Questioning Mike McCarthy’s Legacy


There are few coaches in the history of the Green Bay Packers who have the resume Mike McCarthy does.

An 80-42 regular season record (.656 winning percentage), franchise best 15-1 record in 2011, two trips to the NFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl title are just a few of the highlights of McCarthy’s seven year run as coach.

He has handled the incredibly high expectations placed on him and his team with class year after year, never wavering from his approach of bringing a world championship back to Green Bay upon his hiring in 2006.

But just how successful has McCarthy been?

Excluding the 2006 season, when much of the roster was gutted, McCarthy has had the luxury of having a Super Bowl caliber team. Ted Thompson has worked diligently during his tenure to consistently replenish the roster to ensure the Packers of being perpetually in the discussion of the league’s best teams.

Yet the Packers have been to only one Super Bowl in seven seasons under McCarthy.

Winning the Super Bowl is the goal of every team every year. For some teams, this goal may be a case of wishful optimism. But for the Packers, it is a legitimate goal. And with the exception of 2010, the Packers have failed to even advance to the Super Bowl, let alone win one.

Part of the blame, if not most of it, can be placed on the defense. Dom Capers’ crew has suffered epic breakdowns in three of the past four years during the playoffs, preventing the Packers from proceeding toward the ultimate goal.

Yet despite these breakdowns, McCarthy has stood by Capers, going so far as to get defensive in his own right when asked about Capers’ future this past January:

“That’s what knee-jerk reactive people do. You don’t make crazy decisions like this, especially a man of Dom Capers’ ability, his experience. I trust him, the level of responsibility he has with our coaching staff. I think it’s ridiculous that I have to answer the question, frankly. I’m appalled by it. ”

“There is a process that goes on. I would not do my job, I would not fulfill my responsibility, if I didn’t look at the job that Dom Capers has done, what Mike McCarthy has done, what Tom Clements has done, all the way down. I can promise you that’s what is going to happen. I don’t dig the drama stuff. I get the concern. We have great fans. But there are no decisions going to be made today. We’ve never operated that way and never will.”

While it is admirable that McCarthy has stood by his beleaguered defensive coordinator, meltdowns in the playoffs may ultimately cost McCarthy a chance to establish an even greater legacy in Packers’ history.

At some point, McCarthy has to lead the Packers back to the promised land. He has to find a way to guide his team back to the Super Bowl despite shortcomings from the defense, injuries, or whatever else may ail them.

The window on this team is going to begin to close. Aaron Rodgers will not always play like “Aaron Rodgers.” Clay Matthews will not always be “Clay Matthews.” And the rest of the league will have closed the gap on the Packers.

This is why McCarthy needs to take his team back to the Super Bowl soon. Failure to do so will be exceptionally disappointing, and will have a lasting effect on his legacy.

After all, they do not build statues in Green Bay for being very good in the regular season.

In order to be immortalized in bronze, you have to win multiple titles.

That should be the goal of Mike McCarthy. Not necessarily the statue, but being able to stand alongside Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi as the only coaches in Packers history to win multiple world championships.

The talent is there to do so, as it has been for several years.

Failure to make this happen, and the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy era may go down as being just another fart in the wind.



John Rehor is a writer at

He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.

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