If you ever wanted to ride a roller coaster without really riding one, then you would go and coach the Green Bay Packers. From what appeared to be another dismal season in the town of Green Bay, the Packers begun the season at 2-2 following losses to Cincinnati and Minnesota and left Green Bay fans once again wondering why.
For a guy that looks like he's just come back from a month long vacation in Hawaii, Mike McCarthy did a pretty darn good job of turning the Green Bay Packers around. One of the few coaches to wear a hat during the winter period of the season, Mike stated the key issues the Packers needed to focus on and worked hard to deliver his promise.
The hot seat is what faced Mike McCarthy at the midpoint in the season. Like many other coaches in the league, Mike had failed to live up to his promises. With the Packer offensive line in disarray, and numerous injuries plaguing the team, Mike McCarthy was beginning to look like Wade Phillips. Hanging on by a thread.
Things changed though. Arguably a milestone game for second-year starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers were set to face the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. With two straight losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to this game, lets just say the confidence was about as high as Charles Barkley's Saturday Night Live ratings.
The Cowboys rolled into Lambeau Field, and the majority of NFL fans were favoring Dallas. Dom Capers transition to the 3-4 was the only thing that the Packers had going for them at the present time, and funnily enough it won them the game. Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews dominated the defensive scheme andsent Romo packing with an interception and fumble to his name.
That small but meaningful win ended the losing streak, and started the winning. A four game winning streak after the Dallas loss, and nearly a five game winning streak if it wasn't for a last-minute touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field.
The question that remains on my mind is, why has Mike McCarthy received so little praise for his efforts in turning this team around?
Sure Mike hasn't led the Packers to win the NFC North in the past two years, but he's done a number of other things for his team. Like the development of Aaron Rodgers for example. Sack after sack, would be enough to throw any young quarterback off his game. Mike listened to the people, fixed the offensive line and gave Rodgers the protection that he needed.
Aside from that, the running game was the second issue that the Packers faced. Predominantly not a strong running team in this modern era, Ryan Grant did need to get going if the Packers were ever going to win some games. Short two yard and three yard gains were a constant, until Mike stated the problem and addressed it. Now ranked 14th in the league in rushing, the Packers have something to build on heading into the future.
The Packers are used to tough coaches. Guys that represent the very image of the cigar smoking, tough as nail coach that will do anything to win, is what Vince Lombardi set the standard for. Mike is the opposite though. Laid back, funny, and often unworried about his team. Maybe the Hawaii thing is true.
As for Packer fans, take your cheeseheads off for Mike McCarthy. He said what he planned to do, and did it. You don't find that in too many coaches these days. With a bright future relying on Aaron Rodgers and the Packer defense, well, Mike may become even more relaxed, especially if the Packers have an even better season in 2010.