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McCarthy Isn\'t Desperate

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McCarthy Isn\'t Desperate

A lot of pixels were spilled the past few weeks regarding Mike McCarthy and the supposed change in perception of his tenure as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Both Bob McGinn and Mike Vandermause have recently penned columns stating how desperate McCarthy looks in the aftermath of an unprecedented rash of firings on his defensive staff and how the heat is on McCarthy to improve next year or face possible firing.


McGinn and Vandermause both give us their versions of the same thought line.


The criticism here isn't that McCarthy fired Bob Sanders and Mike Stock. Rather, it's that he hired them in the first place. ...Both men were tough, no-nonsense, committed and loyal coaches for McCarthy. Three years later, McCarthy concluded they weren't good enough for him.


It is McCarthy’s right to hire a staff he thinks gives the Packers the best chance to win. But such a massive shakeup also is an admission he chose the wrong people in the first place and raises doubts about his ability to get it right the second time around.

Both of them are forgetting the circumstances that McCarthy was facing when he initially set about hiring his assistant coaches when he was first hired four years ago. They are forgetting (or dismissing) the previous three defensive coordinators that the Packers had gone through, forgetting Ed Donatell and 4th and 26, forgetting Bob Slowik and the worst blitz package ever conceived by man or beast, forgetting Jim Bates and a new defensive scheme that the defense had to learn for the third year in a row. McCarthy chose continuity (and was applauded for it at the time, I might add).

One thing that McCarthy is not is reactionary. This is both good and bad, of course, but in this instance it has served him well. Yes, he could have fired Sanders earlier in the year - no one would have blamed him after watching the defense set historic records for futility. (And yes, I acknowledge that I was a loud voice advocating for Sanders removal during the season.) Instead, McCarthy took the season, looked over all three years worth of Sanders' work and concluded that things were not getting better. He highlighted this in his presser (that's for you, Stanislaw!) yesterday:

...what it came down to was I just didn't feel we were headed in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball. It was really an evaluation of our last three years. It was a three-year process and I felt that a number of things that occurred in Year 1 showed up again in Year 3.

I don't think any sane observer of the game of football could argue that last point. McCarthy made an impossibly hard but correct decision, one which he should be applauded for, not ridiculed. To his credit, Vandermause hints at this in his latest:

So while it can be argued McCarthy acted out of desperation and made his deposed staffers into scapegoats, there’s another side to consider.

Perhaps McCarthy saw the error of his ways and was man enough to admit it. Rather than maintain the status quo and sink with his original staff, why not try to repair the listing ship? It’s worth a shot, and landing Capers by all appearances is a good first step.

This is exactly right. Why it took a press conference for Vandermause to understand that is beyond me.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ryan Dixon's picture

Great blog post. No McCarthy isn't desperate. haha

dustybricks6's picture

I think McCarthy can be desperate and correct at the same time. The defensive coaching needed to be changed for a while, but it took a 6-10 record to get it done. How can anyone say McCarthy's job is safe no matter what after '09? The only thing in his favor is that he has a longer tenure than his current boss, Mark Murphy, who seems to have the obedience of a lap dog.

packeraaron's picture

McCarthy's teams have gotten better every year save for '08. Is he at fault for the nosedive at the end of the year? Partly, yes. He has gone to great lengths now to correct the parts that were wrong that were not under his pervue. That's his job as the head coach.

Do you seriously think Thompson, who is the only person who matters when it comes to McCarthy's job security, would fire McCarthy after another losing season? The man kept Derrick Frost around for how long...? ;)

Keith's picture

These articles are really pointless and are two writers grasping at straws to fill column inches, imo. What the heck was MM supposed to do, retain these guys for the simple fact that they were his guys? That's just dumb. Being stubborn and behaving as if you're infallible is usually the first step towards termination.

The bottom line is that the defense severely underachieved and MM, an offensive minded coach, had to feel that the defensive coaches let him down. Hiring Capers, a former HC and DC wiz, was the right move since it allows MM to delegate. This way MM can focus on the offense while also overseeing the team. I'm sure he has some input on the defensive side, but with Capers, he probably won't have to commit as much time to the defensive side.

dustybricks6's picture

Thompson and McCarthy are a package deal. If one goes, both do. Coaches also get fired after big shake ups don't work. Eric Mangini anyone?

packeraaron's picture

"Thompson and McCarthy are a package deal". Exactly - and I don't see Murphy doing anything with Thompson for at least two years - do you?

L.A.'s picture

I dont think that McCarthy was desperate. I do think he moved quickly to get Capers when it was revealed that Giants had him pegged.

However (and I know many will disagree with me on this), while MM isn't desperate, there is a level of distance I think he has taken with the defense. There was a quote yesterday in the presser, when asked about how the 3-4 would work out, and he went into a long ramble about being a quarterback coach, what things affect the quarterback, and then never really quite answered the original question about defense.

I do think MM focuses his attention on the offense, and entrusts the defense to his DC. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, and there are certainly many defensive minded HC's that give play-calling duties to their OC.

I'm just hoping his "long-standing belief" in the 3-4 isn't desperation OR a distanced dart throw at a trendy scheme to fix the problem regardless of talent on the roster. We saw how well that worked with the ZBS.

PRC's picture

LA lets look at what MM said:
I know from an offensive standpoint, when you look at it, when you play the 3-4, it creates targeting problems just from your initial game-plan meeting, and it really cuts the menu of the offense probably in half of what you would normally do on a four-man front. From a personnel standpoint, I'm in favor of the 3-4 because it's the body type that I think will enhance the type of football we want to play here in Green Bay, particularly in November and December.
Pretty simple, He likes the 3/4 because it takes things away from the offense (MM said up to 50% of his playbook!) and he likes the big physical nature of the 3/4 players and thinks that fits well with playing in GB in Nov/Dec....

Makes sense and not really too difficult to understand.

sunflower's picture

McCarthy kept Moss on the coaching staff. Didn't Moss/McCarthy work together for the saints? It seems that he must rely a lot on his opinions too, if he was kept around. Wasn't Moss the main person that questioned Sanders scheme? So I don't think it is just McCarthy relying on the D.C. He seems to have a person in place on the defensive staff that he trusts to tell how it is going, or at least trusts him enough that he supported changing schemes. Other wise why would Moss have been kept on the staff? Now whether this is a good thing or bad that remains to be seen.

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