McCarthy Needs An Upgrade At Defensive Coordinator

Looking back at a tremendous 2007 campaign, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy should feel a real sense of accomplishment, one that should not be diminished by the stinging loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship game. After all, this is the same Giants team that squeaked into the playoffs last season, barely nudging out the Packers, with an identical 8-8 record. What did the Giants do to improve after they were bounced from the playoffs in '06? One could point to many things, from the retirement of Tiki Barber leading to the emergence of a smash mouth running game, to the maturation of their franchise quarterback, but the biggest change Tom Coughlin made was firing his defensive coordinator. And Mike McCarthy should follow suit.

Now, I don't write those words lightly. Unlike many fans, and even some media members, I understand there are many lives that are thrown into chaos when coaches are fired. Families are uprooted. But it's part of the gig when taking a job as a coach, especially  in the National Football League where the only thing that matters are results. And the results Bob Sanders produced with the talent he had on hand this season do not merit his return. His stubborn refusal, or inability, to diversify his approach to the scheme or the talent on hand is his biggest deficiency. His entire philosophy of getting pressure with his front four and playing hard man coverage is a dream if the defense has superior talent across the board. And against the majority of NFL teams, the Packers have sufficient talent to compete, or indeed, dominate on defense. But when faced with superior athletes, such as Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Antonio Gates, or Tony Gonzalez, Sanders had no Plan-B. No creative scheming to counter the physical superiority of the competition. And if the Packers plan to contend for championships, as McCarthy has maintained is his only goal, he needs to find a creative, hungry, young defensive mind, preferably one that has been exposed to a great defensive mind like Bill Belichick or Jim Johnson and that is not afraid to use a hybrid scheme, or indeed, an entirely new scheme all together. Because the scheme that Sanders is running has been  figured out by the better offensive minds in the NFL. Sanders learned it from Bates, who learned it from Wannstedt, who learned it from Johnson while they were winning Super Bowls in Dallas. That was a loooooooooong time ago. (Perusing the list of Super Bowl winners, you have to go back to the Cowboys victory over the Steelers in 1996 to see the last time this defensive scheme won a championship.)

Mike McCarthy is the head coach of a Packers team that could be a contender for many years to come, but to make the final push he needs a coordinator that is able to scheme as creatively on the defensive side of the ball as McCarthy does on the offensive side.

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Comments (5)

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cheese5's picture

January 23, 2008 at 04:41 pm

100% agreement

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me!'s picture

January 23, 2008 at 05:23 pm

Do we know anything about McCarthy's tendencies when it comes to firing coaches? Or about the Packers' decision-making on this? Who makes the call, Thompson or McCarthy?

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PackerAaron's picture

January 23, 2008 at 06:17 pm

McCarthy has final say on his staff, though I'm sure he would consult w/Thompson. I'd be shocked if he actually pulled the trigger - the only reason Coughlin did it is because his job was on the line - McCarthy just signed an extension and is not under any pressure.

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BeerKid's picture

January 25, 2008 at 04:10 am

I don't believe that will get rid of Bob Sanders this year, I'd like Jim Bates to come in and consult on game-plan days, etc... and then there's the danger of someone remembering that Kurt Schottenheimer has coordinator experience...

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moose's picture

February 11, 2008 at 01:32 am

SANDERS/BATES LOSERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN HISTORY LONG BEFORE MC CARTHY EVER USED THE EXECUTIVE TOILET--- HE NEEDS HIS OWN CREW. FINALLY, SOME PACK FANS WITH BRAINS BALANCING THE BEER CAN IN EACH HAND...THIS FRAUD( BATES JR) , PLAYING AT HOME FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP, DISPLAYED THE VERVE OF CHENEY AT A HIPHOP CONCERT. HIS DEFENSE LOST THE GAME AS IT DID IN DULLASS AND CHITOWN. LACK OF GUTS BY THE LINEBACKERS, LACK OF INTELLIGENCE IN THE SECONDARY, LACK OF HEART BY THE PASS RUSH,,,BUT THEN AGAIN THE OFFENSE PASSING IN 24 BELOW TELLS IT ALL,,,DISGRACEFUL

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