probably do better to stay away from the stat nerds.

              Just a heads up.

              • LosGatosCA

                So 29-3 with no Super Bowl wins is not seriously underachieving when the team that beats you goes 19-13. with regular season records

                Good to know.

                Being a stat nerd does not make you sports knowledgeable – it makes you knowledgeable about sports stats.

                Knowing how to coach or play the physical game, rather than the meta game makes you sports knowledgeable

                just a heads up.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Yes. Getting to the Super Bowl is not, in any situation, ever, “seriously underachieving.”

                  Duh.

                  Anyway, please expand on this fascinating theory that being aware of the knowledge one gains from statistics, and “knowing how to coach,” are two mutually-exclusive categories. Please proceed, governor.

                  Oh, I missed this part: “with regular season records”

                  See, it’s a strike against Belichick that his team set regular-season records in one of the many years they went to the Super Bowl. When we evaluate Belichick’s performance that year, it comes out to a negative, because his team 1) set regular-season records, and 2) went to but didn’t win the Super Bowl.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Let’s start with your own dickishness – no let’s just let it stand by itself.

                  two mutually-exclusive categories.

                  Since that’s not what I posted, I have no idea what you are talking about.

                  A pro team has tons of positions with all sorts of duties. Each has it’s responsibilities but in the end, the physical execution on the field is the real game. For instance. a coach that is superior to others in motivating his players to commit to a superior design for their offseason conditioning program is a very valuable leader. McCarthy is a leader that can get his team in position to win championships, he won one. Other coaches have won many. Some are stat driven, some are stat conscious – at the pro-level I don’t think there is anyone who’s oblivious to them.

                  But don’t think that a pro coach who knows the stats but can’t coach the physical game will ever achieve the success that McCarthy has.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  But don’t think that a pro coach who knows the stats but can’t coach the physical game will ever achieve the success that McCarthy has.

                  Congratulations, you’ve refuted the zero people who have ever argued that an NFL coach doesn’t need to know anything but stats.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Fitting, since post was in response to JFL indicating something I never said.

                  Try to follow your own thread, please.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Among the many things you don’t understand is how funny your last comment is, coming at the end of this subthread, after your previous comment.

                • LosGatosCA

                  So let me get this straight:

                  You fabricate “mutually exclusive’ out of thin air,

                  Scott fabricates ‘irrational vendetta’ instead of using ‘over the top vendetta’ which I posted

                  But you’re smirking? And he think’s I need to use a dictionary?

                • Brien Jackson

                  I don’t necessarily want to try to settle this pissing contest or anything, but I’d say that 16-0 team’s loss to the wild card Giants should definitely be considered embarrassing, as that team just looked completely unprepared to play.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Tag you’re it.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Yes, Los, the problem is everyone else. Isn’t it always?

                  Brien, if the Patriots had gotten whooped in that Super Bowl, that would have been an embarrassment.

                  But it was an excellent game against an extremely well-matched opponent (were they also uniquely unprepared for that close game during the regular season?) that was built (much like the Ravens) for post-season success.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Gee, last word Joe, can’t own up to fabricating

                  “mutually exclusive’

                  how . . . . predictable of you.

        • Scott Lemieux

          1)Why on earth should Belichick’s pre-2006 record be excluded? (If anything it’s more relevant, since the last few years you’re comparing a past-peak Brady to a prime Rodgers.) 2)Are you disputing that McCarthy is a bad in-game coach?

          • LosGatosCA

            1) Keep the timeframe relevant. Same league, same years.
            2) I don’t care about McCarthy but your vendetta against him is over the top.

            How good a coach was Carroll at the half with his receivers dropping the ball and his QB 1-8, 3 INTs in a home championship game?

            The performances were pretty atrocious all the way around.

            • djw

              1) Keep the timeframe relevant. Same league, same years.

              Seems like arbitrary cherry-picking, unless you have some reason to believe winning in the playoffs was generally easier–or less tied to coaching acumen–prior to 2006. Otherwise it’s just throwing out data to achieve symmetry for the sake of symmetry.

              How good a coach was Carroll at the half with his receivers dropping the ball and his QB 1-8, 3 INTs in a home championship game?

              But this can just as easily be turned around: One could say an ability to keep your team motivated and the game close enough to steal when your quarterback has the worst 3+ quarter stretch of the year is the mark of a good coach. And it makes at least as much sense–no coach can magically prevent their players from ever having an off-game; a better measure is how they cope when it happens.

              • LosGatosCA

                Somebody had to win an atrociously played game.

                Lucky for you guys, it was the SeaHawks.

                The gloating is totally unwarranted and smacks of a certain, one might say, insecurity.

                But it’s your blog – do whatever you want.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Keep the timeframe relevant. Same league, same years.

                  Makes no sense whatsoever, unless you can specify what “changes” suddenly made it harder for coaches to win playoff games in 2006.

                  I don’t care about McCarthy but your vendetta against him is over the top.

                  This is a very common form of bullshit. It can’t be that I sincerely disagree with a certain kind of irrational decision-making and have been consistent in making fun of it; no, it must be an irrational “vendetta.” Murray Chass would be proud.

                  How good a coach was Carroll at the half with his receivers dropping the ball and his QB 1-8, 3 INTs in a home championship game?

                  I must be missing the tactical mistakes by Carroll that produced these results.

                  The gloating is totally unwarranted and smacks of a certain, one might say, insecurity.

                  This is just an embarrassing misreading. There is absolutely no “gloating” in this post, and I made exactly the same points when Seattle seemed certain to lose. I understand why you’d rather do anything than actually argue the merits, but this is silly.

                • djw

                  The gloating is totally unwarranted and smacks of a certain, one might say, insecurity.

                  Resorting to derisive internet-psychoanalysis when called on one’s bullshit and caught with no substantive response is probably not going to fool anyone.

                • LosGatosCA

                  it must be an irrational “vendetta.” I

                  Irrational is your word not mine

                  So illuminate me, how many blog posts deriding McCarthy constitutes ‘over the top’ – my phrase?

                  I’ll reset my expectations accordingly.

                  When I start seeing other posters injecting or implying false aspects to my posts, I’m not getting where they are coming from.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Irrational is your word not mine

                  Oh, I see, you’re saying it’s a rational vendetta. I guess “vendetta” means something different in your language.

                  how many blog posts deriding McCarthy constitutes ‘over the top’ – my phrase?

                  1)more than 2, only one of them with any detail, and — this is important — 2)this post is about larger points than just McCarthy.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Actually I said over the top:

                  beyond normal, expected, or reasonable limits

                  So a reasonable vendetta would be “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”

                  Over the top is: “You didn’t use my preferred game time decision making framework, so I’m going to post your picture as the most valuable player for the opposing team.”

                • Grumpus

                  “Why on earth should Belichick’s pre-2006 record be excluded? – Scott Lemieux

                  “Makes no sense whatsoever, unless you can specify what “changes” suddenly made it harder for coaches to win playoff games in 2006.” – Scott Lemieux

                  In Belichick’s case, the big change came in 2007, when the Patriots were caught illegally using videotape as part of an illegal spying scheme.

                  Postseason record:
                  12-2, 3 Super Bowl titles with the Patriots before getting caught.

                  8-6, 0 Super Bowl titles with the Patriots after getting caught.

                  Cheating pays off.

                • medrawt

                  Grumpus –

                  The three Patriots Superbowl wins also happened before the league circulated the memo telling coaches to stop doing the thing the Patriots were caught doing.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Postseason record:
                  12-2, 3 Super Bowl titles with the Patriots before getting caught.

                  8-6, 0 Super Bowl titles with the Patriots after getting caught.

                  Cheating pays off.

                  This is just asinine. Rearrange some field goals and Belichick is 2-0 in Super Bowls after the trivial scandal and 1-2 before. The outcome of 3-point games proves nothing about anything.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Over the top is: “You didn’t use my preferred game time decision making framework, so I’m going to post your picture as the most valuable player for the opposing team.”

                  A joke! About some stupid decisions that ended up costing his team the game! As rhetoric goes, I can say without hyperbole that this is like Dresden and Nagasaki put together but a million times worse.

                  Jesus, the investment people have in defending traditionalist bullshit from even the mildest criticism is amazing.

                • LosGatosCA

                  Jesus, the investment people have in defending traditionalist bullshit from even the mildest criticism is amazing.

                  Not much projection there.

                  And quoting about vendettas from The Princess Bride, I mean have you no shame??

                • LosGatosCA

                  Oh, that was me quoting from the Princess Bride.

                  My bad, I’ll try to be less serious next time.

            • ColBatGuano

              How good a coach was Carroll at the half with his receivers dropping the ball and his QB 1-8, 3 INTs in a home championship game?

              I’m sure that was Carroll’s game plan, to have Wilson play the worst half of football in his pro career, to lull McCarthy into a false sense of security.

        • erick

          I’m not saying winners always win, I’m talking about situations like the 49ers game in GB a couple years ago where they let Kaepernick run all over them.

          Losing games at home when you are heavily favored is what I’m talking about.

    • medrawt

      Without making adjustments for all the other disparities (in roster and competition over time) I think this is a game of limited utility, but another way to look at the same window of playoff time, for whatever it’s worth:

      NFL Championships: GB 1, NE 0
      Conference Champtionships: GB 1, NE 3
      Divisional Round wins: GB 3, NE 6
      Wild Card Round wins: GB 1, NE n/a

  • JR in WV

    I watched the Seattle-Greenbay game pretty closely, as I wasn’t going to receive CBS after that. Here’s my take.

    Never kick a field goal if you’re on the .5 yard line, or even a little farther away if you’ve got an established running game. Not that have such means you have to run it, esp. with Rodgers handling the ball.

    If you miss and have the Seahawks on their 1 yard line, you should be able to handle that with a Superbowl level defence. Even get a 2 point safety and the ball back on a free kick.

    If you miss one of them and get the other, you’re still as well off as if you kick both of them. So I think the odds are with going for the TD on both times.

    Later on, being prepared for a 2 point try, being prepared for an on-sides kick, that’s being prepared to play the game of football. Or egg-in-hand ball.

    Mike flunked elementary football game management, which at the time of the kick-off was nearly his only responsibility.

    I dunno what happened in MA, sounds like everyone flunked elementary football on the Colts side. Play calling, pass routes, the run game, defence calling, punting every time. Don’t you have to start going for it on 4th down if you really intend to win the football game once you’re down so far? Don’t you have to call different pass routes eventually? I watched the box score getting updated on an ESPN page.

    Our connectivity is via a dish, and we don’t get an infinite amount of bytes (or bits) to move back and forth. So I don’t think I should have tried to view the game via a web streaming service. Just the way TV service can be in the country.

    I dunno what happened to the Colts. Never a Patriots fan, not really a Colts fan, Midnight Creepers and all. But I like Andrew Luck. His Dad was a star here in WV for West Virginia University, and went into sports management after a couple of years as a meh QP. Law degree. Smart guy, ran NFL Europe when that was a thing.

    Stanford is a good tough school. Andrew Luck had to be smart to go there, even as a star QB, they weren’t going to cut him much more slack than any other student. And he’s a good QB. Maybe just not ready for it quite yet?

    I dunno what happened.

    • ASV

      The Colts are a lot like the early 90s Packers. A young QB with a huge arm and a propensity to throw it to the wrong team, some solid receivers, and nothing else, progressing through the playoffs a step at a time.

  • ASV

    And, yes, after the Burnett interception Seattle’s win expectancy was south of 5% and a lot of things had to go right for them to win.

    It was south of 0.1%.

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