On Thursday, McCarthy made it official: He has relinquished his role as play-caller. In a major shuffling of the coaching deck, McCarthy announced:
— Tom Clements, from offensive coordinator to associate head coach/offense. Clements will call the plays.
— Edgar Bennett, from receivers coach to offensive coordinator.
— Alex Van Pelt, from quarterbacks coach to quarterbacks/wide receivers coach.
The Packers led the NFL in scoring in 2014 and three of the four highest-scoring seasons in franchise history have come under his watch. But McCarthy, who’s been the head coach and play-caller since arriving on the scene in 2006, said the burden is too much.
“They had to drag me down here to admit it,” McCarthy said.
He added, “When I told (general manager) Ted (Thompson) about the decision, he was like, 'Woah, are you sure you want to give up play-calling?”
McCarthy said he’s considered it in the past but made the move now because of the strength of his assistant staff and quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ ever-expanding role in the offense. The “fit” between Rodgers and Clements was a key role in the decision. McCarthy said he will split his time “equally” on offense, defense and special teams.
None of the last three Super Bowl-winning coaches have called plays on either side of the ball.
“The reason to do this is about winning championships,” McCarthy said. “This is not the first time I've thought about this. I think this is the time to do it. I think our staff is ready. It's an opportunity for them to make an impact. I feel we'll be better offensively from that. I know I have a lot more to offer to our football team and they're going to get that. This decision is made over the long haul.”
McCarthy also announced Ron Zook as special teams coordinator, Mike Solari as assistant offensive line coach, Jerry Montgomery as defensive front assistant, and Jason Simmons as assistant special teams coach.
The hiring of Montgomery is especially intriguing. He will work closely with defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who will turn 65 during training camp. Montgomery served as the defensive line coach for the University of Oklahoma for the past two seasons. He played at Iowa and was in New Orleans’ training camp in 2002.
“Me being third guy in special teams room, it gives us a chance to get another defensive coach,” McCarthy said. “Dom would like to have someone to work side by side with him. We had a number of candidates come through. (Oklahoma coach) Bob Stoops, called him Thursday. He was very gracious. He's someone we've been looking at for a couple of years. These are types of decisions and things we're looking at long term.”
Here are the bios of the two new coaches from the press release:
Solari, who will be entering his 27th season as an assistant coach in the NFL in 2015, joins the Packers after spending the past five seasons as the offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers. From 2010-14, the 49ers averaged 132.1 rushing yards per game, the fifth most in the NFL over that span. In 2012, he guided an offensive line that featured the same five starters every game and had each member selected to the Pro Bowl as a participant or an alternate. Prior to joining the 49ers, Solari spent two years (2008-09) coaching the offensive line for the Seattle Seahawks. From 1997-2007, he coached for the Kansas City Chiefs, spending the first eight seasons as offensive line coach and the final two as offensive coordinator. The Daly City, California, native served as the tight ends/assistant offensive line coach for the 49ers from 1992-96. His NFL coaching career started with two seasons (1987-88) as assistant offensive line/special teams coach for the Dallas Cowboys and one season (1989) as offensive line coach for the Phoenix Cardinals. While most of his career has been at the professional level, Solari has also coached in the college ranks at Alabama (1990-91), Pittsburgh (1986), Kansas (1983-85), Cincinnati (1981-82), Boise State (1980) and U.S. International (1979), as well as Mira Costa Junior College (1978) and Mission Bay (Calif.) High School (1976-77).
Montgomery joins the Packers after serving as the defensive line coach for the University of Oklahoma for the past two seasons. In 2013, he helped the Sooners lead the Big 12 in total defense (350.2 ypg) and pass defense (212.5 ypg). Prior to Oklahoma, Montgomery was the defensive line coach for the University of Michigan (2011-12), the University of Wyoming (2009-10) and the University of Northern Iowa (2007-08). He was a graduate assistant for Northern Iowa in 2006 and was the defensive coordinator for North Iowa Community College in 2005. Montgomery's coaching career began as a student coach for the University of Iowa in 2002. He was a four-year starter at defensive tackle for the Hawkeyes and spent the 2002 training camp with the New Orleans Saints. He also played in the Arena Football League (2003-05) and served as an assistant coach for Iowa City West High School (2002-04).email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.