The Green Bay Packers are one of the league's most exciting teams in the league with players like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley and Clay Matthews getting most of the attention. On a team filled with weapons both on offense and defense, the biggest weapon of the Packers is head coach Mike McCarthy.
On the day before the Super Bowl, following the team's last meeting leading up to the big game, McCarthy told his players to make sure they stopped at a card table set up outside the room. As the players filed out, they were met by representatives of Jostens to be fitted for rings.
Having his players fitted for rings the day prior to the big game shows the kind of confidence that McCarthy possesses. He isn't afraid to speak his mind regarding his football team. He will blatantly tell reporters his opinion of the team and where they stand.
McCarthy's play-calling throughout the Packers six-game winning streak was absolutely marvelous. He not only had his players fired up and ready to go, but he put them in position to win individual battles and to then be successful as a team.
When the nation had already decided the Patriots would blow out the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 14, McCarthy told his team that they were nobody's underdogs. It seemed as if McCarthy was just saying what he was expected to say before his team walked into an impossible challenge.
His players received the message. They bought into McCarthy's confidence and took the field like warriors.
He opened the game with a surprise onside kick that set the tone for the visiting Packers. Even though they lost the game, McCarthy's boys realized they could compete with any team in the league even without their leader.
As the Packers get ready to open their 2011 campaign, McCarthy isn't letting anybody get lost in the success of last year. From the beginning of camp he has drilled his players on the notion that last season is history. This new season is a new opportunity with new challenges.
McCarthy has become the Packers' biggest weapon. He has groomed Aaron Rodgers into the quarterback he is today through his offseason quarterback school. When Ryan Grant was injured and the Packers run game was brutal, McCarthy figured out ways to work around this by drawing up and calling more short routes and screens.
This season, McCarthy should have the luxury of a much improved running game to go with this already top-of-the-league passing attack. This balance will allow him even more freedom in his play calling.
One of the things McCarthy does best is creating mismatches for his players. He has the wide receivers learn all three of the receiving positions so that throughout the game they can shift around and give the defense a plethora of different looks.
McCarthy will also have the benefit of using one of the leagues biggest nightmare mismatches, Jermichael Finley. He has a stable of young weapons on offense that can all contribute as they bring different aspects to the offense.
This isn't to say McCarthy is the perfect coach. There were times last season that left Packers fans scratching their heads and times they called for his replacement. He makes mistakes just like everybody else on the team. McCarthy has shown that he deserves the respect and trust of Packers fans.
If the Packers are going to repeat, the biggest piece of the puzzle is getting the players to buy in to McCarthy's new philosophy for the season. If they adopt his new messages this season that they aren't defending anything and are now fighting for a new title, the Packers very well could have their fifth Lombardi Trophy come February and a very deserving Coach of the Year candidate.