For a team that made the playoffs every year from 2009 through 2016, it might be a bit crazy to some people that Green Bay Packers Head Coach McCarthy could be on the hot seat heading into the 2018 season. He gets a bit of a pass for last year, as Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone and the team finished 7-9, its first losing season since 2008.
The Packers lead man thought similarly, as he shuffled the coaching staff. Among the coaches coming in are offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti, Jr. Philbin returns to the team after six years with the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. In 2011, he helped orchestrate an offense that is third all-time in single-season points scored. Pettine will be tasked with rebuilding a defense that has finished no higher than 21st in points allowed in three of the last five seasons.
Even a berth in the divisional round may not be enough for McCarthy to save his job. Rodgers should come back strong after missing most of last year, and he added a new weapon in former New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham. He also has a good, young running back in Aaron Jones. In Jones’ only start with Rodgers under center, the UTEP product ran for 125 yards and a touchdown in a win in Dallas.
The defense lost safety Morgan Burnett to Pittsburgh and traded Damarious Randall to Cleveland, but it returns everybody else, and most importantly, gained Pettine to lead the way. His defenses have been good under his tutelage and the team added a veteran corner (Tramon Williams) and drafted a pair of young corners (Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson). They also added Muhammad Wilkerson, whose best years were under Pettine.
That brings me to McCarthy. There are no more excuses for him this time. He has the quarterback. He (hopefully) has the defense. Despite reaching the NFC Championship twice since winning the Super Bowl following the 2010 season, the Packers lost both times. Since winning that Super Bowl, McCarthy’s bunch has a pedestrian 5-6 playoff record, and his squads have a 5-7 record in the playoffs outside of that incredible Super Bowl run.
I am not a “championships only” type of person, but McCarthy needs to help get Rodgers to another Super Bowl. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks, not only of this generation, but of all-time. Gaining Pettine will help, as the Packers have lost playoff games in the Rodgers era giving up an average of 36.3 points per game.
As we head into the 2018 season, McCarthy is the third-longest tenured coach in the NFL, only trailing Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, and of course New England’s Bill Belichick. As is the case with some coaches who have been with the same organization a number of years, I wonder if his voice is becoming a bit stale to the players. Sometimes change is good.
In a place nicknamed “Titletown,” it is not good enough to get to the divisional round of the playoffs, and the occasional championship game, before being bounced. Green Bay has not had a season winning more than 10 games since 2014, and that is unacceptable with a quarterback like No. 12. I know the Packers won the Super Bowl as a No. 6 seed with 10 wins eight seasons ago, but it is a “What have you done for me lately?” league.
And right now, McCarthy has fallen short, and if they don’t make it to at least the NFC Championship game this year, he could be on his way out. With the NFC being as competitive as ever with the Rams, Vikings and Eagles fighting it out with Green Bay, it will be a challenge this season for the Packers boss if he wants to keep working at 1265 Lombardi.——————
Jonathon Zenk is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He is a huge Packers fan, and a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. You can follow Jonathon on Twitter at @jzenk42