Packers Need to Find ‘Yin’ to McCarthy’s ‘Yang’

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Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

The concept of yin-yang in Chinese philosophy is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent, and how they give rise to each other as they both ebb and flow. Yang is the white side with the black dot on it and yin is the black side with the white dot on it. The relationship is often described as the dark (yin) and the light (yang), as not opposing forces, but complementary ones working together to form a dynamic system greater than either separate part.

There’s yin and yang on the gridiron as well: the light and the dark, the cerebral and the physical, the mentality of a surgeon and that of a warrior, the offense and the defense.

And there needs to be a balance there. A violent warrior without the ability to think cerebrally is just as useless on the field as the erudite football scholar who’s afraid of physical contact. The warrior and football scholar must both remain present while the other takes the forefront.

Mike McCarthy is a steady man and a steady coach. He backs his players loyally (some say to a fault), carries himself without fanfare, and feels that emotion will only hinder performance.

McCarthy’s approach is the right one because the offense, and more to the point the Packers offense, is the epitome of the yang or “light” side of the game. It’s about speed, precision routes, timing, accuracy and execution. Physicality is a part of it, but it’s rarely mentioned as a key ingredient.

The offense coming out onto the field should have a steely approach, free of emotion and a laser focus about the task at hand… and they generally do. They keep a flat line, never get too high or low, and focus on the cerebral aspects of their job. The yang takes center stage and while the more physical and angry yin is ever-present, it takes a backseat when the offense is on the field.

Dom Capers has proven himself a worthy defensive coach for many years now. He was the person responsible for managing the Packers defense to a Super Bowl in 2010 and is well-respected as a bright defensive mind and one of the best with the 3-4 defense. He is polite, soft-spoken and comes off maybe even a little shy in interviews. While some defensive coordinators prefer to be right on the field so they can interact with their players during the game and keep them motivated, Capers prefers to sit up in the press box where he can better execute the cerebral aspects of the game.

The problem is when the defense takes the field it’s supposed to be all about emotion, brut force, physical toughness and domination. It’s about being a group with the ability to intimidate because the “dark” side has taken center stage and it’s now time to lay a physical beating down on someone.

Vic Fangio can sit upstairs and focus on X’s and O’s because Jim Harbaugh provides his whole team with enough yin to go around. With McCarthy completely consumed with the offensive side of the ball and Capers upstairs and undetectable, there’s always been something missing down on the defensive side of the field.

Attitude.

That attitude has never shown up in Capers’ tenure and although Ted Thompson has built the roster in a way Capers couldn’t control, this defense has faltered in the mental side of the game possibly even more often than the physical.

Both the offensive and defensive units are a reflection of the leadership in front of them. There is no semblance of warrior mentality on either side of the ball and that’s because both McCarthy and Capers take an approach far greater yang than yin.

The end result is a team that isn’t known for their physical toughness, is more Porsche than bulldozer, and is able to be dominated by a tougher, more physical opponent. This, in essence, describes the teams that have eliminated the Packers the past two seasons and will continue to give them fits in the future.

Capers is a good man and a good coach who helped bring the Packers a championship, but he is not the fiery antithesis to Mike McCarthy this team has always been lacking and so desperately needs.

 

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25 Comments on "Packers Need to Find ‘Yin’ to McCarthy’s ‘Yang’"

  1. icebowl

    All valid points.
    NFL network provided interesting debate this morning, taking stock on future of Packers.
    Interestingly the analysts primarily came to same conclusion as you pointed out…. Expanding on defense that is too “soft”, especially up the middle….

    Top NFL teams have evolved to next phase of west coast offense…. #12 simply cannot keep up with the shootout approach.

    GB will have a hard time getting beyond divisional playoff rounds without major adjustments. I’m afraid we may be in for some lean years.
    Even winning the division will be more difficult as coaching staffs for Bears, Queens and Lions have plenty of time to study the game tape from Saturdays spanking ….
    Fortunately those guys don’t have a Crapperneck equivalent,……..yet.

  2. Gravedigger

    I agree completely. I prefer that person to be on the field ala Ray Lewis. I know he is a once in a lifetime kinda talent but guys with his attitude and determination are out there. As much as it pains me to say it Urlacher was once that type of player also. Neither of those guys would’ve allowed a QB to run up the middle as often as Kapernick did. They would’ve had to carry him off the field. Bottom line is we need an ILB or saftey that will be the ruthless leader of or def, that strikes fear in any ball carrier in the middle of field.

  3. Voice of Reason

    This is a very prescient analysis, and I couldn’t agree more. Any good defense must have a menacing presence to be effective. The physical guys are out there to draft and sign. Do TT and MM understand what is truly lacking in our team? The answer to this question will determine the fate of our team over the next several years.

  4. PackAttack

    Monty and icebowl are spot on. Who cares if this is relatively the same team that won the Super Bowl in 2010, who cares if it’s the same team that won 19 in a row — what difference does that make? I think that’s partly the problem. This team hasn’t gotten any better from that time period until now. The rest of the league has gotten better; bigger, stronger, fast (mostly on the defensive side of the ball) while the Pack have stayed neutral.

    There needs to be major moves this off-season. Another pass rusher must be added to complement Matthews whether that be on the line or up front, but something else needs to be added. FS is a major area of concern, Woodson isn’t going to be back with that bloated salary and AJ Hawk should be flat out cut. He won’t even start next year and he’s carrying a top five salary. Improve LB, FS, DT on defense — and contrary to conventional TT philosophy these are problems that aren’t correctable through the draft. This years defense proves that.

    On the flip side of the ball, with Jennings and possible Finley gone on offense, it’s just as big of an issue going into 2013. Throw the offensive line down as a major area of concern as well, I don’t care what Don Barclay or EDS did in the last few weeks — Rodgers ended up on the ground almost 60 times this year. That’s inexcusable and don’t throw out the “well that’s how Rodgers plays style” (ok Illitarion — biggest retard who calls himself a Packer Fan) the fact is that this line is constantly getting pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive fronts. The Pack haven’t had a stud at LT in a while now and TT MUST find a legit center to give a running game the chance to succeed. LT and C are the two biggest areas here.

    • ay hombre

      Once Jeff Saturday was relieved of his duties, this offensive line performed well enough to win every game they played in. Could they be upgraded? Of course. I don’t believe you should ever not look for a better player.

      Is it too soon for you to write off Barclay and EDS? Based upon the vast improvement in the running game, I really think it is.

      And whether you want to admit it or not, Iltarion is spot on in his analysis of “that’s just the way Rodgers plays.”

      Aaron Rodgers always throws very few interceptions and also has an incredible quarterback rating. He doesn’t throw picks because he plays cautious and doesn’t force the ball. His high quarterback rating and low interception percentage are directly correlated to him taking more sacks. Think about it. It’s a trade off and one that I can live with.

      Also think about the sacks Rodgers tends to suffer. Can you recall him ever getting really lit up on a sack where a guy beat his man so bad that Rodgers just got his ass kicked? I can’t. It’s usually because he’s held the ball a long time, tries to make something happen and is tackled in a typically non-violent way.

      Yeah he absolutely takes some shots in every game, but what quarterback doesn’t? The offensive line was the problem early on this year, not late. If Bulaga comes back strong and we upgrade Marshall Newhouse or he gets better himself, I don’t think the o-line is the problem.

      • Savage57

        AR taking a sack and losing 8 yards, then a 44 yard punt with a 5 yard return results in a net field position gain of 29 yards on a change of possession. AR throwing a pick 10 yards downfield, then a 4 yard return results in a net field position gain of 6 yards on a change of possession.

        I’ll take the sack and the punt every time.

  5. mxz600

    At the end of the day…Saturday nights defensive performance was an embarrassment to the Packers, Packer fans, and Titletown itself. Here’s what “irks” me almost more than that. Instead of making himself available to the Media, Capers just grabs his marbles and goes home,(cowardness) not talking to anyone. Same goes for the players, i read no defensive players besides Woodson, made them selves available. It reminds me of Favre……If he had a ugly game, which was often enough, alot of times he refused to face the media, but after winning games, he was always there to bask in the praise. Maybe the YIN we need, is Kevin Greene being D C. A man who has, shows some passion. Sometimes the game passes people by. So long Coward, i mean Capers…………We need a defensive leader!!!!….Someone…anyone….That show he has a PULSE!!!!

    • Packer Bob

      Kevin Greene would certainly bring the attitude. And promoting from within is always a good thing. Tom Clements went from the QB coach to offensive coordinator. Does this also happen on the defensive side of the ball? And does Greene have the skills to be a defensive coordinator?

  6. Packer Bob

    Wow, awesome article. Very profound. The fundamentals that make our offense a well-oiled machine do not work when applied to our defense. Defense is not about playing with finesse. It’s about playing smash-mouth football.

  7. mxz600

    Exactly Packattack…………Well said…..Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay are basically NFL career backs….Lets keep that real…There is a reason they have to give those 2 help. As far as Scott Wells and Jeff Saturday. Here’s the reality about that…..Packers could have signed 31 y/o Wells for 6 mill/year…Instead…TT signed 37 y/o Saturday, to 4 million a year. Dumbest move TT’s made, besides all his failed 1st and 2nd round picks that either cant make the team, or cant get on the field……………All that…and having no depth on the O line….You’d think TT would be smart enough to give Rodgers a decent O line. Rodgers has been sacked 202 times, i’m sure he’s taken alot more hits than that, since becoming the starter. Its amazing, he’s survived that almost injury free…THATS an IRON MAN.

  8. mxz600

    Aaron Rodgers didnt bring up the subject of bringing back Chad Clifton, because he likes the job Marshall Newhouse was doing.

  9. Voice of Reason

    MXZ300,

    I don’t know about Kevin Greene’s level of knowledge in coordinating our defense, but I’ve got to think it’s pretty good. I love this man’s passion for the game, and I think he would likely make an excellent DC.

  10. bdhustle

    Per CheeseheadTV article Capers contract is expiring. Although I would like to see a DC with more fire and innovation, I really did not believe that MM and TT would fire Capers. However, with his contract expiring this may get interesting. If it happens, promoting from within has been the routine with this regime. Love Greene’s attitude, however considering resume and experience he’s likely the least likely def assistant to be promoted.

  11. PackAttack

    I think when you talk about aggressiveness and that “ying” in physical toughness it applies to the offensive side of the ball too. GB lost that “edge” this year when Joe Philben left for Miami. McCarthy failed to pack the same punch on offense in creativity, play-calling and aggressiveness. Clements did an “okay” job in retrospect, especially when you look at the numbers, but anyone who watched the offensive consistently this year knows it could have been better.

    Packers led the NFL in a 3rd and longs this season and were tops among 3 and out’s and runs on 1st down (20% pass plays on 1st down in 2012?) and a HUGE reason for that was McCarthy tried forcing the run on WAAAY too many occasions and it resulted in a TON of wasted plays. You can’t have 5 legit receiving options and split pass and run 50/50 with this team, it should at least be a 60/40 split with creative play-calling and well conceived routes. Yes, Jennings and Nelson being out hurt — but even when they were healthy the play-calling and routes McCarthy had them on were most often broken by design. This needs to change as does the effectiveness and timing of play-calling in regards to the run game.

    If your going to take this offense back to a 50/50 split of run and pass — YOU NEED a feature back. I was blasted on this board a few years ago for saying the Pack needed a feature back and I was told there was no need for a run game when you have receivers like this — I bought into that notion but apparently that’s changed again.

    If your going to run 430+ times a season — go out and get a back that’s worth those attempts. DuJan Harris isn’t the feature back answer. Go after Monte Ball or a FA. And Yes Illitarion, this organization has money — you just need to be half-way intelligent in realizing you don’t need trash like Hawk, Crosby, Woodson (he’s not trash but he’s not worth 11 mil), Finley, Saturday and it might be time to let Pickett go.

  12. Shawn Iltarion

    I didn’t see a defense that got beat up physically. I didn’t see a defense that allowed an offense to “grind it out” against them. Check out San Fran’s production on 1st and 2nd down- pretty shitty.

    No. It wasn’t 3 yards and a cloud of dust. It was big plays, especially on 3rd down.

    The Packers lost because they couldn’t stop Kaepernick, a unique talent with crazy speed, from running for 1st downs on 3rd and long. Period.

    Capers did a poor job game planning for it, and the players did a horseshit job executing it.

    So, who was this physical force in 2010? Clay Matthews? Charles Woodson? They are still on the team.

    Funny because let’s look at some of the great defensive coordinators: Monte Kiffin, Jim Johnson, Lovie Smith, Dick Lebeau. Do any of these guys strike you as fiery?

    Hey, if the point of the article is that we need our defense to be more physical, then YES, absolutely. We all agree. If being physical means actually tackling the guy instead of letting him get the corner, then fuck yeah, we need to be more physical.

    Look it up. Cutting AJ Hawk would result in $4.8 million in dead money next season. Hard to believe TT would swallow that. I keep saying that. No one is listening.

    • Andrew Chitko

      Maybe you need to go back and read it again. I don’t think you get it.

      The whole point of the story is that Monte Kiffin, Jim Johnson, Lovie Smith, and Dick Lebeau are exactly what the Packers DON’T need. They need a complement to McCarthy, not a mirror image. I’d disagree about Lebeau though. He’s down on the bench and has a fiery presence. But he’s an old man and not what the doctor ordered.

      As for 2010….it was in 2010. It’s over. Every time you play the “2010 card”, it’s an admission that you don’t think the league or game has changed since then. In 2010 a rookie quarterback wasn’t thought to be able to make a significant impact. In 2010 we would have laughed about a team playing the read option.

      Furthermore the competition in 2010 is nothing compared to what it is in 2013. Simply put…any comparisons or references to 2010 are meaningless.

      • Shawn Iltarion

        I get it, and its a good article.

        I was merely pointing out that physicality is not the reason why the Packers lost to the 49ers. Their inability to contain Kaepernick was.

        Most of my response was to other comments, not to the article itself.

        2010 is meaningless? Ludicrous. Football has not changed THAT much. Certainly physicality was just as important then as now. There are comparisons that are valid and ones that are not.

        I think we both have overstated the competition this year in the NFC. To make the Super Bowl, the Packers only needed to beat the 49ers and Falcons. That is not exactly a mountain to climb. The Packers are more vulnerable to running QBs now than in 2010 because they are slower on defense. Other than that, lots of similarities with the defense.

        • PackAttack

          You keep playing the 2010 card like it was yesterday. Green Bay isn’t the same, the game might not have changed, but this defense has since.

          Your argument is “same personnel, same team, what’s the difference?” — well actually num nuts it’s not the same personnel, it’s missing a big key piece in a guy named Nick Collins. So start with that. Woodson was two years younger and two collar bones healthier playing corner not free. Tramon hadn’t been paid yet, so naturally he was better. Cullen Jenkins was up front instead of CJ Wilson (big difference). Bishop was healthy (although he’s still around, I won’t charge you for that one) and Charlie Peprah was at SS not MD Jennings.

          I mean, my god, that’s a lot of changes. And a lot more playmakers in their natural positions, two years younger than they are now.

          2010 is meaningless. Who cares, it’s over and done with — move on. The whole goal of any franchise is to become a dynasty and when you have the best QB in the league on your team the goal every year is to be a dynasty. Not some one year wonder who gets bounced in the playoffs every other year.

          TT needs to make drastic changes. Regardless of whether or not Hawk is owed whatever you say he is (link me to your info on that release penalty too btw) who cares. He won’t start next year regardless, that’s far too much money to have riding the bench as a 5th string LB. If you can’t release him, trade him, get creative and get rid of his ass. He sucks, case closed. He’s slower, weaker and older than he was in 2010. He’s consistently rated as one of the worst linebackers at his position in the league — if that isn’t enough evidence already just watch the highlight tapes of Vernon Davis bitching him last Saturday.

        • Andrew Chitko

          Thanks.

          Physicality is part of it, but really more about attitude and that warrior-type mentality the Packers seem to be lacking. Physicality would be the result of that mentality…hopefully.

  13. mitchy

    T his team needs some major changes….Saturday nights game proved we need an injection of speed and strength and attitude up the middle…starting on the O…loved having them while it lasted but we need to say good bye to finley, jennings, driver, starks, saturday and dont bother resigning ced ben or grant…Aaron Rodgers is our franchise we need to keep him healthy and off of his back 60 times a year…with the 7.5mil un der cap these cuts, some on the D i will get too and some creative restructuring of tramon, hawk, & woodson, i believe the Pack will position itself for their once in a decade HUGE signings…JAKE LONG needs to be a Packer for the rest of his career…which could slide Newhouse back to his better position at guard where would would easily beat out Lang…then draft Barret Jones putting EDS back to a very good backup where he belongs…easy top 10 NFL oline…a great oline can make averagge backs look good…ask mike shannahan he’s made a career of this….on the D upfront we were manhandled…by most olines…definatley need some more size and strength up front…Raji is too soft to be our bon-a-fide NT better DE…he and pickett need to be switched…bishop and DJ coming back will help up the middle hopefully replacing hawk(who would be a 5mil cap hit if cut)..definately need some more speed there too…opposite him walden needs the hook so does zombo….keep perry and moses and get more depth and fingers crossed a viable starter…at safety burnett will be an all pro…woodson is too ole to be every down just a slot blitzer or xtra LB….believe in McMillian….reminds me of Bigby with speed and coverage ability…tramon has lost it since nick collins left…needs to cover and not gamble…shields is our #1 and heyward is the man…oh and kick crosby outta town…

    • PackAttack

      Couldn’t agree more with the Jake Long suggestion. He’s going to be the only OT on the market that makes sense for the Pack. Granted he’s taken a hit since his days of being a #1 overall pick and living up to the massive expectations — but like Charles Woodson proved Hall of Fame careers do happen after 30.

      WR/TE – Greg Jennings – Must be re-signed. I can’t over emphasize this enough.

      Jermichael Finely – If Jennings is re-signed I don’t see this as being that big of a problem, but if he and Jennings both bolt. That drastically shrinks Rodgers arsenal. There are few TE options on the market who make sense and for the exception of early round top tier TE, there isn’t another TE on the GB roster who can step in and get defenses attention like Finley can. I can’t stand the guy, but he might need to stay.

      RB – DuJuan “the car salesman” Harris is not the answer to the feature back role. Neither is Starks, Green or Grant. Especially if your going to run 430 times a season. You either draft a stud like Monte Ball or get lucky with someone on the FA market willing to take less like DeAngelo Williams, Steven Jax or Chris Ivory. Not saying GB can afford all of them but if the market drops like it did for Benson last summer who knows.

      Safety – For the exception of William Moore there isn’t another safety on the market who could provide a huge upgrade if Woodson isn’t back. This is the last position I expect TT to upgrade. More than likely he upgrades through the draft here. Maybe Woodson restructures his deal.

      LB – Do what you have to do to cut AJ Hawk or trade his ass. He won’t even start with Matthews, Perry, Bishop, DJ Smith, Erik Walden and Dezman Moses all hopefully healthy. Couldn’t hurt to add another pass rushing force here.

      DL- I think Ryan Pickett is on a serious decline. More so than what’s being talked about, he doesn’t get after the QB whatsoever. I’m also not too high on Raji, but whatever. Richard Seymour could be a TT type guy. Anthony Hargrove would have been a nice addition to the Pack this year, if it weren’t for the bounty scandal. There’s a lot of depth out there on the market for DL, I think TT would be wise to explore an option for signing a veteran like Seymour, Melton, Freeney, Randy Starks….this is a good time to get one of these guys possibly on the cheap to help add to the DL.

      Again these are just options.

      I’d do this….

      OT – Sign FA
      WR/TE – Re-sign Jennings/Finley (bring him back)
      RB – Draft
      LB – Draft
      DT – Sign FA
      S – Draft
      K – Draft

      Time for TT to get creative.

    • Vijay

      For all of Lang’s mistakes, I bet you he still graded out better over the course of the season than Sitton–that guy has been a major disappointment the last two years as well. He’s (Sitton) is found frequently on his ass and T.J. looks like a turnstile when he misses blocks.

  14. Vijay

    Where’s Kevin Greene mentioned in this article? He’s plenty fiery and on the field in support of that. Again, Capers is widely recognized as a defensive play calling stud. The Packers had a great defense with Cullen and Nick Collins on the field. So, what’s happened? Their leadership on the field has somewhat faltered (Looking at you Hawk, among others) and they play more scared and preventive than aggressive–that’s personnel my friends. We simply do not have the personnel in that locker room, especially in the front 7, to make any real noise going forward. Now, leaders can emerge from the group but it will take some big time upgrades on talent whether by FA or the draft, to make that a reality.

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