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Is McCarthy Assembling a Winning Coaching Staff?

Here’s a collection of facts on four of the Green Bay Packers’ new coaches.

Defensive Newcomers

Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine

Age – 51
Experience – 16 years as a college or NFL coach
Highest Position – Head coach, Browns 2014-15
Team’s 2015 Record – Browns, 3-13
Notable Bosses – Rex Ryan, 2009-12
Notable Facts – lost 18 of his last 21 games with the Browns; out of coaching 2016 and 2017; consultant to the Seahawks in 2017; chosen over three Packers’ coaches for the job.

Defense – Run Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Patrick Graham

Age – 38
Experience – 16 years as a college or NFL coach
Highest Position – Linebackers Coach, Patriots 2014-15
Team’s 2017 Record – Giants, 3-13
Notable Bosses – Bill Belichick, 2009-15
Notable Facts – Super Bowl rings re the 2014 and 2016 Patriots

Offensive Newcomers

Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin

Age – 56
Experience – 34 years as a college or NFL coach
Highest Position – Head coach, Dolphins 2012-15
Team’s 2017 Record – Colts, 4-12
Notable Bosses – McCarthy (2003-11); Chuck Pagano (Colts, 2016-17)
Notable Facts – previously held the job under McCarty from 2007-11; his teams have had no winning records in last six years (Dolphins and Colts)

Quarterbacks Coach Frank Cignetti, Jr.

Age – 52
Experience – 29 years as a college or NFL coach, including five other NFL teams
Highest Position – Offensive coordinator, Rams, 2015
Team’s 2017 Record – Giants, 3-13
Notable Bosses – Jeff Fisher (Rams, 2012-16); Ben McAdoo (Giants, 2016-17)
Notable Fact – his teams (Rams and Giants) have had one winning season in last six years

Rising or Declining Careers?

Experience? In abundance, but is it the kind of experience a Super Bowl contender wants?

Pettine would be viewed by many as a falling star, having gone from being a head coach to out of the league for the past two years.

Philbin, like Pettine, compiled a losing record as a head coach, then took a lesser job with the Colts, who went 12-20 in his two years there.

Cignetti has also not met with much success lately – with the Rams and the Giants, he’s only been on one team with a winning record in his last six years.

I’m not worried about Patrick Graham’s one year with the 3-13 Giants. Before that, he spent seven years under the tutelage of Bill Belichick and his winning program at New England.

In their most recent year elsewhere, the above four coaches have compiled a cumulative record of 13 wins and 51 losses.

Other Coaching Staff Newcomers

The other incoming coaches are: Jim Hostler (Offense Pass Game Coordinator), Ryan Downard (Defensive Quality Control), and Maurice Drayton (Assistant Special Teams). A few others have stayed with the team, but have new titles and responsibilities. While they have less important coaching staff assignments, these three are relatively youthful, and might well move up the coaching tree in coming years.


If one views being part of a winning program as important, which I do, then McCarthy is one out of four in the above hirings. Patrick Graham is young and on the rise – and he was attached for seven years to the winningest NFL program. The other three – all of whom are being put into important positions – have met with little success of late, and have recently been with some very inferior NFL organizations.

It certainly isn’t fair to put a lot of blame for a team’s win-loss record on any coach other than the head coach. It’s concerning, however, to see that the vectors of three of these four heading downward for a while now. Maybe John Gruden already picked off all the young rising coaches to be on his Oakland Raiders staff?

In addition, it can be argued that the careers of some of the departed Packers’ coaches were on the rise. Edgar Bennett was quickly nabbed by Gruden. So was Mike Trgovac, the Raiders’ new defensive line coach. And it took Alex Van Pelt just a few days to be snapped up by the Bengals as their quarterbacks coach.

Maybe someone can explain to me how the popular Bennett can be given two promotions by Big Mike, including being named offensive coordinator in 2015, and then be unceremoniously dumped.

It appears that the newcomers to the Green Bay coaching staff were chosen largely because Mike McCarthy views them as a good fit – with himself. It would be an over-generalization to claim that Green Bay has become a place where unsuccessful coaches take refuge, but it’s hard to not see a pattern. I do think, however, that Mike Pettine is a gem of a pick and a big upgrade at defensive coordinator.

I had hoped that Big Mike would be attracting a few more rising, talented, creative, youthful, and even progressive coaches, and then placing them in key positions on his staff – and giving them some leeway in how they go about their jobs. Another lost opportunity.

Freed up from even nominal oversight by a general manager, McCarthy has quickly put his new power on full display with these sweeping coaching staff changes.

Every day, in every way, the Packers destiny becomes more dependent on the leadership of Mike McCarthy.

Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”



  1. CZ Stevens January 29, 2018

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    13 wins and 51 losses…
    that’s 13 wins in 64 games…
    that’s a 20 percent win percentage,
    ie an 80 percent losing record.

    Forget about this new group of coaches bringing us fans a perfect season, unless it is Perfect as in Cleveland Browns, perfect season way….

    But maybe it is realistic to hope for these 80 pct losers to generate 80 pct wins … if Aaron with Danika is better than Aaron with Olivia.

    But if Rodgers gets hurt, continuing to invest in one of Aaron Roger’s backups … one who cannot throw from the pocket, who must scramble to see open receivers over tall linemen shoulder pads is not going to help our chances, no matter how great or feeble the coaches perform.

  2. Cheese January 29, 2018

    “Every day, in every way, the Packers destiny becomes more dependent on the leadership of Mike McCarthy.”

    Essentially, that’s what a head coach is for. Unfortunately, for far too long, McCarthy has ignored the rest of the team to focus on the progressively stale offense so he can pretend like he’s still an offensive coordinator. Hopefully these new coordinators, both failed head coaches (and Philbin isn’t really new), can bring something to the table. Were they the victims of bad teams? Browns and Dolphins, you could definitely argue that. Or can they be described by the Peter principle? Either way, neither of them are head coaches anymore unless McCarthy gets the boot, which is almost laughable to think about with Murphy in charge.

  3. Empacador January 29, 2018

    Kind of disingenuous focusing on a last losing season rather than their entire body of work. For example, Pettine was 7-9 his first season as Cleveland HC but you chose to only include the 3-13 season. Cignetti and Graham were both on the Giants staff that went 11-5 in 2016. I didn’t see Graham only being with the Giants 1 season. We can cherry pick what we want to make these guys look better or worse. Personally I think Pettine replacing Capers was a huge step in the right direction and key.

    However I also feel the organization took 2 steps back with their new “structure” and we will all be forced to play wait and see. I’m pretty certain McCarthy having his hands on anything is going to be a detriment in some way no matter what. Of course he could change from what we’ve witnessed from his first 12 years on the job, but I won’t hold my breath. The McCarthy ship has run its course, the front office is just too stupid/stubborn to see it. I’m afraid by the time they realize this, it will be too late. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. Pete D January 30, 2018

    Head Coaches who get fired and then re-hired as coordinators typically thrive, i.e. Jim schwartz, wade phillips, josh mcdaniels, the list goes on

    Capers fit in this bucket and he was great for a few years. He just got old and lazy, didn’t want to evolve.

    Pettine is still pretty young. That’s important.

    1. Cheese January 30, 2018

      Capers was great for one year, that’s it. They went from the 5th best defense in the league to 32nd the next year and haven’t done much since.