Mike McCarthy is a highly-successful football coach. Just ask him.
The guy has a record of 123-72-2. He has a Super Bowl win. Before last season, the Packers had been in the playoffs eight consecutive years.
McCarthy Without Rodgers
Some things became apparent in 2017, however. Mostly, Mike McCarthy is maybe not so successful when he doesn’t have Aaron Rodgers as his crutch.
The Packers were 3-6 without Rodgers in 2017. In 2013, when Rodgers was again absent for an extended period, the Packers were 2-4-1 in those games. That does not count the loss to the Bears where Rodgers broke his collarbone in the first quarter.
Clearly, Mike McCarthy without Aaron Rodgers… not a highly-successful football coach. A below-average football coach.
The Ted Thompson Affect
And yes, the talent level needs to be noted. Matt Flynn and Brett Hundley are not Aaron Rodgers. It’s hard to win with a backup quarterback in the NFL. That’s ultimately why Ted Thompson was pushed out in favor of Brian Gutekunst following the 2017 season. Well, that and other failures over the years…
Thompson’s way of thinking — draft and develop only — became antiquated. Gutekunst brought a fresh, forward-thinking, win-now attitude to the GM role. There were rumors of a rift between McCarthy and Thompson. That McCarthy wanted more veteran talent. There were rumors that Rodgers was fed up with Thompson’s draft and develop only methods. That he wanted more veteran talent.
Then Gutekunst flipped the script by not only signing free agents, but making trades. Much like Ron Wolf used to do.
The Hot Seat
After the Packers started 4-6 in 2016, it seemed McCarthy was on the hot seat. It’s something we discussed at length. Then Rodgers made his run-the-table comment and the Packers did just that. At least until getting thrashed by the Falcons in the NFC Championship game.
McCarthy was again safe, largely because of Rodgers. So safe, in fact, he was somehow given equal authority to Gutekunst this past offseason. Both the GM and coach now report to team president Mark Murphy. Equal authority after a losing season, nonetheless.
Thompson was the obvious scapegoat for not bringing a second title to Green Bay in the Aaron Rodgers era. As well he should have been. His removal was long overdue.
But the very hiring of Gutekunst signals a different way of thinking. It looked like Thompson’s draft and develop nonsense worked for a while. As we’ve pointed out a multitude of times, it only works when you hit on a high percentage of your draft picks. Thompson did that early — Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, etc. Then came guys like Derek Sherrod, Datone Jones, always-injured Nick Perry, Bryan Bulaga and, possibly, Josh Jones. Hell, you cold probably throw Randall Cobb and his one good season into that latter mix at this point.
Loading your team with strictly guys you draft and some undrafted free agents just doesn’t work in today’s NFL.
And so here we are.
Passing Me By Is Only A Good Pharcyde Song
Now, in my younger days I used to sport a shag…
Not really. I used to sport a mullet. Because, Wisconsin. Nonetheless…
We can sit here and say this. We already have. So have a lot of other people who report and analyze the NFL.
You’ve got whiz kid Sean McVay doing amazing, innovative things with the Los Angeles Rams’ offense. You’ve got old man Andy Reid, The Walrus II (not THE Walrus), using so much motion in Kansas City that everyone thinks Patrick Mahomes is the best thing since sliced bread. You’ve got Reid’s boy Matt Nagy making Mitchell Trubisky look like an actual serviceable NFL quarterback in Chicago. Former Brett Favre backup Doug Pederson just won a Super Bowl with Nick Fucking Foles as his quarterback.
I would throw 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan into this mix as well, although he’s going to have a tough time without Jimmy Garoppolo. That said, Matt Ryan hasn’t been the same since he left as the Falcons offensive coordinator.
McCarthy, who supposedly rebuilt his playbook this offseason, hasn’t been paying attention.
The guys we mentioned have incorporated innovative, forward-thinking, new, hard-to-defend plays into their offenses. In most cases, motion that would screw up any defense. In some cases, stuff from the college game.
The league will eventually catch up to these guys, but what has McCarthy done?
Ehhhh… I haven’t seen anything that much different than previous years.
What it seems he’s actually done is this.
He’s pissed off the only guy who actually keeps him employed, from what we hear. This isn’t the first year Rodgers and McCarthy have traded barbs. But McCarthy doesn’t have a scapegoat in Thompson anymore. First, Rodgers was openly critical of the play calling. Now, it seems he’s openly fed up with McCarthy’s whole operation.
Can’t say we blame him.
We call McCarthy a lot of names. Fat Mike. Buffoon. Gravy Head.
All of them are warranted. And the reckoning may finally be coming.
It might be overdue.