With McCarthy Gone Packers Have Work to Do

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

While many will look at the firing of Mike McCarthy with only a few weeks to go in the season as distasteful, they obviously don't understand the situation in Green Bay. To fire the coach with a couple weeks to go may have been unorthodox, but it certainly was not distasteful. The team was going to cut ties with McCarthy, and simply it now allows the team to assess everything they have. McCarthy is gone, and the season is over, this was a wasted season once again, and while Aaron Rodgers certainly could have played better, this team could have played better it all boiled down to a team who no longer in tune with their coach. The change was going to occur, the firing was going to happen, while it may have hurt in the immediate moment, the Packers did not play around, they did not give him any false hope, and it signals to the locker room this season was unacceptable. Whoever comes into Green Bay will certainly have their work cut out, not only will they need to be in tune with their star QB, but they will need to be responsible for the immediate change. Packers fans look at this team and they see a winner, they see the best QB talent wise in the NFL, and they see a track record of seasons which could have been. While Green Bay may be a premium landing spot the team will need to sell the benefits of this team moving forward.

Aaron, Aaron, Adams, and Jimmy

Of the offensive playmakers, this is what the Packers have going for them, there is no reason to continue to mention the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. This is a given, this will be a major draw to the team, but what else are we looking at. The Packers still offer a top end tight end, one of the games best receivers, and one of the brightest looking young running backs in the NFL. These are four building points for the Packers. You can look at the O-line and see it needs some work, but it has some strong points, it's anchored by David Bakhtiari, but it still needs some help. The team has some interesting young WR's, but they need to be better of offense. It's safe to say the team is done with Randall Cobb, and expect the Packers to add a playmaker this offseason, likely by via the draft. However, this all paired together we can see the Packers have weapons on this offense. This Packers offense is serviceable at the moment, but it needs more playmakers. With the Packers having two first round picks I would currently project the Packers us one of them on offense either a wide receiver or an offensive lineman. I personally am chalking Oklahoma's Marquise Brown near the top of the Packers board. He would be an explosive threat to complement Davante Adams and develop with both Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has looked promising, wildcard Jake Kumerow, and Equanimeous St. Brown. The Packers need OL depth and another WR besides that I don't see the Packers with an

Mike Pettine

It would not come to a surprise to me if the Packers request their new coach to retain Mike Pettine. There have been tremendous strives from this team on the defensive side of the ball when the playmakers for the team are sparse. The front three is a strong point, the young secondary is showing promise, and Blake Martinez continues to rise. If the Packers are to win moving forward it seems obvious they need to bring back Mike Pettine. While this may complicate their coaching search there shouldn't be a Packers fan who doesn't want him back. After 12 weeks this season under Pettine, the Packers are ninth in passing defense and have almost matched last season’s sack total already with 36, good for third-most in the NFL. The only additions to this squad from last season have been in the secondary, their edge rushers have looked old and ineffective. He did this without Mo Wilkerson, this was without Jake Ryan, the Packers defense is greatly improved and they need to do all they can to bring him back. If they can add a few more weapons to the nice core he has under Pettine this defense can be elite. What do they need to do this? Well first and foremost, an edge rusher and this draft are rich in options. If the Packers retain Pettine's service the outlook of the defense looks a lot brighter. However, fully expect the Packers to have Clelin Ferrell, Charles Omenihu, Joey Bosa (not likely), and Jachai Polite near the top of their boards. With the Packers ignoring the pass rush it looks like they made the right choice at the moment passing on Marcus Davenport who only has 4 sacks this season. With two first rounders, this coming draft full expect the Packers to address the pass rush with one of them. Back on Pettine, if the Packers are truly in win now mode they will do all they can to bring him back, there would not be another option at the level of Pettine on the coaching market. Mike Pettine's defense is light on depth, needs help at safety, and the edge, expect the Packers to shore some of these needs up in free agency as well. However, as a whole, the defense like the offense doesn't need an abundance of help to get back to contention.

The Real Question

Who will replace McCarthy? While it may be tempting to roll the dice, the Packers will need to add someone with a winning pedigree meaning their scope of candidates may already be relatively narrow. The fact they fired McCarthy already may mean they have their sights on a number of a candidate already. I have said it before the Packers likely have two candidates at the top of their list, Bruce Arians and Josh McDaniels. While McDaniels they will have to wait for the only competition they would have for Arians right now would be the Cleveland Browns. If the Packers are on Arians as I and others have speculated the Packers may have fired McCarthy early to allow them to get in on the Arians hunt before other teams have a chance.

However, I'm just an amateur blogger and most of you are not taking my word for it, but I'm not the only one with this through either.

The Packers should have their choice of candidates, and while it may at the moment it would appear the Packers go with a pro level head coach, this team has two ways to go about this. The Packers could get creative with their selection. Tomp Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggest the Packer may reach into the college ranks, many of you would be circling Lincoln Riley, but in the words of Lee Corso "no so fast!"

It’s almost a lock the Packers will contact Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who came up through the ranks on the defensive side of the ball but has a high-octane offense. Murphy was athletic director at the school and surprised many people when he picked Fitzgerald to coach the team when Randy Walker died of a heart attack before the 2006 season. Fitzgerald has helped establish the Wildcats as a football contender, taking them all the way the Big Ten championship game Saturday against Ohio State. In 13 seasons, he has 95 wins and has led Northwestern to eight bowl games.

Fitzgerald has built a perennial contender in the Big 10, this move could be a low key, but a smart move on the side of the Packers, while the rest of the league has Riley fever, this is a move no one saw coming but could put the Packers above the top. Fitzgerald would be a similar candidate to Mike Pettine, when Mike Pettine came in he wasn't on anyone's radar, but makes the most of a team which may not be the best talent overall. As a Northwestern fan, it would be tough to see Fitzgerald leave, but if it means bringing a Super Bowl back to Green Bay I could manage.

However, the fact Fitzgerald is a candidate could be another reason why the Packers fired McCarthy early. They likely don't make an announcement soon, but they could very well begin the search soon. The Packers could also be looking at David Shaw, Lincoln Riley, Jim Harbaugh, or even Kliff Kingsbury. However, Oklahoma has the money to ensure they don't lose their Head Coach, unless Riley has deep NFL aspirations it's likely he remains with his high potential program he just took over. With the exception of Fitzgerald, you can chalk up the candidates for the Packers job to be an offensive minded coach.

Fitzgerald would be a hard candidate to pull from Northwestern a job and program he loves dearly, but if any team has a chance to lure him into the NFL it would be a historic franchise like the Packers with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. If Fitzgerald holds out on the Packers, it's pretty safe for Evanston to know who their coach for the next decade will be.

Top 3 for the Packers

If I were to list the top three and this is not in any order, but it would be safe to pencil one of these three in as the next coach.

1. Pat Fitzgerald, HC, Northwestern

2. Bruce Arians, Fmr HC, Arizona Cardinals

3. Josh McDaniels, OC, New England Patriots

Two of my three names do not change from two weeks ago because the names McDaniels and Arians are clearly at the top of the list for the Packers. However, after reading Silverstein and seeing the impact Pat Fitzgerald has had on Northwestern over the past 10-15 years, the name makes too much sense. What the order for the Packers is unknown, but word is the Packers have already put together a headhunting agency to help find their next coach. However, expect these three with maybe a surprise candidate to come out of the woodworks for this job.