GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It should come as no surprise that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy ranked as one of the NFL's top coaches in ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando's extensive project that examined all 32 coaches through the eyes of a wide range of league sources.
In a poll of 30 NFL people -- eight current general managers, four former GMs, four personnel directors, four executives, six coordinators and four position coaches -- McCarthy came out tied for sixth with Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. They ranked behind only New England's Bill Belichick, Seattle's Pete Carroll, New Orleans' Sean Payton, Kansas City's Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants.
McCarthy's 88-50-1 record in his eight seasons gives him the fourth-highest winning percentage in the league among current coaches with a minimum of 60 games.
Using the same voting system Sando employed earlier this year in his "QB Tiers" project, the coaches were broken up into five different tiers. McCarthy came in near the top of the second tier.
But it was perhaps more interesting what some of those league sources told Sando about McCarthy.
Here's an excerpt:
Like Payton, McCarthy gets high marks for his offensive acumen and overall leadership. The Packers have won with varying run/pass emphasis and they continue to evolve as their personnel changes. But the Packers' defensive performance has declined in recent seasons, leading voters to cite the same reasoning over and over when asked why McCarthy wasn't a '1' in their eyes.
"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."
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. McCarthy did get 11 votes in the first tier, however. One of those votes came from an executive who blamed some of the defensive issues on personnel, noting that McCarthy had in fact made sweeping staff changes back in 2009.
A GM placing McCarthy in the top tier focused on offensive flexibility. "You look at him as an offensive play-caller and he was grinding the s--- out of the ball when he was in New Orleans, and then he changed things up," the GM said. "He developed a passing game in Green Bay, and he is just the same guy all the time – strong leader.”