I became a father on Tuesday and I am still in that stage where any topic of conversation ultimately leads back to my new son.
I swear my wife and I haven’t had a “normal” conversation since our baby was born. Everything revolves around our new little one — his feeding schedule, his body temperature, his sleeping patterns, his fussiness, play-by-play of his birth, what he’s going to wear, who’s got the next diaper change. Of course, anyone we talk to just wants to know about our new son, too. How is he doing? Is he keeping you up at night? How is your dog adjusting? Are you going insane yet? Oh, he’s so cute (and he is really cute). Things like that.
So forgive me, but my mind is firmly stuck in new parent mode, which might make this analogy a little whacky. Hear me out and let me know what you think.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy has taken a lot of grief for his playcalling this season. Fans, including myself, are second-guessing the coach when he doesn’t use running back Eddie Lacy on third-and-short or opts for a long bomb when a shorter, safer pass seems like the more logical call.
It doesn’t matter how successful a coach is; fans will always second-guess the playcalling. Always. Sometimes the criticism gets really loud and sometimes it’s somewhat muted, but it’s always there.
Second-guessing the playcalling is kind of fun. It’s part of being a fan. Yeah, the criticism is often moronic and way off-base, but who cares? This is football, not foreign policy.
What does any of this have to do with becoming a dad? Calling out McCarthy for his playcalling is similar to calling out a parent for not “controlling” his or her kid at a restaurant or properly “disciplining” a child when you think it’s warranted.
I used to be one of those people, a parent second-guesser. A screaming kid in a restaurant would drive me batty. I’d roll my eyes and mutter that the kid should be taken outside and controlled. When my little nieces and nephews ran around like crazy people, I swore that my children would never behave like that. I would instill the proper amount of discipline to ensure that they were always little angels.
Now that I have a child of my own, I know that I’ll learn the hard way how parenting isn’t quite that simple. Coaching probably isn’t that simple, either.
I have no problem with second-guessing a coach’s playcalling. I really don’t have a problem with second-guessing a parent when he or she doesn’t reprimand a child in the super market who just dumped a container of bleach on the ground (yeah, I’ve seen this happen).
But if we’re going to second guess, let’s at least try to see the big picture, too.
If you’re going to bash McCarthy for calling a bomb on 3rd and 1 when you think he should have called a run for Lacy, you better also give McCarthy credit for holding his team together as the Packers overcame a ton of adversity and pulled out a tough road win against the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday.
McCarthy’s attitude and demeanor during his tenure as Packers head coach has always impressed me. It doesn’t matter if the Packers win or lose, whether nobody gets injured or half the team goes down, whether the game ends on a Fail Mary or a Packers game-winning TD, McCarthy is always determined and won’t tolerate excuses or nonsense, even indirectly.
A lesser coach might have lost it during halftime on Sunday. James Jones and Randall Cobb go down with knee injuries. The offense is sputtering. Things just aren’t clicking.
Instead, the Packers came out of the tunnel and played better than they did in the first half. McCarthy deserves credit for that. Just because we don’t see behind-the-scenes McCarthy with our own eyes the same way we see McCarthy’s playcalls, it doesn’t mean we should just dismiss the coach’s role in motivating his players and building this team’s character.
Same goes for parenting. It’s fine to shake your head in disgust if you see a parent oblivious to the fact that his or her kid is repeatedly kicking the back of an airplane seat. But don’t dismiss the possibility that that parent is just having an off moment and actually does a helluva job back home — rushing home from work to get in a game of catch before dark and sitting up all night to soothe a sick kid.
Sure, McCarthy might botch a play call here and there, but just like there’s more to parenting than what happens in the grocery aisle or on an airplane, there’s more to coaching than playcalling. The results show that McCarthy has the non-playcalling part of the game down just about as good as any other coach in the league.
At least I think he does. I’m not in the Packers locker room or at the team facilities every day, but given the resolve that this team showed on Sunday and shows year in and year out, I’m confident that McCarthy is doing a helluva job behind the scenes.
Will I have some shaky parenting moments in public? Without a doubt. But hopefully I’m like McCarthy and more than make up for the ocassional public parenting gaffe by excelling behind the scenes.——————