Green Bay Packers' team president Mark Murphy speaks during a press conference at Lambeau field in Green Bay, Wisc., Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay
Packers' head-coaching vacancy should be appealing for one big reason.
He plays quarterback and signed a four-year, $134 million contract extension this year.
Two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, though, will not be involved in the process of selecting Mike McCarthy's successor, but is free to provide input, team president Mark Murphy said on Monday.
And that seems fine with Rodgers, who said he was focused on the Packers' final four games under interim coach Joe Philbin.
"I think there's an interest in who the next guy will be, but (Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst) and I have always had good lines of communication, their offices, like they say, are always open," Rodgers said. "I'm not needing to be involved in that process."
Murphy said Rodgers was also not part of the decision to fire McCarthy following the stunning 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that dropped Green Bay to 4-7-1. Chances of making the playoffs are slim.
It appeared that most players had already left Lambeau Field by that point, with many Packers saying they had learned of the firing on social media or through text messages.
"Found out probably the same way you did at the same time you did," receiver Davante Adams said on Monday. "I was definitely surprised. But, it's a business and business is business, and that's what it is."
Rodgers was already home to celebrate his 35th birthday when he found out.
"I'm sure I found out the same way that most of you found out," Rodgers said, "and was just as shocked as many of you were."
Green Bay Packers' general manager Brian Gutekunst, right, speaks as team president Mark Murphy looks on during a press conference at Lambeau field in Green Bay, Wisc., Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.
He planned to reach out to McCarthy later Monday.
"I think him and I, like any relationship, we have our amazing times, we have our times where we butt heads," Rodgers said. "But the basis, like I said, was built on mutual respect and communication. ... We spent time together and growing our friendship and we accomplished a lot together."
From Adams to Rodgers, nearly every player in the locker room spoke highly of McCarthy, who overall had a successful tenure of 12-plus seasons highlighted by a Super Bowl win in the 2010 season. The 55-year-old McCarthy led the Packers to nine playoff appearances and four trips to the NFC title game overall.
But offensive struggles this year followed a 2017 season in which Rodgers broke his right collarbone and the team missed the postseason. In 2016, the Packers started 4-6 before winning eight straight to get to the conference championship game.
Murphy said it was time to make a change after the embarrassing loss to Arizona.
"I don't want to get into the details, but he was very professional," Murphy said when asked how McCarthy reacted to his dismissal. "He's a first-class person ... and made a comment that, 'It's the coaching profession. I know what I got into when I became a coach.'"
Gutekunst will be heavily involved, along with a committee, in hiring the next coach, though the decision will belong to Murphy, the highest-ranking executive in the NFL's only publicly owned franchise. He adjusted the Packers' organizational structure in January, when Gutekunst was promoted to replace Ted Thompson as GM, to have McCarthy report directly to the team president.
"The structure, again, you're focused on the structure," Murphy said in response to one of several questions about how the Packers' organizational flow chart could be perceived by potential coaching candidates. "The most important thing is the people and the relationships.
"Brian and I have a great relationship," Murphy said. "I think we'll be in good shape, and I'm confident we'll be able to hire an excellent coach."
Murphy has more football experience than the average team president, having played safety under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs for the Washington Redskins. Also a lawyer, Murphy had extensive experience in sports administration before becoming Packers president/CEO in 2007. He was athletic director at Northwestern, where he hired coach Pat Fitzgerald, before coming to Green Bay.
Murphy also views Philbin as a candidate. He would like to evaluate the veteran assistant and former Dolphins head coach over the next four weeks.
Off the field, the move to dismiss McCarthy gave the Packers an early start on the coaching search. Murphy and Gutekunst offered few specifics when asked what they were looking for in the next coach, other than that would the team would wait until after the season to make a hire.
"I think this decision was about changing our course more than anything," Gutekunst said. "We just felt like it was a time to change the course."
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay
Packers have fired coach Mike McCarthy and made offensive coordinator
Joe Philbin the interim head coach.
The move announced by team president Mark Murphy came after a stunning 20-17 loss on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals, dropping Green Bay to 4-7-1.
Murphy, in a statement, said 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."
Murphy said the process of hiring the next head coach would begin immediately.
McCarthy was in his 13th season as coach. The Packers won the Super Bowl under McCarthy in the 2010 season. He finishes with a record of 125-77-2.
"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," Murphy said.
But this is a third straight year in which Green Bay has had extended struggles.
In 2016, the Packers started 4-6, then won eight straight games to get to the NFC title game, losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2017, when Aaron Rodgers missed extensive time with a broken collarbone.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy reacts to a call made on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. McCarthy was fired as head coach following the game.
McCarthy shook up his coaching staff,
including bringing Philbin back as offensive coordinator and hiring Mike
Pettine to replace Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. Different
This year, Rodgers hurt his left knee in the season opener, though he is feeling better now. Receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have missed time with injuries. The same issues kept popping up for the offense, most glaringly, empty third downs and a lack of explosive plays.
Rodgers was asked after the game — but before McCarthy's firing was announced — how much blame offensive players should get if the Packers made a coaching change after the season.
"Yeah, a lot probably. We haven't played very well," Rodgers said. "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."
Cobb's return on Sunday didn't help, with the Packers just 3 of 14 on third downs.
"I hate to repeat myself, but it's applicable. ... We're not executing the right way," Rodgers said.
"It's poor throws, not on the same page with receivers, wrong depth, protection," he added. "We all have a part in that and we've all picked our time to mess up a third down."
The opening play of the fourth quarter was a perfect example of Green Bay's offensive struggles. Rodgers found Cobb for a 36-yard completion on third-and-11, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty on right tackle Jason Spriggs.
Rodgers said his focus was getting his teammates to "play with that pride" and focus on the next four games.
"Yeah, I mean I'm not even thinking about that right now," Rodgers said when asked if he would have any role after the season with general manager Brian Gutekunst or Murphy about what direction they should go with the coaching staff.
The offensive players, Rodgers said, bear blame for whatever happens in the future.
"Yeah, a lot probably," he said. "We haven't played very well."
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Zane Gonzalez
kicked a 44-yard field goal for Arizona with 1:41 left, Green Bay's
Mason Crosby missed a 49-yard attempt as time expired and the Cardinals
braved wintry conditions to hold on for a 20-17 win on Sunday.
Crosby pushed his kick wide right, with the flags atop Lambeau Field blowing in toward the field at the time of the play.
The stunned Packers suffered another blow to their fading playoff hopes.
"It was clearly a very disappointing loss, it was a game we needed to win," coach Mike McCarthy said.
Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen struggled for much of the afternoon, but hit veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald for a sliding 32-yard completion on third-and-23 to help set up Gonzalez's winning kick.
Arizona (3-9) won on the road for the first time since Oct. 7 at San Francisco.
"All the things that were said on the outside, these guys circled the wagons and came together," coach Steve Wilks sad.
Sputtering Green Bay (4-7-1) has lost three straight and five of six.
Aaron Rodgers was 31 of 50 for 233 yards
and a touchdown. A couple throws looked off, especially in the first
half, and receivers had a few drops.
The offense regained some swagger after Rodgers orchestrated a 95-yard drive that led to Aaron Jones' 8-yard touchdown run with 5:26 left, tying it at 17. Davante Adams tip-toed the sideline for a 19-yard catch to extend that drive.
But too many missed opportunities and drops caught up with the Packers in the end. They also struggled on third down, a season-long theme, going just 3 of 14.
"We're just not executing well, it's the same things over and over," Rodgers said.
Rookie Chase Edmonds ran for two touchdowns for Arizona. Rosen was 11 of 26 for 149 yards, making just enough plays in front of a makeshift offensive line.
"Other than (center Mason Cole), I don't think a single one of those guys start the season," Rosen said. "They're doing a hell of a job."
Equipment managers test out audio in helmets on Lambeau Field before an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay.
A 16-yard completion to Adams with 13:42 left in the second quarter gave Rodgers the team record for attempts without an interception. Hall of Famer Bart Starr set the previous mark of 294 from 1964-65.
Cardinals: LG Mike Iupati was carted off the field in the third quarter with a knee injury. Arizona was already starting rookies at center and right tackle.
Packers: RG Byron Bell and RT Bryan Bulaga each left in the second quarter with knee injuries.
Cardinals: Host the Detroit Lions on Dec. 9.
Packers: Host the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 9.