Mike McCarthy has been called a lot of things by a lot of people.
Some may not like his play-calling, while others may not prefer his player development.
But the Packers coach isn’t afraid to think out-of-the-box. How many NFL coaches are approaching NFL training camp with Jell-O? That’s right, the Bill Cosby snack has been infused into Packers practice.
It is evident that McCarthy is sick and tired of seeing nagging injuries pester his players. And if it takes a Jell-O cup and a granola bar to do it, so be it.
McCarthy is entering his ninth season as coach of the Packers. The reason he has been able to be successful is because he is willing to change. In 2006 he changed his practice routine and gave the players more of a break. Usually accustomed to practicing in the morning and afternoon, he slashed practices by only having one workout following days with two workouts.
Last year, McCarthy proved what kind of a coach he really is. The knock on McCarthy has been similar to Phil Jackson when he coached Michael Jordan — any coach can win with arguably the best player in the league in Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers started four different quarterbacks last year and McCarthy made them look pretty good.
Scott Tolzien started zero games coming into last season and McCarthy made him look decent, including lighting up the Giants for 339 yards. Matt Flynn, a career backup journeyman, turned out to be the savior by somehow getting wins against Atlanta and Dallas to keep the slim playoff hopes alive.
And the person that needs to get the credit for that is McCarthy. His preparation and more importantly his positive attitude continually flowed through this team, even though Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews and others were hurting.
And as he proved a couple years ago that he isn’t afraid of taking a risk with an onside kick, fake field goal and fake punt all in the same season.
His biggest job right now is to develop wide receiving depth. It is unclear if Randall Cobb will be back with the Packers following Jordy Nelson’s extension. Also, it is unclear if Jarrett Boykin is in the team’s best interest as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver.
But right now, McCarthy isn’t worried about that. He just wants to get through training camp, and for the most part, the entire season, without a serious injury or a week-by-week nagging injury to deal with.
And that’s why McCarthy’s average division finish is just over first place, it’s why he owns a .545 playoff winning percentage and it’s why he’s 37 games over .500 for his career. Only current coaches Bill Belichick (94) and Andy Reid (43) have more.
Also McCarthy helped Mason Crosby find his field goal stroke last season. A stroke that forced Crosby’s confidence to be sapped like a maple tree in late fall.
Finally, nobody thought the 2010 season was going to amount to much. The Packers won a tiebreaker with the Giants to get into the playoffs and were able to do the unthinkable and win four road games. The last win gave the Packers their fourth Super Bowl win in five tries.
And the reason that happened is because a coach was able to tell them it was possible.
He may not be mentioned as much as Belichick or the Harbaugh brothers but McCarthy’s enterprising style is the breath of fresh air the NFL and this organization needs.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn