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.

You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at



6 thoughts on “Questioning Mike McCarthy’s Legacy

  1. I get it that we all want to see more championships, but to not get another ring would make him a “fart in the wind”??! I certainly don’t look at the Wolf/Holmgren era as such. It’s hard to win a Super Bowl in this age, and though I kind of expect another while Rodgers and Co. are active, I wouldn’t call the last few yr.s a waste of time by any means.

    1. Think you are misinterpreting a little bit. I would never say that the past few years have been a waste, far from it. After all, McCarthy has brought a Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay.

      But if his teams were to not even return to the Super Bowl, with all of their talent year after year, showcased by the best player in the game in Aaron Rodgers, that would be incredibly disappointing.

      Failure to return to the SB at least one more time could (would?) make the McCarthy era a fart in the wind in my opinion.

  2. Rehor, you need to give it up and play Madden where are a limited number of variables and you can control a lot of them.

  3. This is a dark and somewhat drastic turn from the land of rainbows and unicorns. One thing that I will say is this: if all things were considered equal (and I know they are not) then every NFL team has a 1/32 chance of winning the Super Bowl. Just 5 hours away from Green Bay the Vikings have been in the NFL for 52 years and never won one. I think that as Packers fans of this generation we are a little spoiled. I know Wolf said that they were a “fart in the wind”, but those Super Bowl XXXI and XXXII teams are respected and revered as will the 2010 team if (and I don’t think this is going to happen) this team never wins another one.

    1. Sorry Ross, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops all the time 🙂

      Let me ask you this: if the MM coached/Aaron Rodgers QBed Packers never win another Super Bowl, would you consider that to be a disappointment? What if they never even get back? How about then?

      That is what I am trying to drive home-the talent is there and has been there for several years now for a championship run. Yet something is preventing them from getting there. Is it McCarthy? How about Thompson? Rodgers? Capers? What is the underlying reason for why this team has failed to even return to a NFC Championship Game since the 2010 season?

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