Having watched the Green Bay Packers continually trip over their own shoelaces this season, even in games they won, I can’t say I’m upset to see Mike McCarthy go.
Sunday’s home loss to the Arizona Cardinals was abysmal, and it rightly cost “The Beav” his job. You can actually clock the time of death when the 2-9 Cards, with the NFL’s worst offense, converted a clutch 3rd and 23. McCarthy was fired about three hours later, but not before giving a heartbreaking presser.
“I’ve never been in this spot,” said McCarthy, who was hired in January 2006. “I’m not gonna act like I know what the hell I’m going to do tomorrow when [players] get in here, so we’re gonna do what we always do. We’re going to represent the Packers in the right way.”
To his credit, McCarthy always represented the Packers well. He loved Green Bay. It was his first head-coaching job, and it really was a match made in heaven. He embodied the team’s blue-collar work ethic and steadfast demeanor. And he was, truth be told, very good at it for a very long time.
He helped rebuild the franchise post-Mike Sherman, and he developed a raw Aaron Rodgers into an all-time great. In his 12 full seasons with the Packers, McCarthy made the playoffs nine times, including a championship in the 2010 campaign. His .618 winning percentage is fourth in franchise history. Only Curly Lambeau has more Ws as Packers coach. The only others to win a Super Bowl are Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. That’s some good company.
But Rodgers’ sluggish play this season (and the Packers’ offensive ineptitude last year when he was injured) exposed the flaws in McCarthy’s system. A once-potent attack — they scored 560 points in 2011, third-most in NFL history! — had grown stale and predictable, and for whatever reason he was unable to adapt to a changing NFL.
McCarthy’s presumed wasting of Rodgers in recent years might always be a cloud on his legacy. Some say he should have won multiple titles with Rodgers under center, but a quick study by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell this week revealed that A-Rodg “has won almost exactly the number of Super Bowls we would have expected given the success rate of other (surefire, first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Fame) quarterbacks.”
Winning a Super Bowl is hard in the NFL’s modern era, and McCarthy did win one. Thank you, Mike! For the game to pass you by, you have to have previously been ahead of the game. In the quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy home again, the Packers would do well to find someone as dedicated and innovative as Mike McCarthy once was.