National pundits react to news of Packers firing Mike McCarthy and ask 'Who's to blame?'

JR Radcliffe
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy leaves the field after a 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings during their football game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers shocked the sports world by announcing head coach Mike McCarthy had been fired, replaced on an interim basis by Joe Philbin. On Monday morning, plenty had already been written about the maneuver, including a popular question: "Who's to blame?"

Take a look at what several national writers and pundits are saying about the Packers in-season maneuver:


Local ESPN radio aired an interview with Mark Chmura, the former Packers tight end who has been a regular presence on Milwaukee talk radio, and he said Rodgers "got a coach fired."

"There was probably two or three long passes that Aaron missed, and the TV cameras went right to him, and he was chuckling. Then, you see Aaron walking with McCarthy, and he's not even listening to him, paying attention to him ... and Aaron's not going to come out of this looking good. Aaron looks like the prima donna basketball player in the NBA that wants his coach fired."

Bill Barnwell, an NFL writer for, meditates on a number of questions surrounding the firing, noting that this was supposed to be the year all the scapegoats -- Ted Thompson, Dom Capers, a lack of free-agent activity -- were out the door.

"After the disappointing 2017 campaign, the Packers responded by making a pair of long-requested changes. They started by firing oft-criticized defensive coordinator Dom Capers and replacing him with former Jets assistant and Browns coach Mike Pettine. Pettine took over a defense that ranked 20th in DVOA in 2016 and 20th in 2017 and had them at ... 20th heading into the Cardinals game."

Barnwell feels McCarthy deserves the bulk of the blame, including for Green Bay's inability to win more than one Super Bowl in the Rodgers/McCarthy era.

"When it comes to the 2014 NFC Championship Game, though, McCarthy bungled his way into a crushing loss. I wrote about this at the time, when McCarthy kicked two sub-20-yard field goals to start the game, ran the ball on third-and-3 to set up a fourth-and-1 field goal try, and said after the game that he was calling second-half running plays to try to hit a total of 20 rushing attempts in the second half."

Former Packers players AJ Hawk and John Kuhn joined the "Wilde and Tausch" show on Milwaukee ESPN 540 radio.



Brace yourselves for the hot take from Undisputed Skip Bayless, a Fox Sports 1 pundit who has never been Aaron Rodgers' biggest fan.

"Yesterday, Aaron Rodgers officially quit on Mike McCarthy. From what I saw of Aaron Rodgers' body language yesterday, it said all game long, 'Until you get rid of this guy, I'm not really going to be into playing quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.'"

On "First Things FIrst," also on FS1, Nick Wright felt the blame tilted toward the coach.

"It's Mike McCarthy's job to make sure that doesn't happen," Wright said of any rift between Rodgers and McCarthy. "Even if you have a temperamental superstar, it is your job as the head coach to make sure you and your quarterback, if you're an offensive-minded head coach, are on the same page."

Mike Silver breaks down the end of the era and points out the real collapse of the McCarthy era came last year when Rodgers wasn't even a factor, and maybe that wasn't McCarthy's own doing.

"Then, last year, Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone in Week 6, and the whole operation crumbled. If anything, the team's ineptitude in his absence exposed the front office's philosophical shortcomings, rather than McCarthy's coaching failures.

"Throughout McCarthy's tenure, the Packers' front office ethos was to build through the draft and, with few exceptions, avoid splashy signings in free agency or trades of any kind. That relatively passive approach came to frustrate both McCarthy and Rodgers, who, on so many occasions, would cover up all shortcomings with feats of brilliance -- enabling then-general manager Ted Thompson to justify continuing to do things the way he always had."


Andrew Brandt, a former Packers front-office executive who has frequently shared insights into his time with the franchise, offered a series of tweets discussing his experiences with McCarthy


Adam Kilgore recaps a lot of what we already know with a couple interesting points about roster construction.

"The Packers must build around Rodgers, not only rely on him to prop them up. Rodgers lamented the loss of Geronimo Allison this season, which surely hurt. But what does it say when an offense has a hard time withstanding the loss of a third-year wide receiver who went undrafted? The Packers were wise to let aging Jordy Nelson go, but they never replaced him. They may have finally found a running back in Aaron Jones, but McCarthy too often split carries or played Jamaal Williams over him."


Former NFL player Ross Tucker feels the timing is right to move on.

"Take Dirk Koetter in Tampa with the Bucs, or Todd Bowles in New York with the Jets. Barring an absolute miracle, like either team winning out, neither one of those guys is expected to be back with their respective organizations next season.

"And they know it. The assistant coaches know it. And, perhaps most importantly, the players are aware of it as well, even if they tell the media they don’t pay attention to any of that 'white noise.' They know. Trust me, I’ve been there."


Peter King wrote a column saying he felt confident that Rodgers was not consulted in the decision.

"This was based on the Packers losing with more regularity than they had since Rodgers was a rookie in 2008. In Rodgers’ 37 starts since Christmas Day 2015, Green Bay is 18-18-1. Unacceptable."

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