18.1.16

I KNOW HE'S A GOOD COACH, BUT IS HE LUCKY?

With a tip of the tricorn to Napoleon Bonaparte.  Now comes the end of another Green Bay Packer playoff run, and Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is sipping a cognac and contemplating.
The Packers made the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, a remarkable feat in a parity-driven NFL. They've won 10 or more regular-season games seven times under McCarthy, another noteworthy accomplishment and an indication that he has his teams coached up more often than not over the 17-week grind.

On the other hand, he's won more than one playoff game in a season just once, in 2010, when the Packers went on the road as a wild-card team and played brilliantly en route to victory in Super Bowl XLV.

There is the nagging feeling that it's just not good enough, considering two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers has been under center for eight years.
Five of those playoff runs ended on the final play of the game: 2007 overtime loss to New York, 2009 overtime loss at Arizona, 2013 field goal by San Francisco, 2014 overtime loss at Seattle, 2015 overtime loss at Arizona. The Giants have twice won the title in that time span after winning in Green Bay.  And Napoleon's shade is in the cognac.
Why do McCarthy's teams seem to be disproportionately saddled with these kinds of Twilight Zone moments?

Call it bad juju, but the bottom line is that players are supposed to make plays and coaches are supposed to put them in the best positions to do so. In crunchtime in big games, the other team always seems to make one more play. Incredibly, five of McCarthy's seven playoff defeats occurred on the final play of the game.
Thus, the second-guessing begins: here is a team that had an opportunity to tie North Carolina at their stadium, took Arizona to overtime in the playoffs after a horrible regular season game, split with Minnesota in the regular season, defeated Seattle in the regular season, and defeated Washington in the playoffs.  And "luck is the residue of design" has also been attributed to Napoleon, although modern authorities attribute that to baseball's Branch Rickey.

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