By now you’ve all probably read Bob McGinn’s piece in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the Packers talking to Mike McCarthy about a contract extension. McCarthy signed a 5-year deal in the spring of 2011 that runs through the end of the 2015 season.
McCarthy and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will have nine NFL drafts under their belts after this week. That’s a remarkable stretch of organizational consistency and one of the benefits of not having a “real” owner. God knows what someone like Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones would have done before, during and after the Favre divorce.
But the past doesn’t mean much in the NFL. We’re all happy for McCarthy and Thompson’s long working relationship and the Packers philosophy of not emotionally overreacting to organizational adversity by handing out pink slips. That philosophy, however, doesn’t protect the Packers from having to make difficult decisions.
One of those difficult decisions is whether to extend McCarthy’s contract well before it’s due to expire. It appears that the Packers are looking to do just that, and I agree with their decision.
One of the points McGinn made in his piece revolved around the wisdom of extending McCarthy before the Packers know for sure if Thompson will want to sign another contract after the GM’s deal runs out following the 2016 draft. It’s worth thinking about — if the Packers bring a new general manager, odds are good he will want to hire his own head coach. That organizational stability could go out the window if a new GM asks to fire McCarthy with 3 years and $20 million left on his contract.
But is that reason enough to not extend McCarthy? The Packers think highly of McCarthy as a head coach and I happen to agree with them. I wouldn’t want to risk losing McCarthy simply because Thompson might be close to calling it a career.
Packers fans, myself included, can get quite angry at McCarthy for certain playcalls during games. I got news for ya: Fans of the other 31 NFL teams do the same thing every Sunday. McCarthy is a good coach and the Packers would be wise to keep him around beyond his current contract. Here are a few reasons why:
- According to Football Outsiders, the Packers have been one of the most injury-plagued teams in the NFL during McCarthy’s tenure. Nonetheless, McCarthy has a .646 winning percentage, a Super Bowl trophy, four division titles and two appearances in the NFC championship game.
- Some credit Aaron Rodgers, not McCarthy, for the Packers success despite all the injuries. Rodgers deserves plenty of credit, but so does McCarthy for working to develop Rodgers and navigate the organization through the Favre-to-Rodgers transition.
- Under Thompson, the Packers roster is constantly turning over and always filled with young and unproven players. It takes a coach with a steady hand to develop all of the new players and ensure that the highs are never too high and the lows too low.
Of course, it’s not all duckies and bunnies with McCarthy. The coach’s critics will point to the team’s near-collapse last season after Rodgers got hurt and the yet-to-be-fixed holes on defense as two major reasons to not go all-in on McCarthy. I don’t disagree with those criticisms, but from where I view it, the good far out-weighs the bad with McCarthy.
Mike McCarthy has won in Green Bay despite a slew of injuries and rosters filled with players who are young and inexperienced. He’s also helped develop the league’s best quarterback and keeps his teams focused through various sticky situations.
Like any coach, McCarthy has his faults. But those faults aren’t glaring enough to not bring McCarthy back for another run. Extend his contract and let the winning continue.