Green Bay Packers fire head coach Mike McCarthy

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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GREEN BAY –  The Green Bay Packers relieved coach Mike McCarthy of his duties after a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field dropped the club to 4-7-1 on the season.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy works during the fourth quarter of his team's 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy was fired after the game.

McCarthy is the second coach in the history of the franchise to be fired before the end of a full season. Following his press conference with the media Sunday, a source told that McCarthy was called to the office of Packers president and chief executive officer Mark Murphy and told of the team's decision.

“The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers. As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately,” Murphy said in a statement released by the team.

The Packers scheduled a news conference with Murphy for 1:45 p.m. Monday.

“Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field," he said in the statement. "We want to thank Mike, his wife, Jessica, and the rest of the McCarthy family for all that they have done for the Packers and the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. We will immediately begin the process of selecting the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers.”

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was named the interim head coach.

McCarthy is the first Packers coach to not finish out a season since Gene Ronzani was dismissed with two games left in the 1953 campaign. McCarthy replaced the last Packers coach to be fired in Mike Sherman in 2006.

Efforts to reach McCarthy were unsuccessful, but he told Jay Glazer of FOX that “I’m proud I was a part of the Packers family, proud to be part of such a great organization.”

Not only is the move historic for the Packers, ESPN reported that McCarthy is the first Super Bowl-winning coach to not finish a season that he had started since the Baltimore Colts fired Don McCafferty in 1972 after a 1-4 start. McCafferty had won Super Bowl V in 1970.

Cracks emerged

McCarthy, 55, was signed to only a one-year contract extension through the 2019 season on Jan. 2.

Less than a week later Murphy declared that he – and he alone – would have the power to make a head coaching change with new general manager Brian Gutekunst, executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and McCarthy all reporting directly to him.

A source told that the power structure Murphy created in January remains and that he will hire the next head coach – although Gutekunst will have heavy input. Part of the reason the club made the move now was to get a jump on identifying and researching potential candidates before the regular season concludes on Dec. 30.

Currently, Cleveland is the only other team with a head coaching vacancy. The Browns are familiar with McCarthy, as former Packers personnel executives John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith are currently in the Cleveland front office.

The lack of long-term security put McCarthy in a precarious situation following a 7-9 campaign in 2017 that saw the team go 3-6 without an injured Aaron Rodgers.

Since advancing to the NFC Championship Game in 2014, the Packers have gone 31-28-2 with two playoff appearances. They lost the 2016 NFC title game, 44-21, in Atlanta.

While the team was not performing at the rate it once was, the relationship between McCarthy and Rodgers also seemed to pivot from its previous course.

On Aug. 29 the team extended Rodgers’ contract through the 2023 season and by the end of September the quarterback had openly questioned McCarthy’s game plan and the effectiveness of the offense following a 22-0 victory over Buffalo.

As the season progressed, what had been considered “healthy tension” between Rodgers and McCarthy in the past felt like it had deteriorated to a point of no return for the pair and the offense looked disjointed at best as it tumbled to the bottom half in the league in scoring and bottom third in third-down efficiency.

This time off may also help McCarthy, as it is anticipated that he will be a desirable candidate for teams that also move on from their head coach at the end of the season.

A winning legacy

McCarthy is just one of three head coaches in franchise history to win a championship in the Super Bowl era, along with Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. The Packers’ 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011, was the club’s 13th championship and first since 1996.

Since he took the job in 2006 the Packers had just two losing seasons under McCarthy’s direction and reached the postseason nine times — including eight straight seasons from 2009-16.

He concludes his Packers career with a record of 125-77-2, which is the second-best win total in franchise history behind Curly Lambeau (209-104-21). McCarthy has the most postseason games (18) and wins (10) in the playoffs of any Packers coach.

McCarthy is No. 27 all-time in the NFL in coaching victories and is the fourth-winningest active coach in the league behind Bill Belichick (258), Andy Reid (192) and Marvin Lewis (130).

Along with the Super Bowl title the team also won six NFC North division crowns and advanced to four NFC championship games (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016). 

Like Lombardi and Holmgren, McCarthy had a street named after him when the village of Ashwaubenon renamed Potts Ave. “Mike McCarthy Way” in 2014.  

Before Ted Thompson hired him as the head coach in 2006, McCarthy had spent the 1999 season as the Packers quarterbacks coach before moving on to become the offensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2000-04 and in San Francisco in 2005. He had earned a reputation as a coach who could develop quarterbacks and run an imaginative offense.

Taking over a team that went 4-12, the Packers went 8-8 in his first season. In 2007, the team went 13-3 but lost at home to the New York Giants in the NFC title game. That season Brett Favre returned to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2003.

Tom Silverstein contributed to this report.

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