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MM article in CBS.sportsline.com

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by calicheesehead, Jun 15, 2006.

  1. calicheesehead

    calicheesehead Cheesehead

    Jun 6, 2005
    By Pete Prisco.

    Pack of troubles? Little-known McCarthy jumps into fire

    It is a job as revered as any in the NFL, a perch once held by greats named Lambeau and Lombardi.

    So how in the heck did a coordinator from the 32nd-ranked offense in the league in 2005 somehow become the head coach of the Green Bay Packers?

    At least Mike McCarthy knows who his QB will be.
    Some Packers fans wondered the same thing. The media chimed in with its doubts, too. Some Packers players didn't even know who he was. One thought the team hired former Bills coach Mike Mularkey.

    Uh, it's Mike McCarthy.

    And, yes, he's heard all the doubts about his hiring, too.

    "I'm aware of the criticism," McCarthy said. "But let's face it. I didn't get the job because our offense in San Francisco finished last in the league last season. I'm fully aware of how this business works. I know people can take stats and twist them to say what they want. But getting a head job and being successful is more than just about stats. It's about fit. It's not just the guy who stars at the press conference. It has to fit. And the Packers obviously felt this was a good fit."

    Despite a background in offense, including his stint as coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers last year, it's easy to understand why McCarthy might be on the defensive.

    For starters, the Packers job is as high-profile as they come. History makes it that way. The hallowed stadium is named after Curly Lambeau, one great coach, while the trophy they give to the Super Bowl winners is named after another.

    Then there's a street named after Mike Holmgren, who won a Super Bowl in Green Bay 10 years ago.

    Add all that up and counter it with a man who has been a coordinator for two teams that had losing records during his tenures, and some can understand how there would be questions about his hiring. It's also easy to understand why McCarthy might be tired -- already -- of the skeptics.

    At least let him coach a game first. Doesn't he deserve that?

    "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," McCarthy said. "I am thankful for the chance. I know what it means to coach here."

    That doesn't mean he's going to be awed by it. In fact, McCarthy has gone about changing things in a big way already.

    History be damned.

    He changed the team's weight room, putting in free weights and replacing the many machines that filled up the room the past couple of years. He wanted a stronger team, one that wouldn't get pushed around.

    "It looked like a health club in there," McCarthy said.

    McCarthy also put in an offseason program, something the Packers didn't insist on for a long time. The thinking was that many players preferred to go home rather than stay in Green Bay, especially the black players who complained that there wasn't much for them socially.

    This year, the Packers have had 80-percent attendance in their offseason program, a number that makes McCarthy proud.

    "I'm impressed by what these guys have been doing," McCarthy said. "We've had a couple of guys not taking part and that's what a lot of the media has made the focus. But the reality is the story is how good our guys who have been here have done."

    McCarthy has also changed the way the team will practice during training camp. He will have two practices one day -- one in the morning and one in the evening --- which will be followed by a single practice the next afternoon. There will be no stretch of two-a-days, which the Packers have had in the past.

    Now comes the hard part: Making the changes translate to on-field success. Turning around a 4-12 team isn't easy.

    The team's hopes got a huge boost when Brett Favre decided to return to play another season. It was the first issue McCarthy was forced to face as a head coach, weeks and weeks of questions whether the future Hall of Fame passer would play in 2006, followed by weeks with no answers.

    "I would talk to him every week to see if he was coming back," McCarthy said. "I tried to get him to tell me if he was coming back. I really didn't know. I felt he was coming back. But it didn't wear on me like people thought it did. The intensity here was off the charts, but I kept in contact with Brett.

    "The only time I was a little worried was when he called that press conference down in Mississippi at his golf tournament. I had just talked to him, so I didn't know what that was about. As it turned out, it wasn't anything."

    Favre has been taking part in the team's workouts the past few weeks, throwing some days and working out with the strength coach on others. For those who say Favre doesn't have it anymore, McCarthy is quick to counter. He was the Packers quarterbacks coach in 1999, so he knows all about the Favre in his prime. During a practice last week, he said Favre made two throws that McCarthy said had the ball really spinning off his hand like it has for so many years.

    "He can still zip it," McCarthy said.

    Even with Favre, there is still a lot of work to do. When a team goes 4-12, has its top two backs and top receiver go down with season-ending injuries, there's a lot of work to do, and it's also why there's a new coach in town.

    Losing records don't cut it in Green Bay. In fact, last season was Favre's first losing season with the Packers.

    That's why there is so much scrutiny on McCarthy. But he's tough enough to handle the pressure. He's one of those Pittsburgh-area coaches, and those guys -- like Bill Cowher -- are usually tough.

    "Growing up there there's a common approach to the way you do things," McCarthy said. "It helps shape the way you do things."

    McCarthy came to the NFL as an assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs. Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett brought him with him from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. He spent six seasons working on Marty Schottenheimer's staff before becoming the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay for a season. In 2000, he left to become the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, where he helped develop Aaron Brooks as the Saints won their first division title in 2001.

    He left the Saints in 2005 to become the offensive coordinator in San Francisco, where the young offense -- including top pick Alex Smith at quarterback -- really struggled. But McCarthy's reputation and his style are what attracted Packers general manager Ted Thompson to him, rather than his statistics.

    McCarthy got a three-year deal -- short by today's standards -- that will pay him $2 million a season. The short deal means the turnaround has to be quick, which means even more pressure than just being the coach of the Green Bay Packers.

    So far, McCarthy is embracing the role. He said he gets emotional when thinking he's in the same seat once held by Lombardi.

    You can't help it," McCarthy said.

    He also said he's realized how scrutinized a position the Packers coach can be. When he was here as quarterbacks coach, he could go anywhere and almost nobody would notice. That has certainly changed.

    "They say it's a fishbowl, and it is," McCarthy said. "But I'm in the honeymoon stage. I'm undefeated. But I feel very comfortable here. The people are genuine."

    If he doesn't win, you can bet the honeymoon will be over quickly. For now, he at least deserves the chance to show that he can turn around this franchise, no matter what the line on his resume says about 2005.

    Time will tell if this was the right hire. Time will tell if he's head coach material. Until then, the skeptics should hold their tongues and at least get the name right.

    It’s McCarthy, not Mularkey.

    Now give him a chance.

  2. porky88

    porky88 Cheesehead

    Mar 10, 2006
    I thought it was a pretty good article. I agree with the end. Time will tell whether it's a good hire.
  3. Ryan

    Ryan Cheesehead

    Dec 2, 2004
  4. calicheesehead

    calicheesehead Cheesehead

    Jun 6, 2005
    There's FiveSix....oh wait...nevermind. Are they saying they don't like to ice fish, hunt, x-country ski, drink, drink, or drink?

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