Mark Craig: Packers' McCarthy had a vision, and he ran with it

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 11, 2007 - 7:19 PM

His game plan included a way to run the ball against the Vikings. And he's now 16-9 in his first 25 games, while Brad Childress is 9-16.

GREEN BAY, WIS. - Something happened at Lambeau Field on Sunday that might never have taken place had Vikings owner Zygi Wilf not essentially kidnapped Brad Childress, preventing him from making that flight to Green Bay to interview for the Packers' head coaching job in January 2006.

Mike McCarthy, the guy the Packers settled for after Wilf hurried to hire Childress, completed the first 25 games of his career with a franchise-best 16-9 record. The next-best 25-game mark is 15-10, shared by Mike Sherman and some guy named Lombardi.

Childress, meanwhile, fell to 9-16 with Sunday's 34-0 loss to the Packers. That ties him with Rams coach Scott Linehan and Lions coach Rod Marinelli for last place among the seven new NFL head coaching hires in 2006. The only one who has a winning record besides McCarthy is the Saints' Sean Payton (14-11).

"Coach McCarthy, man, he's a great coach," said Packers receiver Koren Robinson, a former Viking. "As far as him and Coach Childress, McCarthy is more personable. He's a players' coach. Not that Coach Childress isn't, but McCarthy is able to get down on our level.... And he's done a pretty good job against Minnesota, I would say."

Actually, he's a perfect 4-0. And a key element of his offensive game plan Sunday played an important role in gaining control early on in what became the Packers' most lopsided victory in 94 games against the Vikings.

Unlike Chargers coach Norv Turner, who stubbornly ran the ball into the strength of the Vikings' No. 2 run defense -- tackles Pat and Kevin Williams -- McCarthy's game plan called for quick tosses that effectively stretched and hurt the Vikings from sideline to sideline.

It was brilliant in its simplicity.

"We studied the Chargers-Vikings film quite a bit, and we also tried to run inside on them the first time we played this year," center Scott Wells said. "I think the toss action this time was designed for us to use our speed up front. Otherwise, when you run right at them, it just doesn't work."

Turner had the reigning MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson. McCarthy had the 32nd-ranked rushing attack and Ryan Grant, a 24-year-old kid making his second NFL start. A kid, by the way, who didn't even join the Packers until a Sept. 1 trade with the Giants.

Turner was determined to run between the tackles. On 11 of 18 first downs, he ran it up the gut. Those 11 plays netted 15 yards. Tomlinson was dropped behind the line of scrimmage on six of those plays, while rushing for only 40 yards overall.

McCarthy said the heck with running between the tackles. From the start of the game until the score was 27-0 near the end of the third quarter, Grant ran outside the tackles on 13 of 20 attempts.

It's a statistic that will get lost in the fact that Brett Favre had his 54th career 300-yard passing game (351) and 61st game with at least three passing touchdowns. But Grant's 92 first-half yards on just 12 carries -- including a 30-yard score -- was the most shocking stat of the game. Grant finished with 119 yards on 25 carries (4.8), joining the Rams' Steven Jackson as the only backs to rush for 100 yards against the Vikings the past two seasons.

"The last thing we expected was for somebody to run on our defense the way they did," Vikings cornerback Marcus McCauley said. "They saw something on film that they could expose. Obviously, it's a lot easier to run away from those big boys in the middle. Hey, it worked. They had success against us that we really haven't seen before."

Favre also was observant enough to recognize the Vikings' substitution patterns. With Pat Williams on the sideline on a second-and-7 in the first quarter, Favre audibled into a run up the middle by Grant, who ran free for 11 yards.

"We wanted to establish the run, but we really didn't want to run into that big boy [Pat] Williams," Grant said. "He's dominant and he's a load. It doesn't make any sense to run it in there."

Yep. The fact that McCarthy understood that is one of many reasons why he's won 12 of his past 13 games.

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Team suffers loss of historic proportions

    Sunday November 11, 2007

    The Packers shut out the Vikings for the first time ever, sparked by a potent running game, and rookie running sensation Adrian Peterson suffered a knee injury of unknown severity.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit 2 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Seattle 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Houston 7
Los Angeles 7 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 4
Texas 1 Top 6th Inning
LA Angels 0
Philadelphia 3 Top 4th Inning
Oakland 4
San Francisco 0 Top 5th Inning
San Diego 0
Arizona 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Colorado 3
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 2nd Qtr 0:28
Arizona 6
Denver 3 2nd Qtr 3:05
Seattle 10
Kansas City 7 2nd Qtr 4:27
Miami 0
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 1st Prd 9:50
Washington 0
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 22 0:14
Saskatchewan 10
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close