Packers Record in “Close” Games
If you read Tom Silverstein’s chat from Sunday night he references the Packers poor record in close losses as if this were an indictment on McCarthy and his team. First off, I was perplexed as to why four points was some sort of magic defining mark for close games. I would argue that GB’s wins over PHL, MN, NYJ and CHI were all close games even through they were decided by more than four points.
However, in determining the quality of McCarthy’s coaching and the Packers under his leadership, perhaps a better measure is not what the team does in close games, but — as Jason Lisk notes below — how many times they can boatrace an opponent:
I know you might be surprised to look at a list of coaching records in close games. Vince Tobin (16-6) has the best record in games decided by 3 or less, just ahead of John Madden. Let that soak in. Chuck Noll (0.395), Dick Vermeil (0.412) and Bill Walsh (0.419) all had losing records in field goal games. As Football Outsiders pointed out here, great teams aren’t defined by their ability to win close games, but rather, blow out opponents.
By that standard, McCarthy’s Packers fare much better, finishing third or higher in point differential in three of the past four seasons.
So I think the hand-wringing about the Packers record under McCarthy in close games being some sort of indicator of his coaching ability or the quality of the program with him at the helm is greatly misplaced.