If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
How many of us have heard that question? In the NFL, especially as it relates to head coaches, it rings true, more than most. Every successful head coach now seems to come from some kind of coaching "tree," as in he worked under another successful head coach as an assistant.
Sean Payton? Bill Parcells.
Bill Belichick? also Parcells.
Norv Turner? Jimmy Johnson.
Brad Childress? Andy Reid.
Reid? Mike Holmgren.
It goes on and on.
Hold on, though. What about Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy?
McCarthy is one of those rare birds in the NFL who became a successful head coach on his own. Yes, he worked at Kansas City with Marty Schottenheimer, but Marty's struggles in the playoffs are well documented.
He has also worked with Jim Haslett and Mike Nolan. Not exactly stellar NFL head coaches. While McCarthy no doubt picked up bits and pieces from each coach, he is largely his own man and has developed his own methods.
If you wind the clock back to early 2006, Packers GM Ted Thompson stunned the NFL world by choosing McCarthy as next head coach of the Green Bay Packers. People were stunned that Thompson would take an offensive coordinator from such a poor team (at that time) and make him the head man.
Turns out they weren't looking at the entire picture as Thompson was.
Despite coaching for teams that had lackluster records, McCarthy earned a reputation as a very good quarterbacks coach as seen by his work with Rich Gannon in Kansas City and Aaron Brooks in New Orleans. Both credited McCarthy with their rise in performance.
Oh yeah, that Rodgers guy he has now has turned out pretty well too.
Aaron Rodgers may indeed prove to be McCarthy's greatest legacy. Rodgers has stunned everyone except maybe himself and the Packers with his meteoric rise to the top of the quarterback ranks in the NFL. Rodgers had one season under Mike Sherman before McCarthy arrived into town.
McCarthy obviously knew what he had in Rodgers, which is why he and Thompson traded away Brett Favre two years ago.
Of course, all the coaches listed above were either a head coach or an assistant in a Super Bowl. McCarthy hasn't reached that point yet. The furthest he has gone was the NFC championship game.
That could very well change this year. The Packers offense has shown no signs of weakness two weeks into the preseason, despite a struggling defensive unit. The Packers are being touted by many as one of the favorites to not only play in, but win Super Bowl XLV in February.
If that does happen and McCarthy hoists the Lombardi Trophy, he will do so thanks in large part to a lot of hard work on his end. No one will be able to say that so-and-so's coaching tree sprouted a genius.
Heck, with a Super Bowl title, maybe McCarthy will start his own coaching tree. His assistant head coach, Winston Moss, has already interviewed for a few college head coaching jobs the past couple of years and a world title could finally land him one.
So maybe next time someone asks McCarthy "If you were a tree, what tree would you be?" McCarthy can just smile and answer.....