Packers XLV

Appreciating Mike McCarthy

Posted February 8th, 2011 @ 04:02pm

It was not a sexy hire. Five years ago, when Ted Thompson was interviewing candidates to replace Mike Sherman, we heard names like Wade Phillips, Sean Payton and Brad Childress. Guys we had heard of. But Thompson handed the keys to Mike McCarthy, someone most of us had never heard of.

He'd been running the offense in San Francisco, a team that was so bad it had earned the first pick in the '05 draft. Had been an offensive coach in New Orleans and Kansas City. We weren't totally jazzed by the hire, but most of us said, 'OK, let's see what the guy can do.'

Then we started looking at him more closely. And hearing from guys he coached. Guys like Joe Montana and Rich Gannon couldn't speak more highly about him. We knew he was a good quarterback coach and someday he would have to develop Brett Favre's successor.

Five years later, he's a Super Bowl winning coach, credited with developing Aaron Rodgers into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. This cannot be overstated. Over the past 30 years, only the Packers and 49ers have been able to go seamlessly from one elite QB to another, with no down time in-between. Barring a serious injury to Rodgers, the Packers will enjoy more than a quarter century of elite quarterback play. Boy, the '70s and '80s seem like a long time ago.

McCarthy is not glib. He doesn't provide witty sound bites for the media and fans to devour. He kept his team together throughout a roller coaster season that saw starters and key contributors fall by the wayside. He was questioned weekly about his team's inability to win close games. Yet he kept his head down and stuck to his belief that he had a special team that would ultimately get the job done.

While most head coaches let their coordinator call plays, McCarthy likes to continue to do it, and he called a great game Sunday night. His play calling is under-appreciated. He gives Rodgers the authority to check out of plays and after three years together they have great chemistry and clearly spend countless hours preparing for each game.

The night before the biggest game of his life, McCarthy had his players sized for Super Bowl rings. That's the confidence he had in his team and his game plan. That's making sure your young football team has the attitude and confidence that they are the better team and this is their time.

And now he has brought the Lombardi back to Titletown. Let's hope the labor issues are resolved quickly because this team is locked, loaded and poised to make a run at another one. With a handful of key players returning from injuries (Finley, Grant, Burnett, Neal and Chillar to name a few), and a draft to add a few more key pieces (hopefully a return guy), the Packers will go into 2011 as the favorites to repeat.

In the last ten seasons, ten different teams represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. It feels like the Packers are ready to bust that trend. They have a young, gifted roster. Not to mention, an unassuming, aggressive, confident head coach who pushed all the right buttons in 2010.

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Comments (30):

Haha that's rediculous. No way

on December 16th, 2011 at 01:42am

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on December 2nd, 2011 at 09:36am

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on December 9th, 2011 at 07:27pm

Dennis, While I agree Mike McCarthy was a big hire for the club, it was NOT the move of the century for the Packers. The move of the century for the Green Bay Packers was hiring Vince Lombardi as GM/Coach in 1959. Lombardi brought the Packers 5 World Championships including the first 2 Super Bowls. Mike McCarthy hasn't done that yet but I like the direction the team is headed and he definitely deserves a street named after him. Go Pack!

on February 11th, 2011 at 03:27pm

@MaxMcGeeGuy: More like "The bitter writer lost". ;)

on February 11th, 2011 at 12:28am

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on February 27th, 2012 at 05:58pm

I remember when it was Childress interviewing for the job with MM. Be thankful that Ziggy et al would not let Chilly leave Mpls without an offer and commitment. I have been critical of MM's play calling during the season.....but he proved a lot of people wrong and improved big time. He was not arrogant like some in his position but improved. The most important thing is that MM and Rodgers respect and work with each other well. You never see #12 questioning his coaches publicly on the sidelines like a certain #4. That is called respect in each other and the system. To keep them together is important. A lot of teams are changing coordinators yearly. we have the draft coming up and I hope you have some blogs on that. A return key is not important with our first pick....although I agree we need to find one in the draft. Drafting last in the first round if he is available I would like to see us get the big OL from Wisconsin.....Gabe Carimi...6-8, 320 He probably will not be available as he had a great Senior Bowl. Perhaps Anthony Castonzo a big OT from BJ Ragi's school Boston College. I believe we need to start looking for a replacement for Chilton. GO Pack Go !!!

on February 8th, 2011 at 07:24pm

ba ner ner ner, ba ner ner ner, GO PACK GO! Will be a void Sunday mornings at 8!

on February 8th, 2011 at 10:25pm

I remember the hours leading up to the big McCarthy hire... I was about as nervous as a lion in the jungle. Looking back, it was the move of the century for the Packers. I also think we need to draft a return specialist, possibly with the 1st overall pick if we get it.

on February 8th, 2011 at 10:56am

Was able to go to the 'Return to Titletown' celebration, where the mayor of GB announced the permanent renaming of a street to McCarthy's Way! What a great experience to make the pilgrimage to Titletown, where I grew up, and celebrate with the players. Jason Spitz, in the middle of the hour long event, took off his shirt and did a very nice swan dive into the snow on the field, sliding about 5 feet or so! So much fun, excitement, energy and emotion! Love this team!

on February 9th, 2011 at 04:36pm

Yes, Thank goodness we didn't end up with Chilly. It was clear from go who made the better hire there. McCarthy's level manner and preparation and adjustments are clear. On a side note... When do we get to see Bob Harlen's name in the ring of honor? Talk about dedication and decision making!

on February 9th, 2011 at 10:28am

Dave, Excellent columns and Sunday shows. Keep 'em coming. I'll say what I've said before. The Pack is the tortoise to the Vikings hare. We make boring picks and grow our team the right way. Couldn't be prouder of TT and MM. Happy for Aaron and Driver. One request for a future column or two: Please describe the experience of being at the SB and write a column refuting Paul Charchian's assertion this Monday that "The better team lost" SB45. Both an oxymoronic and moronic statement. THANKS DAVE! and as you say, "one more thing...GO PACK!"

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