At 5-8, Packers Looking in Mirror
Next game: Sunday, December 14th at Jacksonville
The Green Bay Packers are in the most desparate of playoff situations as they enter Sunday's contest in Jacksonville.
The Packers must "win out," meaning win their remaining three games, and the Chicago Bears and NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings must "lose out," meaning lose their last contests of 2008, for Green Bay to win the NFC North.
But the Packers are choosing to only look in the mirror at their plight, and not what the rest of the division has to do.
"We're the only ones that are going to pull us out of this hole. That's really what our focus is. Our mindset is that we need to go out and fight. We need to fight harder than we have because we haven't done enough to get the victory."
"We've lost tight ball games, and we need to overcome that as a football team."
Many times, McCarthy has come out of games talking to the media making pronouncements that the team has had to 'clean up' mistakes, especially involving defensive and special teams mistakes.
It's been frustrating for him that many mistakes in the secondary, defensive line and return game have not been solved.
But, he says, that's an ongoing process for every team.
"Even when you are successful, even when you win games, it's not always perfect, so you're always 'cleaning,' " states McCarthy.
"That's the reality of every season. When you go back to when you are winning games, it's not talked about as much because you're on the other side of the ledger.
"We've lost tight ball games, and we need to overcome that as a football team. It's a common situation that we've been in that we haven't been able to overcome."
Results of Close Games The Difference
In the 2007 regular season, the Packers went 5-0 in games decided by seven points or less.
In 2008, the Packers are currently 0-5 in contests decided by four points or less.
How does a team win those close games?
"If it was the same exact situation in all the losses, I know for a fact that we would have fixed it already," says McCarthy.
"There's plays that happen throughout the course of a game, and the ones down the stretch are the ones that are magnified.
"We've had the ball bounce the other way against us. We've had some situations we've needed to overcome, and we have not. We haven't been able to get the stop on defense or the two-minute drive on offense, the five-yard play to put us in a better field goal range.
"Those plays come back to execution, and we just need to do a better job of it."
How Does McCarthy Keep Going in Tough Sledding?
With the pressures of NFL coaching come personal strain, stress, and challenges that can bring some coaches to the breaking point.
Think Jim Mora's "Playoffs!", Dennis "They are who we thought they were" Green, and burnout victim Dick Vermeil, who needed a decade and a half before returning to coaching.
But for McCarthy, he only needs to look at his players to give him reasons to keep going.
"I have the easy part of being regenerated, because I have the opportunity to stand in front of this football team and go through the pros and cons of our days, of our week, of the outcome of games," states McCarthy.
"It's an excellent group of men to coach. It's a group that works hard, they're into doing it the right way, one way, and they give me plenty of strength and ambition to jump right back up on our horse and get back into the next game.
What about his job itself that keeps him enjoying it through such hard times in Green Bay?
"Teaching and leading. That's our job description. In tough times, you need to do your best coaching.
"You have to look at yourself, make sure everything you have and offer to this football team is in order, to hold yourself accountable, and you have to hold everybody else accountable."