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Total Packers Reveals Coach McCarthy’s Playbook

Ever since Big Mike promised in January there would be massive changes coming, he’s been making references to how he’s going to revamp the offensive playbook. What does he mean? What does a playbook look like? Will it help the Green Bay Packers reverse course in 2018?

Total Packers can now reveal that there’s been a leak: we are hereby exposing Big Mike’s playbook to our readers.

Okay, it’s not current. Okay, it’s not the Packers’ playbook. But it is Big Mike’s playbook – the one he was instrumental in formulating for the New Orleans Saints in 2004.

McCarthy in New Orleans

Jim Haslett, a former defensive coordinator for both the Saints and Steelers, was named head coach for New Orleans in 2000. Haslett took the reins from Mike Ditka, who had three losing seasons before him. A defensive strategist, Haslett hired Mike McCarthy to run his offense. McCarthy had been the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay.

For the next five years, the two oversaw a team that went 42-38. McCarthy then left to become offensive coordinator for a year for the 49ers. After Haslett compiled a 3-13 record in 2005, he was replaced as head coach by current coach Sean Payton.

In 2005, Big Mike guided the Niners’ offense to a 30th ranking in points scored and they were dead last in yards gained. Ted Thompson was somehow so impressed that he immediately hired McCarthy to be the Packers’ head coach in 2006.

Big Mike’s formative years in concocting offensive strategies and play calling took place in New Orleans. What we’ve discovered is the Saints’ offensive playbook for McCarthy’s final year there. Even though it’s dated, fans can get a rare glimpse into the contents of an NFL playbook.

You can see all 146 pages of it right here.

If nothing else, you can enjoy the creative “nomenclature” that McCarthy employed back in the day: Ace, Apache, Blast Waggle, Convoy, Flop, Hound 6, Jumbo, Leopard, Quad George, Slash Jack, Tip-Tap, U Force, Y-Stick Lion, Yum, Zip-Zap, Z-Snag…

Hundreds of Diagrams

Just a glimpse at this old playbook will tell you that Big Mike has long been dedicated to having a voluminous collection of plays, formations, options, and variations. At 146 pages, and often with six to 10 diagrams per page, it’s easy to see why fans so often observe confusion when Green Bay players line up – especially among the rookies and others new to the McCarthy playbook.

After almost 20 years of expanding playbooks, McCarthy says he wants to simplify things in 2018. He’s determined to start from scratch. While all the offensive coaches have input, any changes are going to be mostly a collaboration between McCarthy and returning offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. If they achieve their goal, will this materially affect the team’s prospects? Can this really affect scores and increase the team’s number of wins?

It ought to at least cut down on players running the wrong plays, receivers running the wrong routes and the like. It’s something to be watching for when the season gets underway.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Deepsky April 18, 2018

    You can find NFL playbooks for all of the previous Packer coaches online.

  2. Deepsky April 18, 2018

    You can find NFL playbooks for all of the previous Packer coaches online.

    Some college playbooks are even bigger.

  3. Dennis Dervetski April 18, 2018

    The players were often confused and schemes were weak. Key. Basic fundamentals, not learning or trying to learn 146 pages! Ask Capers about complicated schemes?

  4. Dennis Dervetski April 18, 2018

    We’ll see if MM actually does it? Ask Rodgers.

  5. Kato April 18, 2018

    Lol. Just glancing through some of this, this is a fairly basic playbook with some of the same terminology that that was used in my high school playbook. Same terminology for movements. While this is a pro style offense, and mine was predominately a wing T or power I offense, a lot of the terminology is the same

  6. Hinder April 18, 2018

    I heard that Fat Mike’s new play book reads as follows: “Aaron Rodgers takes the ball and runs around for awhile and then makes an unbelievable throw to a WR who is not open. ”
    He decided to only keep only the plays that work. That big laminated sheet he holds during the game is not a play sheet, it’s a Waffle House menu.

  7. PF4L April 19, 2018

    However you decipher the old playbook, doesn’t matter. What will matter…is new plays, language, new formations, plays that opposing defenses, don’t have memorized……yet.

    1. MJ April 19, 2018

      Yes, our offense is a highly complex and sophisticated system that takes years to learn. Unless of course, you play for the opposing defense.

  8. Howard April 19, 2018

    Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. Vince Lombardi

    1. Empacador April 19, 2018

      Amen, Howard. These guys all trying to outsmart everyone by being overly cute and complex.