Friction between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and ousted head coach Mike McCarthy escalated throughout the 2018 season in part due to Rodgers’s tendency to regularly change McCarthy’s playcalls at the line of scrimmage, according to reports from Sports Illustrated’s Kalyn Kahler and Albert Breer.
According to Kahler, Rodgers has long had the autonomy to change plays on the field as he saw fit. During the Packers’ start to this season’s 4–7–1 campaign, Rodgers reportedly resorted to that right more than then-coach McCarthy would have liked. The rift between the two added to Green Bay’s season full of drama and contributed to McCarthy’s firing on Sunday.
“[Rodgers changes plays] so often that it can be hard for McCarthy to get into a rhythm as the play caller,” Kahler wrote. “McCarthy might call the same play three times in a game, without the play actually being run as he called it. And if McCarthy calls a play that Rodgers doesn’t like early in the game, that can sour the mood for the rest of the game.”
Kahler and Breer both reported that the playcalling changes turned into a competition over who can call the better play.
“It’s almost ‘who’s got the better call?'” one anonymous coach told Breer. “Two really smart guys, ultra-competitive guys.”
A lack of talent on the roster, offseason coaching changes and a recent three-game skid further contributed to the Packers’ decline. On Sunday, Packers executive Mark Murphy ultimately decided it was time to move on and get a head start on a coaching search.
“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,” Murphy said in a statement announcing McCarthy’s firing. “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.”
The Packers are on track to miss the playoffs for the second straight season and for the first time with a healthy Rodgers since 2008. Joe Philbin will serve as the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.