1) Introduction: Mike McCarthy entered his eighth season as Packers head coach in 2013, having led the team to the postseason in five of his previous seven years. McCarthy returned most the same coaching staff that he had in 2012 and following the Packers brutal exit from the playoffs at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
Michael John McCarthy
- Age: 50
- Born: 11/10/1963, in Pittsburgh, PA
- Rookie Year: 2006
- NFL Head Coaching Experience: 8 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: After the 2012 season ended with a thud and resounding loss, the Packers looked to be more competitive with the top teams in the NFC. The 49ers had become their arch enemy and an obstacle that the Packers would need to defeat in order to return to the upper echelon of the conference. McCarthy was quoted numerous times throughout the offseason and preseason as saying that he wanted his team to be tougher and more physical. Those changes would need to start with McCarthy and the team’s overall culture.
With McCarthy continuing to call the team’s offensive plays, there were many eyes on him as the Packers acquired running back Eddie Lacy early in the 2013 draft. There was a lot of curiosity on how McCarthy would integrate Lacy into an offense that already featured All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his aerial assault.
4) Season Highlights/Lowlights: While the Packers season ended well, there were some down points. There was yet another loss to the San Francisco 49ers on opening day and while a loss can’t be placed on the head coach alone, they are ultimately responsible for preparing their team each week. A melee broke out when Packers linebacker Clay Matthews hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of bounds. The play showcased that the Packers weren’t totally in control of their emotions in a game where they needed to be.
There was also the sideline tiff between McCarthy and Rodgers that was shown on the television feed in week three against the Cincinnati Bengals. While I don’t blame McCarthy completely for it, it was not his best moment on TV.
The loss of Rodgers to his collarbone injury tested McCarthy’s mettle for an eight-game stretch and unfortunately, the Packers were only able to muster a record of 2-5-1 during that time with backups Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn under center. During a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, McCarthy puzzled everyone by running Lacy just before half and with nothing to gain by doing so. Lacy suffered an ankle sprain on the play that would hamper his abilities for the remainder of the season.
On the plus side, McCarthy did maintain a good rapport with Rodgers and helped the Packers to a four-game win streak following a 1-2 start. With the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears both tripping over themselves, the Packers entered week 17 with a chance to still win the NFC North with a victory over the Bears. With Rodgers finally back in action, the Packers pulled out a huge come-from-behind victory on the road and were, once again, division champs.
5) Contribution to the overall team success: No one gets more credit or blame when a team loses than does the head coach. McCarthy somehow kept the Packers together enough to remain in contention for a chance at a division title, with a little help from the Bears and Lions, as previously mentioned.
A playoff appearance in six of eight seasons is not too shabby. I know most believe the Packers should have another Super Bowl title and a few more playoff wins under their belt by now, but McCarthy has consistently fielded a competitive team and kept his locker room free of the dramatics that plague other teams (see the Miami Dolphins under head coach Joe Philbin, a McCarthy disciple). McCarthy used the phrases “keep calm and carry on” and “it’s lonely being a warrior” to keep his team focused and motivated during tough times in 2013 and it paid off.
6) Contributions in the playoffs: The Packers, once again, fell to the 49ers in the postseason. The loss marked the fourth straight loss to San Francisco and second straight playoff loss. The team did a better job of containing Kaepernick and avoided a repeat of last year’s playoffs but it was the one big play that Kaepernick did make that ended up hurting the Packers most. A third down scramble for 11 yards kept a fourth quarter 9ers drive alive and allowed them to kick a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock to defeat McCarthy’s Packers.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention McCarthy’s play call on first and goal during the fourth quarter of this game against the 49ers. McCarthy lined up receiver Randall Cobb in the backfield and tried to run him off tackle. The 9ers weren’t fooled in the slightest and the drive stalled from there. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea were it not for the fact that Lacy had been having success running the ball and would have at least had San Francisco questioning what the play call might be.
Season Report Card:
(B-) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B-——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: