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Packers Stock Report: Life After McCarthy

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Packers Stock Report: Life After McCarthy

The universe has finally given Packer fans what most have been clamoring for. Mike McCarthy has been relieved of his head coaching duties, and the franchise now sets its sights on the future.

Although Green Bay isn’t mathematically eliminated from the NFC playoff picture, it’s become abundantly clear that this team wasn’t headed toward a playoff spot. It will be the first time a Packers coach has failed to make the playoffs in consecutive years since the pre-Favre era.

I’m very rarely a loud proponent of firing just about anyone. It can be easy to forget that these are real people with families. Unemployment is scary for everyone. That being said, coaching is a profession in which 30-year tenures are nearly impossible, and McCarthy has collected a total income well into eight figures in his 13 years with the Packers. He’ll be fine.

Beyond the human element, this move feels right. Last year was a disaster, albeit without Aaron Rodgers. Even with his quarterback in the lineup this year, however, McCarthy failed to get the most out of his players.

The Packers have the point differential of about a 6-6 team yet have just four wins. Various metrics indicate they’ve played as a top-12 team, yet have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the playoffs with four games to go. Somehow this team is less than the sum of its parts.  

Forgive me for breaking from the typical format here, but I think McCarthy’s swift dismissal after the loss to Arizona warrants an all-coaching-change edition of the stock report.

Stock Rising: Buy! Buy! Buy!

The Timing: Some wanted McCarthy fired years ago. I’m sure some wanted him canned his first year and in 2010 before winning a Super Bowl. The cries for a new coach grew loudest last offseason, after fans saw how helpless the Rodgers-less Packers were.

But I’m generally patient with these matters, and I always like to make sure someone has a fair shot to prove themselves. I think almost all college coaches should be given four years, to see what their recruiting classes look like once matured. And I was prepared to allow McCarthy to return for 2018 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers wasn’t exactly healthy this year but he played, and the results simply weren’t good enough. I reject the notion that many fans scream: “He should have been fired years ago!” For me, this was the exact right time for a change.

I’m also a fan of the mid-season change, something I never thought I’d see from the Packers. It works on so many levels. It shows a decisiveness and proactive mentality that contrasts with Ted Thompson’s patient approach. Plus it gives the Packers’ brass more time to evaluate possible candidates.

Opponents saw the in-season dismissal as disrespectful, but an argument can be made that this timing is kinder to McCarthy as well. If Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst have already decided they’re going to fire McCarthy, why hide it from him? Why make him answer questions about his job security for a month? Why make him endure another four weeks of early mornings and late nights?

Firing a coach is like breaking up from a relationship: there’s never a good time to do it. Most of the time it’s simply more compassionate to separate sooner to start the healing process. This way, McCarthy can start looking toward his future as well. Also, he has the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with his family for the holidays, a near-impossibility for NFL coaches.

The Man: As the wounds heal from this bad season, we should remember Mike McCarthy’s tenure fondly, even if it wasn’t perfect. Some fans love to yell about how he only coached the Packers to one Super Bowl title in 13 years. Even the revered, unquestioned, best-coach-of-all-time Bill Belichick only has two rings in that time frame, and he also had a ridiculously good quarterback.

As I’ve gotten older, though, it has become increasingly important to me that my teams represent themselves well. I just don’t want to root for bad guys. And while I don’t know him personally, Mike McCarthy made me proud to be a Packers fan.

No one treasured his job title quite like McCarthy, who revered the team’s history, loved the city and embodied everything the franchise stands for.

Additionally, he took barrage after barrage of criticism with grace and dignity, even while his quarterback threw him under the bus. McCarthy refused to retaliate. He always stood up for his players and refused to play petty word games in public.

It’s a results-based business, and yes, it was time for a change. But I’m damn proud to have had Michael John McCarthy as the head coach of my team. I’m very happy that there’s a Mike McCarthy Way, a fitting tribute to a great era in Packers football and the classy, hard-working leader who orchestrated it.

Stock Falling: Sell! Sell! Sell!

The Structure: I know I wasn’t the only one surprised and disappointed when Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst gave a joint press conference, announcing they would pick the next coach in tandem.

I trust Gutekunst almost implicitly. Some of it may just be optics, but his press conferences instill confidence in the fanbase, and he seems prepared, transparent and able to think on his feet. So why does he need Murphy to be involved and have the final say?

Murphy repeatedly dismissed the structure as insignificant, saying that what mattered more were the people involved, not how they’re organized. As the press conference progressed, I was starting to talk myself into the idea of Murphy being involved in the coaching search until he seemed unaware of the fact that Gutekunst already had a list of candidates to use as a starting point.

Clearly Gutekunst was prepared for the possibility of McCarthy’s dismissal and had a just-in-case list. Murphy seems like he wedged his way into the process in the last couple days.

Both men insisted they’d be able to come to a consensus and that Murphy wouldn’t be vetoing any selections. I desperately hope that is true.

It’s not that I have any real reason to doubt Mark Murphy, but he simply doesn’t inspire confidence in the same way that Gutekunst does. I know media relations are a small part of both jobs, but Gutekunst is always as open as he can be and is willing to explain his thought processes when appropriate. Murphy always seems mildly annoyed that these common folk would question him.

Again, my preference for Gutekunst over Murphy is more of an aesthetic one, but I really hope this tandem approach with Murphy having the final stamp doesn’t jeopardize the Packers’ chance at a great coach.

The Comments: There have been some outrageous suggestions about who the next coach should be, and I’m forced to laugh so I don’t cry.

Some fans think Brett Favre would make a good head coach. Some want Mike Holmgren to come out of retirement. Donald Driver was another suggestion. Joe Lombardi has been another frequent name to pop up in the comments sections online. Hell, can we just resurrect Vince?

Please stop living in the past.

One commenter simply wanted “no college coaches and no failed coaches.” Great! Just go get one of those guys with pro experience and no failures!

There’s risk involved in every candidate. Maybe he’s an accomplished coordinator but doesn’t have head coaching experience, like Matt LaFleur. Maybe he’s a great college coach who doesn’t have pro experience, like David Shaw. Or perhaps he’s got quite the resume at the highest level, but he’s 66-years-old, like Bruce Arians.

Everyone is a risk. There are no perfect candidates, and categorically dismissing coaches of a certain background would be foolish. It’s about winning games, not about winning the press conference.

Although I’m sure Head Coach Brett Favre would give one hell of a press conference…


Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (65) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

dobber's picture

Well done, Matt. I agree with virtually everything you wrote.

"Rodgers wasn’t exactly healthy this year but he played, and the results simply weren’t good enough."

We all recall that in 2014, he essentially carried this team to the NFCCG on a pulled calf muscle he could barely walk--much less run--on.

If he was too injured to play well this season, he shouldn't have played.

Hawg Hanner's picture

Matt. you clearly have no respect for Murphy regardless of his pedigree as a player, player association leader, league executive , attorney, MBA, and athletic director. I am sorry for you and the angst you must suffer everyday, but there are few better men to lead the organization than Murphy. Brian Gutekunst is a young man and someday, perhaps when Murphy retires, he can take the reigns of the entire organization. The current setup is ideal to let the kid grow, Murphy has some great things with alternative revenue streams and he frankly did not have to intervene with Thompson and McCarthy until the results dictated. I frankly hope you and the anti-Murphy crowd will back off.

zoellner25's picture

Love the story Matt. I too am a firm believer in Gutey as our GM. I think he's already shown more gusto than Ted did. Is it draft time yet?

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Rodgers better get his act together as well. He is in line for the chopping block as well.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

as well...hehe

BradHTX's picture

Well, well, well...

But seriously, no he’s not. Not at, what, $35M dead money? The wagon is firmly hitched to Rodgers. Let’s just hope he doesn’t turn out to be a horse’s ass.

Rak47's picture

If we're being honest with ourselves the most important thing involving a coach is that he and Rodgers click. And after listening to James Jones speak on NFL site having Philbin win out and the offense start playing well might be the best thing for this team moving forward. It was clear from their presser that Murphy and Gute consider Philbin to be a serious candidate. I think Philbin is just as good a coach as McCarthy was, he just never had a Rodgers in Miami. Now even considering Philbin depends on how this team responds to him, especially offensively. I watched an interview earlier today on NFL site where James Jones talked about how Philbin was always running the offense in practice while McCarthy was doing HC stuff. Jones said they would run plays and tell Philbin what they liked and didn't like and when they liked a play they would tell Philbin," coach we need to run this play 4-5 tomes in the game." So Philbin would relay this info to McCarthy but as we all know Philbin wasn't calling the plays and McCarthy not being at the offensive practice would end up running the plays they hated and the ones they liked either not at all or not nearly enough. Apparently this was the norm for how they ran their schedule so there has been a disconnect there for many years between McCarthy and Rodgers and the entire offense going back to 2010-2011 at least. But according to Jones Philbin had Rodgers and the offenses respect and Philbin is not afraid to challenge Rodgers. It will be interesting in the interim to see who, if anyone Philbin promotes to OC. I'm not completely opposed to Joe Philbin if Rodgers is happy and plays well under him because it sounds like Philbin is open to more input from Rodgers and his offense than McCarthy ever was. That and mutual respect between Philbin and Rodgers could be just what this team needs to get the offense going.

Lare's picture

I like Joe Philbin, but I don't think he's the guy to move this team forward. I think he's a guy that'll maintain the status quo.

LambeauPlain's picture

What a wild December it would be if the Pack ran the table and backed into the playoffs at 8-7-1.

What a frenzied January if they then ran the table in the playoffs and made the SB.

Would Murphy hire Philbin as the new HC?

I know...cue Supertramp's "Dreamer".

Stickfish's picture

Saw them in Wisconsin twice, great shows. That being said it is a bit hard to see us (in my opinion) winning more than three of our next games, and likely fewer than than that. What I do hope we find is a new Head Coach who doesn't take the ball out of 12's hands with the game - and a playoff game at that - on the line.

I believe I understand managing by the numbers, but to me a clear shift in the force occurred when MM decided against the two point try to win a game we had no business winning. What kind of faith does that instil on your franchise when you don't believe you can gain 2 1/2 yards with the opposition reeling and your offense walking on clouds.and the ball still with Rodgers at that moment.

If Philbin is that guy heck yes then give him a shot. Looking at the player moves since then it is obviously not on McCarthy alone and those responsible will only be able to shoot the dead guy for so long.

Free agent's picture

They have 3 games remaining with bottom tier teams and play the Bears. I wouldn’t be surprised or to excited if they win the rest of them. Unless, the offense averages 35 points per game and the defense plays very well. I think they will lose to the Falcons & Bears. I’m ready for a total makeover of the entire coaching staff, from the head coach down to the water boy.

HankScorpio's picture


i read that theme in one of the SI articles I read recently....that part of the "tension" between MM and AR was that MM was absent from some of the midweek collaboration between QBs & offensive coaches. MM missing those sessions was the problematic on gameday as they tired to work the offense. AR would want to act on those concepts that were developed while MM wasn't even aware they had developed.

Rak47's picture

I think you're right Hank. The intricacies and details that go on behind the scenes often go overlooked by us fans until details are put out there by the media.

Lare's picture

That was reporting on the situation several years ago when Philbin was here the first time.

Brian Ringwood's picture

i don't want a HC as my OC, i want an OC who designs, runs and calls plays, i want a DC who designs, runs and calls defenses, then i want a HC who is a HC, who makes the overaall decisions, not the play by play decisions.

dobber's picture

Hear hear!

stockholder's picture

Enjoy the wait.

The TKstinator's picture

Lift the weight.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Who is this Brian Ringwood? Great comment. I don't really know the ST coordinator some have mentioned for HC, his appeal is in part based on Brian's post. Okay by me if our OC gets considered for HC vacancies if it means we attract the very best candidates.

Tundraboy's picture


stockholder's picture

The Blind leading the Blind.

albert999's picture

Fire Zook

TheBigCheeze's picture


Lare's picture

I thought Gutekunst was pretty impressive in the press conference yesterday. Murphy not as much, but the bottom line is winning football games not winning press conferences.

The new HC is a huge decision for the organization. IMO there are more important considerations than whether he can get along with Rodgers or not.

The Packers have so many resources at their disposal in this day and age, I'm confident they'll get it right.

RCPackerFan's picture

Completely agree about Gutekunst and Murphy.

Gutekunst is a great representative of the Packers.

I really like overall what he did in his first year. I hope we see him continue to improve and bring in great players.

stockholder's picture

I liked what he did too. But the actions he took seem to be back firing. Randall and Rollins were showing promise their first year. (Then regressed, to out the door.) I just can't get on board with the decisions being made. It seems like management wants to beat their chest, and hype everything. How can we be in agreement when they have a 4-7-1 record. A QB that is all-Pro, but hasn't shown it this year. A OL that should have been fixed before the season started. I have to wonder what planet, Murphy and Gute are on when they say things now.

Golden Retriever's picture

I like Mike McCarthy a great deal as a man, and agree that he represented the Packers very well during his tenure. My hope is that he will take a season off to focus on his family and lose some weight. His younger brother died of heart failure, and unlike football coaches, fathers are irreplaceable. His wife and kids need him more than an NFL or college football team do right now.

D.D. Driver's picture

Murphy has become Green Bay's own version of a meddling, know-nothing owner. That's a hell of an accomplishment for a team that doesn't have a true owner.

Harlan Huckleby's picture

Giannis for head coach!

4zone's picture

We will see right out of the gate if Philbin is the solution for this offense. If he is, we have no need to look any further. The D is in good hands and it shouldn't be hard to find a new ST coach and hire Van Pelt as our OC.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Some will laugh, but if Philbin gets the HC job I wouldn’t mind seeing McAdoo back in some capacity. Despite his disastrous tenure at NY he did good work with Rodgers and I think he could be an effective OC under Philbin.

Job 1 is reestablishing the locker room, and hopefully they can do that without more statement firings.

Slim11's picture

If Philbin is the new HC, then I'll take McAdoo over Alex Van Pelt.

Bure9620's picture

Please McAdon't

albert999's picture

Kliff Kingsbury
Kingsbury is another young, offensive-minded head coach who has spent his recent years at Texas Tech
His time as head coach at Texas Tech came with mixed results but he coached a very explosive offense, which could make him an attractive option. He helped develop current NFL star Patrick Mahomes
Perhaps it’s not the right time for a head coaching role for Kingsbury but he could make a fantastic offensive coordinator, something the Packers should also be looking into.

Slim11's picture

Kingsbury is supposedly off the market, going to USC.

dobber's picture

Is anyone in the college game ever really off the market?

Bearmeat's picture

He'd take an OC job with GB over USC if they asked, I'm sure. Not a position coach.

albert999's picture

Brian Urlacher DC
That would be HUGE!

LambeauPlain's picture

I learned early in my career the best sales reps rarely make the best sales managers.

Bure9620's picture

So true..

LambeauPlain's picture

I was not a fan of Murphy taking over the day to day football operations but his boldness in letting MM go now impressed me.

I also see how much confidence he has in Gutekunst.

I doubt the new HC will be reporting to Murphy. I feel confident it will be to BG.

I note Russ Ball, Murphy's other direct report, was not even mentioned yesterday.

I would not be surprised to see Murphy's structure in 2019 to be BG and RB his only direct reports from the football operation.

D.D. Driver's picture

Nah. If that were true, Gute would get to hire his own coach. Like it or not, Howdy Doody is the de facto GM.

Lphill's picture

Pettine HC, Vanpelt OC, Larry Fitzgerald DC

Since '61's picture

What I would do with this team is start from the top.
As the Executive Board I would dump Murphy and bring in a new team President. I would love to bring back Ron Wolf not as GM but as Murphy's replacement. At 79 he is probably too old and not interested but I would check it out. My next move would be to ask Mike Holmgren if he wants to come back as Murphy's replacement.

Either of these men would provide the Packers organization with immediate credibility around the league, with management, with players and with the fans. Also, they both know what it takes to build solid, quality football organizations. If neither of them want Murphy's job then I would look for another established NFL executive.

After that I would keep Gute and Ball for continuity.
Move Gute into a more traditional GM role guided and tutored by the new President.

As for HC make a long list and interview as many as possible. If we want to try to keep Pettine as DC we should select an offensive minded HC. If we expect to lose Pettine we could hire a defensive minded DC and either keep Philbin or bring Alex Van Pelt back as the OC to work with Rodgers.

Either way since MM has taken the fall it seems to me that Murphy should also take the hit for presiding over this evolving disaster for the last 3-4 seasons. TT and MM were his guys, so what does that tell us about Murphy's qualities as a leader. Chuck him and start over with a quality NFL executive. Thanks, Since '61

4zone's picture

Holmgren might be interested. But I doubt Murphy gets canned unless we nose dive next year too.

Since '61's picture

You may be correct. We'll see if the Board extends Murphy's contract which ends this year and if they do extend for how long. That will give us an idea of how much rope they want Murphy to have. Thanks, Since '61

Johnblood27's picture

61, hold my didn't exactly build juggernauts in Seattle or Cleveland, in fact his Cleveland tenure was a disaster.

no that's is on any trips down memory lane.

no wolf, passed him by

no holly, I'm still pissed he crapped the sub away while negotiating with seattle.

btw, I saw him in a small restaurant on maui a few months ago. I am still so upset with him I didn't even say hi and he and his wife and me and my family were the only ones in the place.

Since '61's picture

Cleveland was bad no doubt. He may not have had a juggernaut in Seattle but he did take them to an SB and put them on the NFL map. Also, he should won that Sb but he was robbed by the officiating.

I honestly do not believe that either Wolf or Holmgren would want the position. But they both know the NFL and they understand that Green Bay is a unique situation in the NFL which they are familiar with.

In any case my hope would be that if the Board decides not to renew Murphy's contract that they select a solid NFL experience and some success in building an organization. Thanks, Since '61

fastmoving's picture

I like Murphy a lot. he was a good player and is an even better president, with good leader qualities. with Gute we have a good duo on top, with a interesting power structure.

Wolf wasnt that good, if it was not for Favre and White, he would look even more pedestrian. Had a lot of misses too, way more than TT.

And MH did not set the world on fire in SEA either. Was he not GM too, there? And what did he do in CLE before he was fired? But I guess people need here Heros from long ago. In 20 years they will talk from TT and MM the same way.

I would rather take a look at our QB, he (and his contract) is way more a problem then everything else.

Since '61's picture

Really??!!! Who do you think brought Favre and White to Green Bay. Plus Mike Holmgren, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Eugene Robinson, Andre Rison, Desmond Howard, Keith Jackson and a host of other players.

From '95 - '98 the Packers went 48 -16 .750%. with 2 Super Bowl appearances, winning one plus 3 NFCCGs in a row winning 2. But yes, Wolf had a lot of misses. We should be ecstatic if Gute and our next coach come anywhere close to that record.

Besides as I pointed out in my post, Holmgren would be more likely than Wolf due to age. Holmgren only brought Green Bay and the Seahawks out of NFL Siberia but heck he's no good either according to you.

As for Murphy, he's has presided over this operation until it reached the mess we are currently in. The Packers have been a hobby for him while he was building PackerLand or whatever its called while TT was missing draft after draft. You say Wolf had more misses, really!!! We have four players left from 28 players drafted from 2013 - 2015.

Finally our QB and his contract is the problem?!!! He's having a subpar season and he is still our best player by far, it's not even close. But you think he is the problem!!! Sorry you've lost all of your credibility on this blog. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

But besides that, pretty good post.

Since '61's picture

Thanks TK. I really don't expect either Wolf or Holmgren to return. But in the event that the Board decides not to renew Murphy's contract I hope they select someone with a solid NFL background and experience in building a successful organization.

The thing with Wolf or Holmgren is they both understand Green Bay and their unique situation within the NFL. I also think that would remain focused on the football side of the operation.

IN any case I would want Murphy's replacement to be more focused on football rather than external opportunities. Thanks, Since '61

Tundraboy's picture

"IN any case I would want Murphy's replacement to be more focused on football rather than external opportunities. "

Therein lies the rub.

TXCHEESE's picture

GR, you made a very good comment about McCarthy taking a year off. It would probably do wonders for his health. Who knows, he might pull an Andy Reid and come back with a new zest for modern offense.

Kingsbury from Texas Tech, would not be a bad place to start as an OC. As much as Tech is know for being pass happy, they have developed a pretty decent running game the last 2 - 3 years, by spreading the defense out, and making them defend the field from sideline to sideline.

One final note on McCarthy. I always appreciated his professionalism, and leadership through the tough times. It's a shame this team couldn't turn it around.

Johnblood27's picture

Holmgren was a coach.

he was good in gb.

Harlan brought wolf and insulated football from the board.

Bob Harlan saved GBP football.

NOT Holmgren.

FACT. live in the real world.

Since '61's picture

Very true. Bob Harlan did save GB football. I'm not sure what would have happened to the Packers if Harlan didn't make the moves he made at that time. Thanks, Since '61

Samson's picture

Say it loud.
"We're Good With Gute."

Gute will nail the HC position. -- Gute will finally make GB a favorable destination for free agents. -- Also, Gute will also nail draft 2019. -- North Division crown in 2019 -- You heard it here first. -- Thanks, Since 1960.

AgrippaLII's picture

Football in GB got interesting again. I want to see what happens with the offense during the rest of the season.

GeorgiaCheesehead's picture

I like Mike Holmgren to replace MM, Gutekunst full control as GM, Josh McDaniels as HC, Joe Lombardi as OC - Pettine staying as DC, if he doesn’t stay then Kevin Greene DC.

Community Guy's picture

consensus means that all involved, Murphy AND Gutekunst, have veto ability.. both guys will agree on the new head coach.

Community Guy's picture

i wanted to point out that, in fan comment sections, there is a distrust of Mark Murphy being a part of the impending new head coach decision. it seems a little ironic to me that those same people want Gutekunst, Murphy's recent hire, to be the sole guy to make that decision. if you distrust Murphy, why would you have so much trust in his recent hire, who, to my knowledge, has never hired a coach before?

flackcatcher's picture

Well, Murphy was forced into hiring IAMGUTE by the executive committee after botching the hiring process. There was due diligence done, and the committee knew and trusted him. I can't speak for others, but the way Murphy handled the entire GM selection was a mess from beginning to end. To many unanswered questions, along with his treatment of Ted Thompson leaves me highly dubious about his ability to handle the search and hiring for a head coach in a reasonable amount of time.

TheBigCheeze's picture

Matt Kelly.....what makes YOU the expert in picking coaches??....#BRINGBACKHOLMGREN.......

keeley2's picture

So now Winston Moss is gone. I suppose the Asst. Head Coach had alot to do with that move? Or perhaps he walked in and offered to resign?

Packman60's picture

What is it with some of the crowd calling for Joe Lombardi for HC or even OC ? He wasn't successful in his one stint as OC for Detroit. Just because he's Vince's Grandson doesn't qualify him to be given consideration for either of these positions.

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