Packers' McCarthy leads solid, retooled staff

BY foxsports • July 23, 2012

This is the 11th in a series of 13 previews leading up to the Green Bay Packers' July 26 start of camp.

July 10: Quarterbacks
July 11: Running backs
July 12: Wide receivers
July 13: Tight ends
July 16: Offensive linemen
July 17: Defensive linemen
July 18: Linebackers
July 19: Safeties
July 20: Cornerbacks
July 23: Specialists
July 24: Coaches
July 25: 5 things to accomplish in camp
July 26: Fans' guide to camp


Rating (1-to-10 scale): 9

Head coach: Mike McCarthy (seventh season), 68-36

Coordinators: Tom Clements, offense (first season in position, 17th in NFL); Dom Capers, defense (4th season in position, 26th in NFL)

Position coaches: Edgar Bennett, wide receivers; James Campen, offensive line; Jerry Fontenot, tight ends; Ben McAdoo, quarterbacks; Alex Van Pelt, running backs; Winston Moss, inside linebackers; Kevin Greene, outside linebackers; Darren Perry, safeties; Mike Trgovac, defensive line; Joe Whitt, cornerbacks.

From the top down: McCarthy has proven to be an outstanding hire for general manager Ted Thompson and the Packers. After inheriting a 4-12 team in 2005, McCarthy's six seasons have included a Super Bowl title, a 15-1 regular season, four playoff appearances and only one year with a losing record.

A significant part of McCarthy's contributions to the Packers has been the transition from veteran Brett Favre to a young Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Going from one win away from the Super Bowl in 2007 with Favre to a 6-10 record a year later with an unproven Rodgers was an incredibly challenging task. To then take that 6-10 team and turn it into what the Packers are now is remarkable.

McCarthy's reputation as a coach who can develop quarterbacks has also been taken to great heights. Not only can McCarthy boast about Rodgers' rise to superstardom, but also in taking Matt Flynn, a seventh-round pick, and getting him to perform at a level so great that several single-game franchise records were smashed. Flynn got too good to be a backup any longer, and, in large part due to McCarthy's grooming, now has a chance to be a starter in Seattle.

In addition to being the Packers' head coach, McCarthy is also the offensive play-caller. As a pass-first type of coach, McCarthy's teams have excelled through the air with Favre and Rodgers. However, McCarthy seems relatively disinterested in establishing a running game. That trend is growing now throughout the NFL, but McCarthy may perhaps be the most pass-happy out of all the league's head coaches.

Several members of McCarthy's coaching staff this upcoming season will be learning on the job. After Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was hired as the new Miami Dolphins head coach, a significant shuffling began. Clements moved from the quarterbacks coach up to offensive coordinator, McAdoo went from tight ends to quarterbacks, Fontenot left his spot with the running backs to coach the tight ends and Van Pelt was hired to take over the running back group. This is just one year after moving Bennett, a former NFL running back, over to coach wide receivers.

On paper, it doesn't appear to make a lot of sense. But McCarthy is confident that his group of coaches can transfer their general football knowledge and experience into new positions.

In most cases, the biggest adjustment would be for the coach moving up to offensive coordinator, but with McCarthy continuing his role as play-caller, it's not as substantial.

Therefore, it will likely be McAdoo with the most responsibility at his new spot. Rodgers loved working with Clements, and though those two will still be together in a lot of off-the-field scenarios, McAdoo has to find a way to make his mark. Transitioning from tight ends to quarterbacks is one thing, but when that quarterback is the NFL's Most Valuable Player, it adds greatly to the challenge.

Rising star: Moss appeared to be an early favorite to be the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders this offseason. It made sense, especially considering Moss' connection with newly-hired Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who had been in the Packers' front office. Though Moss didn't get that job, it won't be long before he does get an opportunity. In addition to coaching Green Bay's inside linebackers, Moss's title as assistant head coach has certainly helped his eventual rise up the coaching ranks and the way in which teams around the NFL view him. If the Packers' defense improves this upcoming season after a down year in 2011, Moss could easily be gone from Green Bay one year from now with a head coaching job elsewhere.

Ranking against the rest of the NFC North: 1. Packers, 2. Bears, 3. Lions, 4. Vikings. McCarthy and his staff are as good as it gets across the NFL. Chicago's Lovie Smith is back for a ninth season with the Bears. After great success in 2005 and ‘06, Smith's teams have been to the playoffs only once since. However, Smith's overall record of 74-60 is pretty solid. Detroit's Jim Schwartz has the difficult task of turning around one of the NFL's worst teams of the past several decades, with the Lions last winning a playoff game in 1991. Under Schwartz in 2011, Detroit had its first winning season since 2000 and appears on its way to being a serious threat in the division. Minnesota's Leslie Frazier is 6-16 so far as the Vikings' head coach. In a very difficult NFC North, Frazier has his work cut out for him to get Minnesota anywhere near playoff contention in the upcoming seasons.

McCarthy says: "I think it's important to have the proper mindset. To me, in our program we win and we learn. You have to learn from all your experiences regardless of how they turned out. It's important to us to learn from the last game. There will be things that we do in our training that will be emphasized more than maybe in the past from that experience."

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