The Pros and Cons of Keeping Mike McCarthy as the Head Coach of Green Bay
At 8-6, the Green Bay Packers have truly taken hits everywhere. The roster has been injury plagued all season, they have never been fully healthy all season. Clock management has been horrid, particularly in the last couple of close losses. The Packers can't seem to finish off games, penalties remain an underlying issue, and special teams remains unbalanced.
With all of these problems, one thinks McCarthy should still be fired, but I don't attribute too much of the season's disappointment to him. Much of the troubles again go back to the injury plagued roster, as at least three starters were lost to season ending injury on both offense and defense for the Packers.
So overall, McCarthy returns, but next year WILL be a make or break year for him.
So, why does McCarthy deserve to return?
Pro: Quarterback Development and Offensive Potential
What people do fail to notice about McCarthy sometimes is what he brings does to a football team offensively. The last few seasons have seen good offensive production, with the exception of an up and down offensive line, though that has become more stabilized with future tackles in Bryan Bulaga and possibly Marshall Newhouse.
McCarthy has another good habit: he develops his quarterbacks well. Rodgers has benefited from his system, and some credit can be given to McCarthy for developing Matt Flynn into a solid backup for the past three years. Packers fans should have McCarthy and Thompson to thank for the successful development of Rodgers.
Where McCarthy excels most is the passing game. His play calling in the passing game is pretty consistent, and he is able to keep a solid corps of receivers on the team in Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. All of these players benefit the best in McCarthy's offensive system.
Con: Clock Management And Special Teams
One of the biggest reasons McCarthy has been criticized has been due to the large number of penalties the Packers commit each year. Green bay has been among the leading teams in penalties the last couple of years. This in turn could point to discipline issues and whether McCarthy appears to really emphasize it.
Special teams has been a big concern from 2009 and 2010. In 2009, it was the slump of kicker Mason Crosby, inconsistent punt and kick returners, along with inconsistent punt and kick return units. Special teams remains inconsistent; while Crosby is out of his slump, there is still little spark at kick and punt returns, and the coverage teams cost the packers against the Bears and the Patriots.
Both Pro and Con: Play Calling
When Ryan Grant went down, so did the Packers Running Game
Just as McCarthy's offense is an asset, it has become a little of a liability in 2010. When Ryan Grant went down for the season in Week 1 against the Eagles, the play calling changed completely: McCarthy stayed less committed to the run, and the result became easier for opposing defenses, as there was no need to worry about the threat of Ryan Grant in the backfield.
Even tough this is a pass first league, a running game must be there to open up a team's passing game. Everybody complained about Ryan Grant, underestimating him. Once he was gone, everybody realized how much he really meant to the Packers running game. McCarthy should have stayed committed to the run even without Grant. Jackson, Nance, and Starks showed signs, but McCarthy never gave then the ball enough on hand offs.
On the other hand, when his offenses are healthy and running smoothly, McCarthy's offenses are arguably among the best in the NFL. When supplied with a running back that commands a defenses respect, it opens up McCarthy's West Coast offense to use his deep threat passing game. Fans must give McCarthy credit: he knows exactly what he needs in his offenses, and how to put them together.
This is seen through his effective use of offensive skill positions in Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and again, the development of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn.