GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It doesn’t matter how long a coach has been on the job, one of the toughest things has to be to admit when a plan didn't quite work out as it was intended.
But it’s the willingness to do so -- and not make the same mistake twice -- that has helped make Mike McCarthy one of the longest-tenured, most successful head coaches in the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers coach always talks about three core values: adapt, emphasize and change.
Those guidelines have served him well. He has led his team to the playoffs seven straight seasons and sports a 104-55-1 record, has shown he’s not afraid to try new things and then adapt if they don’t go as planned. On Saturday, McCarthy indicated he plans to return to a teaching philosophy he used for most of his tenure but that he altered last season.
“You always teach the youngest guy in the room,” McCarthy said at the close of his rookie orientation camp. “I hate to say the lowest, but you always taught to the youngest player in the room. It’s something we’ve done through Day 1, and it’s worked for us.”
Except he didn’t do that last year.
In part to help his team get off to a faster start, McCarthy adopted a philosophical change when it came to the classroom work. As he said at the time, "The young guys need to catch up."
"We're challenging the older guys to bring the younger guys up and then coach those younger guys in more of a one-on-one fashion," McCarthy said last year. "It's just finding as many different ways as you possibly can to motivate and continue to grow as a program."
Yes, the Packers started faster last season, getting off to a 6-0 start, but apparently McCarthy didn’t get the overall results he wanted out of the change. Whatever the reason, he’s going back to his old way of teaching to start his 11th season.
“Well, that was an emphasis more for the veterans,” McCarthy said Saturday to explain his decision last year.
Although he stopped short of admitting it was a mistake, he seemed to indicate that when he continued with this: “And, uh, yeah. So that was …”
And then McCarthy paused before closed his press conference with this: “Yeah. Good way to end it.”