Everyone knew something had to change with the Green Bay Packers and it looked likely Mike McCarthy would be fired at the end of the year, but after an ugly loss to the Cardinals, the Packers didn't wait and fired McCarthy on Sunday instead.
"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," Packers CEO and president Mark Murphy said in a statement. "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. We want to thank Mike, his wife, Jessica, and the rest of the McCarthy family for all that they have done for the Packers and the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. We will immediately begin the process of selecting the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers."
Joe Philbin was named interim head coach.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, McCarthy was brought in to a meeting following a 20-17 home loss to the Cardinals and fired. He was "not expecting it."
And who can blame him? McCarthy has a street named for him outside of Lambeau Field. He won a Super Bowl with the Packers. But Green Bay's offense had stagnated -- as we noted recently the Packers were always going to have to make changes after this season.
Aaron Rodgers looked broken for much of the season and the offense had stagnated.
The timing is a little curious because the Packers are essentially out of the playoffs at 4-7-1. But they were basically out of the playoffs at 4-6-1 as well. It's odd the Packers wouldn't give McCarthy until the end of the season.
How surprising was it? McCarthy and Don McCafferty are the only two Super Bowl-winning coaches to be fired by their teams in the middle of a season.
McCarthy joins an elite club of coaches who have been fired after winning a Super Bowl. It's a group that includes McCafferty, Hank Steam, Tom Landry, Mike Ditka, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick and Jon Gruden. That's quite the list, although surely none of them are glad they're on the list. (Jimmy Johnson and Tom Coughlin could also qualify here although both "resigned.")
On the other hand, there may be a desire by the organization to get a head start on a coaching search they knew they would be embarking on anyway in the offseason. Additionally, losing the team down the stretch and continuing to see the team fall apart isn't the sort of thing you want with a would-be Super Bowl defender.
As bad as McCarthy's offense has been this season, the defense was a bigger problem on Sunday, giving up 20 points to a Cardinals team that has averaged 14 points on the season.
It's very likely a strained relationship with Rodgers played a role in McCarthy's departure. Expect the next coach to come from a similar mold as the last three coaches in Packers history -- McCarthy, Mike Sherman and Mike Holmgren -- were all bright, young offensive minds when they were hired by the Packers.
Green Bay probably isn't making some monster splash a la the Raiders hiring of Jon Gruden.
But new GM Brian Guntekunst has show a willingness to think outside the traditional Packers box. He spent big in free agency this offseason, although it didn't necessarily help things, with Green Bay struggling on both sides of the ball.
McCarthy leaves Green Bay with a career 61.2 winning percentage but just a 10-8 record in the playoffs. It would not be surprising to see him find work quickly, and there have been rumors about him landing with the Browns this offseason, thanks to a Packers connection with GM John Dorsey.