It took Mike McCarthy three seasons to realize that Bob Sanders was an inferior defensive coordinator. His replacement, the widely respected Dom Capers, immediately overhauled the scheme and the attitude of the players and the result was a No. 2 overall ranking this past season and the belief that even better days are ahead. Unfortunately, three seasons apparently isn’t enough time for McCarthy to realize that James Campen is to coaching an offensive line what Sanders was to coordinating a defense – a decent man who simply isn’t good enough at his job. “The only way you can judge an assistant coach from afar is by looking at the on-field results,” said a longtime scout for another team. “Using that critieria, it’s awfully difficult to make a strong case for keeping Campen. He hasn’t had much success developing young players, his unit almost always struggles out of the gate, and if not for the re-signing of Mark Tauscher in the middle of October, Aaron Rodgers may have been sacked over 70 times last season. Again, from afar, you’d have to think McCarthy could do better.”
When specifically asked about bringing his embattled assistant back for another season, McCarthy’s response was interesting – if not a bit telling. Instead of immediately lauding Campen’s teaching skills, he first defended Campen by pointing to the impressive numbers posted by the offense in 2009. “I certainly don’t blame McCarthy for bringing up statistics, but to me, that’s a bit of a red herring,” said the scout. “The play of the line was absolutely killing the Packers before Tauscher returned to the starting lineup in November. Rodgers was getting pressured on almost every pass, Ryan Grant’s average yards per carry was under 4.0 and the team was 4-4. In my opinion, if anyone associated with the offensive line deserves another season, it’s Tauscher. He – and not Campen – is the main reason for the turnaround.”
While McCarthy didn’t laud Campen’s teaching skills while speaking to reporters last week, the team’s media guide provided this little gem prior to the start of the ‘09 season: “A natural teacher, Campen has worked hands-on in the development of three linemen now entering their fourth seasons – Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll.” Yikes. Considering the fact that Colledge may have played his way out of Green Bay and Moll already has, it’s probably safe to assume that as an educator, Campen is more Mr. Kotter than Mr. Tibbs. “Spitz is a good player, but I’m not sure how much he’s really improved under Campen,” said the scout. “He was solid from day one.”
To be fair, not every offensive lineman has either remained stagnant or regressed under Campen’s tutelege. Josh Sitton was a tackle for four seasons at Central Florida and now he’s one of the better young right guards in the league. You have to give Campen props for that. “Sitton is definitely an ascending player,” said the scout. “My biggest problem with Campen isn’t individual player development as much as it is with the way the line works as a whole. Things were a mess the first eight games. I know that Allen Barbre was a disaster and Chad Clifton was in and out of the lineup, but that’s not a valid excuse for just how bad things were.” What was a valid excuse? McCarthy blamed, what else, pad level. OK, then forget all the other reasons and just get rid of Campen because he can’t teach grown men the concept that the player whose pads are the lowest wins.