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Calling the shots: NFL head coaches who refuse to give up playcalling.

Mike McCarthy climbed the ranks in the NFL because of his work with quarterbacks and his playcalling.
He made sure that when he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2006, he stayed true to that skill. Save for a 12-game stretch in 2015, when McCarthy felt it necessary to pay extra attention to his defense and special teams, he has always been the one to decide which play Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and a handful of other quarterbacks will run.

He would tell any first-time head coach to do the same, with one caveat.

"If he's good at it," McCarthy said during a recent interview about playcalling. "There's so much of our offense that's identified with our quarterbacks, and rightfully so, because we've had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks play here in my tenure, but the system of offense is to make the quarterback successful. It's a philosophy I learned in 1989 from Paul Hackett and through Bill Walsh and the West Coast offense. That's how I learned it, and I believe wholeheartedly in it.

"If you're known for something as a head coach, I feel your team should emulate that. That's why you got the job."

Sure, that makes it more difficult to have input into the other parts of the game, but it's why McCarthy hired veteran coordinators on defense (Dom Capers) and special teams (Ron Zook). Both have been head coaches, Capers at the NFL level and Zook in college.

Here's a look at playcalling through the eyes of several NFL head coaches: https://www.espn.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/42047/calling-the-shots-why-some-nfl-head-coaches-refuse-to-give-up-playcalling-duties

This is a few years old but still relevant and I think it still makes for a good read. It will be interesting to see if and when BO'b takes up play calling the offense again.
 
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welsh texan

All Pro
Mike McCarthy climbed the ranks in the NFL because of his work with quarterbacks and his playcalling.
He made sure that when he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2006, he stayed true to that skill. Save for a 12-game stretch in 2015, when McCarthy felt it necessary to pay extra attention to his defense and special teams, he has always been the one to decide which play Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and a handful of other quarterbacks will run.

He would tell any first-time head coach to do the same, with one caveat.

"If he's good at it," McCarthy said during a recent interview about playcalling. "There's so much of our offense that's identified with our quarterbacks, and rightfully so, because we've had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks play here in my tenure, but the system of offense is to make the quarterback successful. It's a philosophy I learned in 1989 from Paul Hackett and through Bill Walsh and the West Coast offense. That's how I learned it, and I believe wholeheartedly in it.

"If you're known for something as a head coach, I feel your team should emulate that. That's why you got the job."

Sure, that makes it more difficult to have input into the other parts of the game, but it's why McCarthy hired veteran coordinators on defense (Dom Capers) and special teams (Ron Zook). Both have been head coaches, Capers at the NFL level and Zook in college.

Here's a look at playcalling through the eyes of several NFL head coaches: https://www.espn.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/42047/calling-the-shots-why-some-nfl-head-coaches-refuse-to-give-up-playcalling-duties

This is a few years old but still relevant and I think it still makes for a good read. It will be interesting to see if and when BO'b takes up play calling the offense again.
Dom Capers says it all. Head coaching is a different skill to coordinating.
Dom Capers the beacon of how to make a great hire as a coordinator, but how was his D as head coach of the Texans?
What about RAC as head coach? What about Wade Phillips as head coach? What about Bill O’Brien as head coach?

Even McCarthy ultimately lost his job because he could co-ordinate his HOF QB to success whilst overseeing the operation as a whole.

I probably shouldn’t be disagreeing with a super bowl winning head coach on how to head coach successfully, but I tend to wonder if the better approach would be to have the GM oversee it all, position coordinator for each position, and, indeed somebody beneath the GM heading up the FO day to day, which is kinda how New England have worked the last 20 years.

Its also a way the Texans would be well set up to function, if OB could let the reigns off a little for his OC.
 

Seegara

Guitar Picker, Dog Lover, Woodworker
Mike McCarthy climbed the ranks in the NFL because of his work with quarterbacks and his playcalling.
He made sure that when he became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2006, he stayed true to that skill. Save for a 12-game stretch in 2015, when McCarthy felt it necessary to pay extra attention to his defense and special teams, he has always been the one to decide which play Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and a handful of other quarterbacks will run.

He would tell any first-time head coach to do the same, with one caveat.

"If he's good at it," McCarthy said during a recent interview about playcalling. "There's so much of our offense that's identified with our quarterbacks, and rightfully so, because we've had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks play here in my tenure, but the system of offense is to make the quarterback successful. It's a philosophy I learned in 1989 from Paul Hackett and through Bill Walsh and the West Coast offense. That's how I learned it, and I believe wholeheartedly in it.

"If you're known for something as a head coach, I feel your team should emulate that. That's why you got the job."

Sure, that makes it more difficult to have input into the other parts of the game, but it's why McCarthy hired veteran coordinators on defense (Dom Capers) and special teams (Ron Zook). Both have been head coaches, Capers at the NFL level and Zook in college.

Here's a look at playcalling through the eyes of several NFL head coaches: https://www.espn.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/42047/calling-the-shots-why-some-nfl-head-coaches-refuse-to-give-up-playcalling-duties

This is a few years old but still relevant and I think it still makes for a good read. It will be interesting to see if and when BO'b takes up play calling the offense again.
Maybe McCarthy had 2 HOF quarterbacks because he was good at calling plays for them. But if your QB is a good strategist, plays are better called on the field.
 
Maybe McCarthy had 2 HOF quarterbacks because he was good at calling plays for them. But if your QB is a good strategist, plays are better called on the field.
Brett Favre was a top tier Super Bowl winning QB well on his way to Canton long before McCarthy came along.
 

ArlingtonTexan

Moderator
Staff member
Maybe McCarthy had 2 HOF quarterbacks because he was good at calling plays for them. But if your QB is a good strategist, plays are better called on the field.
Huh???It has been a really long time (80s maybe) since there was a QB who was the down-in down out play-caller for his team....Certain game situations and audibles, but outside of that play calls come from the head coach or a coordinator.
 

Seegara

Guitar Picker, Dog Lover, Woodworker
Huh???It has been a really long time (80s maybe) since there was a QB who was the down-in down out play-caller for his team....Certain game situations and audibles, but outside of that play calls come from the head coach or a coordinator.
Yes, and a majority of those sideline narcissists have been wrong.
 

DocBar

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
Brett Favre was a top tier Super Bowl winning QB well on his way to Canton long before McCarthy came along.
I would've traded Favre as soon as I could. He cost his teams nearly as many losses as wins. Fun to watch but not a clutch QB. I would take virtually every single HOF QB, including Troy Aikman (who shouldn't be sniffing the HOF based on his performance as a QB), before I would field Favre.
 

DocBar

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
Maybe McCarthy had 2 HOF quarterbacks because he was good at calling plays for them. But if your QB is a good strategist, plays are better called on the field.
Your QB is in the weeds and too emotionally involved in the game to consistently be relied on to call a game from the field. It helps to have your strategist be above the fray. Give your QB options, forgive the occasional cowboy play and drive on.
 
I would've traded Favre as soon as I could. He cost his teams nearly as many losses as wins. Fun to watch but not a clutch QB. I would take virtually every single HOF QB, including Troy Aikman (who shouldn't be sniffing the HOF based on his performance as a QB), before I would field Favre.
I am not a Favre fanatic and I agree with all you said but I was merely pointing out that long before McCarthy came along and called the shots for Favre many people had him booked for Canton.
 

Texecutioner

Hall of Fame
I would've traded Favre as soon as I could. He cost his teams nearly as many losses as wins. Fun to watch but not a clutch QB. I would take virtually every single HOF QB, including Troy Aikman (who shouldn't be sniffing the HOF based on his performance as a QB), before I would field Favre.
I watched him make come from behind drives all the time. He wasn't clutch. Lol!
 

Earl34

Veteran
If you are good at it …. keep doing it.

I just have one question - When was OB actually good at it ?

We've have pretty much the same mediocre results no matter who the QB was.

What does McCarthy have to say if you are only mediocre at it ?
Exactly. Besides his very short stint as Patriots' OC, when has OB coordinated a great offense or developed a young QB? That has always been my issue with O'Brien. I'm starting to think instead of trying to recreate the Patriots' way. NFL owners/organizations should have a vision for what style of play they want and hire a traditional GM and HC to execute that vision.

Instead of modeling your team after the Patriots, I think I prefer the Steelers. Regardless of the HC, you expect them to be a 3-4 defense, good OL, strong running game, with a downfield passing attack. Of course, you need a knowledgeable owner or VP setting the organizational vision for the GM and HC. Never mind!
 

steelbtexan

King of the W. B. Club
Contributor's Club
Exactly. Besides his very short stint as Patriots' OC, when has OB coordinated a great offense or developed a young QB? That has always been my issue with O'Brien. I'm starting to think instead of trying to recreate the Patriots' way. NFL owners/organizations should have a vision for what style of play they want and hire a traditional GM and HC to execute that vision.

Instead of modeling your team after the Patriots, I think I prefer the Steelers. Regardless of the HC, you expect them to be a 3-4 defense, good OL, strong running game, with a downfield passing attack. Of course, you need a knowledgeable owner or VP setting the organizational vision for the GM and HC. Never mind!
I actually agree with this post. But when a GM has gotten you nowhere in 12 yrs you gotta make a change. I hope next time they hire a GM/HC they hire the GM 1st and let him hire the HC. So if it doesn't workout there will be a full housecleaning.
 

Corrosion

Idealist
Staff member
Exactly. Besides his very short stint as Patriots' OC, when has OB coordinated a great offense or developed a young QB? That has always been my issue with O'Brien. I'm starting to think instead of trying to recreate the Patriots' way. NFL owners/organizations should have a vision for what style of play they want and hire a traditional GM and HC to execute that vision.

Instead of modeling your team after the Patriots, I think I prefer the Steelers. Regardless of the HC, you expect them to be a 3-4 defense, good OL, strong running game, with a downfield passing attack. Of course, you need a knowledgeable owner or VP setting the organizational vision for the GM and HC. Never mind!

I thought we were on the right track towards the end of Gary's run here …. they went 12-4 and put up a good fight in that playoff loss to Baltimore with Yates under center …. then Schaub's wheels fell off and they really had nothing remotely competent behind him. If Schaub didn't go down , they were the favorites to win that superbowl IMO.

They had a damn solid roster minus a QB and rather than fix it , I think they over reacted and fired the wrong guy - The guy who was responsible for the dearth of talent at the QB spot was …. Tricky Rick.

Every year the conversation between those two was the same - "We need to address the QB position with quality talent" , "No we don't , your system makes the QB". Seems like that conversation was a yearly occurrence … I must have heard them argue about it 50 times , often very heated.

And to some extent , Rick was right …. just about anyone with the physical ability could make that offense work - Just look at what it did for Brock Osweiler in 2015 going 5-2 as a starter and then signing a huge contract with the Texans the following offseason. Take him out of that system and he was a complete and total disaster.
A lot of other guys played well above their ability in that system too …. Case Keenum for example , despite his record he played above his talent.

They had the roster minus the QB , they had the system and the coaching staff - Their own identity.
If they had simply addressed the QB position … I think they'd have been right back in the fight for a Lombardi the following season.

Now , this teams identity changes with the wind …. and even then they are highly predictable offensively.
 
I watched him make come from behind drives all the time. He wasn't clutch. Lol!
Favre did have some big come from behind drives but in some big playoff games he choked the chicken so to speak. His last go round with the Vikings he was in perfect position to win and he did as he had done in far too many games and came up short. None the less he is worthy of the HOF and I enjoyed watching him play.

As far as a head coach calling the offense I have no problem with that if prior to that coach doing it he was known to be good at it. BO'b imo never showed to be the offensive stalwart that could excel at calling the shots on offense.
 

Texecutioner

Hall of Fame
Farvbe did have some big come from behind drives but in some big playoff games he choked the chicken so to speak. His last go round with the VBikings he was in perfect position to win and he did as he had done in far too many games and came up short. None the less he is worthy of the HOF and I enjoyed watching him play.
If that's all you want to take from that season, then your entire opinion of it is invalidated.

He was an MVP candidate that season for a Minnesota team that he elevated that hadn't done jack before he arrived. He also had some of the best come from behind drives that year. One of them was a bullet bomb down the field to win the game to Bernard Berrian which was one of the best passes I've ever seen at that old age.

That game was the famous game where the NO Saints and the refs also cheated by allowing the worst dirty hits ever in a playoff game. A ton of them were late hits and the coaching staff was paying the players to do everything possible to injure him, and the refs seemed pretty complicit with that plan since they even apologized after that game. Even with a all of that happening the game still went into OT where he threw that pick.

The fact that you took that one game and tried to act like it somehow solidified his entire playoff career is extremely disingenuous. He went to back to back SB's and almost won both of them losing to another back to back SB Denver team.
 
If that's all you want to take from that season, then your entire opinion of it is invalidated.

He was an MVP candidate that season for a Minnesota team that he elevated that hadn't done jack before he arrived. He also had some of the best come from behind drives that year. One of them was a bullet bomb down the field to win the game to Bernard Berrian which was one of the best passes I've ever seen at that old age.

That game was the famous game where the NO Saints and the refs also cheated by allowing the worst dirty hits ever in a playoff game. A ton of them were late hits and the coaching staff was paying the players to do everything possible to injure him, and the refs seemed pretty complicit with that plan since they even apologized after that game. Even with a all of that happening the game still went into OT where he threw that pick.

The fact that you took that one game and tried to act like it somehow solidified his entire playoff career is extremely disingenuous. He went to back to back SB's and almost won both of them losing to another back to back SB Denver team.
His history is full of turn overs at critical moments. I am not a Favre hater but he threw a lot of picks in his career and that can not be denied. To do so means your objectivity is clouded due to your being a fan of his. I do think he played some of his best football at the end of his career but I won't make excuses for him that he took a beating in his final game. He did go to back to back Super Bowls early in his career and that is impressive and he deserves credit for it. Still he was so good that it is a shame that his gun slinging mentality did not lead to more than one title. That is in part because he took too many chances. A lot of people love him for his gutsy play and I myself admired it. Still I somewhat feel as though his talent was wasted due to his trying to do too much. No need to take offense. I am not a Favre hater. He is a HOF Qb and he earned it.
 

Texecutioner

Hall of Fame
His history is full of turn overs at critical moments. I am not a Favre hater but he threw a lot of picks in his career and that can not be denied. To do so means your objectivity is clouded due to your being a fan of his. I do think he played some of his best football at the end of his career but I won't make excuses for him that he took a beating in his final game. He did go to back to back Super Bowls early in his career and that is impressive and he deserves credit for it. Still he was so good that it is a shame that his gun slinging mentality did not lead to more than one title. That is in part because he took too many chances. A lot of people love him for his gutsy play and I myself admired it. Still I somewhat feel as though his talent was wasted due to his trying to do too much. No need to take offense. I am not a Favre hater. He is a HOF Qb and he earned it.
Fair enough man. All I'm trying to say is that he shouldn't be drawn down to one game and one play to highlight what his entire season was or his career especially. He also had a pick that ended his season like two years before that with GB in the NFC Championship game where he was an MVP candidate that season as well in his last season there. But their season had to end somehow. I think that game was in OT as well, so I don't think you can just drag it all down to one play for a guy that was an MVP candidate. Also there were two other playoffs where he got to SB's. How many other QB"s can say that honestly? I do realize that he threw a lot of picks overall. He has the record if I'm not mistaken, but if you look at a lot of those GB teams he was always expected to carry them with his arm for the most part. I don't remember GB being stacked with top 5 defenses every year. They had Amaan Green playing great for a few years, but Favre was mainly carrying that franchise.
 


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