GREEN BAY - Mark Murphy described the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 season much the way coach Mike McCarthy did a week ago.
In an interview this week, Murphy, the Packers’ president and CEO, called the Packers’ just-completed season a “roller coaster” and said he was proud of the team for reaching the NFC championship game after being 4-6 at one point. He also echoed McCarthy’s statement a week ago that the Packers’ season overall was a success.
“I hope it’s not to the point where you can only have a successful season if you win the Super Bowl,” Murphy said.
Murphy has heard the full range of takes from fans and observers on the team’s 2016, and he knows one view is that the Packers missed another chance to win the Super Bowl with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
But Murphy looks at the Packers’ recovery this season as a sign that the franchise is in good hands for the future with Ted Thompson as general manager and McCarthy as coach. The Packers at one point had a four-game losing streak that dropped them to 4-6, then won eight straight to advance to the NFC title game, where they were blown out by the Atlanta Falcons.
“I don’t think it was a failed season,” Murphy said. “Disappointing ending, but I’d say it was a pretty good season overall. Winning eight games in a row. The first time we’ve won two playoff games, I think, since 2010. And getting in the NFC championship games two out of three years – it’s not the Super Bowl but it’s the Final Four of the NFL.
“It’s not easy to win a game in the NFL, let alone Super Bowls and playoff games. There’s a sense of pride in that. And I think the turnaround in the season, for me, gives me confidence in the organization and certainly the work of (general manager) Ted (Thompson) and Mike (McCarthy) that I think a lot of organizations at 4-6, I think it’s hard to keep things together.”
Murphy also said that as bleak as things looked when the Packers lost their fourth straight game while dropping to 4-6, he was heartened when Rodgers the next week made his "run the table" statement.
"But if you’d have told me when we were 4-6 you’re going to win the division, you’re going to the be in the NFC championship game, I probably wouldn’t have believed you," Murphy said. "That’s a tribute – I thought Mike did a really nice job keeping the team positive and focused. Just a shame, it would have been nice – when you get in a position in the NFL where you’re winning like that you just want to keep it going. That’s what was disappointing. I felt like we had the momentum coming off – that win at Dallas (in the divisional round of the playoffs) was one of the best wins certainly in the time I’ve been here. To not be able to see that through was disappointing."
The Packers are tied with the New England Patriots for the longest current streak of qualifying for the playoffs, eight seasons. The NFL record is nine.
The Patriots, though, are playing in their seventh Super Bowl since Tom Brady became their quarterback in 2001. They’ve also advanced at least as far as the AFC championship game the last six seasons, though they’ve won only one Super Bowl in the last 11 years.
“In the last 10 years, they’ve been in seven (conference championship games); we’ve been in four," Murphy said. "They’re obviously a pretty successful organization. They’ve had continuity, stability the way we’ve had.
"... They’ve achieved a level of consistency in the modern era that others haven’t. But I’d say we’re pretty close to them. It’s not something that we’re ashamed of, and I’m excited for the future. I don’t think the future of our organization has been closed. I think we have a chance to be very good for a number of years into the future.”