(Reuters) - When the Green Bay Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthyon Sunday they ended an era that many believed kept them stuck in an outdated brand of football.
While the likes of the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs represent the future of the National Football League, with their young gunslinger quarterbacks and imaginative offenses, the Packers had plateaued in recent years under the conservative play-calling of their coach.
With the Packers headed for a second straight year of missing the postseason, many Packers fans reacted joyously to the end of McCarthy’s 13-season tenure.
NFL analyst and Hall of Fame player Shannon Sharpe thought McCarthy should have gone much sooner. “3-4 years too late, (in my opinion),” Sharpe said on Twitter.
Despite a Super Bowl triumph in the 2010 season and six division titles, McCarthy and Green Bay eventually fell short of expectations.
More was expected of a franchise led by perennial MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers, with the team’s bland offense often seen as a liability.
The team’s crushing 2014 NFC Championship game defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, when they blew a 12-point lead with just 3:52 remaining and lost in overtime, is a prime example of their failures in the playoffs.
After that defeat, criticism of McCarthy’s play-calling seemed to grow louder each season. McCarthy’s axing comes amid reports of tension between he and Rodgers, who was asked about the future of his coach in the hours before the firing after the team fell to 4-7-1.
“I’m not even thinking about that right now,” Rodgers told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I know my role is to play quarterback, to the best of my abilities.”
Injuries to Rodgers, 35, and a lack of new playmakers for the offense did not help McCarthy.
NFL analyst Jay Glazer said on Twitter that McCarthy was not bitter about his departure and that he had told him he was proud to have been a part of the Packers.
“Just talked to Mike McCarthy. Had nothing but praise for the Packers organization,” he said.
Mike Zimmer, coach of Green Bay’s division rivals Minnesota, said McCarthy’s firing was a “sad, sad deal”.
“Mike McCarthy is a good football coach. I think it’s a mistake,” he said. “Just one man’s opinion.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford