Mike McCarthy did not see it coming. It really suits. McCarthy, the completed Packers coach, a fit of personality and…
Mike McCarthy did not see it coming. It really suits. McCarthy, the completed Packers coach, a fit of personality and culture, never thought anyone would be appropriate to coach this team except him. So when the news came Sunday night he would not return in Green Bay, it blindsided him . Then, the person Mark Murphy will replace McCarthy will need to train in the shadow of a man with a street called after him, with a Lombardi Trophy in his case and a resume full of NFC North wins.
While Murphy made the right conversation from McCarthy, whether it be now or on Mondays, this move will be more risky than most fans are willing to acknowledge. A more significant move has not been made since Packers acted Brett Favre to install Aaron Rodgers as the franchise’s face and gamble is hardly any less.
Whatever thought of McCarthy as Packer’s head coach, nobody loved being a coach more than he did. He included the fan base’s blue collar mentality and an organization owned by the people. Green Bay was no underdog and McCarthy bristled in the opinion that Packers would ever be, even without Aaron Rodgers at the center. He understood that the team does not hang banners for division titles.
He ran a winning winners program, with eight straight playoff seasons, and had Anthony Barr upheld a little, would probably have set a new NFL record for successive after seasons. McCarthy is one of the winning coaches in team history and one of the best active coaches in that department. Deficiencies and all he will leave 1
265 Lombardi with more Super Bowl wins than the entire NFC North combined goes back to 1985.
Still, some obvious changes must be made within the organization. Reports of self-esteem in recent years and making such a sweeping change could revive a franchise desperately to not waste the final years of a full-time quarterback. But the Packers tried to achieve the same performance when they employed Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman. It took McCarthy’s arrival to restore Brett Favre and build Aaron Rodgers. Making a change could enable this franchise, or the lack of cohesion could send them to a tailspin.
With Mark Murphy who assumes the role of de facto owner these days, it may be a power take this offseason with the new coach and Brian Gutekunst. Murphy can offer a potential head coach more power than McCarthy had, subjected to Gutekunst’s standing in the organization. While the cement is barely dry on Gutekunst’s ability like GM, early return is good and he should have authority rather than subverted.
Certainly, the goal is to find a coach, either as a main or offensive coordinator, who will click with Aaron Rodgers – who can be a spotty personality for all his appreciated gifts. He is incredible and he knows it and the cock measurement between him and McCarthy may have undermined the team during the season. If the packs take in a Lincoln Riley or a Cliff Kingsbury, Rodgers will easily accept his coaching, or wonder why someone who could have been in his chemistry class at Cal tells him what to do?
There are quality candidates on the market. As a matter of fact, Josh McDaniels would be interested in a head job, take a championship team and experience coaching a Hall of Fame quarterback. But his first major coaching stop was an undesirable disaster and he also has some potential personality issues.
Trendy candidates like John DeFilippo and Matt LaFleur would enter as completely unknown, a huge risk of a franchise with a closing window to implement. If John Harbaugh loses his job in Baltimore, he feels like a sidewalk from McCarthy and has no resume indicating a coach coming in and doing it better and he also has no story to find offensive coaches who could perform such a task .
Bruce Arians would be 67 next season, not sure he wants to be head coach at all and has said it only came back to Cleveland coach. After having climbed only one quality year of Carson Palmer’s last seasons, what evidence, would Arians be a surer bet than McCarthy to get this converted?
And what about Mike Pettine? His plan took vitality and energy into a defense defense, which created chicken salad from, yes, not chicken salad. Retaining Pettine and his attacked defense would help young defensive players like Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Josh Jackson grow within a system. A new coach may want to have his own DC, and force this defense to adjust again. Pettine proved that he would still be one of the better defensive coaches in football and the next person in this booth may not be able to say the same.
All this said that Packers certainly needed to do this move, either now or in early January. When asked if McCarthy lost the changing room, Randall Cobb hit and equated. If the answer had been “no,” he could have had and probably said that. Rodgers clearly soured McCarthy whether as a game caller or designer of crime or both. The message had been wrong, not just for Rodgers but for the team.
This was a feature that McCarthy may not have seen, but those who have noted read the writing on the wall for weeks.
Even the best coaches have a shelf life. Phil Jackson was the Zen Champion until the NBA passed him. Mike Ditka was a coach, one of the best ever, but never developed to meet the dynamic needs of a modern NFL.
The crime needs to be clearly updated, something that Rodgers and probably other players easily realize. McCarthy was the only man in the civilized universe not to realize that Aaron Jones was best to run back on this team or that Davante Adams could not be covered 1-against-1. He was also the last who realized Dom Capers lost his fastball years ago.
In the end, this dichotomy will define McCarthy’s marriage with Packers. His attitude, leadership and unqualified success in reviving the career of a stalwart quarterback while fostering an emerging superstar on his way to a Super Bowl should be one of the greatest achievements in team history. It’s a street named after him. The best job with a coach is to win, and he did it with aplomb, with four conference championships and a Lombardi Trophy to his name.
But he will also remember the shortcomings, to be slow to respond to the obvious failures of his coaches and players, for conservative playcalling in pivotal games and to prevent the grandeur of one of the game’s full-time talks.
It is possible to remember McCarthy as both of these men. He was immediately the kind of coach who would have made Vince Lombardi proud, a football man who preached foundation and mental toughness while fading into relevance in his own locker room as he struggled with the modern game, punctured with an achievement that was unable to also seen by the Lombardy statue outside Lambeau.
The packs could not have asked for a better leader of their franchise until they had to. It is the legacy of Mike McCarthy in all its complicated nuance and glory. He was a good coach, probably even an underrated coach, until he was not.
There is no guarantee that the man who succeeds him becomes a better coach, and Mark Murphy is unlikely to find a better ambassador for this or any team.