Mike McCarthy Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

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Mike McCarthy
Mike McCarthy

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.

2) Profile:

Michael John McCarthy

  • Age: 50
  • Born: 11/10/1963, in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Head Coaching Experience: 8 years

Biography and more

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-

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Bobby D

    Kept them together when Rodgers went down? We went 2-5-1 and were lucky it wasn’t 0-8. Hard to determine if it’s the lack of takent or inability to develop and coach up what we do have. Hope TT is next in this grading farce.

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      I always find it interesting when fans refer to the Packers as “we”. What “we” don’t really know is what goes on behind the scenes during times like Rodgers being out, but I’d say 6 playoff appearances and 4 division titles probably means the team rallies behind the guy.

      • JimR_in_DC

        I never understood that whole rally behind someone thing. Do they rally behind the guy and win, or rally behind and continue to play in a substandard fashion (e.g., the defense) and lose? And if they rallied behind him and played better than usual, does that mean he’s not getting their best all of the time? What does that say? Just my two or three cents.

        • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

          In the case of what I am saying above, the team buys into what MM is trying to establish and do as far as a team culture. You make some good points and maybe there is a hole in his coaching ability between good and bad times. Overall, though, the Packers have been one of the most successful teams in the NFL, in terms of regular season record and playoff appearances.

          • JimR_in_DC

            Thanks Jason. Keep up the good work.

      • http://GV889@aol.com Jerry

        Nice job Jason. Always enjoy reading your point of view! Just wondering what it would be like if the Packers can have a season without so many injuries.We can dream though can’t we?

      • Peter Locke

        What “we” do know, is that most of their draft choices (Rodgers, Mathews & Collins not with standing) are mediocre at best. They refuse to do anything in free agency. And they were so woefully unprepaired for Rodgers going down (which bsed on the number of hits he takes was almost certian to happen) it was embarassing. Many other teams fair much better with similar injuries. ie. Patriots.

  • Savage57

    MM has a lot of really good qualities as a head coach. I’ve always said that he’s the best Monday to Saturday coach in the NFL.

    The one single area that I’d like to see him grow in is being able to be more agile in identifying and reacting to changes. He eventually gets it, but lord does it take him some time.

    Not the best trait in a coach on game day.

  • Razer

    “B-” seem about right for the coach. I know people will point to mistakes, bad calls and lame press conferences and he had his share. Most coaches do. Jason correctly points out that MM kept this team pointed forward despite a rash of key player injuries. The team never gave up and played some of its toughest football at the end. I was very proud to be a Packer fan as we fought hard through Dallas/Chicago/San Fran. The coach is a big part of this.

    The room for improvement comes in the form of being a head coach. I am not a big fan of a play calling head coach. Too many other facets of the game miss needed attention. The hiring of Ron Zook is to help a poorly coached ST. The post season comments about changes on defense by MM is a recognition that things are being missed. Sticking your face behind a play calling sheet is costing this team timely coaching on other fronts. Coach McCarthy needs to put the ‘head’ back in head-coach.

    • JimR_in_DC

      I totally agree with you, Razer. I also fault him for only talkin’-the-talk on accountability when it comes to his coaching staff.

  • Archie

    D- …..Lays more eggs than the Easter Bunny.

  • Slim11

    I lean more toward a C+.

    His adaptability/flexibility during games shows little improvement ove the years. This blind loyalty to assistant coaches, especially Slocum, is also cause for concern.

    I don’t believe for a moment that Ron Zook was hired to be a ST coaching assistant. I expect him to take over for an assistant to be fired later.

    • Razer

      I agree with your ST assessment. Hiring a very qualified “assistant Special Teams” coach is a bit strange. I think that Slocum was done a favor in providing help to a guy over his head.

  • GBPDAN

    Jason, ‘We’ refer to the Packers as ‘we’ sometimes because ‘we’ love the team and as fans feel ‘we’ are apart of the equation. ‘We’ fill the seats, ‘we’ support the team and ‘we’ buy worthless stock when the team is in trouble.

  • GBPDAN

    Ask Mike McCarthy if he has a problem with the fans referring themselves and the Packers as ‘we’, the great thing about the Packers organization is the bond between the fans and the team. ‘We’ have no owner, ‘we’ are a unique franchise, it’s what makes the Packers special. Ask the kids who offer their bikes at training camp if ‘we’ are ‘we’, ask the fans who bailed out the team before they went bankrupt if ‘we’ are ‘we’. The Packers wouldn’t exist without ‘we’ fans

    • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

      All valid points and that is also true of most every NFL team or the NFL in general. It’s also why we even post these “farces” of a report card/evaluation. To promote discussion. Thank you for reading!

  • GBPDAN

    It’s all good, go pack!

  • FireMMNow

    McCarthy is damn good, but he can be too loyal to his assistants. Guys like Slocum, Campen, Moss and possibly Capers need to be held accountable.

    If he had a guard that was consistently ranked in the bottom third of Guards in the NFL MM would replace him.

    the OL and special teams have consistently been in the bottom third of the league in multiple categories. hold the coaches accountable mike. That is why you get paid a lot of money.

    MM does a nice job of building his offense around his personnel. If he could get Capers and Slocum to do the same thing this team would be much better.

    MM is a top 5 offensive coordinator in the NFL for sure.

    • http://MSN Mark

      If Ted picks the assistant coaches, MM is the best head coach in the league. If MM picks his assistants, he is still very good, but loyal to a fault.

  • Archie

    Worst play caller/strategist in the NFL and 2nd place isn’t even close. God guys, get over these dung pieces and strive for much better.

  • Lou

    Play calling, when to throw the red flag, time management, every coach in the NFL hears negatives in these areas – it comes with the territory, and they all should strive to improve. McCarthy is no different and I agree with the comment that he is too loyal to his assistants (based on the abject failure of the safety position Darren Perry needs to be put on notice)as well as Slocum and Capers. McCarthy’s biggest failure to date is not running up the red flag when it was obvious even to the casual fan that Harrell and Coleman could not play in the NFL, and that almost cost them the season. However, everything considered McCarthy has done a solid job (you play to win the games) consistently and has the perfect temperment for the organization/fan base and last season when the team could have easily quit because of the QB fiasco and injury epidemic he held them together until the last snap. Everyone recites Lombardi quotes but I loved McCarthy’s quote when he was getting Flynn ready for his first NFL start against New England two years ago, “The Green Bay Packers are nobodies underdog – period”. As a leader of Marines in Vietnam I can identify with the pride he has in his teams history and tradition, we feel the same about ours, the Packers are in good hands.

  • grizzlymitch

    If anyone is thinking that Mac is not a great coach, they are wrong. It baffles me though that Slocum and Capers still have a job. These two will ultimately cost Mac big time. Maybe his job as stranger things have happened. Move on with those bums. Anyone can coach better.

  • grizzlymitch

    If anyone is thinking that Mac is not a great coach, they are wrong. It baffles me though that Slocum and Capers still have a job. These two will ultimately cost Mac big time. Maybe his job as stranger things have happened. Move on with those bums. Anyone can coach better.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    McCarthy’s play calling drives me nuts at times, but all and all he’s a good coach. He’s had to hold together a team that’s been decimated by injuries in 3 of the last 4 years. There were some games the Packers were missing as many as 9 starters this past year including Rodgers. Most teams would have totally folded, but the Packers didn’t. I find it amusing those smuck’s on NFL Network for example will make all the excuses in the world for Atlanta’s poor season because of the injuries they had, but not the Packers who still made the playoffs. Also keep in mind he never gets any shiny new toys in Free Agency.

    The play calling at the end of the Cincinnati game was horrible, but when he lined up Cobb and ran behind Marshall Newhouse in the Playoff game, that was just a head in butt call. At the end of the day all in all he’s done a pretty damn good job IMO though.

  • Since ’61

    MM has a .630 winning% as a head coach, with an SB win, 5 straight playoff appearances and 6 playoffs in 8 seasons. No other team in the league can make the same claim. If you are expecting perfect play calls on every play and a never ending dynasty then expectations are too high. The fact that MM consistently has winning seasons and playoff appearances is a testament to his character and his system. His team never gives up and remains in games even with a ridiculous number of starters injured. IN 2013 he had the #3 offense in the league without either starting tackle for the entire season, AR missing 8 games, plus Cobb and Finley missing most of the season. Not to mention the defensive injuries. Any other team would have fallen apart. I recommend MM’s biography, “Nobody’s Underdog”, to every Packer fan who wants to learn about our HC and his character. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  • Charles Martin

    MM is an average coach. He cannot or just will not adapt. He must just scratch his nuts at halftime, because he certainly doesn’t make any game adjustments. An elite coach like for the Patriots say, can make some kickass adjustments and be a completely different team after halftime or even quarter to quarter. MM, nope he will just scratch his nuts and hope things will change.

    • Lou

      The “Genius” in New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl in 10 years or advanced very far in the playoffs since he was caught “spying” even with a first ballot Hall of Famer at QB.

      • Charles Martin

        I believe there was a championship game or 2 in there. Granted it was a loss..