Packers Coach Mike McCarthy: I’m Giving up Play Calling

Mike McCarthy

In an afternoon press conference today, Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy admitted to a not-so-well kept secret; he will no longer call plays for the Packers. It was not an easy decision for McCarthy, and according to him, came as a surprise to his bosses, Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy.

During the press conference there were several recurring themes:

  • McCarthy feels he has a lot to offer to the defensive side of the ball and even more so with special teams, which he singled out several times as in need of major improvement. He want’s to be in the meeting rooms and have a direct hand in the planning and management of all three phases of the game
  • This was not a knee-jerk reaction. In fact, it’s something he has considered before, but was slow to come around to as a necessary step. “It’s a big decision that has taken years to make,” McCarthy said. He joked that Packers PR man Jason Wahlers had to drag him out there for the press conference as he wasn’t looking forward to admitting his decision.
  • Having who he considers the right people on the staff to handle the new responsibilities was probably the tipping point for helping him to pull the trigger on the move.
  • This had nothing to do with game management issues. In fact, he rejected the notion that there are any. Said he’s very confident in the system they have in place.

For those of you who frequent this space or follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I’m doing a happy dance right now. I’ve always respected McCarthy as a leader, manager and planner, but not as much as an in-game decision maker in big spots or adjuster of game plans. I’ve never wanted him fired, but much as he has just said himself, I’ve felt he should be more involved with all phases of the game and oversee his coordinators both during the week and during the games.

It’s my firm belief that this arrangement will result in heightened awareness of game situations as they are happening and thus a better ability to make adjustments in-game as needed. Personally, I’m thrilled with the decision.

For a more detailed rundown of what McCarthy said, check out Tom Silverstein’s post at JSOnline and Wes Hodkiewicz’s article at

Here’s a rundown of the new coaching responsibilities:

Tom Clements – Associate Head Coach – offense (will call plays)

Edgar Bennett – Offensive Coordinator

Alex Van Pelt – Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers Coach

Mike Solari – Assistant Offensive Line Coach

Ron Zook – Special Teams Coordinator

Jason Simmons – Assistant Special Teams Coach

Jerry Montgomery – Defensive Front Assistant

Note that there are now only two Special Teams coaches, with McCarthy planning to be the third person “in the room.”


Follow Jersey Al:

                    Add to Circleson Google+

Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


28 thoughts on “Packers Coach Mike McCarthy: I’m Giving up Play Calling

  1. Bravo Mr. McCarthy. These are good coaches who will have a chance to prove it. More important, we now have a HC who will have a finger on the pulse of all aspects of the team. You only have to look at the prolonged failure of the Special Teams to realize that better oversight and a more timely adjustment would have benefited the team.

  2. Nine years in to his coaching tenure, MM concludes it would be wise for him to take a more active role in Special Teams and the defense rather than just focusing on the offense.

    Wish he would have been a quicker learner as we may have had more than 1 Super Bowl appearance with back to back Hall of Fame QBs.

    1. Maybe in 13 – and despite questionable game management, it still took an almost unheard of amount of flukes for Seattle to win. 07 was all on Favre. 11 the defense was just pathetic. In 09 even if ARod was ready (which he wasn’t), we didn’t even make the divisional round. Ditto 12.

      So overall, I disagree with the exception of this past year.

    2. Maybe we wouldn’t have any Super Bowl appearances either. There is nothing to indicate that it would have been better or worse.

  3. I’m with you in celebrating this move. But not for same reason… I do not think Mike McCarthy is bad play caller. I just thought that his duties as HC are more than just play calling and being HC from Monday to Saturday…

  4. Glad he’s finally giving up play calling duties. McCarthy’s refusal to throw shorter passes/screens to counter heavy pass rush has been headache inducing. The red zone efficiency’s been pathetic. And, the offense’s struggle to score against good defenses, the last few years, has been very frustrating.

    Wish they would have hired an outside coach to come in and give a fresh set of eyes to the offense, instead of promoting from within. This might help their scheming, as well, as it seems McCarthy goes in to every game with the same game plan, regardless of who they’re playing. Not sure this move will have as drastic of an impact as I’m hoping for, but it’s a start.

  5. Overall, I think it’s hard to really gauge this move until the end of the season. People who complain that McCarthy is a poor play caller might find that Clements is even worse. Hell, there probably isn’t a coach in America that fans haven’t had issues with at some point or another (going for it on 4th down are we Bill Bellichick?).

    In the end I think the rationale is pretty simple: Shawn Slocum screwed up and McCarthy knows he should have caught it but was too busy with the offense.

    1. I think your conclusion is the bottom-line on these changes. The same might be said for some of the persistent deficiencies on defense. Hopefully we clear up issues on several of these fronts.

  6. If this move results in improved ST and defensive play then I say bravo to MM and the Packer’s staff. The offense led the league in scoring in 2014 so I’m not sure how much better we expect the play calling to get. Especially when the only criteria for judging the play call is the result of the play or the game’s final score. Besides the result of the play or the final score of the game I have yet to see any other objective criteria for a good play call. When we lose a game in 2015 can we expect that it will be fault of Clemens? If yes, who becomes the play caller then? Rodgers is calling the plays at the LOS anyway, so let’s leave it at that. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Solari looks like a very good hire. Maybe he and Campen can take Bakh to the next level, coach up Tretter, Barclay and Lane Taylor. I have been harsh about Taylor, but he did get better over time, I thought. Of course, maybe he can help with the already high performing guys as well.

    2. “The offense led the league in scoring in 2014 so I’m not sure how much better we expect the play calling to get. Especially when the only criteria for judging the play call is the result of the play or the game’s final score.”

      Bingo. This has been the story of the last 6 weeks.

      1. Yes, but it was the result of several play calls, as well as other, uh, issues, that led to the NFC loss. This was one hell of a result, and not in a good way.

  7. Nicely done. He’s made the final step in his evolution as a NFL head coach. Clements is perfect as the play caller given his tenure with MM, his knowledge of the offense and his role in developing Rodgers.

    Nothing here speaks of knee-jerk. To the contrary, it’s another step in his growth as a coach and a man. Letting go of and delegating a responsibility that you held dear and may have even defined you is the act of a man that’s very comfortable with who he is, what he has to do and how he’s going to do it.

  8. Once again he finally listens to us. I always knew he reads our comments. Slow but sure he will figure it out. Just wish he would listen to us sooner than later. May have a couple more rings. Baby steps MM, baby steps. Now TT, I know you are reading too, so set your ego aside and listen damn it…

  9. A few interesting points. Jason Simmons worked as an assistant for the defense and last year was assigned some ST duties but not a ST title. Now he has a title. Leads me to think that GB will promote Zook, as I would assume an outsider hired as Coordinator would want to hire his own guys.

    Second, MM has stated that he was not aware that Sherman was injured in the Seattle game. For the play caller not to know that, so that he could decide whether to throw at a one-armed CB, or even see if Sherman could tackle Lacy, is preposterous. If MM is too busy to see that (and doesn’t he look at the opposing team? or maybe he took Sherman as a constant, a force not to be messed with, and thought no reason to see what he is doing out there), isn’t there someone on the staff that could point it out to MM?

    I don’t know if Clements is the answer. He was the OC in Buffalo and called plays, but he was stripped of his play calling duties in October of that season (’04 IIRC). Not entirely encouraging. Of course, his QB was Losman. Time will tell.

    Not sure to whom MM refers when stating that now having the right personnel on the staff to handle the new responsibilities was the tipping point to relinquishing calling the plays. I think this is just a lot of words that sound good but can’t be parsed to find any meaning. Politicians like this stuff.

    1. Let’s face it, the loss was so horrific, we feel like a Warren type of investigation is necessary. I for one have wracked my brain trying to understand the whole thing with Sherman. All I could come up with was maybe they thought he wasn’t hurt and he was baiting us but I still would have liked to see a Lacy screen at him. Now with these changes, hopefully the widespread lack of in game situational awareness is a thing of the past.

    2. “I don’t know if Clements is the answer. He was the OC in Buffalo and called plays, but he was stripped of his play calling duties in October of that season (’04 IIRC). Not entirely encouraging. Of course, his QB was Losman. Time will tell.”

      The implication based on the discussions we’ve seen here over the last couple years is that any monkey with a headset could call plays better or more creatively than MM. This will be the test, then, won’t it? Certainly Clements never had the tools in Buffalo that he has now in GB.

      “I think this is just a lot of words that sound good but can’t be parsed to find any meaning. Politicians like this stuff.”


    3. Reynoldo – the key to Clemens calling the plays is his relationship with A. Rodgers. If that is a sound relationship, and all indications are that it is a very solid relationship, then this move should be fine. Let’s face it, this is MMs offense and he has chosen a play caller who he believes and expects will call the plays that he would call. Especially after a week of game planning and film study together. If MM doesn’t like or agree with a play call by Clements expect that MM will change it and even then Rodgers can check out of the play at the LOS. So who is calling the plays? I believe that all of these coaching changes are good first steps for the Packers as a team to move past the Seattle collapse. Get everyone focused on their new responsibilities and moving forward as opposed to dwelling on what they could have done differently to prevent the meltdown. Additionally, these moves should help the team grow and send a signal to the players that the team’s management is not satisfied with the 2014 results and are making the changes necessary to get to the SB in 2015. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

      1. I agree. The whole point is to free up Mm so he can see and manage the big picture. Adding Montgomery, I hope, addresses the other similar problem with Capers not being on the sideline. That has always bugged me because the boss has to be at the field of play in my mind during the game. Not just to know what’s going on, but to lead.

  10. Just a thought. Maybe his brother’s sudden death made him make a change to a less stressful situation.

Comments are closed.