Mark Murphy wouldn’t say whether he would have gone ahead and fired Mike McCarthy if Mason Crosby’s 49-yard kick hadn’t missed wide-right on Sunday. But when the veteran failed to send the game to overtime, giving the lowly Arizona Cardinals a 20-17 win, the Green Bay Packers president knew it was time.
“The performance on Sunday, to me, made it very clear that a coaching change was needed,” Murphy said a day after giving McCarthy his walking papers following nearly 13 seasons as the franchise’s coach. “(General Manager Brian Gutekunst) and I met after the game last night and both agreed a change was needed.
“We have a great history and tradition here. (We’re) very disappointed in what we’ve seen this year. I think everybody associated with the organization is disappointed in the season (we’ve) had, but particularly the performance last night. In my mind, it was unacceptable.”
Murphy called McCarthy up to his office shortly after the game and informed him he’d been let go, a decision that the coach took in stride, telling Murphy he understood the kind of business coaching is. Murphy subsequently brought offensive coordinator Joe Philbin in and named him interim coach for the final four games of the season.
Now the process of finding a replacement for McCarthy begins. It’s not one that will be completed before the end of the NFL season, according to Murphy, and it’s not one that will involve input from the face of the franchise – quarterback Aaron Rodgers. No, it will come down to who Murphy and Gutekunst like, with the former making the final decision.
“Brian and I will work together and together we’ll hire the best coach,” Murphy said. “I’m not going to hire a coach that Brian is not comfortable with.”
Green Bay’s power structure changed last offseason when former GM Ted Thompson stepped down. Instead of the coach reporting to the GM, the coach and the GM now report directly to Murphy. It’s a significant change from the one the Packers had operated under since Ron Wolf took over in 1991 as GM and turned the franchise around. But Murphy says he’s different than most front office types on the business side of the organization.
“I don’t want to brag about myself, but all of my adult life I’ve been involved with football,” Murphy said. “I’ve seen it from the perspective of a player. I’ve been an athletic director for 17 years. I’ve hired many many coaches, (including) several football coaches. I think I have a lot to offer. I feel that I’m a football person even though I’m in the position of president.
“Brian and I have a great relationship. I think this gives the Packers the best chance to have success. That’s why I’m doing it.”
At 4-7-1, this Packers season is all but done. However, there also appears to be a feeling of confidence among the leadership that, while they are hiring a new coach, they don’t feel that far away from competing for a Super Bowl.
“Things can change quickly,” Murphy said. “I will say this about Brian, we’ve had one of Brian’s draft and (only) one offseason of changes that he’s made to the roster. I’m very optimistic, that with the way we’ve positioned ourselves for the draft this next year, we can make a big change quickly.”