GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A last-minute loss to the Arizona Cardinals sealed Mike Carthy's fate. The Green Bay Packers was already losing faith in Super Bowl coach Mike McCarthy with a losing record going into Sunday's game.
Being knocked out of the playoffs already with four games left in the season was the last straw.
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst discussed the decision about McCarthy and the direction of the team at a news conference Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after firing McCarthy.
Murphy opened by expressing his respect for McCarthy and his 13 seasons of coaching, "almost unheard of in today's NFL." Then he addressed the timing of firing him, saying the Packers would have preferred waiting for the end of the season if he had more wins "here and there."
But after Sunday's 20-17 loss, it became clear, "I felt a change was needed. Mike's tenure had run its course."
"Up until yesterday, we were hopeful we would get a big win and turn the season around. The performance yesterday really sealed it for me," Murphy said.
"This is about changing course, and we felt it was about time for changing course," Gutekunst added.
Murphy said releasing McCarthy now would let them begin searching for a new head coach sooner in the competitive league. He added it gives McCarthy more time to look for his next opportunity.
Asked about the relationship Coach McCarthy had with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Murphy said, "They had a great run together" but last night's decision was not about a single player.
He said Rodgers would have input on the selection of a new head coach, Murphy said he's welcome to offer his input, "but he's not going to be part of the process."
Murphy will also get a chance to see how offensive coordinator Joe Philbin performs in the head coaching role -- making it clear Philbin is a legitimate candidate, but neither Murphy nor Gutekunst suggested it's now Philbin's job to lose.
"He has been a part of our best teams here," Murphy said, and the Packers will "have an opportunity to see what these four games are like with him as head coach."
"We're going to find the right head coach for the Packers," Murphy later added.
Philbin himself said, "This is a job I have right now... My ambition in 2018, right now, is to help this team play its best football."
Philbin said he was taking the job with McCarthy's blessing. "Had two great conversations -- two emotional conversations. I told him I miss him already. We talked about the game yesterday... I told him I loved him. He told me the same thing."
Murphy will lead the search for the next head coach, not the general manager of the team. He cited his long resume in the NFL, from being a player to working with the players' association.
"I don't want to brag about myself. All of my adult life, I have been involved with football. I think I have a lot to offer. I feel that I am a football person even though I am president," Murphy said.
The Packers announced Sunday that they had parted ways with McCarthy after 13 seasons. Offensive coordinator Philbin was immediately announced interim head coach.
The decision came after the Packers lost 20-17 to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. The Packers were heavily favored going into the game.
The loss effectively ended all playoff hopes. The team also failed to make the post season in 2017.
“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 Packers are 4-7-1 on the season.
Only Curly Lambeau coached more seasons for the Packers than Mike McCarthy.
“His success, throughout his years here in Green Bay, he is a great coach. When you have a losing season like we have, obviously all the blame is put on him, but all the blame shouldn't be put on him. He's not the one that goes out there and performs. We do. It's tough," Safety Josh Jones told Action 2 Sports.
Defense lineman Dean Lowry appeared on Cover 2 after the announcement. He also spoke fondly of McCarthy. “I would just say he was a great coach. He helped bring me to Green Bay. He drafted. He was a part of that process but you just have to keep fighting. Coach McCarthy, we all played hard for him. The past two weeks didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to but he’s a great coach and a great person too so it’s sad to see him go," Lowry said.
Speculation on a replacement for McCarthy seems to focus around Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots.
Packers players will have locker room availability this afternoon. Action 2 Sports will be there and have full coverage tonight.
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