Packer Update

Where’s the love for McCarthy?

Coach still underrated by the national media

You don’t have to be a great head coach to win a Super Bowl. Barry Switzer (Cowboys), Brian Billick (Ravens) and Jon Gruden (Bucs) proved that in recent years. So don’t label Mike McCarthy a great head coach just because the Packers are the reigning world champions. Label McCarthy a great head coach because of how he got his team to the promised land. In over 30 years of watching professional football, I can’t think of a single coach who did a better job with his team than McCarthy did with the Packers last season. And that includes Bill Walsh (49ers), Bill Parcells (Giants), Bill Belichick (Patriots), Joe Gibbs (Redskins) and Jimmy Johnson (Cowboys). Now look, I’m not saying McCarthy is as good a coach as those legends; he has to capture another Super Bowl or two for me to even consider going there. But for one season and one season only, the tough-talking Pittsburgh native doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone.

I bring this up because I’m still surprised at how relatively little credit McCarthy has gotten from the national media. It’s been nice to see all the accolades afforded to players like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson. They deserve it. But nobody – including the star quarterback – deserves a bigger pat on the back than McCarthy for bringing the Lombardi Trophy home. What he managed to do from game 1 through game 20 was nothing short of spectacular. Fans and the local media know what I’m talking about. It’s about time for the rest of the country to get clued in.

In a season filled with great coaching, here are three examples that stand out from the rest:

1) McCarthy set the tone in August for what would eventually happen in February. He began talking to his team about winning Super Bowl XLV before the very first training camp practice. More importantly, he was able to convince 80 players that it was not only possible, but it should be expected. Don’t believe me? Remember what star wide receiver Greg Jennings said to McCarthy just a few seconds after the Packers won their 13th world championship: “Thanks Mike. Training camp, you put the vision there.” And while every head coach talks about winning the Super Bowl, not every coach has the ability to make his players firmly believe it can be accomplished. McCarthy was able to do just that, and that’s a big reason his players never wavered in their faith during what proved to be one of the most up-and-down regular seasons any Super Bowl champion has ever had to endure.

2) After only 1/4 of the season, the Packers had already lost two of their very best offensive players. Running back Ryan Grant (ankle) and tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) were on injured reserve and neither had a quality backup. So McCarthy improvised. He ran the ball fewer times and targeted the tight ends less frequently. Instead, he wisely made Jennings the focal point of the offense and dramatically increased Jordy Nelson’s snaps. As for the running game, the coach did more with less than anyone could’ve imagined. Journeymen Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are extremely limited with the ball under their arms, but clever designs and smart play calling by McCarthy enabled the pair to function well enough during the regular season to at least keep defenses semi-honest.

3) The Packers fell to 8-5 after a devastating loss to the Lions. Their next game was at New England, and they’d have to play the team with the best record in the league without Rodgers (concussion). Even the most diehard fan had put that game in the loss column. In fact, not being embarrassed on national TV seemed to be the best possible outcome. But McCarthy wasn’t willing to concede a thing to the big, bad Patriots. “We’re nobody’s underdogs” was his mantra all week and his team backed up his powerful words. Green Bay dominated New England behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn, but fell three points short in the end. Still, it proved to be one of those rare times when a team could actually claim a moral victory. The Packers now knew they could play with anyone – even without their best player. That new-found confidence helped carry the team over the next six games.

After winning Super Bowl XXXI, Mike Holmgren was hailed as a genius by almost everyone. Nobody’s calling McCarthy a genius, but you can make a pretty compelling argument that his championship is even more impressive than Holmgren’s. Regardless, there’s no denying that McCarthy is now on the Mount Rushmore of Packer coaches. Vince Lomardi is George Washington, Curly Lambeau is Abraham Lincoln, Holmgren is Thomas Jefferson and McCarthy is Theodore Roosevelt. That final pairing is àpropos because, as strange as it may seem, there are some similarities between the two men – including this famous quote uttered by the former president nearly 100 years ago?: “I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That’s character.” Something tells me the humble and plain-speaking McCarthy has said the same thing on more than a few occasions in his lifetime – just not quite as eloquently.

15 Comments to "Where’s the love for McCarthy?"

  1. Nerdmann says:

    That’s all well and good, but MM needs to get his team to play consistently for an entire season. Yeah, they got hot down the stretch, and they did it with backups and street free agents. In fact I think their playoff lost the previous year to the Cardinals was a fluke. But let’s be real. MM’s teams always start out hot, then circle the toilet bowl from about week 3 or 4 until about week 10, when the offensive line generally decides to start showing up.
    I’m not complaining about a SB victory, but wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to verge on playoff elimination before they decide to show up and kick some butt?
    And as for the Patriots game, do you recall how that ended? With Matt Flynn wasting the last minute or so as the clock ran down. We were in Patriots territory too, iirc.
    MM is a great QB guru and a very good HC, but I put this SB victory at least as much on Dom Capers and Ted Thompson.

  2. Henry says:

    Yeah, lets make sure we ignore the 15 injuries that occurred. I don’t think Capers and TT were putting together the offense in tandem with the defense that won the Super Bowl.

    Packers have played successfully as true team unit under MM. That’s all on MM.

  3. Mackie says:

    MM is a great coach! His preperation before games and use of skilled people ranks as high as any other coach. No team losing as many starters as GB did ever made the playoffs anf forget about them ever winning the SB.
    I don’t think Green Bay is the best talented team in the NFL. But they are the best team. That is why he’s a great coach.

  4. kylejr says:

    He definitely was a great coach last season. I didn’t consider him a great coach before that, but maybe he was. He took a team with Bob Sanders as its DC to OT in the NFC championship game in his second season. Looking back, it’s funny to remember how many people were mad that Ted didn’t hire Bates.

  5. jmad says:

    “MM’s teams always start out hot, then circle the toilet bowl from about week 3 or 4 until about week 10, when the offensive line generally decides to start showing up.”

    I was curious to see if this is true. Here is the record for each season from game #3 through game #10: 2005 (2-5), 2006 (4-3), 2007 (6-1), 2008 (2-5), 2009 (4-3), 2010 (4-3).

    They did tank in 2005 & 2008 but that was pretty reflective of those entire seasons. They dominated in 2007 and were slightly above average in 2006, 2009 & 2010 – again pretty reflective of their end of season records. Basde on record it appears that under McCarthy the Packers have been pretty consistant though out any given season.

  6. jmad says:

    Sorry but I have a mistake in the post above – 2005 was under Sherman not McCarthy. Sorry about that.

  7. Steve S. says:

    As you stated, most Packer fans and local media already appreciate McCarthy. I know I do. Following the team for over 40 years, he ranks among the elite. I have never seen any NFL team overcome what this one did. So yes, I think this season and Super Bowl win was more impressive than what was accomplished in ’96. Thompson and Capers deserve just as much credit. Together, the three of them helped forge the most impressive and memorable Packer season since, in my opinion, Lombardi seemingly willed his old and battered ’67 team to a championship.

  8. TerdellMiddleton says:

    I loved McCarthy from his first year, when he turned around Favre – from the player allowed to do his own thing under Sherman to a player that was held accountable like everyone else. Favre’s performance improved considerably in the couple years he played for McCarthy over his last couple years with Sherman.

  9. Nerdmann says:

    The Packers under MM verge on playoff elimination repeatedly. The offensive line rarely shows up before week 10. This happens in years when there are tons of injuries and not. You can slice the numbers anyway you want.
    The defense had at least as many injuries as the offense and they held it together consistently all season.

  10. Archie says:

    I have to disagree with everyone on this one. This team came out of the gates like crap last year after the big talk about a SB. And, in the end, they only make the playoffs because of a fluke punt return before time runs out in a NYG-Philly game. It was ARod’s play following his concussion that lifted this team to take advantage of the breaks that came their way. Am I saying MM sucks? Of course not. He does a solid job but he is far from a great coach. A great coach wins game he shouldn’t. MM loses games he shouldn’t.

  11. stephen says:

    I thought MM did a great job even before the playoffs started. To win 10 games without almost a 1/3 of the players who started the year on the 53-man roster is incredible. This team had every reason to give up on a number of occasions, but they didn’t and MM deserves a lot of the credit. If he’s far from a great coach, I’d like to know who the great coaches are.

  12. dHoward says:

    Three things make him a great coach:

    1. Leadership ability: MM handles a locker room better then anyone in the league. He has the hearts and minds of his players who have completely bought into him as a coach and as a person. Players like to play for him and they are willing to extend contracts and stay put in GB because they think MM is real deal. He also has a good relationship with the GM which is so important and MM at this point doesn’t seem interested in wearing the GM hat.

    2. Offensive Mind: MM is one of the top 5 offensive minds in the NFL right now. He is able to use his player talent to schematically put the opposing defense in tough match-ups and to scheme around deficiencies of talent in certain areas. Game management also took a huge step forward this past year.

    3. Coaching up QB’s: Probably the most important aspect of MM’s success is his ability to coach up quarterbacks within his system. Favre got back on track with MM and we all have seen what he has done with Rodgers and Flynn. No offense runs well without a good QB and MM’s ability to coach up QB’s is a huge part of Packer success since he became the head coach.

  13. jmad says:

    “A great coach wins game he shouldn’t. MM loses games he shouldn’t.”

    The Packers were on the road all the way through the playoffs against teams with better records – yet they won. That seems like winning games that they shouldn’t to me.

  14. Nerdmann says:

    The Packers are a dome team. They play better on the road. Except in Chicago.

  15. Yoop says:

    MM is one of the top coaches in the NFL plain and simple. One of the TOP offensive minds in the game without a doubt.
    The way he has directed his coaches and players to get this yes, still young team through this last season and go where they did was one of the best coaching jobs in the NFL.
    You can nit pick all you want about this happening or that happening, but there is only ONE thing that matters.


    You cannot get any better then what this team did with him as the head coach.

    What I dont hear one of you nay savers state is that offense had to be TOTALLY changed because of injuries to Finley and Grant. To revamp what is being done and who is being put in a position to make the plays was nothing short of amazing.
    The entire emphasis of the offense was changed during the season the vast majority of what the offense worked on ALL off season had to be scraped.
    That is a great coaching job from the man that develops the offense and calls the plays.

    You don’t have to like him, but anyone that does not respect what he had done with this team knows little about football.

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