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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Power Rankings: McCarthy's credit way past due

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Updated Oct. 18

When the Green Bay Packers hired Mike McCarthy as coach in 2006, it was met with snickers around the NFL and Packers fans seemed ready to choke on their cheese curds.

McCarthy came to the Packers a year after running the offense in San Francisco -- an offense that, quite frankly, wasn't very good in large part because the quarterbacks weren't very good.

So when McCarthy was hired, it was natural to question the move.

Why not a bigger name? Why not somebody more successful?

In his five-plus seasons, McCarthy has proven them all wrong.

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Now it's time he gets the credit he deserves for being a damn good football coach. We talk about the Packers and it almost always comes back to Aaron Rodgers. And while this is indeed a quarterback league first and a coaching league second, it's time to give McCarthy his due.

Counting the postseason, he has won 12 consecutive games. That ties a Packers record for a coach with the guy they named that big silver trophy that champions get after -- yes, Vince Lombardi.

Green Bay fans revere their coaches. From Lambeau to Lombardi to Holmgren, they are put up there with snow blowers in terms of Wisconsin love. They name streets after them. McCarthy is getting there in terms of fan devotion.

The Packers are 6-0 and clearly the best team in the NFL right now. The defending champions, they might be better than the 2010 version, which is why they remain a solid No. 1 in my CBSSports.com Power Rankings.

McCarthy is a Pittsburgh coach, a blue-collar guy who knows when to push and when not to push. He seems to have a good feel for his players, and what truly separates him from some others is that he excels at calling plays.

I'd have to say McCarthy and Saints coach Sean Payton are the two best play-callers in the game -- and McCarthy might actually be more aggressive.

I got to know McCarthy a bit when he was offensive coordinator in New Orleans under Jim Haslett. He was always insightful, always willing to talk football.

McCarthy was handcuffed there working with Aaron Brooks. That led to criticism of his abilities, but those in the know always said he had the work ethic and mind to be a good NFL coach.

McCarthy had to deal with the Brett Favre situation early in his Green Bay career and did a nice job making his way through that minefield without much collateral damage.

With Rodgers, he is now assured of being in Green Bay for many years to come. It's a coach-quarterback league, which means they are linked. Yet it seems that whenever anybody talks about the Packers, they focus only on the quarterback and not on McCarthy.

He's 6-0. He has a ring.

Not bad for a guy most of Wisconsin didn't even want (don't lie now and say you did either).

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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