On Dec. 2, after the Green Bay Packers suffered a devastating 20-17 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the team announced that they fired head coach Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy spent 13 seasons as head coach and won a championship back in Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCarthy also led the Packers to the postseason in all but three years during his tenure – his first season in 2006, 2008 and 2017 when Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury halfway through.
Despite this, McCarthy did have some issues that would eventually lead to his downfall as head coach.
Struggling with Aaron Rodgers’ talent in key situations
Aaron Rodgers is one of the most elite quarterbacks to ever grip a football in the NFL. Despite being a multiple MVP award recipient, he has only been to the Super Bowl once, due to many coaching mistakes on the part of McCarthy.
An example of this is the 2014 NFC Championship game between them and the Seattle Seahawks. Though all the blame is not on McCarthy’s part, Rodgers for instance threw an incomplete pass on a key third down and McCarthy’s play calling was a major reason for it. According to SB Nation, McCarthy told a reporter to expect more running from running back Aaron Jones who had rushed for 88 yards on only 10 touches at halftime, but the coach didn’t stay true to his words. Jones carried the ball just four times the rest of the game, putting a lot of pressure on Rodgers’ shoulders.
Despite being an elite player, McCarthy didn’t utilize that skill on a key fourth and two play with 4:20 left in the game by electing to punt the ball instead. Green Bay never got the ball back for the remainder of the game and lost 27-24.
This struggle has also led to Rodgers not putting up the numbers that are typically expected of him.
Bad Play Calling and Offense
McCarthy has received numerous complaints recently that his offense has been described as “bland” by websites such as SB Nation. It got so bad that Rodgers had started to change McCarthy’s play calling on a regular basis, according to Sports Illustrated.
Part of the reason is the style of offense that McCarthy runs. While once considered innovative and brilliant, it eventually ran its course. Where teams such as the Chiefs and Rams use newer, varying groupings and movements to get their receivers open which has been a huge part to the success of those teams this season. The Packers, on the other hand, use static formations that forces wideouts to get open rather than creating plays that assist the players in getting open.
This style doesn’t mix well with the young and inexperienced receivers that the Packers have, some of which are filling the role in for injuries. This conservative play style hasn’t helped McCarthy with adapting to the more modern offenses that other teams are using. This in turn leads to bad decision making that has been on display all season. The latest example being him running a draw play on a third and 10 early in the first quarter of the Cardinals game.
It was a combination of these two factors that would eventually lead to the Packers parting ways with McCarthy whose future in the NFL remains unclear.
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