Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy declared, shortly after the 2014 season was over, that he would relinquish the play calling duties that he’s held since arriving in Green Bay and instead focus more on the other facets of the game on Sunday’s.
We’ve known this for some time and there was speculation as to how long it would last or if it would actually happen at all. As the last organized team activity practice session wound down this week, McCarthy could be seen all over the practice field with the offense, defense and special teams units. He was reportedly chatting with special teams coordinator Ron Zook for quite some time during one session. The Packers fielded one of the worst special teams units in the NFL last season and some of their mishaps kept them out of another Super Bowl appearance.
Change is never easy and especially when you’re giving up something you do well and enjoy. McCarthy’s play calling has been lauded and also received its fair share of criticism over the years, but it’s hard to argue with the success the Packers have enjoyed as a whole on his watch. If nothing else, McCarthy should be commended for taking a look at the situation and deciding that a change was needed if this team is to get another chance at a Lombardi trophy.
With McCarthy’s giving up the play calling, offensive coordinator Tom Clements was promoted to associate head coach and will call the signals on game day. Wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett was promoted to offensive coordinator. Both have been on McCarthy’s staff for some time and have earned the trust and respect of the players. It’s no certainty that either will thrive in their new roles, but if past performance is any indication, the Packers will be just fine in 2015.
As for the play calls, let’s not turn a blind eye to the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has had and will continue to have a lot of autonomy at the line of scrimmage. Green Bay’s offense often calls for formations and sets that offer multiple options on any one snap. Rodgers often assesses and makes a call at the line and so is like an extension of the offensive play caller. Having had McCarthy as his sole play caller during his tenure as a starter with the Packers, Rodgers may welcome the change to Clements or he may still be getting used to the idea. Regardless, Rodgers will still have a lot to say about the action on the field once the play clock is winding down.
Several fans want to look past all of the success and playoff appearances over the last decade and instead point to the fact that the Packers have only one Super Bowl trophy to show for McCarthy’s time in Green Bay. If the Packers should be fortunate enough to reach the summit and win a championship this season, it will be hard not to credit McCarthy for some of these bold moves. He has been pushed by the media and fans alike in seasons past to consider coaching changes, most notably defensive coordinator Dom Capers. McCarthy has often responded by saying the he’s not going to make a change just for the sake of change. If that’s true, we can at least say that the new roles this year came with a lot of thought, discussion and probably some dissension along the way. But McCarthy understands that to succeed as a leader isn’t to have a band of merry fools in tow. Getting your crew to do something they don’t like or want to do in order to achieve success is a sign of top leadership.
As the Packers prepare for their mandatory mini camp, the excitement continues to build for this very talented roster and a coaching staff that has had a lot of success with past bunches as well. If the Packers and McCarthy are trying something new to get a new result, the outlook is bright for the 2015 season. At least for now.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: