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McCarthy’s job shouldn’t be in jeopardy

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Brian Carriveau
December 22, 2010

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s job should be safe after this season.


As for some of his assistants, that’s another story.


Some fans have questioned McCarthy’s job security after his team’s loss to the New England Patriots. Specifically, they point to his record in close games.


Sunday’s loss marked the sixth time this season the Packers have lost a game by four points or less. McCarthy’s career record in such games is 5-16, certainly a disturbing trend.


“You’re supposed to be in every game,” McCarthy said after the Patriots game. “I don’t think I’d feel better if we lost by 21 points. You compete every week in this league—I think it says something about our football team.


“We come out here to compete and expect to win every game. Every time we line up, we expect to win, period, and we didn’t get it done tonight.”


Despite the inability to win close games, McCarthy shouldn’t be on the proverbial chopping block even if the Packers manage to lose the remaining two games this season.


Worst-case scenario, the Packers finish 8-8. In McCarthy’s five seasons, he’ll have had only one season with a sub-.500 record—when the Packers finished 6-10 in 2008.


A few observers have argued that the Packers aren’t a Super Bowl-caliber team with McCarthy in charge. But the fact is, only one of 32 head coaches in the NFL will win the Super Bowl in any given year.


McCarthy’s 46-32 career record has earned him another opportunity next season, at the very least.


The key pieces—Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson—will still be intact for what should be another competitive team next year. And the odds seem to be in Green Bay’s favor that it won’t place another 14 players on injured reserve next year.


As for some of the assistant coaches, it may be time to make a change. Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum and offensive line coach James Campen are under the microscope, and the remaining two games could go a long way toward determining their status for future seasons.


When 313-pound Patriots guard Dan Connolly set an NFL record for the longest kick return by an offensive lineman with a 71-yard romp by the Green Bay’s coverage unit, the Packers’ special teams became the butt of jokes throughout the league.


“When you kick the ball, you would like to kick it to an offensive lineman,” said McCarthy. “That should be a positive for a kickoff coverage team, so we did a very poor job there tackling.”


Unfortunately, that play typified what has been second-rate special-teams play since McCarthy has been coach.


The offensive line play has been similarly underwhelming. While it has been better than a season ago when the Packers gave up a league-leading 51 sacks, there’s still room for improvement.


In the past two weeks, losses to the Lions and Patriots—games with playoff implications—the Packers have given up four and five sacks, respectively.


True, the Packers had possibly their best rushing performance of the season at New England. But they rarely seem able to put together the complete game, rushing and passing.


Perhaps they can be more consistent with a change in personnel next season, particularly on the left side of the line. Either way, with a change in coaches or a change in players, the route the team takes next season will be vital to the offense’s success.


McCarthy got good results when he overhauled the defensive coaching staff two seasons ago. By adding coordinator Dom Capers and a some new position coaches, the Packers’ defense is now among the best in the league.


If the same can be done with the special teams and perhaps with the offensive line, it could be the missing piece between becoming a Super Bowl team and another also-ran.



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