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Packers fire coach Mike McCarthy after 13 seasons

NFL.com | Updated: 2018-12-05 04:00:15

The Mike McCarthy era, long and mostly illustrious, is over in Green Bay.

The Packers fired the coach and promoted Joe Philbin to interim head coach following the team's 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Team president and CEO Mark Murphy announced the decision no more than a few hours after the loss.

"The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers," Murphy said in the release announcing the change. "As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately.

"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."

McCarthy departs Green Bay after posting a 125-77-2 mark in those 13 seasons, including a 15-1 record a year after he led the sixth-seeded Packers on an unlikely playoff run that culminated in the team's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. He went 18-10 in the postseason with the Packers, a mark that could have been at least one win better had it not been for Brandon Bostick's fumbling of an onside kick in Seattle in the NFC title game in Jan. 2015.

Prior to his time in Green Bay, he served as offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints (2000-2004) and the San Francisco 49ers (2005).

The move wasn't a surprise, but the timing was. McCarthy's grip on the offense had become a detrimental one, as the once-explosive Packers turned into a largely inept offense, save for when Aaron Rodgers was left to improvise by playing sandlot ball. It even happened in McCarthy's final game Sunday, when Rodgers dropped, surveyed and pointed to a spot in the end zone as a destination for his receiver. He completed the touchdown pass to Davante Adams, but the rest of the game -- much like the majority of this season -- was an example of an offense not utilizing its weapons because it was too clogged to get going.

The Packers deemed that clog to be a coaching problem.

At 4-7-1, Green Bay appears headed for its worst finish since McCarthy's 2008 team finished 6-10 in Rodgers' first year as starter. Ten years later (and coming off a 7-9 campaign largely chalked up to the absence of Rodgers), a similar finish wouldn't be acceptable for the franchise.

This was a change that had been stewing for some time. Over his last 50 regular-season starts, Rodgers is 28-21-1. The Packers (like many teams) without their franchise quarterback were average at the absolute best. But even when they got Rodgers back in 2018, they didn't improve. Rumblings of internal discord started to get louder in the last month as things turned more and more sour. Rodgers spent Sunday's postgame presser talking about sticking together with his teammates during this trying time, lamenting what might have been while saying also pointing to a brighter future. It didn't take much to read between the lines.

"It is frustrating because I really like our squad," Rodgers said. "I'm proud of them. They've battled ... I think there's better days in the future for this squad. We're just going to have to go through this tough period right now and stick together."

The change at head coach comes less than a year after the Packers uncharacteristically made a change in the front office, too, saying goodbye to Ted Thompson as general manager (he still consults with the team) and replacing him with Brian Gutekunst. It's the league's second head coach firing during this 2018 season, and gives the Packers an advantageous position on determining who they'll target to replace McCarthy.

With Rodgers at 35 and under a fresh contract, time is of the essence.

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