The Green Bay Packers looked nothing like a championship team on Sunday in their 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions. A lot of blame will be thrown kicker Mason Crosby’s way for the loss, and it is deserved. But whomever is handing out the blame shouldn’t forget about Mike McCarthy, the leader and the person in charge. McCarthy is the one who needs to have his team ready to play from the opening whistle and for three out of their five games, they have come out flat and unprepared. Clock ticking on Mike McCarthy as the Green Bay Packers head coach.
You can’t take anything away from the job Mike McCarthy has done during his 13 year tenure. After Sunday’s loss, he has a regular season record of 123-72-2 with a regular season winning percentage of .629. During that span, the Packers have won six NFC North titles, been to the playoffs nine times, and won one Super Bowl. McCarthy joins Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren as the only Packers head coaches to lead their teams to Super Bowl victories.
But after 13 years as the Packers head coach, the way the Packers have played so far this season, it appears that Mike McCarthy isn’t getting through to his players. Losing games is one thing, but how the Packers are losing is another. In three of the Packers games this season, they have gone into halftime losing at combined score of 69-10. To go along with that, in their 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings, they went into the fourth quarter leading 20-7, then proceeded to give up 22 points. McCarthy has stated that winning Super Bowls is what the Green Bay Packers are all about. But at this point in the season, the Packers look nothing like a Super Bowl team.
The Packers have struggled on both sides of the ball. On defense, they have put together a solid full game just once. That came last week in their win over the Buffalo Bills. That was also against a rookie quarterback who lacks talent around him. Mike McCarthy fired longtime Dom Capers, who wasn’t getting the job done, and replaced him with Mike Pettine. McCarthy pegged Pettine to turn around the defense, but as of yet, he has failed to do so.
On offense, the offense that Mike McCarthy calls the plays for, have struggled to find an identity. McCarthy brought back longtime offensive assistant Joe Philbin and vowed to give the Packers playbook a makeover. But it appears that makeover either didn’t happen or McCarthy refused to listen to Philbin’s input. The offensive system looks very similar to what the Packers have done for so long under McCarthy. It appears that NFL defenses are catching up to what McCarthy and the Packers have done for so long. It isn’t just fans that are taking notice of the lack of identity, so has quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Being an NFL head coach garners a lot of pressure. But going into this season, Mike McCarthy gained even more pressure. With the restructuring of the Packers front office, McCarthy was allowed to report directly to president Mark Murphy, instead of new general manager Brian Gutekunst. The move appeared to give McCarthy more say in the organization, something he didn’t have when Ted Thompson was the general manager. It was a curious move by Murphy, since McCarthy was coming off a disappointing 7-9 season. A season that the Packers missed the playoffs.
Mike McCarthy did receive a contract extension this off-season. However, that deal was just for one year, extending his deal through 2019. The move guaranteed that he would be the head coach this season. However, it also meant that the Packers would only have to eat one year if he were to be fired after this season. The deal meant that McCarthy would have to lead the Packers back to the level the organization is accustomed to. But it appears that the Packers are going to fail to do so.
Only two NFL head coaches have had longer tenures than Mike McCarthy, that being Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis. For Belichick, it is pretty obvious why he has kept his job for so long. His message, his frequent trips to the Super Bowl, and his ability to adapt has given him the right to coach the New England Patriots as long as he would like. For Lewis, he has kept his job because he works for an owner who is too cheap to make a move at the Cincinnati Bengals head coaching position.
Both Belichick and McCarthy have had the pleasure of having two of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL as their starting quarterbacks. While Belichick and Tom Brady have played in eight Super Bowls, winning five of them, McCarthy and Rodgers have played in just the one. While Rodgers has carried his side, winning two NFL MVP awards, it appears the same can’t be said for McCarthy. With a league that is so driven by the quarterback position, you would expect more success, not just in the regular season, by the Packers and McCarthy.
It wasn’t long ago that Mike McCarthy declared that he was a “highly successful NFL coach”. True, McCarthy has had success, although mostly in the regular season. But from what Packers fans are witnessing this season, the success and McCarthy’s message might be over. The Packers aren’t playing at a Super Bowl level and that falls on McCarthy’s shoulders. The defense isn’t able to put a full game together, the offense is lacking an identity, and the special teams are in shambles. Under McCarthy’s watch, the Packers have fallen from the ranks of the elite. You can’t fire all of the players, but you can fire the head coach. As Mike McCarthy always says “you have to clean your own house”. For the Green Bay Packers organization, cleaning their own house might start with replacing their head coach.