Lombardi: Cut coach a little slack

Mike McCarthy has been head coach of the Green Bay Packers less than a week, but already fans are growing impatient and criticizing the coach. John Lombardi assesses the situation in his column.

I am not sure what to make of the hiring of Mike McCarthy as Head Football Coach of the Green Bay Packers. Unlike some folks, I had heard of him before. He was a familiar name to me. I was offered a job (which I did not take) with the Saints when Jim Haslett was hired and have followed their fortunes to this day. I used to work with Haslett in what is now NFL Europe and also have a history with Rick Mueller, the Saints Director of Player Personnel.

McCarthy was the offensive coordinator down there at the time and during those first couple of years, he was a hot prospect. His name came up a lot during polite conversation about potential coaching prospects. Things cooled down in New Orleans and he moved on to San Francisco and supposed oblivion with a losing team and an offense that ranked last in the league.

There is a sentiment in coaching circles that coaches, no matter how good, are not hired away from a losing team to be a head coach. No matter how good a coach you are, GM's and owners look at winning franchises for replacement parts. Winning makes coaches hot prospects for new jobs, independent of their knowledge and competence. There are exceptions of course. Mostly, the only coaches who get hired off a losing staff to be head coaches are those that assume the head role after the ax falls on their boss. Jeff Fisher is one such example.

No one is perfect and we all have our critics. So it is not surprise that not everyone thinks that Coach McCarthy is the best choice for the job. On the other side of things, he has his supporters who think he will do a fabulous job and Ted Thompson is one of them.

Either way, it strikes me as odd that there are those folks out there who are not willing to give the man a chance. No one has any idea how well he will do at this job. Expectations are high and rightfully so, but to criticize the man right out of the gate is ridiculous. I can accept criticism or praise once he starts to make coaching hires and begins assembling the team, but until then, it is pointless.

We have a culture and a society that cannot wait to turn on someone and tear them down. Whether it is because we are jealous or hate to see anyone succeed more than us, we live in a society that relishes in throwing tomatoes at those in the public eye.

Coach McCarthy had his hiring press conference on Jan. 12, but on Jan. 11, somebody went on the Internet and registered the domain name www.firemikemccarthy.com. The man was not even officially the coach, but someone had paid $9 to insure that they could take potshots at him if he or the team struggled. There is already a website, www.firetedthompson.com. That one started right around the time of Mike Sherman's firing. www.firebobharlan.com is also registered. Only the Thompson site has anything on it, but the fact that someone (other than me) is wasting their time on this stuff is amazing.

I choose to be an optimist when it comes to the new head coach and General Manager. I support them in their quest for victories. If they do things that I disagree with, I will say so, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Others can be knee jerk pessimists if the choose to be, but not me.

I just wonder what I can do to get www.firejohnlombardi.com set up. If I could get to that point in my career, I guess I would have finally arrived.

John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

Packer Report Top Stories