In this Oct.
12, 2014, file photo, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy
gestures during the second half of an NFL football game against
the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Admitting that he is
"going to miss it," Packers coach McCarthy said Thursday, Feb.
12, 2015, that he will give up his job calling plays for Aaron
Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense. McCarthy is
handing off play-calling duties to Tom Clements, whom he
promoted from offensive coordinator to associate head coach.
GREEN BAY —
Admitting that he is "going to miss it," Packers coach Mike
McCarthy said Thursday that he will give up his job calling plays for
Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense.
The decision is part
of a significant shake-up on that side of the ball, where the Packers
led the NFL in scoring in 2014 and Rodgers won his second NFL MVP
McCarthy is handing
off play-calling duties to Tom Clements, whom he promoted from
offensive coordinator to associate head coach. Edgar Bennett was named
offensive coordinator, while Bennett's responsibilities as the wide
receivers coach were given to Alex Van Pelt, who will now coach both
quarterbacks and receivers.
In addition, McCarthy
promoted Ron Zook to special teams coordinator to replace Shawn
Slocum, who was fired Jan. 30, and promoted Jason Simmons to Zook's
former position as assistant special teams coach. Former Oklahoma
defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery was
hired to help coach the defensive front, and ex-San Francisco 49ers
offensive line coach Mike Solari was added to help offensive line
coach James Campen.
"It's going to
make us better. I'm very confident in that. That's why I did it,"
said McCarthy, who is entering his 10th season as head coach and had
called the plays on offense since he was hired in January 2006.
"It's fun to
call plays on Sundays," he said. "Don't get me wrong. It's
probably something I enjoyed it more than anything as far as the game.
There's nothing like Sundays. ... To go out there and compete against
the coordinator or who's across the field is something I've taken a
lot of pride in, had success in, really enjoyed. But this change and
the confidence I have in Tom and Aaron, I feel great about it and
we'll be better for it."
The sweeping changes
come less than a month after the Packers' 28-22 overtime loss to the
Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. Green Bay blew a 16-0
halftime lead and a 19-7 lead in the final five minutes.
"The reason to
do this is about winning championships. That part never changes,"
McCarthy replied when asked if the changes are a response to that
game. "This process that I go through is the same each and every
year. This is not the first time I thought about this. I (just) think
this is the time to do it. I think our staff's ready. I think it's an
opportunity for guys to grow.
"I feel we'll be
better offensively from that," he said. "I know I have a lot
more to offer to our football team. We're going to get that. This is a
decision that's made over the long haul. One game doesn't make
decisions on how you run your program. Never has been, never will be
It was clear that the
decision in part has to do with getting McCarthy more involved with
special teams. Two of the game-changing plays against the Seahawks
occurred on special teams: Seattle scored a touchdown on a fake field
goal that McCarthy later acknowledged came with Packers in the wrong
call defensively. The Seahawks also recovered an onside kick with 2
minutes to play when tight end Brandon Bostick tried to field the ball
instead of blocking as he was supposed to do.
"I think special
teams is always under the microscope because it's one play," said
Zook, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers' special teams coach from 1996
through 1998. "You don't get second down or third down on special
teams. It's one play and that's what people remember."
McCarthy didn't sound
concerned about being less involved offensively and went so far as to
say that the change should benefit Rodgers, whom he said has "an
excellent working relationship" with Clements and Van Pelt.
"I think you
know me well enough that big changes aren't anything I do in
haste," McCarthy said. "I will split my time equally with
offense, defense and special teams. Obviously, with my past duties I
did not do that. I'm excited about the improvement we'll make with