Thompson won't say it. McCarthy will deny it. But make no mistake, Mike McCarthy is coaching for his job in 2009.
Now, in one sense, and McCarthy has said this before, every coach in the National Football League is "coaching for his job" each and every year. This is true. But while every coach faces pressure, the pressure on McCarthy just jumped considerably with Ted Thompson's public assertion, in a Journal Sentinel article penned by Tom Silverstein, that the players he has provided for McCarthy to coach are talented enough, thank you very much.
I found this passage particularly illuminating:
Thompson's confidence in his roster would imply to some that he thinks the failures of the defensive coaching and strength and conditioning staffs played a role in the 6-10 season, and changes coach Mike McCarthy made in both areas will allow the talent he has accumulated to blossom on the field.
He denies that's the case.
"That's in Mike's bailiwick and I'll let him address anything like that," Thompson said of the coaching changes. "That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying the 6-10 thing is my responsibility. At the same time, I think our players would say this, I think our coaches would say this, we felt like we should have been better."
They certainly should have been. Now, the 'blame', as it were, has been reserved for the usual suspects (see: Sanders, Bob), but I think Thompson's actions, or lack thereof, this offseason send a pretty clear message to McCarthy: Alright, you've gotten the defensive scheme you say you always wanted, you've got a real defensive coordinator, who we are paying top dollar for, to implement it. No more excuses.
Let's be honest - Thompson thinks his roster is on par, talent wise, with the better teams in the league. What traditionally separates those teams form the rest? Coaching. Good coaches don't lose seven games by four points or less, including two in overtime. One or two go the other way? Fine. But SEVEN GAMES? Now, I think McCarthy is a good coach. He's the same guy who went 13-3 two years ago. But he did appear awfully stubborn at times last year and made his fair share of questionable decisions in crunch time. (FB dive anyone?...It's a JOKE people...)
Now, on the flip side, it would be interesting to get McCarthy in a candid, relaxed, off the record environment and hear how much he agrees with Thompson's assesment of the roster. I can imagine it must be more than a bit frustrating watching nearly every other team in the league signing free agents, making trades, upgrading their roster, etc. Meanwhile, here McCarthy sits with nearly the same hand being dealt to him over and over personnel wise. I think his ability to 'toe the line', so to speak, when it comes to the clubs' lack of offseason activity, is impressive, as was his handling of the Brett Favre circus last summer, which seemed to hover over the team all year.
All that said, McCarthy's boss just put him on notice. Now he has to produce.
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