Sixty minutes. Sometimes that’s all you need to silence some of your critics.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did that last Sunday after the Packers defeated the New England Patriots 26-21 at Lambeau Field. It was as big of a game as you can get during the regular season with Aaron Rodgers facing off against Tom Brady and McCarthy matching wits with the mad genius himself, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
It was particularly a big game for McCarthy. Despite a Super Bowl win, three straight division titles and even more wins than the immortal Vince Lombardi, there are many Packers fans who still do not like McCarthy.
They point to his flawed game management style. Critics have admitted McCarthy is a good leader when it comes to facing adversity (see the 2010 and 2013 seasons) but slam his game management style and willingness to budge from his game plan when things go awry.
Well, the game against the Patriots should silence all those doubts. It’s not another Super Bowl, but the fact McCarthy went toe-to-toe against Belichick, the master of the unscouted look, and beat him at his own game shows how good McCarthy really is.
The Packers deployed so many looks on offense that it made your head spin. Randall Cobb was moved all over, including in the backfield. James Starks, a running back, was lined up wide and ran a go route that resulted in one of the game’s biggest plays. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers even got involved and caught a 32-yard touchdown pass, his second touchdown in as many weeks.
It was clear as the game went on McCarthy was not afraid of Belichick. He might respect the man, and he said as much in his post game press conference, but he wasn’t afraid. Not many people thought the Packers would win this game, including a majority of writers at this website (yours truly included). A good deal of that had to with many thinking Belichick would outwit McCarthy.
Consider us wrong and (myself anyways) humbled.
There may still be some skeptics out there regarding McCarthy but one scene after the game should have silenced them. Anyone who has watched the Patriots know that after a loss, Belichick is usually very brief and almost curt when meeting the opposing head coach on the field.
Not with McCarthy. Belichick actually embraced the Packers head coach and talked with him for a long time, at least for Belichick. It was such an unusual scene many wondered if that was the longest Belichick ever met with an opponent after a game. That is unknown, but it is possible.
What is clear is that it was the ultimate sign of respect from Belichick, whom many consider the best head coach in this era of professional football if not one of the best of all time. McCarthy declined to say what Belichick said to him but said he was “gracious” which is un-Belichickian in and of itself.
So to coin a phrase popular on the Internet, “haters gonna hate.”
Mike McCarthy is one the best coaches in football. Even Bill Belichick sees that.
That should be enough to make the opinions of a few fringe fans irrelevant.——————
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. Follow @KrisLBurke