The end of the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay was a dysfunctional mess that was embodied by in-fighting between a head coach who engineered 125 wins and a Super Bowl … and the MVP quarterback pulling the trigger under center.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, McCarthy opens up about his firing and his time with the Packers. Not only did McCarthy not see his departure coming, he railed against the timing of it (in-season, after a loss to the woeful Cardinals) and said “it couldn’t have been handled any worse.”
McCarthy would go on to discuss all sorts of things regarding his split with the Packers in the Q&A, which is worth the time it takes to read. And yet, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Aaron Rodgers hated Mike McCarthy from the moment he got hired.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 4, 2019
Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne dives deep into McCarthy’s feud with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which paints a damning and unflattering picture of the two-time league MVP.
Tales of Rodgers undermining his coaches, freezing out receivers who followed coaches orders over his instructions, fractured relationships with teammates, and internal beef are spun. At the heart of it all are former teammates, coaches, scouts, and football personnel folks who speak with Dunne on the internal feud between Rodgers and McCarthy that fed into the self-destruction in Green Bay which led to changes at the top for the Packers at the end of the 2018 season.
Dunne goes in on a really compelling piece that you should clear your time to read.
Among the juiciest highlights was a “source close to one of the team’s skill-position starters” saying Rodgers was “sinking the ship” from the inside, as he showed minimal interest in aiding in the development of standout rookie receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore, or Marquez Valdes-Scantling. There is even an anecdote shared that describes a frustrating moment in which Brown followed Rodgers’ instructions to run a post route when the play-call demanded a flag pattern because he heard rumors that his quarterback would freeze out receivers who didn’t follow his orders in the huddle. And when Rodgers threw a ball where a flag pattern would have been as Brown ran the post, it was Brown was getting grilled on the sideline by a position coach. Awkward.
In a similar vein, Dunne connects Valdes-Scantling’s late-season fade to a freeze-out as he writes “it’s likely no coincidence” that his play sputtered down the stretch as his targets declined when he ran the routes as called by the coaches.
And nothing hits the mark like Dunne writing: “Nobody holds a grudge in any sport like Rodgers. When it comes to Rodgers, grudges do not merrily float away. They stick. They grow. They refuel.”
Even with a new coach and a fresh start on the horizon, Dunne reports that team President Mark Murphy called Rodgers out and essentially issued an ultimatum to accept the coaching he will receive from Matt LaFleur. “Don’t be the problem,” Murphy reportedly told Rodgers. “Don’t be the problem.” Of course, McCarthy isn’t totally absolved in this, either.
McCarthy is described as someone who “got full off his own juice,” believed his own hype, inflexible and unwilling to move off what made his teams great, and didn’t adapt as offense in the NFL evolved. There are allegations of complacency that led to a once innovative offense getting stuck in the mud and lost in the past. There is even a story of McCarthy calling for a team meeting and not showing up as he was getting a massage in his office during the meetings. It’s wild stuff from beginning to end.
No matter from which angle the story is told, the Packers were an absolute mess at the end of the McCarthy era. And while there is a belief that Green Bay left titles and rings on the table during a stretch of otherwise spectacular football, there is no denying the two people who should wear the most blame are the head coach and quarterback.
So if anyone needs me, I’m just gonna be over here reading this like 😈.