The Green Bay Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy on Sunday, just moments after losing 20-17 to the lowly Arizona Cardinals. It was just about two and a half weeks ago that the Packers traveled to Seattle on a Thursday night to face the Seahawks at 4-4-1, when a win would have given Green Bay a nice leg up on a wild card chase. Instead, the Packers lost 27-24 after a late touchdown to Ed Dickson was given up and McCarthy opted to punt with 4:20 remaining and only one timeout left, which allowed Seattle to run out the clock.
Green Bay has lost five of their last six games despite Aaron Rodgers being healthy enough to start and throwing 21 touchdowns against just one interception. Receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones have also been effective, and the defense has shown signs of life with players like Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell, Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels (recently injured), and the rookie Jaire Alexander all playing well, but the end result is just 4-7-1.
They aren’t the only NFC team making changes.
The Carolina Panthers, one week after a loss to Seattle really put the damper on their own playoff hopes, have fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and assistant defensive backs coach Jeff Imamura. It’s not as big of news as firing a head coach like McCarthy, who had been at the helm for the last 13 years, but head coach Ron Rivera is scrambling to make changes with four games to go. Perhaps the final four games of his eight-year tenure in Carolina.
Ron Rivera wouldn't comment on his job security (as reported yesterday by @JasonLaCanfora).— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) December 3, 2018
But less than 24 hours later he fired some assistants and took over defensive play calling.
Actions speak louder than words...https://t.co/DsEBUqMLxc
The Panthers have now lost four straight following a 6-2 start and travel to face the Cleveland Browns next week. Then two of their final three games are against the 10-2 New Orleans Saints.
I was recently thinking about how different the San Francisco 49ers would look today if Jim Harbaugh had managed to win his two games against the Seahawks back in 2014. The 49ers finished 8-8 that year, but two wins over Seattle would have made them 10-6 and pushed them over the Seahawks, who were 12-4 that season. It wasn’t close, the Seahawks won those games easily, but just two results make a huge difference. Seattle didn’t get McCarthy fired and it wasn’t just the game last week that forced Rivera to start making changes in a last ditch effort to turn things around, but they contributed somewhat. Had things been a little different, then maybe it’s Pete Carroll looking at his options.
Thankfully, it’s not.
The Seahawks play two teams in the final four who won’t likely be making head coaching changes, but could do some shuffling with the assistants. In two weeks, they have a rematch against the 49ers, a team they just beat 43-16 on Sunday. Kyle Shanahan is just 8-20 as a head coach, with only two of those victories coming sans Jimmy Garoppolo. He probably is safe, but firing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and some assistants is likely being discussed. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are 3-9 and already fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. I don’t imagine that Steve Wilks will only get one season to prove himself as a head coach as they try and work with rookie Josh Rosen at QB, but is Byron Leftwich the answer at OC?
We’ll see, there’s still one month remaining in the regular season. Plenty more changes to come.