By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jan 05, 2016 at 6:03 PM Photography: Jim Biever/

It would probably have been nice if Mike McCarthy had been sitting in front of a television and tuned to FOX before his Green Bay Packers took the field for a humiliating loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday night.

If he had been, he would have seen the visiting Seattle Seahawks absolutely dismantle the Arizona Cardinals in the heat of the University of Phoenix Stadium. The score was 36-6.

One week earlier, in the exact same place, the Packers had been wiped, 38-8, by the Cardinals.

The Packers were totally out-classed and out-gunned by the Cardinals. The Packers gained 178 yards while Arizona gained 381 (though it felt like 4,381). The Packers turned the ball over four times while Arizona did so just twice.

Perhaps the most telling statistic was that, the following week, Russell Wilson had a quarterback rating of 123.7 against the Cardinals defense. Aaron Rodgers' rating was 66.2.

Following the game against the Vikings, McCarthy faced the press and here’s what he said.

"We're a playoff team. We're the fifth seed. There's not a big difference between 1 and 6, trust me."

Who in the world is he kidding?

The difference between Arizona and Seattle and Carolina is a chasm of abilities, schemes, motivation and the kind of passion that makes very, very good football teams.

The Packers of this season are nothing more than pretenders, and McCarthy has been unable to change things to make the team better.

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, and I paraphrase, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

McCarthy, like all of us, is obviously no Einstein. And I'm not suggesting that McCarthy is insane, of course, but he may well be predictable and boring and unable to motivate this team.

Let’s leave the defense alone for a while and focus on the Packers' offense, which has been an absolute joke recently – a joke best laid at the feet of two men, McCarthy and Rodgers.

Last season, Rodgers had a quarterback rating of 112.2 and was the NFL MVP. This season he ranked 20th with a rating of 93.7.

And no matter how many times people say it, you can’t convince me that an injury to one player, Jordy Nelson, is responsible for such an incredible drop in performance. Every team has injuries.

One mark of a superstar is that he has the ability to lift his team, especially when the going gets rough. This year, Rodgers fell down to the level of the rest of the league's mediocre (and that’s charitable) quarterback play.

McCarthy, the supposed offensive genius, was totally unable to develop a scheme that would take advantage of what he had left. If I had a dollar for every wide-receiver screen pass the Packers tried, I’d be a rich man. It’s a great play to gain three yards, and the Packers ran it well.

But throwing the ball down the field, or even mid-range over the middle, was a non-event for this team.

All season long, Rodgers has sloughed off questions wondering if there was something ailing him that nobody knew about. But it’s hard to believe that his skills have deteriorated so badly if there was not some problem afoot.

A perfect example of the new and lousy Rodgers came late in the Vikings game when the Packers had a chance to tie the score.

It was fourth down and James Jones ran a corner route. He turned back in the end zone and had plenty of room to the outside. The defender, Xavier Rhodes, was inside and seemed lost. Rodgers, somehow, threw the ball right at Rhodes. Interception. Game over.

There are two big questions for the Packers now, especially for general manager Ted Thompson.

Is this season just a blip in the career of Aaron Rodgers, or has something happened that is signaling a loss of confidence and ability?

Has the game passed McCarthy by, with an emphasis on speed and motivation and fire in the belly, and is there a change needed?

I would hope that Thompson is at least considering those two issues. And I would imagine that he will get closer to an answer after the Packers play in Washington next week.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.