Aging is complicated most of the time. The bigger the entity, the more nuances tend to get involved. For example, when Rolling Stone magazine emerged on the scene in the ‘70s, it perfectly encompassed the voice of the post-hippie, super politically active American counter-culture. Same for when MTV burst onto the scene. But at some point, a difficult conundrum presents itself: Do we age with the audience that has been with us from the beginning and made us what we are? Or do we try to stay young and pander to the same demographic that formed our voice as an entity? Professional sports coaches often come to that same fork in the road.
Firing coaches is not something I normally get involved in. Something about taking away a person’s livelihood all willy-nilly makes me a little uncomfortable. Not to get too in-the-weeds with it, but my personal opinion is that there’s about a handful of coaches that add meaningful value to a team’s record; there’s about a handful of coaches that diminish the value to a team’s record. All the rest are fine. Neither add nor take away from their team, easily replaceable, yet perfectly adequate at what they do.
(If you really want to get into the nuances of this point of view, I’m @TheDudeMan3 on Twitter.)
That said, we’re at the point Mike McCarthy needs to go.
I didn’t jump on the #FireKidd stuff until just before he got fired. That was too late. It’s obvious now just now bad Kidd was. And how much responsibility he had in the team’s demise last season.
Joe Prunty wasn’t any better. Talk about a guy playing with house money. Prunty came in, had absolutely nothing to lose and was coaching one of the NBA’s best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Instead of thoughtfully implementing his own brand of basketball, his master plan was to … wait for it … DO EVERYTHING THE SAME AS JASON KIDD DID! (Aside from the occasional switch on defense.)
Mike McCarthy’s offense in 2018 feels as hollow as Rolling Stone going to a different version of the “100 Greatest of All-Time” trope once a year just so the young’uns can learn that, in fact, the Beatles were a better band than Imagine Dragons. Jason Kidd’s game plan in 2017 felt as dated as MTV running the “Jersey Shore” cast out again a dozen years after their first run of relevancy.
Furthermore, it doesn’t even feel like McCarthy kept the things that worked around. Whatever happened to the Packers’ slant? For the bulk of the last 30 years, between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay could get five yards at any given time just by hurling a slant pattern.
So perhaps it’s unfair to say McCarthy’s offense hasn’t adjusted over time. But the resulting offensive playbook appears to be a weird amalgamation of things that don’t work; an uncreative, bland group of plays that lack the diversity the offense needs. If those laminated play sheets coaches use on the sidelines came branded, Sean McVay’s would be plastered in Gucci logos. Mike McCarthy’s would be the Walmart “Equate” brand version.
Until 2015, the Packers have ranked inside the top ten in points scored, total yards gained, or both. In ‘15, Green Bay finished 15th and 23rd in those categories. 2016 was a bounce-back year, ending fourth in points scored and eighth in yards gained.
Rodgers was hurt most of 2017, so a drop off was expected. But for whatever reason, McCarthy hasn’t been able to get the offense back on the right track. As of this writing, the Packers are 17th in points and 10th in yards.
The discrepancy between the points and yards in symbolic of the root problem. Those categories tend to go hand-in-hand, relatively speaking. A seven-spot drop between the two is a cue of something suspicious. In this case, look no further than the Packers’ difficulties scoring in the red zone.
Without Rodgers for the bulk of 2017, the Packers scored a touchdown on 61.9% of red zone appearances. This season, that number sits at 61.76%. It stayed the same with Rodgers back in the lineup. Sure, McCarthy doesn’t deserve all the blame. But the fact that red zone touchdown efficiency didn’t jump by 15% should be enough for heads to roll by itself. And McCarthy has to be the fall guy. Fairly or not, it just has to be.
It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t wasn’t Mark Murphy had in mind. But sitting on McCarthy for a year too long is going to make this super awkward. After last season, changes were made at both coordinator spots and general manager. Assuming McCarthy gets fired, the new coach will likely be pressured to keep – at the very least – Mike Pettine, who’s done a respectable job as defensive coordinator. Being handcuffed to a coordinator isn’t exactly a selling point that would get prospective head coaches too excited.
The holy trinity that is the Packers management – Mark Murphy, Brian Gutekunst, and Mike McCarthy – must cast away its weakest member (McCarthy) in order to allow the herd to move forward. Like the Bucks last year, it already seems too late. The coach has lost the team and the fan base. For the second consecutive season, a head coach’s presence has overshadowed everything else a Wisconsin pro sports team has done or is doing. McCarthy has become toxic that same way Jason Kidd did in 2017. It’s time to act. This has become an irredeemable situation.