Talk about being confused. As Mike McCarthy was hired everyone said, ‘Who?' We all questioned his claim to fame. We all wondered who and why! To be honest with you, even though I coached with him and remembered the knowledge he possesses, I even asked myself if he is ready. What is it about him that makes him different? I asked myself about his qualifications to become the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers, and I had no real answers right away. I even asked myself what did Ted Thompson see to make him ‘The guy.'
Then I thought about the relationships with the quarterbacks that McCarthy has coached, and they always have been very good. They all respected him, which is great, but does that make him a good head coach, or a better quarterback coach? Then I thought about the offenses that he has been the coordinator of and it dawned on me that last year when he was at the 49ers their offense was the worst in the National Football League. Then again, what does that mean? That was then and now is now. I figured why not give him a shot because I knew no one would out-work him, but then again sometimes they must work smarter not harder.
As I look back at the season and replay the different games I have been trying to see some consistency. Something to hang my hat on. Something to say, ‘OK, I SEE WHAT HE IS TRYING TO DO AND IT'S WORKING' that is related to coaching not playing. Don't get me wrong, he has done some things. For example, penalties are down and they have some young guys starting on the offensive line that are playing, which is giving great experience to Colledge, Spitz and Moll. Those three haven't hurt the team but they are young guys getting the opportunity to play and making the best of the opportunity. Is that Mike McCarthy's great coaching, or do they really have a choice, and can they play anyone else? The answer would be no.
Then I think about Brett Favre and how he has played. I will say that he has played better and more under control, especially when he has the lead. When the Packers have the lead or when they are playing weaker teams, Brett seems to buy into what McCarthy must tell him throughout the week. But then again it must not be sinking in at crucial times because Brett reverts back to his old self, just like he did against the Seahawks when he tried to throw across his body on that interception when the ball was intended for Bubba Franks. What happened to coaching then? Once the play happened the camera found Mike McCarthy and you could see him saying, "BLEEP BLEEP and BLEEP" which I translated to Brett as ‘What are you doing? You can't throw that ball late down the middle like that? How many times have we talked about it?' The sad thing was after that how many other bad throws were made, which again goes back to there must be a communication breakdown because if this isn't what he wants, why is it happening? Isn't that coaching?
Now let's talk about philosophy. Mike McCarthy's calling card was supposed to be his willingness to run the ball, which is why he brought in Jeff Jagodzinski to teach the often talked about ZONE blocking scheme. One of problems with the scheme is it takes away from real play action. The guards are used, which I think is destroying the ability to get the tight end involved in the game in the middle of the field because the linebackers aren't being sucked in. But the real problem I am having with the zone blocking scheme is that the offense isn't running the ball enough.
I wouldn't mind it if when McCarthy was hired he hadn't talked about how much he was committed to the run. I could understand it against the Vikings, Bears and Patriots, but not against the Seahawks to only run the ball 18 times against a team that the week before gave up over 200 yards. I know Frank Gore is good but Ahman Green isn't chopped liver. He can still take it to the house, giving the opportunity. It wasn't like the Packers were out of the game and couldn't afford to run.
Trust me, I know Mike McCarthy is a rookie head coach, but to me a rookie head coach has problems when it comes to schedules for training camp, preparing for practice, dealing with the media, or getting the players to buy into his system and handling being in total control. When it comes to football and game management, it doesn't require someone to be a genius. Football is football. It's understanding the flow of the game. It's understanding what you can do and not do. An example of that was happened at Buffalo when Mike McCarthy chose to pass instead of run, which wasn't that hard of a decision.
As you can see, I am somewhat confused on what's happening with the Green Bay Packers. They have improved in so many areas, or should have improved, and yet the results haven't been better. Even on defense to have had so much confusion for so long is mind-boggling and to not have used the players that they have in an aggressive manner has hurt the growth of this team. Is it Bob Sanders, Kurt Schottenheimer, or Mike McCarthy that has me not knowing WHAT TO BELIEVE ANYMORE?
Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.