Source: Jim Mone/AP
On Sunday the Packers fired head Mike McCarthy after a stunning loss to the dismal Arizona Cardinals. The Packers came into Sunday losing 2 straight and 4 of their last 5, the team's chances of making the playoffs are all but dead at this point. It’s the first time Green Bay will miss the playoffs in back to back seasons since 2005-2006, Joe Philbin will be the teams interim head coach for the rest of the season.
Mike McCarthy's job was on the line heading into this season, and if the Packers play didn’t improve, it was but certain he wasn't coming back. Let’s face it if the Packers had an actual owner he probably would have been done last season, just like defensive coordinator Dom Capers and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett. However, with having Aaron Rodgers out for the majority of last season and winning a Super Bowl (even though it was 8 seasons ago ), Packers CEO Mark Murphy felt like McCarthy needed a fair shot. So now we're here. Rodgers has started every game despite getting hurt in week 1 against the Bears. His stats are pretty good, 21 touchdowns to just one interception, yet Rodgers hasn’t been himself this season. At times holding the ball too long in the pocket or under throwing his routes. McCarthy hasn’t been on the same page with his quarterback either, nor has he given him the confidence to make certain decisions.
Just a few weeks ago, the Packers were down 27-24 with 4:25 left in the 4th quarter to Seattle. Aaron Rodgers under-threw the ball to rookie receiver to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on 3rd and 2. Afterward, you could tell Aaron Rodgers wasn’t happen with his play and wanted to redeem himself on 4th down, but instead of McCarthy talking to Rodgers about what to do on 4th down he just elected to kick it to the Seattle hoping the defense could make a stop. The problem though is Russell Wilson was figuring the Packers defense out. Scoring 10 points in the quarter and easily finding his receivers open. The Packers couldn’t stop Seattle’s running game and with one timeout and a two-minute warning, Green Bay never got the ball back.
Situational decision making has been the Achilles heel for McCarthy. Not challenging Tyler Lockett’s 34-yard grab in the 4th quarter was baffling and head-scratching not once did it look like Lockett had full possession of the ball. A few plays later Seattle had scored the go-ahead touchdown, it’s one of the worst mistakes of the season, and it showed that McCarthy was incapable to coach this team. Last week in Minnesota McCarthy decided to go for it on 4th down this time, and with under 8 minutes left in the third quarter, and The Pack sitting on their own 45-yard line, they failed to convert, giving the Vikings good field position. Then the Vikings scored a 37-yard field goal and never looked back. Going for it on 4th down in this situation wasn’t necessary and the Packers couldn’t gain their momentum back. Last week during the post-game press conference McCarthy said that he needed to coach better. Then heading home to play Arizona the Packers had nothing. It looks like a team that gave up on McCarthy, losing the game, the locker room, and then ultimately his job.
The running game was also an issue under McCarthy. As good as Aaron Rodgers is McCarthy gave Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams minimal touches. Jones is averaging close to 6 yards per carry and has had 7 rushing touchdowns this season, but he’s averaging under 12 rushing attempts a game. In the game against Arizona, McCarthy gave up on Jones, giving him just 3 touches in the second half. The offence has been more predictable this season as well. The combination of injuries, dependence on young receivers, and no running game, the offence has stalled, looking like a shell of itself from years past. McCarthy had nothing left in the tank and it was time for both parties to move on.
Mike McCarthy will finish with the second most wins in franchise history (125) and a Super Bowl champion. Yet it felt like Mike McCarthy might have underachieved. With two HOF quarterbacks McCarthy could only squeeze out one Super Bowl during his time in Title Town.
The Packers lost to the Giants the season after they won the Super Bowl, in the divisional round, while having the best record in the league at 15-1. Green Bay lost twice in the NFC Championship game, blowing it against the Seahawks in 2015. Then the next year, with a banged-up squad, they got blown out against Atlanta. McCarthy had other loses to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in two consecutive playoffs, while two other playoff overtime heartbreaking losses to the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers had talent and with Aaron Rodgers under centre, McCarthy couldn’t muster another Super Bowl. Green Bay have wasted a lot of key years under Aaron Rodgers, and as impressive of a feat winning a Super Bowl is, multiple championships were expected given what McCarthy had.
Joe Philbin is being named an interim coach for now. Philbin coaching won’t change the Packers overnight and I don’t expect him to be the head coach after this season. We all know how much of a disaster it was when Philbin coached the Dolphins. Miami never made the playoffs and Philbin had a sub-500 record. After this season the Packers can move on with a fresh slate and a new man at the helm, as Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers try to regain title contender status.