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New Head Cheese in Green Bay (01/18/2006)
By Dave DeLano


     
Ted Thompson didn't take too long to name the 14th coach in Packer history"¦he is Mike McCarthy. McCarthy is a 42-year-old Pittsburgh native with a pretty extensive coaching background including a one-year stint as a Packer assistant back in 1999. The son of a firefighter/bar owner, McCarthy brings a blue collar background to the Packers. He also becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL.

McCarthy's first order of business is to assemble a coaching staff, and it appears that Ted Thompson is allowing him to make those decisions. Gone are the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, defensive coordinator, special teams coach and more. McCarthy's first move was to bring in another former Packer assistant coach, Jeff Jagodzinski, as offensive coordinator. Jagodzinski and McCarthy have some history working together. Jagodzinski's forte is a powerful running scheme utilizing "area blocking"¯ which is quite different from the scheme the Packers have run for many years. As I understand it, "area,"¯ or zone blocking, requires linemen to maul away at defenders and allows the running back to pick his course depending on which direction the defender is moved.

The run blocking scheme formerly deployed by the Packers required a good deal of "pulling"¯ by the lineman"¦running to a space and picking out a defender to block "on the move,"¯ which requires more athleticism from the big guys up front. Before the start of last season the Packers lost their two athletic guards due to free agency and replaced them with two larger but less athletic players. Whittiker and Klemm were not able to contribute what their predecessors had and consequently the running game suffered all year in the previous scheme. Perhaps this change of strategy will align better with the talents of the current personnel.

Jim Bates is gone as defensive coordinator and there are large boots to fill. Bates was disappointed because Thompson passed him over for the head Packer job, but as with any management change, it is natural for the new head guy to want to surround himself with people he is comfortable with and that usually means those he has hired. The "help wanted"¯ sign is out in Green Bay for someone to take over the defense.

Noticeably absent from all the changes are any comments from Brett Favre. Favre has not committed to playing next season, and he must be contemplating a lot of factors as he makes his decision of whether or not to return to the gridiron. McCarthy and Thompson have reached out to him and said they want him back, but I don't know if he wants to go through a rebuilding season at this stage of his career. Change can be either good or bad but it is always inevitable. 

 

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