Many people were critical of Ted Thompson for hiring McCarthy. I was somewhat critical myself only because I wanted Bates, but at the time, I was excited that McCarthy apparently had a huge repertoire of offensive plays – something foreign to Packer fans during the Sherman years. Lori Nickel (along with Herm Edwards, Ted Thompson and Andy Reid) makes a good case here for why Packer fans, if they haven’t already, should start warming up to McCarthy – he may be the real deal.
For years, I believed that Mike Sherman was not a good coach (and I’m not alone here). As a person, he was a warm, friendly man the players obviously liked. In fact, I know Favre liked Sherman as a person, but if he were honest about it, I’d bet he’d admit he disagreed often with play calls. As a coach, I am still not convinced Sherman knows what he’s doing – especially on game day. He was blessed with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL for several years running, so even when the other team knew what was coming, they couldn’t defend us because our line was so good (think U-71). And to some extent, maybe Sherman can take some credit for that. But eventually, in the playoffs, when we started playing higher caliber teams who did have the talent to defend us, his lack of creativity and poor game-day decision-making kept us out of the big game.
One of the key differences between McCarthy and Sherman is, as Lori states in her article, that “McCarthy consults Favre as he might a coordinator on plays and strategies, a move that may have helped keep the Packers from drowning with one of the least-productive running games in the league”. Under Sherman, I always felt like Favre was just a puppet – doing whatever lame, predictable thing Sherman wanted Favre to do, with little input of his own (think 3rd down draws or check down passes). One of the reasons why I believe the Packers majorly UNDERachieved during the Sherman years was a philosophical difference between Sherman and Favre: Sherman was conservative, never taking chances and Favre was/is wild, excited by taking chances.
In McCarthy, I think the Packers have found a coach who not only has common football sense (who won’t do anything really dumb), but at the same time, someone who likes to take risks. McCarthy’s philosophy meshes better with Favre’s philosophy than Sherman’s did and I think the results this year speak to that. In part because he’s including Favre in the decision-making process, I think McCarthy has done a significantly better job than Sherman did of striking a good balance between taking risks, being creative and making smart playcalls. One of the negative consequences of being a conservative coach/playcaller is that the confidence of the offense/QB may not grow adequately due to a sense that the coach doesn’t trust it enough to take some chances. When a coach takes chances on 4th downs for example, a coach is saying he has the faith in his offense to succeed.
This is not a secret formula, it’s one that Belichick has been using for years and it is the new coaching movement in the NFL today. I’m glad the Packers are now on the front of this new movement because of the addition of Mike McCarthy.