Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Packers & Head Coach Mike McCarthy Agree to Contract Extension

The Green Bay Packers extended head coach Mike McCarthy's contract through 2018 to mirror the same length that general manager Ted Thompson is under contract with the Packers.  There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers have been a very competitive, fun team to watch during the McCarthy/Thompson tenure since 2006 given that they've made six playoff appearances in eight years.  This may seem overly simplistic but let's also not forget that the starting quarterbacks for McCarthy's tenure have been either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers.  When Rodgers wasn't under center for seven games last season, the Packers posted a 2-4-1 record with Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn as their starting quarterbacks.

That gets to the heart of my biggest beef with extending McCarthy.  I honestly think McCarthy's success has more to do with Favre and Rodgers given that his "vaunted" quarterback school has produced very little fruit.  Just think, besides Rodgers, Flynn had one big game for the Packers and flamed out everywhere else he went in the NFL (Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, and Buffalo Bills).  Last time I checked B.J. Coleman, Graham Harrell, and Vince Young are not lighting up the NFL.  Sure the new NFL CBA restricts how much time McCarthy can spend with quarterbacks and when healthy, Rodgers clearly gets most of the in-season practice snaps under center.  With all due respect to the aforementioned Flynn and Scott Tolzien, I honestly can't name another quarterback that even looks like a serviceable backup at this point besides Rodgers that learned under McCarthy

While we are in full bash McCarthy mode, I also question how innovative McCarthy's offenses have been.  Other NFL offenses like the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks added interesting wrinkles to keep NFL defenses off-balance while the Packers continue to run a mostly conventional offense.  Sure consistency is good in the NFL but sometimes change is good.  Lately the Packers have lost some assistants (Joe Philbin) but by and large there has been very little turnover in McCarthy's tenure, which worries me because getting some new ideas within the organization is helpful in the NFL. The way I see it, the longer that McCarthy is in charge, the less likely he is to add someone that will rock the boat or come up with innovative ways to approach the game.

This is McCarthy's ninth season in Green Bay, which is tied for the 4th longest current tenure in the NFL if you do NOT count New Orleans Saints Sean Payton's suspension for the 2012 season.  That leaves just Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots since 2000, Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals since 2013, and Tom Coughlin with the New York Giants since 2004.

McCarthy is only the 14th head coach in franchise history and will most likely surpass legendary coach Vince Lombardi for the 2nd most wins as a Packer head coach by the end of the season.  McCarthy would need to coach into his 70's to surpass Curly Lambeau for most wins in franchise history given that Lambeau won 212 games over his 29 seasons in charge.  Take McCarthy passing Lombardi with a grain of salt though because the NFL regular season only had 12 (1959 and 1960 NFL seasons) or 14 (1961 through 1969, sans the 1968 NFL seasons) games during Lombardi's tenure while McCarthy has always had 16 regular season games.

My last beef with McCarthy is how he handles things on gameday.  McCarthy's inability to make in-game adjustments or even make simple decisions like when to challenge plays makes me wonder whether he is doing too much on gameday as a head coach that calls the offensive plays too.  McCarthy's challenge in the Packers/Jets game earlier this season is one of his many challenge gaffes on his resume.  For an example of McCarthy's inability to make in-game adjustments, think back to the Packers/Lions game from earlier this season.  The Packers struggled offensively in the first half.  Instead of making changes at halftime, the Packers looked no different in the second half.  I know sometimes the Packers will just have a stinker of a game start to finish but I had zero confidence that McCarthy would make any useful changes at halftime, which is hardly the kind of coach you want to lock-up long-term.

McCarthy is about to turn 51, which makes him a little more than 10 years younger than Thompson.  Now it looks like McCarthy and Thompson will work together through at least 2018.  These two are currently the longest tenured coach/general manager working for the Packers since 2006, unless you count Belichick as a two-headed coach/general manager.  Hopefully now that McCarthy has more job security he will shake some things up with his play calls (try some read option with Rodgers), in-game decisions (go for it on 4th down in short yardage situations and figure out when to challenge plays), off-season quarterback school (please produce something besides Rodgers), and his assistant coaches (might be time for defensive coordinator Dom Capers and/or special teams coach Shawn Slocum to go).

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