Before getting into any of Sunday’s takeaways or the next step for the team, I just want to take some time to thank Mike McCarthy for everything that he brought to this team for 13 years. When hired, the team was in a bit of a flux, needing to bridge a change in organizational ideas.
All McCarthy did was come in, help right the ship, develop one of the best quarterbacks of all time and bring this team back to where they belong, earning world championships. While the final few years of his career at the helm in Titletown were not what we as fans wished for, his legacy should always be remembered as one full of promise, results and success.
With that in mind, I am happy he is gone. Let me explain.
The credibility of McCarthy has considerably decreased these past few seasons, leading up to this moment. This season will mark the second consecutive futile campaign that we do not reach the playoffs, unheard of in the NFL.
While the coaching legacy of MM will always have positive (should have at least) memories attached to it, his stay had considerably become worn-out in this football-driven part of the country. Being able to move on from McCarthy now instead of waiting for the season to conclude, it gives Brian Gutekunst and Mark Murphy time to assess the staff, begin forming candidate lists and put a plan together to begin the needed rebuild and teardown this franchise so desperately needs.
This season, multiple times it has seemed that McCarthy had avoided getting the ax because of a closer-than-needed, barely-squeaking-it-out victory that seemed to mostly be orchestrated by Aaron Rodgers and not the man leading the coaching staff. Being able to drop this 100% winnable, blowout-possible contest meant that the last lifeline was used for MM, paving the way to be fired.
While post-game reports describe MM as taken by surprise by being fired directly after the loss, he really should not have been. The writing has been on the wall ever since the season began, and while interim HC Joe Philbin is no world-beater by any means, he will get the chance to bring the team back into relevancy in the final games of the season.
By no means does firing MM guarantee any sort of success for this team as soon as next season, but it provides the team with a chance to start fresh, start new and bring in the needed personnel to help facilitate this about-face.
From Sunday’s contest, certain aspects stood out as the lone positives from the debilitating defeat.
Jaire Alexander’s spark in the punt return game was very much needed, an attempt to make the return units finally look top 20 in the league. While one of his decisions cost the team field position (letting the ball drop and get downed at the five), the drive resulted in a touchdown, so his decision did not end up hurting the team all that badly. While this change was much needed, Alexander’s experience in the return game is not quite at that comfort level yet, which hopefully will improve throughout the remainder of the year.
Secondly, our defensive personnel seems to not be accustomed to Mike Pettine’s elaborate schemes yet. While they have had almost a full season, plus a full offseason, to get used to how Pettine disguises both blitzing and coverage schemes, there are way too many noticeable gaps and gaffes every game in missed assignments and blown coverages.
Finally, Rodgers and Davante Adams are on such a beautiful wavelength, it sucks that AR has missed so many deep throws to him that could have resulted in him having at least 15 scores alone. That connection, for years to come, will be one of the better ones in the entire league, with the potential to set league records as the most successful QB-WR combo ever. While this statement is very far from being achievable, starting fresh with a new coach, schematic elements and most importantly a mindset, anything can happen.
Speaking to where the team goes next, the possibilities are endless, but Gutekunst has already been taking notes and making a list for new candidates. Leadership needs to look at NFL-experienced candidates, staying away from college coaches looking to make that big jump after riding a recruiting and bowl high.
In a previous article, I listed such names as Josh McDaniels, Dave Toub and John DeFilippo, which all still stand as viable candidates. However, the likes of Matt LaFleur (Titans OC), Pete Carmichael Jr. (Saints OC) and Brian Flores (Patriots DC) are also rising names in the coaching ranks, and although I believe this team needs to go offensive with its next selection, Flores is highly regarded within the coaching community and is another one of the New England disciples that could be looking for its next move.
Since this week was one that produced many reasons to look ahead to 2019, leave any thoughts, comments and questions in the comments below.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23