“Unquantifiable Areas” Help Define Packers’ Mike McCarthy

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I just finished arguing with my dad about Brad Childress. My dad blames all of the Vikings’ problems on Childress. I am not a Childress defender, but I contend that blaming Childress for all of the Vikings’ problems is a convenient way for the players, many of whom are considered among the best at their respective positions, to not take responsibility for their ineptitude.

My dad says that it is up to the coach to get the most out of his players, and that if the players underperform, it is the coach’s fault and he should be fired. I think that’s letting multi-millionaire players off the hook a little too easy, but both of us are technically right. Of course, the whole argument got me thinking about the Packers and Mike McCarthy.

I’ve taken my shots at McCarthy for his playcalling this season. I was also critical of his decision to go for the touchdown on 4thand goal from the 1-yard line against the Redskins. It is common for people to criticize the coach for his playcalling or in-game decisions. It happens all the time and it comes with the territory for any coach.

Sometimes criticisms are made using rational arguments backed up by research and a deep knowledge of the game of football. Sometimes they are made by rubeshaving emotional overreactions. Second-guessing playcalls and in-game decisions is easy (and fun!). The whole world sees what happens on the field, either in real-time or after the fact, and offers an opinion on whether it was a good or bad decision.

But what about the things a coach does that we don’t get to see with our own eyes every Sunday? A good coach deserves credit for whatever it is he does behind the scenes, even though it is nearly impossible for those of us on the outside to quantify.

The Packers have been through a lot with McCarthy: the Favre divorce, breaking in a new quarterback, a bad start last season and a rash of injuries this season. McCarthy also has always had one of the youngest rosters in the league.

Through it all, the Packers have performed well. Even though we might not be able to pinpoint exactly what McCarthy does behind the scenes to keep the team together and moving forward, he deserves credit for it. After observing McCarthy over the years, I feel he excels in three “unquantifiable areas” that I can say with relative certainty make the Packers better.

  1. Demeanor. McCarthy reacts the same whether the Packers win, lose or draw. This drives fans nuts. When the Packers lose, we want McCarthy to throw a chair, call out a player or rip the refs. When the Packers win, we want him to jump around, rub it in the other coach’s face or act more like Rex Ryan. As boring as it may be, McCarthy’s demeanor is ideal for an NFL coach with a talented team.
  2. Patience. The Packers started slow last season and have sputtered at times this season. Through it all, McCarthy never drastically altered the gameplan or demanded (at least publicly) that Ted Thompson make trades to improve the team. He stuck with his players and made necessary adjustments without making any drastic changes in season.
  3. Loyalty. Many of you are probably scratching your head with this one. Loyalty? The guy who traded Favre, let Aaron Kapman walk as a free agent and just cut Al Harris is loyal? Yeah, as loyal as one can be in the NFL. Most players realize this is a business. They know the chances are good that they will be cut, traded or not resigned at some point in their career. It’s how those situations are handled that build respect among the remaining players. When Harris was cut, McCarthy made sure to praise Harris and say he could still play. In reality, if McCarthy thought Harris could still play, he would not have cut him. However, he wanted to prop Harris up a little so other teams would remain interested in giving him another chance. It’s little things like that that add up over time.

Whatever measurements you use to judge a coach, McCarthy has to rank fairly high. Of course I wish he would call more short passes and give Brandon Jackson a few more carries. But even if he did these things, I would probably find something else to complain about.

When everything is factored in, McCarthy deserves a lot of credit. Both my dad and I would agree on that.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

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  • zcalvelli

    Agreed, I’d also add humility. He wisely hired a powerhouse DC in Capers and switched defensive schemes when it was clear he was only going to get so far with what he had.

  • Steve Pfeifer

    Just to add to your point about McCarthy’s loyalty; don’t forget the positive effect and confidence boost for guys like Shields when he says Harris can still play. That tells Shields and the other young guys that he’s got confidence in THEM (for as long as they keep doing their jobs well).

  • ELong

    I would have to agree that MM has some quality attributes – the players seem to like and support him and he does seem to have a great work ethic. His game planning is also pretty good. That said, I will be more willing to sing his praises when he shows he can win tough games and not get out-coached in the second half in key contests. Let’s see how he does down the stretch.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Nice job. I feel the same way.

  • http://www.greenbaypackernation.com J.R. Augustine

    Excellent thoughts Adam. I agree with you that MM has the same demeanor regardless of what’s going on with the team, and in most situations that’s good. One concern I have with his is whether or not his cool demeanor backfires on him when it comes to motivating players. I think a head coach needs to get his players emotionally up for games as well as mentally ready. And I’m not sure an even-keeled coach like MM is capable of that.

    Of course, I don’t think it necessarily has to be the head coach himself that gets the team motivated, but if MM is going to have an even demeanor, he needs to find someone with some emotion to get the team pumped. Might be a player. Might be another coach.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Since I go back to the Lombardi days, I’ve always liked my coaches on the firey side. I do thing McCarthy has repressed those emotions over the years, and is slowly letting them out. He will always be fair with the players, but I think he has been more demanding of them this year. I rate that as a positive improvement. I still have issues with his tight game play-calling and clock management, however.

  • Ruppert

    I bash McCarthy as much or more than anybody, specifically for the in-game coaching aspects. But I have to hand it to him for all the reasons you mentioned. Does McCarthy get the most out of his players? I think, looking back, that he does indeed get the most out of his guys. And I think he did a very good job in the last 3 games with the in-game decisions. I feel good about the rest of the season. Let’s hope we stay healthy and beat the Queens by 30.

  • PackerBandit

    McCarthy may be a little reserved at times, but when you watch this vid of him being mic’d up, you kind of get the impression he could be a real s.o.b. if he wanted.
    http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-sound-efx/09000d5d812dd100/Sound-FX-Mike-McCarthy-mic-d-up

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    totally agree adam…but will u admit the giants are frauds now….just asking

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      I’ll chime in. I don’t think the Giants are frauds, but I’ve never been a Manning fan. Their Super Bowl year was one of those magical runs where everything broke right, and Manning got the credit. So in effect, I do think manning might be a bit of a fraud.

  • Adam Czech

    I’m not sure I’m willing to call any team a fraud or a Super Bowl favorite this year. It changes every week. It seems that each week, bye teams move up in the power rankings. That’s the No. 1 sign that nobody has any idea how to project the rest of this season.

  • BubbaOne

    He also is a leader. MM showed us in his first year as a head coach. The youngest team in the league was 4-8 and could have packed it in on a rookie coach. Instead they rallied to an 8-8 record. Leaders make that happen.