In the final series of my unit grades, I put the magnifying glass over head coach Mike McCarthy. In such a light, every flaw is all the more obvious, and the heat can cause one to burst into flames.
Well, such would be the case if my opinion had any weight...
The first measurement of a head coach's success is obviously his win-loss record. Since these grades are based on 2009, the first thing to look at is the impressive 11-5 record obtained by the Green Bay Packers.
The next is the loss in their last playoff game, albeit one taken on the road.
But one also has to examine the talent he had to work with. And this always begs the question: Did the players succeed because of McCarthy or did McCarthy succeed because of the players?
One way to gauge which is which is to look at the past success of both entities. Unfortunately, McCarthy's prior career record of 27-21 (9-7 average, two games below the 2009 season) all came as coach of the Packers, and most of the youngest team in the NFL has never played elsewhere.
Thus, this also gives little comparison base. Even the turnaround from 2008 (6-10) offers little help, as McCarthy shared much of the blame for that failure with bad gameplanning late in contests, as outlined late in one of last season's analyses.
(See my grade for Ted Thompson on Lambeau Leap of Faith for a look at the talent McCarthy had to work with.)
However, one can put some credit for McCarthy on the turnaround after the loss in Tampa, with the Packers finishing 7-1 despite facing the toughest part of their schedule and with injuries piling up.
Of course, he also deserves some blame for the poor start to the season and the colossal collapse in that game.
So what else can we use to grade him?
Penalties. The Packers have ranked worst or second worst in both number of penalties and penalty yardage in each of the last two years, and averaged more than 1,000 penalty yards per season over the last three.
Sure, a young team is more prone to penalties. So is one that suffers injuries and has to put in a lot of back-ups. But if it is a problem year after year, the coach is at least partially responsible for the lack of discipline.
He is also not very good in instant replay challenges, although that is more a visible problem than a significant one.
What McCarthy has been good at is winning in the division. The Packers have won at least four of the six games in the division in every one of his four seasons at the helm, and they won four again in 2009.
This is the most important thing the coach can do to make his team successful.
He also has kept the team focused even through the injuries: In 2008, Green Bay had as many as five defensive starters out at one time; in 2009, they were without three of the top six cornerbacks injured for more than six games.
That takes coaching, especially when you already have little experience on your roster. (Could he share blame for the proliferation of injuries? Possibly, but visit PackerChatters to see my theory.)
In all, McCarthy brings more good to the table than bad, and that earns him a B.