Mike McCarthy: Why Green Bay Packers Coach Must Be 2011 NFL Coach of the Year

Chris KennedyCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2012

Mike McCarthy: Why Green Bay Packers Coach Must Be 2011 NFL Coach of the Year

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    Since the AP NFL Coach of the Year award is based on the regular season, now seems like the best time to name him.

    While polling my football fan friends about who should win coach of the year honors, many of them said 49ers helmsman Jim Harbaugh.

    While I love the comeback story of the 49ers this season and commend Harbaugh on reviving a dormant franchise, Harbaugh only wishes he could accomplish what Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has.

    Here's why Mike McCarthy MUST be awarded the NFL Coach of the Year.

The Bar Has Been Set High

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    Nobody expected much from Harbaugh's 49ers this season. On the flip side, everyone expected the Green Bay Packers to dominate this season. McCarthy had very little to win despite all his wins.

    McCarthy had the difficult and unenviable task of keeping a Super Bowl championship team focused and motivated for an entire season. Not an easy feat when you consider only three of the last 20 Super Bowl winners have repeated as champions the following season. Plus, no defending champion has won a playoff game in their follow-up season since 2005.

    Pressure aside, McCarthy led his team to a league-best 15-1 record and the team hardly missed a beat from its legendary playoff run from the prior season.

    It's much easier to win when no one's really watching (Harbaugh) than when they are (McCarthy).

The Wind Beneath Aaron Rodgers' Wings

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    McCarthy coaches the NFL's best quarterback. Let me repeat that, he coaches the NFL's best quarterback.

    Aaron Rodgers is a great talent who has succeeded because he's been under the master tutelage of Mike McCarthy his entire professional career.

    McCarthy's offense and play-calling prowess gives Rodgers the prime opportunity to showcase all of his substantial skills.

    If you need to see any more proof of how good McCarthy's offensive system is than Rodgers' highest NFL quarterback rating ever, look no further than backup quarterback Matt Flynn's record-setting six-touchdown, 480-yard passing performance against playoff-bound Detroit in the final game of the season. 

    If you're amazed by Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and feel he's one of the best in the game, then you must also be amazed by the man who guided him there.

Call It a Make Good

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    Considering how the Packers tore through the playoffs last season—entirely on the road—and won the Super Bowl, you can't help but factor that in a little towards this season.

    Bill Belichick, the 2010 Coach of the Year, watched his No. 1-ranked Patriots get beat at home by the No. 6 Jets in the divisional playoff round. Compare that fizzle to the Packers' rocket through the playoffs.

    Green Bay had to overcome overabundant injuries during the 2010 regular season, losing six starters and 10 other key players to even qualify for the playoffs. 

    McCarthy and his staff brought in street free agents who ended up starting in the Super Bowl—Erik Walden, Frank Zombo and Sam Shields. 

    Despite these huge obstacles, McCarthy never complained and never wavered in his focus. He gave not lip service, but real service to the rallying cry "next man up."

    Give McCarthy his due credit dating back to where we left off at the end of last regular season, where he has since gone 19-1.

Hand It to Him

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    Mike McCarthy isn't flashy, articulate or charming. Jim Harbaugh is.

    McCarthy is a tough, humble and hard-working leader who doesn't give the media any fodder. Harbaugh does. End-of-game handshake, anyone?

    McCarthy is a Super Bowl champion. Harbaugh is not.