With Todd Bowles likely on the way out at the end of the season, we are going to take a look at some of the potential candidates to replace him. Whenever we do something like this, there are some typical criticisms that always pop up like, “Why profile this guy? He stinks!” and “He won’t be interested.” We aren’t just profiling the good candidates or suggesting these people are all likely to take the job. We are simply looking at people the Jets could reasonably expected to call.
Today’s candidate: Mike McCarthy
Category: NFL Retread
Current Job: Unemployed
Years of NFL Coaching Experience: 26
Head Coaching Experience: Green Bay Packers (2006-2018)
- 125-77-2 career record.
- 6 division titles.
- Super Bowl XLV champion.
- Oversaw development of Aaron Rodgers.
- Overcame great adversity in Super Bowl season as McCarthy’s Packers won the championship despite having 16 players end up on injured reserve.
- Did a good job developing young talent early in his tenure.
- Bought into a front office approach of building almost exclusively through the Draft and avoiding free agency. While the strategy’s merits are up for debate, this shows he is a team player.
- Experienced head coach who has dealt with a spotlight team.
- Near the end of his tenure, it seemed like Aaron Rodgers’ greatness was masking a ton of flaws.
- McCarthy hasn’t adjusted his offense to modern innovations. His scheme has become stale, uncreative, and behind the times.
- Shaky in-game coach.
- Coaching staff hires have become increasingly mediocre near the end of his tenure.
The Bottom Line:
Depending on your perspective, Mike McCarthy is either an excellent coach whose worth is proven by his great record or a mediocre coach who has been lucky to be attached to Aaron Rodgers for most of his career.
The funny thing is that I actually believe both of these things are true to some degree. Early in his career I think McCarthy did an excellent job running the Packers. It’s easy to forget, but Rodgers was not a “can’t miss” prospect. He had a mighty fall on Draft day. I believe some of Rodgers’ development has to be credited to McCarthy. And I think the job he did in 2010 guiding the Packers through an unfathomable number of injuries to a championship is one of the most underrated coaching jobs in recent memory.
As time has gone on, though, I think McCarthy’s performance has dipped. He stuck with previously effective assistants too long past their expiration dates. He also hasn’t stayed with the latest innovations on offense, and his system has become outdated. Just listen to any Packers fan complain about how his offensive system never schemed anybody open.
McCarthy to me is like the business that used to be at the top of its industry but fell behind more innovative competitors because it refused to change.
I don’t think he’s as bad as his biggest critics would charge. I’ve seldom heard a less legitimate criticism of a coach than from people who say McCarthy “only” won one championship with Aaron Rodgers. Look, it’s really tough to win even one championship. Lots of great players never do. Don Shula was one of the greatest coaches in football history. Know how many championships he won with Dan Marino, one of the greatest pure passers ever? Zero.
With that said, for the last few years I have gotten the impression watching that Packers that their success was all about Aaron Rodgers covering for the organization’s flaws. I don’t think that team’s coaching has moved the needle in a positive direction in a long time, and I believe a lot of it has to do with McCarthy falling behind the times.
Teams frequently replace the coach they just fired with somebody who is a polar opposite. In Todd Bowles, the Jets had an inexperienced, defensive minded coach. The opposite of that would be an experienced coach and a proven winner with an offensive background. That’s McCarthy.
But I think this shows why teams shouldn’t base their decisions making a checklist of superficial attributes like this. I don’t think McCarthy would be the worst possibility for the Jets, but I am also skeptical he would be the right fit. The case for him is too much based on his past work rather than whether his approach will work in the NFL of the present and the future. I’m not sure he can win big unless he makes some big changes to his approach.