Mangini has upper hand over McCarthy's Doug Ritchay explains why the New York Jets' Eric Mangini has had more success than the Green Bay Packers' Mike McCarthy this season.

Ten NFL teams made coaching changes after the 2005 season and two of those teams meet Sunday in Lambeau Field when the Packers host the New York Jets.

And as far as the ten hirings went, the moves the Packers and Jets made arguably were among the most surprising. The Packers hired Mike McCarthy, who orchestrated the NFL's worst-ranked offense in San Francisco last year. Meanwhile, Mangini was a one-year defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick at New England.

Eleven games into their seasons, McCarthy, 43, and Mangini, 35, have experienced different rookie seasons. McCarthy has had an up-and-down season, with the Packers standing at 4-7, basically on the outside looking in regards to the NFC playoff race.

He has made some questionable hires (insert defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, special teams coordinator Mike Stock and secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer here), while watching his team flame out against the likes of New Orleans, St. Louis and Buffalo.

Mangini, who most would agree took over a lesser-talented team than McCarthy, has the Jets at 6-5 in the much more competitive AFC. His claim to fame so far is winning at New England and then having his mentor basically blow him off in the after-game handshake.

This week, McCarthy was asked if he pays attention to the likes of Mangini and other first-year head coaches.

"I do not pay attention to how the other first-year head coaches are doing," he said. "But based on looking at Eric's football team, I think he's doing a very good job.

"I think they're a team, they complement each other, as far as how the offense and defense play to each other, and they're playing solid special teams."

McCarthy doesn't have time to look in the paper every Monday morning to see how his nine first-year coaching counterparts are doing, but I do. Here's how McCarthy looks:

-- Herm Edwards, Chiefs, 7-4. Not a first-year coach, but first year in KC has been successful. -Sean Payton, Saints, 7-4. Could be coach of the year; beat Packers.

-- Mangini 6-5. Showing he wasn't too young to become a head coach.

-- Dick Jauron, Bills, 5-6. Packers lost to Jauron, despite the Bills doing nothing to earn the win.

-- Brad Childress, Minnesota, 5-6. Has been OK, but McCarthy beat him.

-- Scott Linehan, Rams, 5-6. Has been solid, using running back Steven Jackson; beat Packers.

-- McCarthy, 4-7. There's been good and bad.

-- Gary Kubiak, Houston, 3-8. Hey, he has Mike Sherman on staff.

-- Rod Marinelli, Detroit, 2-9. Why was he hired?

-- Art Shell, Raiders, 2-9. Just a horrible place to coach.

If you're keeping track, McCarthy is 2-3 against first-year coaches entering Sunday's game with the Jets.

The Jets game is interesting because they are not a team which looks 6-5. New York has no notable offensive gamebreakers and QB Chad Pennington's arm is Danny Wuerrfel-like. Still, the defense has been solid and somehow this team wins. Call it coaching. This team believes.

McCarthy was impressed with how Mangini had led the Jets.

"I think they do a good job offensively getting people involved," McCarthy said. "They're using their three running backs now, and I think their quarterback, when he has played and he's healthy, he's as good a game manager.

"I think defensively, particularly the breakdown we've seen, they're a lot better than their ranking. I think you can see they're in sync, a lot more comfortable, particularly in their pressure schemes, so I'm impressed with them. I think they're a very confident team right now and they're playing good football."

What stood out about McCarthy's thoughts is he talked about the Jets' defense being in sync. The Packers' defense has been anything but in sync. Substitution problems, blown assignments in the secondary, you name it, the defense has been awful at times.

That, along with the special teams blunders on a weekly basis, makes me think if GM Ted Thompson got the best man last year when he hired McCarthy. Mangini was a surprise hiring, but when you look where he came from, it made sense to hire him.

He learned under one of the best coaches, if not the best, in the game.

Meanwhile, McCarthy was coordinator under first-year coach Mike Nolan and the offense was brutal. Not all of it was McCarthy's fault. Alex Smith was a rookie QB and he had nothing to work with. Nonetheless, it was his offense.

A win Sunday, however, would make me feel better about McCarthy, who only signed a three-year deal, as the Packers try to remain respectable during the final month of the season. A loss and I may wonder why McCarthy and his "Pittsburgh Macho" attitude was hired and why Mangini was never interviewed for the position.

Doug Ritchay

Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

Packer Report Top Stories