Continuity key for Packers

With general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy locked in for five more years, the Green Bay Packers football operation is in good shape for years to come, says's Doug Ritchay

Two years ago when the Green Bay Packers hired Mike McCarthy as their new head coach, the organization inked McCarthy to a three-year deal. The length of the deal was almost as surprising as the hiring of McCarthy, a relative unknown to most fans in the NFL. Three years pretty much tells a coach to get it done now, or you'll be done.

With a team coming off a 4-12 season, that can't be a comfortable feeling. Then the Packers opened the 2006 season 4-8 and some wondered if the three-year deal might have been too long.

Well, here we are now in early 2008 and McCarthy has a brand, spanking new 5-year deal after leading the Packers to a 13-3 record, an NFC North Division title and a trip to the NFC Championship Game this past season. The signing, which is in line with the Packers' signing of general manager Ted Thompson to a five-year deal shows the Packers are pleased with the direction of the team and expect many more good things to come.

McCarthy said having a deal the same in length to Thompson's is important.

"Once again, I think it's a reflection of our football program, something that Ted declared from the first step when I was hired as the head coach, how he was looking for a partnership," McCarthy said "I think it's great to have five years to continue to reach our goal."

Two years ago, it's unlikely anybody predicted this to happen. I know I didn't. McCarthy was a questionable hire and Thompson hadn't proven much yet. However, both have earned their new deals. McCarthy, who had never been a head coach in the NFL before coming to Green Bay, likely never thought of his three-year deal as a short window to prove himself. He likely looked at it as an opportunity.

He was asked if he took a chance in leaving San Francisco, where he was the offensive coordinator, to come to the Packers for a short-lived deal.

"You could look at it that way," said McCarthy, who's coaching the NFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday. "I had the option to sign a three- or four-year deal. I thought it was important to establish our football program, establish myself as a head coach, and I was thankful for the opportunity from the Green Bay Packers organization, and it's worked out.

"But the three-year deal was a chance."

While the Packers have their main men wrapped up, think about other organizations that don't get it. Oakland and Washington come to mind. Al Davis is more lost than the cast on the TV show "Lost." He's trying to push out first-year coach Lane Kiffin so he can allegedly hire retread Dennis Green. The Raiders were not good this past season, but word around the NFL is Kiffin did a solid job with what he had.

Here's a chance to stick with a young and up-and-coming coach and give your organization stability and Davis wants to start over again. There's no mystery as to why the Raiders "Just Lose, Baby," all the time.

Meanwhile, in Washington, owner Daniel Snyder is hiring assistants, but has no head coach. Everybody knows a head coach always wants to hire his own staff. He wants people he knows and has a relationship with so the staff can make the best of the situation.

But Snyder doesn't seem to get it. He hasn't hired a coach yet as his No. 1 target, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, turned him down this week. Why do you think that happened? Simple, head coaches want to work for good organizations and want to hire their own staff. If Spagnuolo takes that job and fails much could be directed at his staff, which he didn't hire.

So when you look at other situations in the NFL, like these two, be thankful the Packers don't have a stupid owner making decisions that inevitably will sidetrack these teams from competing for a Super Bowl.

The Packers are in a great position to be competitive for at least the near future and that's because they know how to do things the right way. They have established continuity atop the leadership positions and that's the only way good things can happen.

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