Credit the coach

McCarthy proves to be best of head coaches hired after 2005 season

After the 2005 season, 10 teams hired new head coaches.

The Minnesota Vikings hired Brad Childress. The New Orleans Saints hired Sean Payton. The Kansas City Chiefs traded for Herm Edwards and the New York Jets hired Eric Mangini to replace him. The Rams tabbed Scott Linehan, the Houston Texans hired Gary Kubiak, Rod Marinelli headed to Detroit, Art Shell wound up in Oakland and the Buffalo Bills hired Dick Jauron.

And the Green Bay Packers hired Mike McCarthy.

The hire wasn't a popular one in Green Bay where most fans and players thought Ted Thompson would hire Jim Bates, who became a local favorite during his one season as the Packers' general manager.

Heck, McCarthy's resume wasn't anything that impressive. The San Francisco 49ers had one of the worst offenses in the NFL during McCarthy's one season as their coordinator. McCarthy had done some good things with the Saints as their offensive coordinator, but he was hardly considered one of the NFL's hotshot assistants, a tag that had been placed on Childress, Payton, Kubiak, Linehan and Mangini.

Less than two seasons later, McCarthy has clearly been the best hire of the bunch. Payton was honored as the NFL's coach of the year last season, an award that McCarthy should start clearing space for on his mantle this season.

Shell has already been fired. Linehan will be lucky to last this entire season. It will surprise no one if Childress is gone after this season.

In 1 ½ seasons, McCarthy has a 15-9 record and has the Packers off to a stunning 7-1 start this season. He's also done it with very little help, as several of the draft picks Thompson has given him have been disappointments. Other than signing Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett before the 2006 season, they've done virtually nothing in free agency.

Without a doubt the best move Thompson has made as GM has been to hire McCarthy. The Packers are 7-1 despite having virtually no running game, a first-round pick who is usually seen on game day in street clothes, and an offensive line that seems to get worse every week.

Brett Favre has been great and McCarthy likely deserves the credit for that as well. During the 2005 season, Mike Sherman's last as head coach, Favre looked washed-up as he threw 29 interceptions, the most in the NFL since 1988.

McCarthy has clearly gotten the attention of his future Hall of Fame quarterback because Favre has become a different player over the last 1 ½ seasons. Right now, nobody would be surprised if Favre plays another 2-3 seasons and that's something nobody would have said after the 2005 season.

The Packers have won more than their share of tough games this season. To say they're "lucky" to be 7-1 is ludicrous. While the Packers have won ugly a few times this season, they're a lot closer to being 8-0 than they are to having a second loss.

Some of the players deserve some credit for that record. Greg Jennings has had a spectacular season. Aaron Kampman is having a better season than he did a year ago when he made the Pro Bowl. Favre is having his best season since the late 1990s when he was stacking up the MVP trophies.

But the bulk of the credit for being able to win with this bunch goes to McCarthy, who clearly has this team believing it can win every time it steps on the football field.

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