Mike McCarthy: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

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Mike McCarthy
There’s no question anymore: Mike McCarthy is one of the best coaches in the NFL today.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is like a member of your family. You love the guy to death, but every once in a while he makes you want to slam your head into a wall.

That said, I’m not here to talk about the bad in regards to McCarthy.  Every coach has their flaws and McCarthy is no different.   Instead, I’m here to do something for him that is rarely done outside the state of Wisconsin and/or the Packer fan base.

I’m giving McCarthy some credit.  He’s one the best coaches in the NFL and no one talks about him on a national scope.  He (along with general manager Ted Thompson) has helped build one of, if not the best, model franchises in the National Football League.  The last three seasons he has won a Super Bowl with a badly depleted roster, won his first 13 games in the following season and this year has another injury riddled team in position to win another Super Bowl.

Yet when it comes to coach of the year discussions this year, McCarthy’s name is conspicuously absent.  The Packers arguably took a harder hit with the injuries this year than in 2010 because of all the stars that have gone down over the course of the season, but the Packers are in position to get a first round bye.   2012 could very well be the best coaching job McCarthy has done since his arrival in 2006.

Why has McCarthy been overlooked so much on the national scale? There are a couple theories.

One is that McCarthy has gone the Bill Belichick route and that his success has become so consistent and so routine, that it’s become expected and almost unappreciated.

I’m not the biggest Belichick fan on the planet but he has done a wonderful long term job with that franchise given how much turnover they constantly face. He’s got a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Tom Brady, like McCarthy has in Rodgers.  It’s a distinct possibility that McCarthy’s success has become so expected it’s getting overlooked.

Another reason could be McCarthy’s personality.  Much has been made about his “soundbites” in his press conferences (“pawsitive,” “pad level,” “polluted mindset” among others) but he’s not a screamer and a yeller that is going to become an overnight YouTube sensation.

McCarthy isn’t going to get into a dust up with the opposing coach over a handshake and won’t throw a temper tantrum behind the podium.   He’s steady as a calm sea and it’s helped the Packers weather some tough storms from Favre in 2008 to the 2010 injuries to the “Fail Mary” and this season’s injuries.

So why is McCarthy one of the best coaches in the league?

His teams handle adversity better than anyone.  The aforementioned bumps in the road were only bumps because McCarthy kept his teams focused and the eyes on the prize.  The Packers have never felt sorry for themselves and when things didn’t go their way, they have not made excuses.  They hold themselves accountable first and McCarthy wouldn’t have it any other way.

McCarthy also is a magician with quarterbacks.  Not only did he successfully reign in Brett Favre and have the gunslinger play smart football in their two seasons together, but he’s turned Aaron Rodgers into the best quarterback in the NFL today.

If anyone remembers what Rodgers looked like his first two seasons, he was not the juggernaut he is today.  McCarthy changed Rodgers’ release and utilized his natural athletic ability.   It’s not out of the realm of reason to think McCarthy and Rodgers are the new Belichick/Brady of the NFL.  Both men seem to know each other so well that Rodgers has become an extension of McCarthy on the field.

Don’t forget Matt Flynn either.  Flynn got the short end of the stick in Seattle thanks to the emergence of Russell Wilson, but Flynn figures to be a hot commodity on the trade market this offseason.  He’ll get his shot as a starting quarterback somewhere next season.

Will McCarthy win coach of the year this season? It’s doubtful.  There was a lot of terrific coaching in the NFL this season and everyone seems to be locked in on Bruce Arians and what he did with the Indianapolis Colts (which would be a most deserved victory, if he wins).  The Packers also struggled at points this season and had trouble putting opponents away until they faced the Tennessee Titans last week.

Even without the award this year, it’s high time McCarthy’s name is mentioned among the best in the league.  He’s likely to go down as one of the best coaches in franchise history in part to his Super Bowl win and with a history like the Packers’ that should be enough to earn McCarthy some national accolades.

He won the award in 2007, but his most impressive work has come after that final season with Favre.   McCarthy isn’t the flashiest guy, but he’s a winner and at last check winning still was most important in the NFL.  He’s well respected by his peers and was highly praised for how he handled the “defeat” to the Seattle Seahawks on the “Fail Mary.”

McCarthy’s time has come.  He is one of the best coaches in the NFL. It’s time for him to be treated as such.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.


13 thoughts on “Mike McCarthy: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

  1. If you want to assess where Mike McCarthy stands as a coach, think about what he has done (good and bad), and how well he gets on with TT. Now think about which current head coaches you would rather have, instead of him ? I’m guessing that is a very short list

  2. I think your Belichick analysis is spot on; winning is just expected now, and nothing less. But the thing is with the Ryans, and Harbaughs, Pete Carroll, Belichick is such the opposite of those characters that he’s become a character himself. Mac isn’t that. He just goes about his business, putting all of his energy into the stuff that helps win games, and blowing off all the NFL Three Ring Circus B.S.

  3. Since the last part of 2010, the Packers are on a 32-6 run which McCarthy had a big hand in helping make happen. Besides putting players in position to be successful he allows his coaches room to excel.

    Also this has been one of Ted Thompson’s best years as GM: The draft picks on defense, UDFA’s Moses, Boykin, Van Roten, Barclay, signing Benson, Saturday and bringing in Dujuan Harris, Ryan Grant, Jeremy Ross have positioned this team to make a Super Bowl run.

  4. Ted Thompson,Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers all have the same single most important item at the top of their lists which ironicly all consist of one goal…SuperBowl Wins.

    GM,HC,MVP Awards all mean little to each of these men who are about team honors first and foremost.

    It isn’t easy to keep egos of one self and others in check for the benefit of all or to obtain a thinking of same thoughts.Each accomplish this successfully as individual leaders and as an Org also.

    Who needs an MVP trophy,Coach of the Year or GM of the Year trophies while watching another team play in a game whose award is the essence of your job in the first place.

    All the personal awards in a football career mean nothing unless you have the Lombardi on the top shelf of your showcase.

    Some may disagree but,with the diluted comparisons of record breaking feats of 16 game seasons vs 14 game seasons is fine if you’re okay with the asterex applied at the end,otherwise the only award truly worthy and is undeniable in it’s earning…THE LOMBARDI TROPHY….you can have the rest with my blessings.

  5. MM coaches the Packers to be a TEAM. Individuality does not enter his philosophy. As good as AR is, MM’s “spread the wealth receiver startegy” helps AR achieve his status.

    I guess that philosophy also has an impact on on Pro-Bowl selections for his players. But for us, the fans, it means the Packers are in the hunt every year. I’ll take that every time, as frustrating as that can get sometimes.

  6. MM has the perfect style for a team heavy on younger players – steady, direct, accountable. He seems very focused and I get the impression his practices are extremely organized. While his play calling and in-game adjustments sometimes seem lacking, I think MM is getting better as a coach. He’s a guy that seems to learn from mistakes and, for the most part, admit when he is wrong (still stuck on Crosby). I can see MM around for a while and hopefully we can get a couple more Lombardi trophies under his tenure.

  7. Mac has never won Coach of the Year. In 2007 it was BB on Patriots. Ted Thompson won Executive of the year though. Mac is a great coach, sometimes bland, but has his moments of greatness: “We’re nobodies underdog” anyone?

  8. In all honesty, I think a part of the lack of recognition, which can be interpreted as a snub of sorts, is that he does not suffer fools lightly. When the media asks a stupid question, he has a way of communicating that it is a stupid question. He does it respectfully, but they do not like looking foolish. That is a rub and many media people are vindictive. That plays into it. It isn’t the only factor but it contributes.

    1. Jim, have you ever listened to some of those questions, a good number of them ARE stupid questions!? I give McCarty credit for being a better man than me, some of those questions don’t deserve answers at all! Not sure what I’d do, other than just look at the reporter and laugh!

      1. The perfect example was this week, when the Media Geniuses ask about using Cobb too long in the Titans game. He the questioner look like an idiot, in a bery cool and calm way. The funny thing is these same idiots are still whinning about Cobb playing too lone. Even funnieer these are the same jackasses who complaing about MM not playing AR in game 16 last year. I hate so called experts — That one’s for you Mc Ginn.

  9. MM is one of the top coaches in the NFL.
    IMO there is not a better coaching staff in the NFL.
    And TT is the best GM this team has had.
    We can go back to the FIRE TT and MM days and wonder what the hell those people were thinking.
    I agree that his record has been so good, that he does not get the press he should.

    One thing I will comment on is playing calling, every play caller in the NFL has there moments like the Bears game with a WTF call.
    But we as fans really have no idea as to how much a play has been worked on, what a play is being used to set up for something for later.
    What as a coaching staff they has saw to set up the game plan and what plays will be used.
    The chess game that is play calling is beyond fans.
    There is so much more involved in plays then anyone has a clue about.

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