Green Bay Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy is in a precarious situation in his 11th season on the sidelines. The Packers sit at 4-5 and media and fans are questionning McCarthy’s future as coach. There is no question McCarthy was a godsend for the Packers in 2006 to make the transition from the Brett Favre to the Aaron Rodgers era. However, even great coaches don’t last forever.
McCarthy compiled a 108-60-1 record from 2006 to 2016, an impressive record only surpassed in the same span by Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. While it is undeniably hard to fire a coach that successful, it needs to be done. McCarthy relies on an antiquated system of offence and refuses to change. The West Coast offence he employs is extremely basic in its passing concepts. It uses short, quick, timed routes—similar to legendary coach Bill Walsh’s offence from the 80s.
The McCarthy West Coast scheme was extremely successful in his early years because of its reliance on the quarterback. With all-star quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the offence worked effectively and carried the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. Unfortunately, the modern NFL defence has adjusted to McCarthy’s tactics. NFL teams are not calling basic coverages as often as in the 80s or mid-2000s. Instead, defensive coaches employ complex coverage schemes designed to confuse offences. Despite defensive innovation, McCarthy refuses to adapt, continuing to rely on his quarterback to understand intricate defensive systems.
Rodgers masked the issues with Green Bay’s offence with near flawless performances, supported by his excellent supporting cast week after week. Rodgers’ preparation, strong arm, and pinpoint accuracy kept the team afloat for years. He also was lucky enough to be surrounded by one of the best receiving cores in the league during his Super Bowl run and subsequent record-breaking 2011 season. However, five years later, Rodgers’ receiving core is a collection of late-round draft picks, a recovering Jordy Nelson, and a constantly ailing Randall Cobb.
Unlike other teams, the Packers’ offence cannot simply be fixed by hiring a new offensive coordinator. McCarthy remains in charge of the offence and stubbornly believes in his system despite the team’s continued struggles. If he does not innovate, he must go.
The next coach of the Packers needs to be someone who isn’t afraid to change their offensive scheme. Coaches like the Atlanta Falcons’ Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan and the Denver Broncos’ Head Coach Gary Kubiak have both made their careers by creating unique schemes tailored specifically for their personnel. On a team that doesn’t use free agency like the Packers, the ability to properly use the personnel on the roster is paramount.
With the struggles of 2015 and 2016, the Packers can no longer turn a blind eye to the failings of Head Coach Mike McCarthy. While he was successful in the past, it does nothing to change the reality that his lack of innovation and stubbornness to change are handicapping the Packers’ organization. In order to salvage the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ career, the Packers need to make a change and hire a coach who can turn the offence around.