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Mike McCarthy unwittingly damns Packers' defensive scheme with faint praise

By pointing out how much individual talent and success the defense has had, McCarthy throws shade at scheme.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Mike McCarthy offered a couched compliment to his defensive players, and in doing so wound up criticizing the coaches.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy may not have meant to imply it, but the between-the-lines implication was clear: the Green Bay defensive scheme has let down its players this season.

“We have some outstanding individual performances going on over seven games, but our unit statistics and production performance is not what it can be,” McCarthy said Friday in response to a question about Blake Martinez.

His point was to say Martinez, enjoying a breakout season in 2017, has been the beneficiary of tremendous play from Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark upfront.

Linebackers can fly around when defensive linemen occupy blockers.

“It’s not only what can you do for yourself, but what are you doing to make the guy next to you better?”

The Packers coach was referencing his players, but he might as well have been addressing Dom Capers directly.

To say the team has some great individual seasons going but the unit hasn’t performed well directly indicts the defensive coaching staff and its schemes.

It’s another way of saying “This defense has some really good individual players, but the defense as a whole isn’t playing well.”

In football, the pieces do rely on one another to succeed, so if the individuals are playing well — and you hear the coach say directly, they are — then the defense as a whole should be better.

McCarthy rightly points out how outstanding the Packers interior defense has been. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark form one of the best 1-2 punches in the league on the inside.

The aforementioned Martinez is having a full-on Pro Bowl season.

Morgan Burnett, when he’s been healthy has been outstanding, ditto for Davon House, and after a brutal start, Damarious Randall has come on the last several games.

And we haven’t even gotten to Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, and Haha Clinton-Dix who are two Pro Bowlers and one Pro Bowl talent — Perry should have made it last year and if he’s healthy could make it this season.

There are two main causes for failure in the NFL: players not playing well and coaches not coaching well.

Obviously, they go hand-in-hand.

But if you have a head coach saying the players are playing well, or even just some players are playing well, then either the other players are terrible (which in the case of the Packers corners is kind of true), or your coaches are blowing it for you.

When the head coach says “our players are playing well,” if the defense isn’t good, that’s on the coaches.

Well, the defense isn’t good. I guess we know who the head coach blames for that.