Mike McCarthy has been the head coach of the Green Bay Packers for over a decade, guiding the Pack to one Super Bowl victory, a further three NFC Championship games and six NFC North titles. He is one of the most influential coaches in the Packers history and, after inheriting the Hall of Famer Brett Farve, has helped develop Aaron Rodgers into one of the finest quarterbacks of the modern era. In spite of all of this, it is time for McCarthy to step aside.
The Green Bay Packers have been very lucky. They acquired Brett Farve in 1992 and then drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005, they haven’t had a bad starting quarterback in almost three decades.
Rodgers has suffered a great many injuries in recent seasons and when he has gone down, the Packers have suffered greatly on offence. What happens if injuries get the better of Rodgers? What happens if he retires? The franchise can’t rely on drafting the next big thing, and this could leave them vulnerable with a head coach who has struggled to get the best out of back up quarterbacks in the past.
The fact that a team with a QB as dynamic as Rodgers has only featured in one Super Bowl during his time in the league is criminal, especially given that heavyweights such as the Patriots and Steelers play in the AFC conference, while the Packers are part of a less top-heavy NFC – a division that is not necessarily weaker, but that has fewer consistently top teams.
Caught up and overtake
For years they have been the dominant force in the NFC North, swatting away challenges from the Megatron led Lions, the AP heavy Vikings and the Matt Forte inspired Bears. In recent years however, their divisional rivals have strengthened in key areas, while the Packers have been slowly declining. Rodgers is one of the best in the NFL, and it appears that Mike McCarthy and the GBP hierarchy are happy to rely on him.
Look at the Super Bowl winning teams over the past few years, they are built on a mixed offence. The Eagles were a passing offence who had a strong running game built around LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. The Patriots had James White, the Broncos had CJ Anderson and the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch, not that they used him in 2015…!
In the ten years that I’ve been watching the NFL, I can hardly think of a top tier running back that the Packers have had.
If you Google top 20 Green Bay Packers running backs then two of those results are Eddie Lacy and Ty Montgomery, neither of whom evoke an array of happy memories. Look at how good Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers have been this season; quality QBs supplemented by a strong running game to allow them to thrive. Rodgers is talented, but defences know the Packers game plan.
It is excusable to not win a plethora of Super Bowls, only the New England Patriots have shown consistent dominance in recent years, but to drop out of the playoffs is a disaster for a team like Green Bay. After years of dominance they are slipping down the pecking order in the NFC North. Last year’s playoff omission was understandable, Rodgers was injured and he is their spark. What is the excuse this year? Poor coaching? The Packers currently sit 3rd in their division, holding a 3-4-1 record.
They scraped past the Bears on opening weekend, tied with the Vikings next, then had a real mix of fortunes. They lost disappointingly to the Redskins and Lions in weeks 3 and 5, sandwiching a shutout victory over the Bills. They beat San Francisco going into the bye week, then lost consecutive games to the Rams and Patriots. Consistency is a real problem for the Packers, and a very up and down set of fixtures down the final stretch makes for hard reading. With eight games left to play it looks highly likely that they’ll walk away from these at 4-4, leaving them on 7-8-1 for the season. That won’t be enough to win the division and with the highly competitive NFC South it’s hard to see them even earning a wildcard spot.
Recruitment and retention is a real bleak spot for the Packers under McCarthy of late. Having already mentioned their poor running game, they elected to let Ty Montgomery go to Baltimore, with no strong replacement coming in. They have let Ha Ha Clinton-Dix leave too, again, with no real stop-gap. They attained some good picks for future drafts, but is this to come at the expense of this season? The Packers are behind in their division, but are no means out of it, yet they have weakened significantly with no replacement coming in.
They let an ageing, injury prone Jordy Nelson go. This was understandable given his many games out in recent years, but the only experienced receiving talent coming in was Jimmy Graham from Seattle, who is yet to really light it up in Wisconsin. Considering the rapport that Nelson and Rodgers had for so many years, the lack of replacement has been poor, with neither Randall Cobb nor Devante Adams really stepping up big time to fill the void.
The bottom line is that the Packers are doing fine. Okay. Alright. With a QB like Aaron Rodgers, and all the benefits that come with him, they should be winning that division at a canter, going deep in the playoffs and competing for Super Bowls. Mike McCarthy feels like a man out of ideas in Wisconsin, and the acquisition of playing staff by himself and general manager Brian Gutekunst has been iffy at best. They are a franchised blessed with a five-star quarterback and if they don’t make the necessary coaching changes soon then Aaron Rodgers will sadly be retiring with only the one Super Bowl to his name.