Former Player Calls McCarthy's Coaching in Recent Loss "Out of Character"

Brady Poppinga criticized McCarthy's decisions to use Julius Peppers on offense and go for an onside kick early in the game.

Brady Poppinga interviews Inés Sainz by Brian Carriveau—CheeseheadTV.com.

Brady Poppinga interviews Inés Sainz by Brian Carriveau—CheeseheadTV.com.

Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga hasn't been afraid to criticize his former team.

We learned that this past February during Super Bowl XLVIII when, during an interview with Poppinga, he suggested young players on the Packers roster were being handed jobs without earning them.

"I think Ted (Thompson) needs to go back to the philosophy a lot like what we're seeing with Seattle, to where you build that defense—especially in my years there—with competition," said Poppinga. "There's not much competition on that defense. That's because there's so many young guys. I mean, they were giving starting spots to guys like Nick Perry, to Jerel Worthy. That never would have happened when I was there, ever."

Poppinga recently found fault with the Packers once again in their loss to the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday, and specifically, head coach Mike McCarthy.

It was made clear that Poppinga respects his former coach, under whom he earned a Super Bowl ring in 2010, in a column written for FootballbyFootball.com.

"As a player for the Packers, I was impressed by Mike McCarthy's calm confidence and his trust in his players," wrote Poppinga. "These qualities have led Mike McCarthy to one of the best runs as a head coach in all of the NFL over the last decade."

The esteem Poppinga holds for McCarthy, however, doesn't prevent him from disparaging the coach's decisions from the Packers' Week 8 loss, calling them "out of character...not only for Mike McCarthy's personal game management style, but how the Packers usually operate in general."

In particular, the calls Poppinga objected to were the on-side kick attempt in the first quarter and the decision to use Julius Peppers on offense, shortly preceding the kick.

"In my opinion, these types of decisions were way too early in the game to pre-determine that the Packer defense was going to have a rough day," wrote Poppinga. "Tack on the situation where Julius Peppers was put out of place at wide receiver and unable to pull in a touchdown pass, the 'out of character' precedent was set."

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Comments (42)

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jmac34's picture

October 30, 2014 at 01:09 pm

The pass to Peppers may have been out of character, but the onside kick has McCarthy written all over it

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 30, 2014 at 01:57 pm

Agree.

**BUT**

The pass play to Peppers was fine.

The onside kick was premature.

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Lphill's picture

October 30, 2014 at 02:44 pm

if Peppers makes the catch ,and Packers recover onside kick, we would not be disscussing this right now, may have won the game so ,Damed if you do Damed if you dont.

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 03:35 pm

If ???
Try sticking to reality.
Many plays don't work because they're lousy plays called at the wrong time.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 30, 2014 at 09:13 pm

A bad call is a bad call because it didn't work and a good call is good because it did. It's astonishingly simple.

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AndrewInAtlanta's picture

October 30, 2014 at 02:53 pm

I completely agree with Poppinga and said as much on Twitter during the game. The Peppers play was horribly timed, way too early in a close game against a tough opponent, when we were moving the ball well. It probably came across to the Saints as pure hubris. The onside kick, by itself, wasn't horrible, but after the Peppers play it was bad timing as well. Just didn't like either one, regardless of whether one or both worked. It seems to me, and maybe it's just perception on my part, that MM has one or two of these "goofy" games each year.

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 03:18 pm

Peppers is paid to rush the passer on the D, not to make-believe he's a TE. The call by MM was something you see at HS games, not in the NFL. After MM's time in GB is over, it'll be more obvious just how average he was as a HC. MM is a big part of why AR's career may never see another SB as a Packer. (similar to Favre & Sherman)

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4thand1's picture

October 30, 2014 at 08:59 pm

Funny, Peppers intercepted a pass and ran like a wide receiver after he caught it. I suppose you'd be criticizing Capers for having him drop back into coverage if he hadn't made the play. Also the Packers have been practicing that play on offense since training camp. Remember the Fridge? Alright, Ditka was an ass for not getting Walter a TD in the SB.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:08 pm

This has hindsight written all over it. People are going to complain about these decisions because they didn't work, but if they had worked nobody would've said a peep. I'm not a big fan of hindsight comments like these.

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DraftHobbyist's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:09 pm

In fact, I'd argue that both of the plays were MM's style. MM has a history of going for onside kicks at unexpected times. He also used to use Raji on offense, so it's no surprise he is using Peppers on offense.

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:29 pm

Great, another who can read everyone's mind from a distance. Has nothing to do with hindsight. You're only using that as another excuse to defend an average HC. --- It's called 'bush playcalling' that happens so often with MM. --- Sometimes it's like MM is in his rookie year as HC. ---- You'll understand when GB fails again to return to the SB. This season will be year 4.

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4thand1's picture

October 30, 2014 at 09:02 pm

A lot of people in the NFL seem to think MM is an excellent HC, but what do we armchair QB's know who bash HC's and GM's decision making?

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Razor's picture

November 03, 2014 at 02:57 pm

Agree, agree, agree!

If they have to resort to gimmicks and schemes it looks like desperation and a lack of confidence.

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KenEllis's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:19 pm

Well Brady obviously will never work in the Wisconsin market.

Criticizing TT and MM is just not ever done -- outside of McGinn.

I actually disagree with Poppinga on the onside kick and agree with him regarding Peppers, but either way, what a breath of fresh air to see someone willing to call it like he sees it and not just automatically back whatever MM or TT do.

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:43 pm

Face it. The only time anyone can be honest about the Pack is if that person (fan or media) wets his pants in awe of everything G&G. (like many who frequent this blog).

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 30, 2014 at 08:54 pm

Or you could learn to lay out a criticism without sounding like an arrogant prick. One of the two.

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2014 at 05:12 am

Back again r-loser. what took so long (samson)

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Lphill's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:21 pm

Samson, this was not the first time a defensive player was used in this situation, Patriots ring a bell? Peppers is a athlete, if his height is an advantage then why not try it? I think they will again and he will make the catch.

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:36 pm

You are hilarious! ---Again, stick to reality.
Peppers will NEVER see another pass thrown his way as a professional football player.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 30, 2014 at 06:49 pm

So a slant and chest high pass is taking advantage of his height?

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Lphill's picture

October 30, 2014 at 04:59 pm

COW and Samson must be the same person . Peppers will get another chance maybe just as a decoy which might confuse the defense I like it I think that's what Mcarthy was trying to establish .

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Samson's picture

October 30, 2014 at 05:16 pm

Sorry, Liphill. --- Wrong again!
But thanks for the comedic relief. You're one funny droll!!

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lucky953's picture

October 30, 2014 at 07:48 pm

I had the same thought about the Peppers play: Why? You want to surprise the Saints? Put Brandon Bostick out there. Or he could have asked Payton if they could borrow Tom Crabtree for a play.

I would be interested in knowing what the success rate in recovering onsides kicks against "non-hands" teams is, probably 50-50. However MM was right about the fact that it didn't matter where the Saints got the ball that night.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 30, 2014 at 08:57 pm

I agree with you on this. 8-8 still ain't gonna happen for you though.

:-)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 30, 2014 at 09:18 pm

Every once and a while Cow makes sense.

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Razor's picture

November 03, 2014 at 03:04 pm

Yeah - they should put in both Peppers and Matthews - maybe throw in D Jones as the fullback!

McCarthy - what an innovative genius.

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Nerd's picture

October 30, 2014 at 06:03 pm

What? This defense hands jobs to young players that don't earn them!? That's a laugh.

If anything, Dom goes by the "seniority" system, instead of the "how good are you?" system.

THIS DEFENSE IS TOO COMPLICATED FOR YOUNG PLAYERS. Bla bla bla.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 30, 2014 at 06:32 pm

Took a few days to digest that game. A break here or there and it would have been different but that is the rub. Playing NO at their home was a great challenge and all the more reason you should never count on breaks gong your way, Have we not learned anything. Before the game I admit I stupidly went with a hunch and thought for some reason the Pack would surprise on D, (my mistake), BUT once again we do something inexcusable. Not score a TD from the 3 yard line!!!!

All the more when after a quick score by the other team, you want to get it right back, the lead, momentum, swagger. Right? Hell it was thing of beauty to see us finally run a screen and Lacy does something we rarely see, almost runs it all the way in for a score. At first I thought oh no, wish he made it because I know that we are not like most teams. and have not been great at running it in the red zone since I was a kid. No MM gets cute,Has to show surprise, How creative he is. Just dont get him. That was disgraceful. Lombardi is rolling over in his grave.

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Lphill's picture

October 30, 2014 at 09:40 pm

COW how do you think your Vikings will do against the Skins? and what is a droll?

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NickPerry's picture

October 31, 2014 at 06:39 am

Maybe if the Packers had a damn TE McCarthy wouldn't resort to using Peppers as a receiver. The trade deadline came and went and once again TT did nothing to improve his club. He's got a hole in the middle of his defense that made Mark Ingram look like AP. The Packers still don't have a TE that can block or catch for that matter very well. Has anyone else ever noticed we hear how great this player or that player is doing in training camp only to never hear from him in the regular season. Could it be because those players are going against the Packers defense? Case in point Richard Rodgers. He was making "Great Catches" all summer long, well yeah against Hawk and company. Jordy and Cobb are who the Packers really have at this time as pass catching threats. Adams is getting better but it will take time. I just wish once TT would bring in some talent via FA instead of waiting for his "Home Grown Talent" to get up to speed. Problem with that is by the time THOSE players get up to speed other's are leaving in FA creating new holes.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 31, 2014 at 07:32 am

I don't think McCarthy was really out of character in his decisions in this game.
The only decision that I really didn't like was going for it on 4th and 1 in their own territory. And after the decision to go for it I didn't like the play call. I would have been fine with it if TJ Lang was playing but not Lane Taylor.

Myself if they are going to run it, I would have rather seen them spread out the Defense to get more 1 on 1.

That decision to go for it on 4th and 1 felt like to me that he got impatient and felt that he had to go for it. They were only down 7 at that point, if they punt who knows, maybe they get the stop and get the ball back down by 7. But they didn't do that, they went for it, didn't make it, gave the Saints the ball in their territory and with a ton of momentum. It was to me the changing point in the game.

I am fine with the decisions in the game. I just would have liked to have seen better execution or at least the plays changed a bit.
The Peppers play, I was fine with, but I didn't like the bullet he had to try and catch from Rodgers. A corner fade where he could use his size and athleticism I think would have been a better play. But play call it worked because Peppers was open, just dropped the ball.

The onside kick is something we have seen McCarthy do over and over again. Me though, i would have rather seen them kick a dribbler up the middle, where the odds seem to be higher on recovery. I didn't watch the previous kicks so perhaps they saw the guys abandoning their area to drop back, so thought they could take advantage of it.
Either way, they still had an opportunity to recover the kick in that play.

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2014 at 02:48 pm

They stopped the Saints on 4th down on the 1st drive. Then moved to the 2 when Rodgers came up limping. Then Saints get a good no call on the int. game over. Williams made the same play a couple of games ago when CM int and ran it in for a TD. PI my ass. Refs are inconsistent on PI calls.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 31, 2014 at 08:42 am

Whether those plays were "in character" or not is besides the point, IMO. It seems to me both calls were signals to a lack of confidence in playing the game straight up and coming out on top. Just like avoiding Richard Sherman in the opener. All those things send the subtle message that the Packers were not going to win by playing their normal game.

That's no way to coach, IMO. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, more often than not. Both times he seemed to set the tone with his comments during the week where he went a little too far overboard in building up the challenge those road games would represent, IMO. Whether he was correct in his assessment of the challenge or not.

I like McCarthy overall. I think he does a good job, on balance. But I think he deserves criticism for his coaching in both games.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 31, 2014 at 09:45 am

A great offense, which we are, must score a TD from the 3 yard line in that situation, at that point in the game as I described before With the 4 double sided pages of plays MM has in his playbook I think there were far better options. Go with your strengths. I think we stray from that far too often so we can give the other teams something to think about next week, next time or for some future benefit. BS Grab the opportunity when it is there,now.

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Lphill's picture

October 31, 2014 at 02:05 pm

well then COW how is it your Vikings always get good draft picks due to their draft position year after year and still the same old thing every year? poor drafting or poor players?

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2014 at 02:49 pm

Its your team the way you bragged em up this pre-season, skippy.

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2014 at 03:46 pm

Telling the truth isn't one of your strong points. Give up while you're behind, skippy.

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Crackerpacker's picture

October 31, 2014 at 03:03 pm

Would what Brady Poppinga thinks be given the time of day if it wasn't bye week, and there was a shortage of news

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pooch's picture

October 31, 2014 at 05:10 pm

Are fucking kidding me on the that survey,Greatest Packer coach ,McCarthy 46% Lombardi 20%,you gotta havea bunch of 8 year olds voting??

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Tundraboy's picture

November 01, 2014 at 01:51 pm

Wow!! Lomabrdi, Lambeau and Holmgren. End of story

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egbertsouse's picture

November 01, 2014 at 09:44 am

Peppers play was a dumb call. I think MM saw JJ Watt catch a TD pass a couple weeks ago and got all fired up.

Onside kick was dumb, as was running behind Taylor into a 8-man box on 4th and 1.

At least he didn't do one of those stupid time outs right before halftime that lets the opponent score as time expires.

I agree with Poppinga. TT and MM get enamored with players and they get to play regardless of production. They then hang on to them way past their shelf life. (Worthy was a pleasant exception to this rule.)

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Tundraboy's picture

November 02, 2014 at 09:36 am

Well no football today so I admit Im grouchy, but Im so sick of hearing the word playbook.. I want to see plays made. Only an idiot would run a play like the run behind Taylor. So the left side was stacked up? Ok but don't run to your weak side. Was that the only option Mr Playbook/Chart keeper. Is that card a bible?. it is not just because we lost that I'm venting, the same things happens in wins. At the end of the day unless they jump on a team I rarely am confident that we will impose our will, and go for the jugular. and in the other cases never have a feeling that MM will make any in game adjustments, and I am hard pressed to remember a game where he made a difference, out coached the other guy. Miami was a perfect example, Philbin handed us the chance and Rodgers made it happen. The only thing I am counting on is the players will rise to the occasion and that we have a great chance with our O. I just pray that MM and Capers play those who deserve it. Coming so close last year with the injuries gives me that much more hope. It is painfully obvious that if we fail to make the playoffs with the team we do have or are embarrassed once again in the playoffs that the coaching must change. It must.

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