Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is like a member of your family. You love the guy to death, but every once in a while he makes you want to slam your head into a wall.
That said, I’m not here to talk about the bad in regards to McCarthy. Every coach has their flaws and McCarthy is no different. Instead, I’m here to do something for him that is rarely done outside the state of Wisconsin and/or the Packer fan base.
I’m giving McCarthy some credit. He’s one the best coaches in the NFL and no one talks about him on a national scope. He (along with general manager Ted Thompson) has helped build one of, if not the best, model franchises in the National Football League. The last three seasons he has won a Super Bowl with a badly depleted roster, won his first 13 games in the following season and this year has another injury riddled team in position to win another Super Bowl.
Yet when it comes to coach of the year discussions this year, McCarthy’s name is conspicuously absent. The Packers arguably took a harder hit with the injuries this year than in 2010 because of all the stars that have gone down over the course of the season, but the Packers are in position to get a first round bye. 2012 could very well be the best coaching job McCarthy has done since his arrival in 2006.
Why has McCarthy been overlooked so much on the national scale? There are a couple theories.
One is that McCarthy has gone the Bill Belichick route and that his success has become so consistent and so routine, that it’s become expected and almost unappreciated.
I’m not the biggest Belichick fan on the planet but he has done a wonderful long term job with that franchise given how much turnover they constantly face. He’s got a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Tom Brady, like McCarthy has in Rodgers. It’s a distinct possibility that McCarthy’s success has become so expected it’s getting overlooked.
Another reason could be McCarthy’s personality. Much has been made about his “soundbites” in his press conferences (“pawsitive,” “pad level,” “polluted mindset” among others) but he’s not a screamer and a yeller that is going to become an overnight YouTube sensation.
McCarthy isn’t going to get into a dust up with the opposing coach over a handshake and won’t throw a temper tantrum behind the podium. He’s steady as a calm sea and it’s helped the Packers weather some tough storms from Favre in 2008 to the 2010 injuries to the “Fail Mary” and this season’s injuries.
So why is McCarthy one of the best coaches in the league?
His teams handle adversity better than anyone. The aforementioned bumps in the road were only bumps because McCarthy kept his teams focused and the eyes on the prize. The Packers have never felt sorry for themselves and when things didn’t go their way, they have not made excuses. They hold themselves accountable first and McCarthy wouldn’t have it any other way.
McCarthy also is a magician with quarterbacks. Not only did he successfully reign in Brett Favre and have the gunslinger play smart football in their two seasons together, but he’s turned Aaron Rodgers into the best quarterback in the NFL today.
If anyone remembers what Rodgers looked like his first two seasons, he was not the juggernaut he is today. McCarthy changed Rodgers’ release and utilized his natural athletic ability. It’s not out of the realm of reason to think McCarthy and Rodgers are the new Belichick/Brady of the NFL. Both men seem to know each other so well that Rodgers has become an extension of McCarthy on the field.
Don’t forget Matt Flynn either. Flynn got the short end of the stick in Seattle thanks to the emergence of Russell Wilson, but Flynn figures to be a hot commodity on the trade market this offseason. He’ll get his shot as a starting quarterback somewhere next season.
Will McCarthy win coach of the year this season? It’s doubtful. There was a lot of terrific coaching in the NFL this season and everyone seems to be locked in on Bruce Arians and what he did with the Indianapolis Colts (which would be a most deserved victory, if he wins). The Packers also struggled at points this season and had trouble putting opponents away until they faced the Tennessee Titans last week.
Even without the award this year, it’s high time McCarthy’s name is mentioned among the best in the league. He’s likely to go down as one of the best coaches in franchise history in part to his Super Bowl win and with a history like the Packers’ that should be enough to earn McCarthy some national accolades.
He won the award in 2007, but his most impressive work has come after that final season with Favre. McCarthy isn’t the flashiest guy, but he’s a winner and at last check winning still was most important in the NFL. He’s well respected by his peers and was highly praised for how he handled the “defeat” to the Seattle Seahawks on the “Fail Mary.”
McCarthy’s time has come. He is one of the best coaches in the NFL. It’s time for him to be treated as such.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke