January 13, 2006

New Coach

It did not take Green Bay's executives long to name a new coach. Pittsburgh native Mike McCarthy will be the fourteenth head coach of the Green Bay Packers, following in the storied footsteps of such legendary names as Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, and Mike Holmgren. Granted, the list of Green Bay's coaches also includes lesser lights like Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, Lindy Infante and Ray Rhodes. But although both Starr and Gregg had less-than winning records as coaches, their names are still spoken with great reverence along the banks of the Fox River.

Most recently he has been the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. But interestingly, McCarthy was Favre's quarterbacks coach in 1999. This raises an interesting question about whether Favre will retire or not; it's just possible he will be interested in working with a familiar face.

I'm not sure what to think of the choice. San Francisco's offense was anemic in the 2005 season, although it's unclear to me whether McCarthy is to blame for that or whether it's the result of not enough good personnel on the field (the GM's fault), or whether there were difficulties at a level other than McCarthy's (for instance, the offensive line rather than the offense as a whole). But on the other hand, he seems to inspire a lot of respect amongst the players and it is probably important for the team's future to have Favre (all hail) mentor Aaron Rodgers into the role of an NFL quarterback. But if our eyes are on the future we need to face the unpleasant prospect of a future without #4. One bad season is no reason for him to retire, to be sure, but there's more going on here than the fact that many critical players were too injured to play for most of the year. McCarthy's success or failure as a coach will be determined by factors other than his ability to keep Brett Favre playing for one more year.

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