It feels like forever since Mike McCarthy was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
That might be in part that the Packers are doing so well in rookie head coach Matt LaFleur’s first season. I think I speak for all fans when I say that none of us thought that the Packers would be sitting as good as they are thus far. It has been like night and day from the previous two seasons. That isn’t to take away from the Mike McCarthy legacy. McCarthy will be remembered for years as one of the best head coaches in Packers history.
He took the 2019 season off to recharge his batteries, which might have been wise. It’s a shame to see so many great head coaches fall victim to the coaching burnout. A little time away from the game can do a coach good. McCarthy has used the 2019 season to study up on the game.
More time to watch tape. More time to study trends. More time to scan potential candidates that he wants on his next coaching staff.
It almost reminds me of Jon Gruden, who took much more than just a season off to prepare for a coaching comeback. Gruden has frequently stated how being a broadcaster has helped him keep up with the game. He had the opportunity to get a look in to what all 32 clubs were doing around the league and how they operate.
I don’t envision McCarthy in a broadcasting booth…at least not yet. Gruden had the personality to be a color commentator. He was quick witted, energetic, and entertaining. McCarthy’s personality reminds me more of a general. His attitude never gets too high or too low. Rather than heading to the booth, I think McCarthy will find himself strolling the sidelines in 2020, trying again to reach the top of the football world.
There’s a few teams that I think McCarthy would fit. He is a great offensive coach who seems like he would do well with a somewhat already established offense. Some of the pieces to the puzzle would have to be there, I feel, for him to take a job. At his point in his career, McCarthy would want a team that he can get on track quick. Here’s just a couple of teams that we could see the former Packer coaching at in 2020:
This one makes the most sense to me. McCarthy is a Pittsburgh native who would love to go back home and turnaround the hometown team. He would enter with a veteran quarterback in Ben Rothlisburger to operate his offense, one of which I feel would mold to McCarthy’s style. We all remember the west coast offense he installed in Titletown. Quick throws and ball control is the name of the game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster would be a talented player that McCarthy could get creative with in the pass game. He can really open things up in both the short and deep passing game. I always liked McCarthy’s route combinations early in his time in Green Bay, especially in the electric season in 2011. It always seemed to keep defensive backs on their toes. The Steelers also have a decent back in James Conner, which opens up the pass game even more. If McCarthy goes to any team, I would love to see him in Pittsburgh.
The Cowboys are currently sitting at 6-4, but if Dallas fails to make the playoffs in 2019, I could seriously see the Cowboys parting ways with Jason Garrett.
Dallas has the pieces on both offense and defense to be a decent team. Dak Prescott is an electric player who brings a lot to the table. We’ve seen time and again how the Cowboys open things up in the pass game, especially with the RPO. McCarthy tried to get more into the RPO game late in his time in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. While I don’t mind the scheme, I don’t feel like that’s the style that McCarthy wants to go with. The good thing about Dak is he is as decent in the pocket as he is running the RPO. Again, that opens up the playbook for their offense.
Zeke Elliott will be another key piece to the Cowboys offense. With the exception of a young Aaron Jones, he never had a back to build his running game around in Green Bay. Ahman Green played only 2 seasons in the McCarthy offense (2006, 2009). Ryan Grant had an average career during his time in Green Bay (2007-2011) but fumbling issues and an ankle injury seemed to hold him back from being a standout back in the league. Eddie Lacy had a promising career, but was abruptly ended after the 2016 season. That being said, if given the opportunity to coach one of the best backs in the league, I feel like McCarthy would jump at the opportunity.
The Redskins are currently looking for a new head coach to lead their franchise after parting ways with Jay Gruden. The Redskins would be one of the biggest challenges for McCarthy. Their offense has question marks all around it, most notably at the quarterback position. Alex Smith may not be the same when he is able to return, or if Haskins could possibly win the job if he performs well for the remainder of the season.
Washington started the 2018 season hot and looked like a team who could make some noise in the postseason. After the injury to Smith those dreams started to fade. McCarthy could bring the vision that the Redskins need. I feel like a veteran coach with experience is exactly what they need. Somebody who has been to the highest level and knows what it takes to revive a franchise, which is exactly what he did in Green Bay. McCarthy has the blueprint to what it takes to turn things around.
All of these scenarios are simply speculation, but the more I think about it the more real it seems that he could land at one of these teams, and possibly others. Matt LaFleur is the exception with rookie head coaches this season. For the most part, they are struggling. The Browns, Dolphins, Jets, Bengals, and Broncos could all be possibilities to have head coaching vacancies. It all depends on how much the front office wants to put up with.
Given the track record that rookie coaches are having, I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams go with a seasoned veteran to lead their club back to prominence.
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