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McCarthy In the Crosshairs

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McCarthy In the Crosshairs

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

So what side of the fence does this put you on?

PackerAaron's picture

The correct one.


jerseypackfan's picture

I love Ted and his use of words.
Today Packer boys and girls we are going to learn what "bailiwick" means.

Andrew n Atlanta's picture

So is it TT's comments above that caused your change of heart? I thought you said at the end of the season MM would get the 2010 season even if 2009 did not go so well.
Also, playing conspiracy theorist, do you think one reason TT got Capers is a potential replacement for MM? Big reach there but I hope that's not the case. Capers was a bust as head coach.
For the record, anything close to .500 or better and I think both MM & TT are back. They will use the 3-4 as the reasoning for a so-so season. If we go 6-10 again or less, I think both are in trouble. Then again, what do I know

Ron La Canne's picture

You obviously know what side I'm on. MM under fire? Fine as long as TT is too. His personnel decisions are just as much to blame as MM's coaches. There's just about a month left in the FA market, TT still has some time to correct a couple of his mistakes before it's over. He's got a good eye for W/R's, DB's and QB's everything else is pretty poor. O Line, LB's and D-Line need work. Montgomery, Thompson, Havner, Malone, and Poppinga are not the depth needed.

PackerAaron's picture

It is Andrew. That and his actions. I thought after a 6-10 season and a complete revamping of the defensive scheme we would see a TT we hadn't yet - an active free agent shopper. I was completely wrong, and I think his doubling down on the players he already has speaks volumes.

Andrew n Atlanta's picture

Ok, you make a lot of sense Aaron. It's one thing to say you don't want to overpay to add talent but another thing entirely to say you have the talent already. You could give the politically correct PR to your players by making generic statements about filling a few holes and not naming names. TT must really like the hot seat to make statements like that. Still, barring a really bad season I think both are back in 2010

jeremiah's picture

i think there is about a 95%chance that both TT and MM are back in 2010. and here is why:
if our defense gets/stays healthy i don't see how we can be any less that 8-8. and i only say 8-8 because that is a 'nuetral' number. being less than 8-8 would put us on the 'bad' side, above, on the 'good'. easy right?

so i asked myself this question: which part(O or D) of our team underachieved last year, and did any part oerachieve? answer; the Defense was the one who underachieved. and even taking in to account that we lost a top performer at each crucial position on defense we still only lost those 7 games by 4pts or less. that can lend argument to the case that we DO have some good depth. so it seems logical that even the tiniest upgrade(along with being healhy) would point to our defense being good, at least better than average next year.

i don't think you can say that our offense over achieved last year, and while they could get better i don't think 'underachieving' describes them either. rodgers is a stud, along with gregg and DD, ryan grant and brandon jackson should do better than they did last year, hopefully our non-musical chair OL will step up their play....i see our offense being just as good if not better this coming year.

thinking of it this way makes me fel good about our outlook for 2009, i hope it came across in this post te way it sounds in my head, cuz it sounds awesome.

PackerAaron's picture

Depends on the season - I would not be shocked whatsoever to see TT fire MM if there's another 6 win season...

PackerAaron's picture

"...i hope it came across in this post te way it sounds in my head, cuz it sounds awesome."

You just described my blogging... ;)

Alex Tallitsch's picture

I am glad you mentioned your blogging, because I am confused. You present a lot of information, and make a few statements. However, I don't see you taking a stand anywhere. Okay, perhaps you do in a round about way, but...

Do you think we have the roster?

I agree TT is making a bold statement here.

Do YOU think he is right?

Simple question with no ambiguous answers needed.

PackerAaron's picture

I'm enjoying watching you try to get it out of me too much...

I jest. I think I've been pretty clear on my support of Thompson and his method of building his roster. Go look at my 'To Do' list from the other day. Most of the work he has to do is in the draft and resigning guys already on the roster, so yes, I think the roster is close. Another draft class, with a possible Kevin Carter type signing, and I think this team is ready to compete with any other team in the NFL.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

I don't see how McCarthy gets fired and Thompson doesn't. Their fates are tied at this point. They either both keep their jobs or they both get canned.

PackerAaron's picture

Really? Thompson has the power to fire McCarthy. If they keep losing close games and Thompson deems it to be a coaching deficiency, pretty sure you'll see a coaching change before you see a wholesale upheaval in the football operations.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

"Thompson has the power to fire McCarthy."

And he also had the power to hire him in the first place. The buck stops with Thompson. If McCarthy gets canned, that means the Packers had another bad season. I don't see Thompson surviving another bad season.

Infante/Bratz were at the top of the world in '89 and both got the boot in '91.

jeremiah's picture

TT will not get fired...why would he? because he doesn't pay overrated veterans insane amounts of money. that's rediculous. two losing seasons under TT, one at 4-12 where he was still dealing with shermans roster, and one last year which was a losing season by two missed field goals and a total of like 30 points, and 7 MAJOR, i repeat, MAJOR injuries. the guy was GM of the year two years ago wheather you agree with it or not(TT haters). if mark murphy desides he wants TT to spend money on some FAs, he will tell him to. firing TT is a kne jerk reaction by impatient fans. ain't gunna happen.

WoodyG's picture

Try this.

How would GB had done in the 2008 season if Capers + had been hired 1 year earlier??
I think 6-10 would have been 10-6.
Capers + is the most important addition to GB in 2009.

MC's picture

MM has much to prove; he has the fresh aroma of 6-10 on him after all.

But TT sounds a little delusional here (provided he actually believes what he's publicly saying). Everyone dogs Justin Harrell, and rightfully so, but I'm almost ready to assign AJ Hawk the "bust" label too. The guy's a top 5 pick and has done squat so far. Plus, Ryan Grant and Atari Bigby disappointed last year, and post-Pro Bowl, Nick Collins has disappointment written all over him. Moreover, Aaron Rodgers remains a relative unknown despite one nice statistical season.

Where TT sees "enough talent," I see inconsistency, unknowns, question marks and frauds.

PackerAaron's picture

DDD - I just don't see Murphy pulling the plug on Thompson if the team continues to lose close games - that's coaching. Now, if they start getting blown out every week, you'll have a point. But this is a talented team - McCarthy needs to push better buttons in 09 than he did in 08, pure and simple.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

Jeremiah: I'm actually a pretty staunch Thompson support. I'm also a pretty staunch McCarthy supporter. (I think people that criticize running the ball up the gut at the goal line wear old ladies' underwear and eat finger sandwiches while reading Oprah's book of the month.)

That said: Thompson and McCarthy will be judged by wins and losses. If Thompson has 3 losing seasons in 5 years (against only one winning season), I think he is (rightfully) gone, and McCarthy would go with him. That's what is at stake.

Ron La Canne's picture

Topic Closed - Michael Lombardi says: "Thompson not doing his job". He'll be interviewed on WSSP 1250 at 4pm CDT.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

"I just don’t see Murphy pulling the plug on Thompson if the team continues to lose close games - that’s coaching."

(1) Says you. Maybe some better punting and kicking and the team wins those close games. Maybe if some lesser coach was at the helm, the Packers wouldn't have been losing close games but would have been losing handily.

(2) More importantly: Thompson is **accountable** for the coaching. If he screwed the pooch hiring McCarthy, why does he get another shot? And if he hires another coach, wouldn't the Packers have to give the next coach 2-3 seasons of transition. Now we are talking about a 7, 8, 9 year "probationary period" for Thompson. I doubt it. He he racks up 3 losing seasons in 5 year, he's toast.

PackerAaron's picture

Ron - I like Lombardi, but the guy WAS fired by three separate teams. Does his opinion really 'close' the topic...?

Ron La Canne's picture

Naaa, not really!

PackerAaron's picture

"I think people that criticize running the ball up the gut at the goal line wear old ladies’ underwear and eat finger sandwiches while reading Oprah’s book of the month."

And I think people who don't differentiate between running up the gut with an experienced goal line back and running it up the gut at the goal line with the season on the line with a fullback rather than put the ball in the hands of their quarterback who has been on fire for the entirety of the second half of said game, well, they're just lost.

Donald's Designated Driver's picture

That's not a denial.

PackerAaron's picture

I want my phone call...

IPBprez's picture

Jeremiah - The 4-12 Season is not on Thompson's shoulders. That one is on Mike Sherman - end of discussion. When TT came in, the piggy bank was EMPTY. Keeping anyone from that O-Line was NOT an option. Fans who blame TT for the 4-12 obviously haven't read up on how the NFL works.
Aaron - I agree, for the most part. Myself, being a more staunch TT & MM supporter since they came onboard - than just about anyone I nkow over at IPB. Still, some of the guys are right here. The GM "is" who should be watching the Coaching Staff, and that means all of them. Sometimes, the HC has sunglasses on (at night).
The HC is where the buck falls once the GM has brought in the personnel. The GM has the Scouts to rely on, when it comes to who we go after. Mike Sherman could have had Chris Chambers, right? But, instead went after Ahmad Carroll. We have YET to see Trader Ted pull a stunt like that. Or, my fav, how about using TWO (count 'em) draft picks for BJ Sander. I think Google would be hard-pressed to fin another Team to top that one.
However, backing up, I do think the Scouts may have dropped the ball on Justin Harrell. Let's see if he makes it thru Preseason.
Ultimately, I found MAC's play-calling, last season, to be incredibly TIMID and very Prevent Football. While I think MAC's a good coach. He has yet to actually be great. To me, he hesitates at crunch time and it's a habit to be broken. I have no problem with TT firing MM if we don't go to the Playoffs, this year.
Question becomes: Who would you replace him with?

DaveK's picture

I do agree that it would be crazy to give TT another shot at hiring a head coach if the team flops again this next year. If the Packers go 6-10 (or worse) again then I think you cut ties with both of them and start fresh. But, I guess that depends a lot on Murphy. I was left under-whelmed with Murphy this past summer and he doesn’t exactly have a long record of running a NFL team. I fear that if a GM change does need to be made he might be too timid to pull the trigger or too green to find a quality replacement.

But, all that is based on a losing season. I am actually optimistic that the Packers will rebound this year with a better D coaching staff, a QB with a year of playing time, and a much healthier team.

Dave's picture

Excellent analysis. Are you sure you don't want to live in Green Bay and work for the Press Gazette? They need someone like you.

Dave's picture

"I was left under-whelmed with Murphy this past summer and he doesn’t exactly have a long record of running a NFL team."

Murphy was blind-sided by Team Hillbilly last summer; he mistakenly believed that Brett Favre and his "people" were civilized human beings who would put the Packers above their own selfish interests.

L.A.'s picture

IPBprez, I'm going to give you a cautionary tale on "Who would we replace him with?"

I used that line repeatedly about Mike Sherman from 4th and 26 on. Wasn't defending him, but was noting that unless someone had the better plan in place, we'd better not fire him.

In retrospect, "who would we replace him with" was a moot point: you would replace him with the best guy you could. MM replaced Sherman, and he would have been the LAST guy I would have recommended. Sander was let go this past season, and who did we get? Dom Capers.

There's always someone out there that can replace you. indispensable. The world will move on.

jeremiah's picture

ipbprez- i was not blamig the 4-12 season on TT. besides the fact that the team was still full of sherman stench, just about every skill position player was injured on offense.

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