McCarthy hired for Rodgers, not Favre

When Packers general manager Ted Thompson hired Mike McCarthy to be his head coach, the move was made with an eye on the quarterback position. Though not necessarily bringing back Brett Favre.

To be sure, Thompson and McCarthy want Favre back. That's what they say, anyway, and there's little reason to doubt them. For all of his interceptions, Favre made enough jaw-dropping plays this past season — with his arm and his legs — that it's clear he has enough ammunition in the holster to be a quality quarterback for another season or two.

"I hope so," McCarthy said when asked about Favre. "I don't think there's a coach in the National Football League who wouldn't love the opportunity to work with Brett Favre."

Certainly, having McCarthy on board won't hurt. Favre tied the club record for interceptions last year, and one of the biggest criticisms of the Packers' coaching staff was the apparent unwillingness of ex-coach Mike Sherman and ex-quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell to rein in Favre's gambling ways.

That hopefully won't be an issue with McCarthy, who Thompson said is "Pittsburgh macho." Whatever that means, let's hope it means McCarthy will grab Favre by the helmet and give him some constructive criticism if he throws one more deep ball into triple coverage. For crying out loud, Favre is the son of a coach. It's not like he can't handle it.

"I've found him to be one of the most coachable quarterbacks that I've worked with," McCarthy said.

But again, this isn't about Favre. Whether or not Favre returns, he's not the future of the franchise. Unless he plans on returning for at least two years, the Packers more than likely won't be division contenders, much less Super Bowl contenders. Injuries, after all, aren't the only reason the Packers went 4-12 last season.

Every decision Thompson has made — whether it was his salary-cap purge last off-season, the refusal to sign any upper-echelon free agents, the drafting of Aaron Rodgers when that first-round pick could have filled an immediate need and, now, the hiring of McCarthy — has been based on what he thinks is in the best long-term interests of the Packers.

McCarthy is here because Thompson hopes he's the man who can develop Rodgers from a promising first-round prospect into the type of quarterback who can lead the Packers back to the Super Bowl. Sure, McCarthy can probably improve Favre's decision-making, but he's here because he had reasonable success with the stubborn Aaron Brooks in New Orleans, and Thompson hopes McCarthy can have better luck with the coachable Rodgers.

It doesn't hurt that McCarthy runs a version of the West Coast offense. Favre hinted that he'd be less likely to come back if he had to learn a new offense. And if Favre doesn't come back, Rodgers will at least have a decent knowledge of the offense so he can step right in, and concentrate on forming a chemistry with his receivers instead of learning a new playbook.

History will judge Sherman on his inability to lead a very talented, Favre-led roster back to the championship game. Whether it's three years from now or 10, McCarthy will be judged not on his ability to scheme X's and O's, not on his ability to form a coaching staff, and not on his ability to coax the best out of his players. He will be judged on his success, or failure, in developing Rodgers. If he succeeds with Rodgers, everything else will fall into place.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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