Mike McCarthy

It’s polling season over at ESPN and those clowns polled some general manager and assistant coach types about who they think the best coaches in the NFL are. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy came in sixth, but that really wasn’t terribly notable as far as we were concerned.

For the record, these are the guys that were ranked ahead of him: New England’s Bill Belichick, Seattle’s Pete Carroll, New Orleans’ Sean Payton, Kansas City’s Andy Reid and the Giants’ Tom Coughlin.

McCarthy was tied for sixth with Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.

We don’t have much of an argument with any of that, except maybe Andy Reid. He’s the only non-Super Bowl winning coach in the top five. We’d probably put Tomlin higher as well.

The poll placed coaches in tiers and McCarthy came out as a second-tier coach. What’s really interesting are the reasons why McCarthy wasn’t voted higher.

“I like him as a head coach and would love to work for him,” one veteran assistant coach said. “I think Mike is a great offensive coordinator who has done some pretty good things as a head coach, but defensively and on special teams, they have never done well enough up there. There is something missing in the program.”

If that isn’t it in a nutshell, we don’t know what is.

What unit has been dragging the Packers down since 2011? The defense. What unit has been consistently bad year after year under McCarthy? Special teams.

You do what you know and McCarthy knows offense and planning. He’s surrounded himself with guys who know defense — Dom Capers, a former head coach and long-time defensive coordinator — and, supposedly, special teams — Shawn Slocum, who probably knows where some bodies are buried.

And up until this point, McCarthy has let those guys handle their units while he’s stuck to the offense.

That is, until this offseason. After another season where the Packers fielded a porous defense, McCarthy decided he was going to be more hands on with that unit.

That’s one way to go about affecting change.

The other way is to hit refresh on the staff.

A former GM said he thought McCarthy needed to “fix the staff defensively” while noting that the head coach must coach the coaches, not just the players.

This point goes hand in hand with the first. Up until this point, McCarthy has been hands off with everything but the offense. Here Dom, you do it.

He’s trusted in his top assistants. Maybe too much.

Becoming more involved with the defense, or at least with the guys who coach the defense, could ultimately be what makes McCarthy a better coach.

It would probably also help if he found someone competent to coach special teams, but that’s another story.