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After Further Review: Appreciating Mike McCarthy

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After Further Review: Appreciating Mike McCarthy

You all have been around this site long enough.  You know that normally here on a Monday afternoon we would go over the previous week's game.  I don't want to do that.  It seems silly.  Here's a brief breakdown.

The offense played poorly.  They were coached poorly.  The Cardinals were a bad team but the one thing they could do (5th in DVOA) was defend the pass.  McCarthy and Rodgers responded by calling a run 20 times, and having Rodgers throw it 53 (he chose to scramble three times).  It was inexcusable.  

The defense played OK, especially considering the personnel hole the team is in due to multiple injuries to starters on that side of the ball.  That effort, though, wasn't good enough.  The Cardinals are the worst offense in the NFL, and they convereted a gotta-have-it 4th and 23.  It ended the Mike McCarthy era.

They lost to the freaking Cardinals at home with the season on the line.

That's actually what I want to talk about.  The appreciation that should be shown Coach McCarthy.  People poke fun at the "highly successful football coach" line, but the reality is that he was.  He is.  He did a tremendous amount for this organization and he's become the butt of jokes.  

It was clear that it was no longer going to work for McCarthy to stay in Green Bay, and his removal came at a good time for the program.  This gives Murphy and Gutekunst the ability to be just as out ahead of the head coaching search as Cleveland and everyone else is.  

I want to go the other way.  I want to talk about the good times, because McCarthy is a World Champion, a surefire Packer HOF and one of the best three coaches in team history.  Here are my 13 favorite McCarthy moments/games/quotes/characteristics, one for each year he served the Green and Gold.

1. Super Bowl XLV

Can there be any other option?  If you haven't seen the America's Game about the 2010 team, do yourself a favor.  Stop what you are doing, try and find it on YouTube or the NFL's app.  I don't care.  Coach McCarthy put up a blank team picture in the Packers' meeting room that has all the team photos from the World Championship squads.  He set the vision for that club and they never wavered.  

Not through 2009, when Favre played for the Vikings and swept Green Bay, not through the Finley injury, or the Barnett injury, or Tauscher or Grant or, or or or.  That team had no busines winning a title, but they did.  They did and they did so immediately after Favre and the Vikings failed.  I can think of no brighter day for the Packers, not during my lifetime at least.

2.  He fixed Brett Favre

The last year of Favre with Sherman and the first year with McCarthy weren't bad, they were terrible.  The kind of years you could not even fathom Aaron Rodgers having.  Favre averaged a little over 3800 yards passing per season, but his completion percentages were 61 and 56.  He also turned the ball over a ton.  His 38:47 TD:INT ratio during those two seasons is almost unfathomable at this point.  

Favre bought in with McCarthy in 2007 and everything changed.  Favre was reined in, short passes that got the ball in the hands of his playmakers were infused into the offense and that opened up the downfield shot.  

28 TD to 15 INT may seem pedestrian by today's standards, but for Favre it was revolutionary.  The Packers had an excellent season and ultimately ended up with an appearance in the NFC Championship game.

3.  He groomed Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers was not always the insanely accurate All Pro and Hall of Famer that he is now.  He had some really questionable fundamentals from the Tedford teachings at Cal.  

Don't get me wrong, Rodgers was always talented.  It was likely, even that he would have been a great quarterback no matter what team drafted him.  During the old CBA, though, McCarthy was able to get his hands on quarterbacks and markedly imrpove their play in his "Quaterback school".  It's not in the least surprising that his ability to develop signal callers seemed to wane when the QB school got taken off the books.

4.  "Nobody's underdog"

The onside kick in the Matt Flynn vs. Patriots game was one of my favorite Mike moments of all time.  He knew they were outgunned he just didn't care.  His attitude was that they were the Green Bay Freakin' Packers, and they weren't going into any game against any team feeling like they weren't going to win it.

McCarthy himself is quite the underdog story.  I appreciated that attitude about him, even if it was foolish at times.

5.  2014 Home win over New England

I'm a little biased here because I was able to attend this game in person as a fan.  If you want to see McCarthy at his peak, go back and watch this game.  He stared down Revis, Brady and Belichick and called a brilliant, brilliant game.  He was an excellent play caller that day and an excellent head coach.  If they get by Seattle in the NFCCG he and Rodgers likely would've kicked their asses again.  

Alas we may never find out.

6.  "I'm a highly successful football coach"

Good for him.  Not a lot of guys would have the balls to just lay it on the table and say here's the deal.  Mike did.  Good for him.

7.  His record against Chicago and Minnesota.  

I don't really interact with a lot of Lions fans so forgive me if I don't care very much about all of that.  Ultimately McCarthy was 16-9-2 against Minnesota (wild that both of his ties were against the Vikings) and a rather absurd 15-2 in their last 17 meetings with Chicago.  He took charge of both rivalries and turned them aggressively into Green Bay's favor.

8.  2016 playoff run

That team had absolutely no business winning playoff games and they won two of them.  They ran into a buzz saw in Atlanta but beating Dallas and New York with LaDarius Gunter as CB1 took some damn coaching.  

9.  R-E-L-A-X

It wasn't just Rodgers that righted that ship

10. The hiring of Mike Pettine

This one might pay off into the future

11.  Loyalty

This was both a blessing and a curse.  It is a good thing that McCarthy was able to convince Joe Whitt to stay on all these years.  It's a good thing that he stayed loyal to Davante Adams, TJ Lang, maybe even Kyler Fackrell.  McCarthy seemed to be a very loyal guy.  He was potentially too loyal to Dom Capers, but that's another story.  McCarthy never threw his players under the bus, especially Rodgers.  Whatever discomfort there might have been at the end between the QB and the HC, McCarthy never let on.  He easily could have, as Rodgers, specifically of late, has not been at the top of his game.  

12.  His success.

Two losing seasons in twelve years.  Nine playoff appearances.  A winning playoff record.  4 NFCCG.  A world champion.  The numbers are what the numbers are.

13.  He loved to be the Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers

Mike McCarthy cared about and wanted to be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers the same way that I would care about and want to be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.  You could tell it by the way he conducted himself every day.

I had the good fortune to sit in on a few McCarthy press conferences during camp and briefly interact with him in that setting.  He bled Green and Gold.  He was Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Mike McCarthy understood what it meant to all of us to have the team succeed, and he understood the historical importance of the Green Bay Packers being  a good football team.  

He was that job.


Ross Uglem is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @RossUglem 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (61) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

kevgk's picture

Mike never got the love he deserved. He was the best coach in the league from 2010 to 2014, and he never threw TT under the bus for the crappy teams he needed to field after that. Now its finally over, I hope the fanbase can let go of some of the spite for him and remember him fondly.

Stic's picture

Nonsense: The "best" does not lose the opening game and lose in the playoffs in consecutive years. 2013 vs 9ers and 2014 vs sea chickens.
Meltdowns in playoffs 2015-16seasons.
Bout time he was fired.
Good riddance

Since '61's picture

Viking troll.

The TKstinator's picture

@Stic: not classy.

dobber's picture

MM was a guy who had to fight the image of a no-name coach hired from a crappy SF offense to become Mike Sherman's successor. Most of us were saying "WTF" when he was hired.

I think many of us came to appreciate what he'd done and what he was doing for this team, at least until the debacle in Seattle. During his tenure up to that point, his teams frequently had to deal with difficult injury situations, and many times the right players were on the bench for this team to continue to compete. As time went by, and the roster quality eroded, the inability of the coaching staff to make adjustments (and stick to a plug and play mentality) and teach players to be effective seemed to be problematic (although certainly there have been indications that there were more adjustments installed this season than it appeared in the past).

I've been called a McCarthy homer. I'm really not. I don't really care who coaches the Packers so long as they're winning football games and playing classy football. McCarthy protected his players. He was a classy coach, and it's my hope they find another, at least equally classy coach, who can replace him...and win football games.

The TKstinator's picture

@kev: Classy.

Denver's picture

Good read, Ross. I'm sure someday I'll remember MM in a better light. Having each season since SB XLV pretty much end in spectacularly gut wrenching fashion took a toll, though.

Ross Uglem's picture

no question about that last statement.

The TKstinator's picture

For whom does it toll?

flackcatcher's picture

Happens when Pad level is TOO HIGH! (never gets old....:)

Samson's picture

No doubt that MM deserves some of the credit for the Packer's success over the years but many NFL coaches would have succeeded with not 1 but 2 HOF QBs in a 13 year stint with one team. --- To my grave, I'll believe that both TT & MM only lasted in GB (as long as each did) because of the play of the QBs.

At the same time, I believe that trashing MM is ill conceived & unwarranted. --I've said more than once. --- MM is a better man than an NFL HC. -- However, my bet would be that he's hired very soon again as a HC somewhere in the NFL. (12/31/18?) Thanks, Since 1960.

JDK52's picture

So you're saying he shouldn't be applauded for coaching the players he had? Mmkay.

He was a great HC, and I'm confident he will be again.

Samson's picture

Fine. -- You're putting MM's dismissal all on TT. -- I'm placing the current Packer debacle on both TT & MM. -- I always have.

dobber's picture

"To my grave, I'll believe that both TT & MM only lasted in GB (as long as each did) because of the play of the QBs."

Likewise, there's a crap ton of coaches out there who only last a couple years...because of the play of their QBs.

The TKstinator's picture

I am beginning to think QB’s are kinda important in today’s NFL.

Ross Uglem's picture

one thing about that, though. The version of Favre that he inherited was a below replacement level player who was actively decreasing the team's chance to win.

He also gets at least some credit for developing Rodgers.

Samson's picture

"Below replacement level" ?? -- A meaningless phrase.
You need something better.
Also, AR was going to be an excellent QB with or without MM.

JDK52's picture

Easy statement to make, given it won't ever be challenged. You need something better.

Samson's picture

AR was an All-American at Cal. -- He was also rumored to be the 1st pick in that draft. -- Somehow, someway you believe he was a project that the QB guru (MM) molded into an NFL QB ?? -- Try reality.

Bearmeat's picture

Do you remember how awful ARod was in 2005 when he had to play? Do you remember how BAD Favre was by 2005?

MM gets plenty of credit and so does TT. Two Packers HOF level people.

The TKstinator's picture

I was walking through an empty forest the other day and a tree fell. It sounded like...oh, wait,...

HankScorpio's picture

Good college QBs that get drafted very early turn in to busts as a matter of routine. I don't know what Aaron Rodgers would have done in another situation and neither do you. What we both know is that he is destined for the HoF in this situation, with his talent and instruction/coaching by MM and staff

The TKstinator's picture

@Hank: great minds!
You must be quicker on the keyboard than me. Ha!

The TKstinator's picture

The NFL community was very divided on projecting Peyton Manning vs the great Ryan Leaf. For every scout who favored Manning, there was another labeling Leaf “can’t miss”.
We saw how that turned out.
NOBODY can say with 100% certainty how ANY player will turn out in the NFL. I vaguely recall a dominating offensive tackle from Michigan State who was “the best o-line prospect in the last ten years”...OUCH.

John Kirk's picture

You mean that below replacement level version of Favre that years later went off to Minnesota and had the best year of his career with Minnesota and BRAD CHILDRESS who is universally hailed as an absymal head coach?

McCarthy deserves credit for that? No.

I think Aaron Rodgers would disagree with your assessment on McCarthy's level of involvement in making him. I think this is at the root of the issues between them today as reported at

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I bet going into 2006 if Mike knew he'd be in 4 NFC Championship games, win a Super Bowl and only have 3 loosing season out of 13 before getting canned, he'd say.

"Hell Ya!"

Good luck Mike! I wanted a change but I appreciate what you did.

Holecrap's picture

I wonder if you told him you will be very lucky in your time to have had two hall of famer QB's to coach and only win one superbowl with them when other coaches have done more with less.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

That's not all his fault. There where two plays that botched tow the NFC Championships by Bostick and Favre that are totally inexplicable.

BradHTX's picture

Furthermore, just having a HOF QB doesn’t guarantee anything. Every team that makes it to the CCG, let alone the Super Bowl, is a damn good team and nothing is a given at that level. Even coin flip odds would say that getting to the conference championship four times should yield one Super Bowl win and one loss, along with two CCG losses. So just about what the Packers were able to do under McCarthy; if not for the Seattle Pants Crapping Game, I’d feel they’d have been exactly at expectations.

JDK52's picture

Mike McCarthy is a great man, and has been a great coach. We've been truly blessed to have him. I'm sorry to see his era end in such fashion.

Good luck, Mike. Go have fun molding another young, arrogant QB into an all star. It's what you're best at.

John Kirk's picture

Great men don't fool around with other men's wives. That's a stone cold fact. A person who does such a thing is beyond deplorable. Instead of realizing his poor choice, he went all the way and married her.

In case you weren't aware he ran off with a Packers board of directors wife who worked in the front office. Despicable. Great family (destroying) guy, there.

HankScorpio's picture

John Kirk

You don't exactly paint an accurate picture about MM and his marriage. Next time, check out your innuendo before spreading it.

Jessica Kress filed for divorce from William Kress in March 2004. It was granted in Aug 2005. McCarthy joined the team in Jan 2006.

Oppy's picture

Point: HankScorpio.

That's kinda air tight. Unless of course MM was sneaking into Green Bay while he was working in KC or San Fran, which seems really unlikely.

John Kirk's picture

I understand how what you've posted looks. If you were of the mind, you should do a little more digging on that one. Again, I understand how that looks.

Wouldn't say such things lightly. Not into libel.

Hopefully, one day you'll be privy to some details you're not at present.

If I'm wrong, which I don't believe I am, I apologize profusely.

HankScorpio's picture

Well, I can see that you are the type that keeps digging, for sure. As for me, I'm proud to say that a pretty ironclad timeline from Wisconsin court records is enough for me to not want to pry into someone's personal life. I felt a little dirty trying to confirm the accuracy of your lurid tale. I was relieved to see it was fake news. That's enough.

But feel free to keep digging, John.

John Kirk's picture

I don't need to dig. This is something I became aware of a few years back. Again, I can read. I understand why you believe what you do and why would you have any reason to dig? If it was the other way, you might, but not now.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Kirk, it's hard to believe you with that timeline years before he even showed up in Green Bay. I think Scotty needs to beam you up at this point and end this. Perhaps visit McCoy when you get up to the Enterprise. If you can get Spok to verify your story I might believe you.

Bert's picture

I respect MM for the way he has handled the meltdown this year. He hasn't thrown his players under the bus even though some of those players have under performed. I just hope the guys who have been stealing their checks this year will get off their asses and perform better for their next HC whether they like him or not.

Lare's picture

McCarthy did his job well in Green Bay for the most part and was well compensated. The Packers were successful for most of the time he was here, and both he and the team will probably be successful in the future.

It is what it is.

Razer's picture

Well done Ross. MM did a lot good for this organization and we should recognize and appreciate this. Unfortunately, TT’s failings over the last years severely undermined what this team could do. Mike could not overcome these talent and depth deficiencies. Just like Pettine with this ragtag defense, the next HC will need to play with some big holes.

Thanks Mike McCarthy - good luck next guy. Go Packers

Samson's picture

I was not a fan of TT. -- His deficiencies as a GM were obvious.
However, to support MM by trashing another is called 'low-class'.

HankScorpio's picture

Agreed. Both TT and MM did lots of good for the Packers. For both, it came to an ugly end, proving the adage that you can die as a hero or live long enough to become a villain.

Both always conducted themselves with class and respect for their profession and the organization. So I'll remember the good fondly and refrain from dancing on their graves.

Razer's picture

Sorry Samson but I don’t see what I said different from you regarding our previous GM. In support of Mike, I want to say that he did a good job with the cards dealt. Like Ted, the time came to get fresh horses for the journey. You could see this in MM’s post game presser.

No grave dancer here.

Holecrap's picture

I think we all understood that Mike had a stuborness to him and part of that was, if it aint broke dont fix it, and hey, were gonna be tough guys and shove the ball down your throat mentality that never changed.

The game changed, Mike didnt. Adios Amigo

packergal's picture

An interesting presser with MM, Gutey and Philbin and their responses to assorted questions.

Philbin clearly displayed his emotional attachment and friendship/loyalty to MM. He was visibly shaken, still troubled but seemingly focused on going to work to prepare for next week by(paraphrasing) "...identifying the 4 or 5 things we do well and do poorly and bringing them both into balance".

MM appeared fairly stoic and stated his comments with zero emotion. He re-emphasized that HC is a class act and a class individual and he was not surprised at how HC received the news of his termination--with class. He restated very matter of factly that it was time for a change.

Gutey--all business, very sharp. And very direct pointed answers including his complete agreement with MM on timing of HC change; that he has an excellent relationship with the players and with AROD and "NO" AROD is the QB of the team and in this role, he will not help select the new HC.

Having watched this, it's clear to me that MM and Gutey will bring in a sharp, all business, young, creative HC. No Ariens types.

Thank you Coach Mike!

splitpea1's picture

Very nice article--and I love the picture at the top.

Packers0808's picture

Ages of the mediocrity is coming like the Packers were in the 70's and 90's. McCarthy was not the problem, prima dona Rodgers ugly head is JUST SATING to show!

Samson's picture

You make many statements but with few explanations. -- Facts, examples & reality may make your statements a little more potent.

4thand1's picture

Mediocrity in the 90's? I think the Packers were the winningest sports franchise in the 90's. All sports % wise.

Since '61's picture

Thanks MM and best of luck going forward. You did a fine job for most of your 13 seasons in Green Bay.

Not only do I wish for the Packers to find another successful HC but I hope they give him a better roster than MM had to work with since 2010.

Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Coldworld's picture

The roster failings ultimately left MM bereft of ideas or options.

Coldworld's picture

The roster failings ultimately left MM bereft of ideas or options. Would he have lost his way if he has pass rush this year or competent corners before that, to name just a couple of positions?

The only coach with a higher winning percentage in our history was Vince Lombardi. Given that MM coached in the parity era, that is one heck of an achievement.

We will one day welcome back MM into the fold once he stops coaching. TT’s late career failings brought us and MM to this point. I think it had to happen as things turned out, but we had also better not kid ourselves about the reason.

I hope that lightning strikes twice and we find an immediate replacement as good as Rodgers turned out to be for Favre. Alas, the odds are against that and, should we not, the culpability resides firmly with the other MM who oversaw the Packers through the roster decline.

Until then, I wish MM all the best, thank him for being a truly committed person to team and community and hope that he prospers elsewhere against all save the Packers.

Since '61's picture

Actually Coldworld MM ranks 4th in winning %.

1. Vince Lombardi - .754 9-1 Post-season
2. Mike Holmgren - . 670 9-5 Post - season
3. Curly Lambeau - .668. (Not in my lifetime) 5-3 Post-season
4. Mike McCarthy - .618. 10-8 Post - season

If we leave out Lambeau MM would be #3 in our lifetimes.

Much of MMs success is due to Aaron Rodgers but to be fair he coached through plagues of injuries nearly every season, holes in the roster at safety, RB, ILB and TE depending on the season, overcame horrible officiating (until this season), salary cap, free agency and poor drafts.

Only BB has better results than MM since 2006. His time has run it's course and it's best for everyone to move on. Thanks MM. Since '61

Wilment's picture

Mike will be better remembered in time....this year is the culmination of five years of poor drafts and not so hot free agent signings -also that mass exodus from the front office this year by those that weren't made GM....that didn't help any either. Browns fans have to be happy....they have won as many games this year as the previous two and change seasons, and have the same record as we do. Better days are coming.

Bearmeat's picture

Thankful for MM in his time here. He will deservedly be in the Packer HOF someday, and that makes me very glad. He was a great coach.

I have no doubt he'll be employed by another team as a head coach soon. I hope he finds success in his next endeavor. In the AFC.

Lphill's picture

3 losses in the championship game , the Seattle meltdown, 15 an 1 lose at home to the Giants , Holding back Aaron Jones this year , yes I will remember Mike McCarthy very well .

John Kirk's picture

Anyone ever consider McCarthy wanted out of this job and mailed it in so he could get out early? Perhaps, he wanted that Browns job, badly, and didn't want to be around next season.

What could be better for him than to hitch his wagon to the next great QB in the NFL in Baker Mayfield after he used up Aaron Rodgers best seasons?

I'm thankful that he's gone. Never had the intellecual prowess to be Rodgers coach making it impossible for Aaron to have the proper respect in a one-sided relationship.

Two to go...

HankScorpio's picture

I don't believe MM was deliberately failing to get himself fired. That's way too far out in TinFoilHatLand for my tastes. He's smart enough to know that is not smart.

MM coached up Rodgers to a couple of MVPs and got a SB win in the process. To say he 'Never had the intellecual prowess to be Rodgers coach" is a statement that simply does not stand up to even a cursory examination. No doubt the relationship fractured and both of the two must accept some responsibility for that. But it wasn't all bad by any stretch of the imagination.

flackcatcher's picture

Mike McCarthy could have thrown Mark Murphy under the bus for the way he treated both him and Ted Thompson over the past couple of years. Instead McCarthy as always took the high road. Classy to the end. A fine head coach, but a far better man. He will be missed.

Slim11's picture

Just remember how Brett Favre was welcomed back in GB immediately prior to his induction to the HoF. In time, McCarthy will be remembered just the same. He might not fill the stadium the same way.

For the next few seasons, McCarthy will be remembered as the HC who...

wouldn't make in-game adjustments; wouldn't get rid of assistants who failed, multiple times, to perform to expectations; wouldn't adjust game-planning to take advantage of his players' strengths and/or opponents weaknesses; manage the game clock to his team's advantage and the list goes on.

I appreciate the fact Mike McCarthy brought another Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay. At the same time, I realize his stubborn attitude was the ultimate cause for the demise for himself and the 2018 Green Bay Packers.

Yooper56's picture

I think most of us are going to miss Mike McCarthy. He was certainly not our biggest problem and it was a bad decision to let him go. He certainly deserved the respect of being able to finish out the season. I will look forward to seeing how he does in the future. I just hope it will be with an AFC team. Maybe the Browns?

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."