Shortly following the Packers loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday the Packers announced that they were letting head coach Mike McCarthy go.
It was a move many of us saw. The real question we were all wondering was when it would happen. We got the answer sooner than we thought we would.
Change isn’t always bad. New blood on a team can be a very positive thing. Look at moves made by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers ran in to a circumstance very similar to theirs. Andy Reid, former Packers assistant, left Titletown in 1999 in hopes of bringing a championship to Philadelphia. They had fallen on hard times before Reid arrived. He turned them from a losing team in to a championship contender year after year. The Eagles reached the Super Bowl one time during Reid’s tenure and fell short to the New England Patriots.
The Eagles had become stale years after their Super Bowl run. They knew they needed change. They let Reid go in 2012, went through a rough stint with Chip Kelly, and found their guy in Doug Pederson. Pederson, as we all know, got the Eagles their first Super Bowl victory.
A lot like Reid, Mike McCarthy was hired in 2006 in hopes to elevate the Packers to the next level. Mike Sherman was less than impressive during his time in Green Bay. McCarthy knew he had his work cut out for him. He spent his fair share of time as an NFL assistant before becoming the head coach of the Packers. As a west coast offensive guru, he had a good vision of where he wanted to take the Packers and had a hall of fame quarterback to run it.
In McCarthy’s first year the Packers went 8-8. Not the best year, but it was obviously a huge improvement from the 4 win season just a year before. The Packers had some stiff competition that year, including the Bears, who later went on to play the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
2007 was an exciting year for the Packers. The offense had some serious talent at every position. It was supposed to be the Cinderella story with Brett Favre winning a championship and riding off in to the sunset after winning his second Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to be. The Packers were beat out by the eventual super bowl champion New York Giants in one of the coldest games played at Lambeau in recent years.
Then a memorable year for Packer fans came in 2008. Favre out, Rodgers in.
McCarthy had always had a knack for developing quarterbacks. Many of you might recall McCarthy’s quarterback camps that he put in during the offseason before the collective bargaining agreement came to be. He knew that he had his guy in Aaron Rodgers. Its fun go back and see what Rodgers looked like in the early years. You can really see the development that he made over the years. I tribute a lot of Rodgers success to McCarthy. McCarthy and the Packers went on to win only 6 games that season but it was the beginning of a new age in Green Bay. McCarthy was setting the blocks and building a new foundation in the offense with his new quarterback.
The Packers reached the ultimate goal in 2010 when they won Super Bowl XLV. That year the Packers had the 5th best passing and 2nd best scoring offense in the NFL. They accumulated over 4,000 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. The offense had flipped the switch and they were one of the best in the league.
The Packers were at the height of their offensive success the following year in 2011. They put up big numbers week after week. I love going back and watching tape over that season. There were so many little things that they did well. Every week they were firing on all cylinders. The tempo of the offense was also impressive. They were quick to the line of scrimmage and scored nearly every drive. Sadly, the Packers fell to the Giants that year in the divisional round.
The Packers were playoff contenders several years after that 2011 season. Things started to change though. Veterans started moving on, young guys had to be developed and tensions grew with each playoff loss. 2014 is a year that comes to mind. That year I felt like the Packers would win it all. The offense was clicking, but the defense struggled. The teams couldn’t find that perfect balance that they did after 2010.
With every win and loss, McCarthy stayed focused. I liked that he didn’t listen to too much outside noise. He kept focused on the opponent each week and kept the blinders on.
Still, the organization wanted results. The team was on the cusp every year, but never could finish. There were many promising years, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t win it all, right?
As bad as 2017 was, 2018 was finally the nail in the coffin. There might have been an excuse in 2017 with the loss of Rodgers during the season, but with a healthy Rodgers in 2018 there was no excuse. McCarthy had all the pieces he needed and just couldn’t get it done. The 2018 season will be remembered as the team who couldn’t finish games. Detroit, Minnesota, Los Angeles, New England, Seattle and Arizona were all very winnable games. The Packers were in position to win each one of these games. They just couldn’t finish. At some point, the organization is going to start pointing fingers and that is exactly what happened.
I honestly think that Mike McCarthy will go down as one of the best coaches in Packers history. I would say that he did an overall better job than Mike Holmgren, who I respect very much. I’m certain that McCarthy will land somewhere soon. He’s a great coach who still has a lot to offer.
As I said before, change was needed. My only hope is that this change will get the Packers closer to the ultimate goal of bringing another championship back to Green Bay.
I think I speak for Packer fans everywhere when I say how thankful I am for everything Mike McCarthy did for the Green Bay Packers.