McCarthy criticized at times, but fans know coach’s value

Doc Rivers’ trade to L.A. Clippers sparks question: What would McCarthy bring?
It is the type of hypothetical question raised by afternoon sports radio hosts in late June: In light of the Celtics’ trading coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers for a 2015 first-round pick Monday, what would the Packers have to get in a trade for Mike McCarthy?
Eric, the first caller, made it clear he wouldn’t trade the Packers’ coach within the NFC. Then, after a pause, he added, “Or the NFC.” Then, upon further review, he said, “I don’t think you could get enough.”
Nathan, the second caller, said, “First of all, McCarthy’s got a 74-38 record, he’s 6-4 in the playoffs and he’s won a Super Bowl. You’d have to get at least two first-round picks and send him to a team like Buffalo or Tennessee that can’t come back to haunt the Packers.”
Do I hear three first-round picks?
Absolutely, according to Justin, who would need three first-round picks plus a starting-caliber inside linebacker to replace Desmond Bishop.
Granted, Packers’ fans tend to overrate their own. It wouldn’t be out of the question to hear a fan suggest Green Bay trade running back Alex Green for – geez whiz – the Bears’ Matt Forte and a late-round pick. That’s the extreme example, but fans know what I’m talking about.
In McCarthy’s case, a lighthearted question on a hot June Monday in the height of sports’ dead zone actually proved to be enlightening.
Ultimately, callers decided that unless the Packers could get Ravens coach John Harbaugh and a first-round pick, they wouldn’t do it. Most felt the Packers couldn’t get enough in a trade to replace him.
That’s high praise coming from a fan base that occasionally (like the day after a Packers’ loss) becomes unglued over something McCarthy did, or didn’t do, to win a game.
That is the nature of the NFL, I suppose, where every loss seems like the end of the world. Although Packers Nation does its share of whining and moaning, when push came to shove, they rallied around the coach.
McCarthy, whose teams are 80-42 including playoffs, receives a fair amount of criticism from both media and fans – though I’m not sure the criticism is always fair.
Here are some statistics involving the coach:

  • He needed just 114 games to reach 75 victories which ties Philadelphia’s Andy Reid (now in Kansas City) for the fastest to 75 wins among active coaches.
  •  Since McCarthy took over in 2006, the Packers are tied for No. 2 with Indianapolis in the NFL for the best regular-season win percentage (.661). New England is tops in that span at a .786 clip.
  •  In five of seven seasons here, McCarthy’s teams have finished at .500 or better on the road. In 2011, the Packers went 7-1 on the road to establish the franchise record for road wins in a season.

This offseason, McCarthy has acted swiftly and confidently. He reshuffled the offensive line with a sense of certainty. He watched the Packers draft two running backs (Eddie Lacey and Johnathan Franklin) and two offensive linemen (J.C. Tretter and David Bakhtiari) and after a recent minicamp proclaimed: “The run game will be better. You can write that in big letters.”
McCarthy’s assistants have communicated his message of urgency and improvement among veterans as well as newcomers. In fact, assistants such as receivers coach Edgar Bennett said that all the receivers can and must improve. That observation included James Jones, who was coming off a career year, and Randall Cobb, who just keeps getting better.
Clearly, McCarthy has set the tone going into training camp.
That sense of urgency stems to nine of 10 practices set for 8:20 a.m. right out of the gate.
What is McCarthy’s value? Ask the New Orleans Saints, who went from Super Bowl contender to 7-9 after thought without coach Sean Payton. The Packers might be 8-8 simply because of the great Aaron Rodgers, but anything beyond that requires a top-flight head coach.
Another words, an NFL head coach like Mike McCarthy.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.