In response to a pitiful loss to the Josh Rosen led Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2, which left the Green Bay Packers at 4-7-1, the Packers’ front office elected to release tenured Head Coach Mike McCarthy and promoted offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to interim head coaching duties for the foreseeable future.
The Packers, the second team to release their head coach during the regular season this year, have been all but removed from the playoff picture. With their own first round draft choice likely being high, paired with another first round draft choice acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Saints during last year’s draft, Green Bay hopes to build for the future.
One man in Green Bay, is often noted for his quotes such as “For everybody out there in Packerland, R-E-L-A-X, relax.” or “I feel like we can run the table.” Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a signature statement to give to reporters following the firing of his first and only ever head coach at the professional level.
Rodgers, 35, worked hand in hand with McCarthy during his tenure, leading to a Super Bowl 45 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and two MVP awards for Rodgers. However the legacy of Rodgers’ and McCarthy’s era in Green Bay was muddled with just as much failure as triumph.
During their loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game in the 2014-2015 playoffs, Rodgers and the Packers had held a 16-0 lead at halftime, but several miscues on defense and special teams allowed the Seahawks to eventually come back and beat the Packers in overtime, 28-22.
The following year, Green Bay limped into the playoffs, gashed with injuries to starting wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Facing off in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs against quarterback Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals, the Packers fought hard. Rodgers, after being chased around the pocket all afternoon, uncorked a Hail Mary to backup wide receiver Jeff Janis, who jumped over All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson to catch the pass and tie the game at 20-20, forcing it into overtime. However, future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald worked his magic in overtime, carrying the Cardinals offense down the field on four plays, and scored on a pitch from Palmer to send Green Bay packing.
With arguably the most talented quarterback to ever grace a gridiron, the best pass blocking left tackle in football, and a young defense that keeps getting stronger, headed up by coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers head coaching position will be highly sought after. With multiple prospects for a new coach, such as New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Michigan Wolverines’ Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, the Packers’ front office will have a lengthy hiring process.
McCarthy, whose career regular season record is 125-77-2, with a 10-8 record in the playoffs, will find another job around the league sooner rather than later. McCarthy’s blue collar, no nonsense attitude may be a perfect fit for another head coaching vacancy in the league, the Cleveland Browns.