Rob DemovskyESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covered Packers for Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1997-2013
- Two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers didn’t wait until the season was over — or even until they were officially eliminated from the playoffs — to make a coaching change.
Three hours after an embarrassing home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy.
“The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers. As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately,” Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement. “Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field. We want to thank Mike, his wife, Jessica, and the rest of the McCarthy family for all that they have done for the Packers and the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. We will immediately begin the process of selecting the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will serve as the interim head coach. Philbin was 24-28 in three-plus seasons as the Miami Dolphins‘ head coach from 2012 to ’15. He was with the Packers for nine years before he was hired by the Dolphins and returned as offensive coordinator for this season.
McCarthy’s team fell to 4-7-1 after Sunday’s 20-17 loss and appears likely to miss the playoffs for the second straight season. It’s the first time since Aaron Rodgers‘ first season as a starter that they will miss the playoffs without a major injury to their franchise quarterback.
After the game, McCarthy was asked about being in the unusual position of being all but eliminated from the playoffs with four games to play.
“I mean, I’ve never been in this spot,” McCarthy said in his postgame news conference. “I’m not going to act like I know what the hell I’m going to do tomorrow when they get in here. So we’re going to do what we always do: We’re going to represent the Packers the right way, I know that. Other than that, we’ll focus on what’s in front of us.”
McCarthy was 125-77-2 in 13 seasons, plus 10-8 in the playoffs. His team won Super Bowl XLV in the 2010 season but lost in three NFC Championship games, most recently in 2016.
He coached Aaron Rodgers during all but the quarterback’s first season with the Packers, but this season their relationship seemed to unravel. Rodgers criticized the Packers’ offense and their game planning after a Week 4 win over Buffalo.
Adam Schefter reports Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been fired following Green Bay’s 20-17 loss to Arizona in Week 13.
That struggling offense never got on track, and Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals (3-9) as a 13.5-point favorite was no different.
“We haven’t played very well,” Rodgers said after the game. “We’ve put up some yards at times and taken care of the football pretty well. Usually, over the years, the success that we’ve had, we’ve taken really good care of the football, but we’ve paired that with efficiency in the passing game and big plays and explosive gains. This year we’ve had the taking care of the football, but we haven’t had the consistent explosive gains.
“We all take part in the disappointments and the failures that we’ve had this season. We’ve had a number of opportunities. It’s not like we’re getting blown out in a bunch of games. We’re in games. Even when it’s not looking great, it was ugly at times today, but we’re in the game, we’re tied in the fourth quarter. And we’ve been that way in New England and in Seattle, and you can list off a couple other ones, opportunities, and we just haven’t gotten it done in any of those. You get just a couple of them, [and] this is a completely different conversation we’re having right now.”
Rodgers said he had not thought about the possibility of a coaching change.
“I’m just thinking about these next four games and realizing how important leadership is in the tough times, trying to get guys to dig deep and play with that pride,” he said. “The conversations will take care of themselves down the line. I know my role is to play quarterback the best to my abilities. That will be my focus the next four weeks, and then we’ll go from there.”
When asked if McCarthy had lost the locker room, veteran receiver Randall Cobb said after the game: “I’m here to play football … My feeling doesn’t matter.”
Murphy became McCarthy’s boss in January when Murphy forced out general manager Ted Thompson, who hired the coach, and promoted Gutekunst to GM. Gutekunst accepted the job without having authority over the coach, which was a major structural change.