Mike McCarthy

La Canfora’s Latest: Paton, Coughlin, McCarthy

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora’s typically abundant supply of Sunday reports:

  • There have been rumblings that Jaguars team president Tom Coughlin could return to the sidelines and become Jacksonville’s head coach (again) in 2019. La Canfora noted last week that Coughlin could take over as the Jags’ HC, and the fact that the team’s 2018 campaign has been tarnished by fights, suspensions, and lack of discipline could convince Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian, to take the reins. JLC says that there is a “growing perception” around the league that Coughlin will at least consider that move.
  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.
  • The Chiefs and Chargers will play each other in a pivotal Week 15 bout this Thursday. La Canfora tweets that Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon will both be on the field for that game, although both are inactive today.
  • La Canfora confirms that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will be “very judicious” about his next opportunity and may not return to the sidelines in 2019 if the right opportunity does not present itself. We have already heard that the Jets‘ opening may not be especially appealing to McCarthy, and although his connection with Cleveland GM John Dorsey has led to plenty of speculation that McCarthy could take over as the Browns‘ HC, La Canfora says the Panthers and Ravens gigs — should they open up — are more intriguing to McCarthy. Sources close to McCarthy say they do not expect him to land in Cleveland.
  • Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use, and he is also being mentored by a pastor and attending women’s group sessions as he attempts to prove to the league that he is ready for another opportunity. La Canfora says that no one is expected to sign Hunt until the league announces his suspension for three separate incidents, but that several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress and recovery. JLC’s sources say they expect Hunt to play in 2019, and Hunt himself is reportedly eager to assist the league in its investigations.

Latest On Ex-Packers HC Mike McCarthy

Although reports earlier this week indicated former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy intends to coach in 2019, that may not be the case. McCarthy is still deciding whether to take head coaching interviews or instead remain in the Green Bay area for another year, a source tells Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

McCarthy didn’t say he won’t coach next season, but did indicate he plans to “lay low and try to finish this professional chapter on the high road.” He has five children, four of whom are still school-aged, so leaving Green Bay may not be an easy decision. Over 13 seasons with the Packers, McCarthy posted a 125-77-2 record during the regular season and a 10-8 mark (including a Super Bowl victory) in the playoffs.

Now that’s no longer tied to Green Bay, McCarthy can freely speak to other teams about their vacancies. In addition, he can reach out to contacts around the league in an effort to formulate a potential staff. Both of those factors could give him an edge over other head coaching candidates who are still employed.

A clearer picture of where McCarthy could end up in 2019 won’t fully develop until more head coaching openings are created, but there is already conjecture on his destination. The Jets have been mentioned as possible suitor if Todd Bowles is fired, while the Browns also make sense as a landing spot given the presence of former Packers executives — John DorseyEliot WolfAlonzo Highsmith — in Cleveland’s front office.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike McCarthy Wants To Coach In 2019

Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy‘s “early preference” is to continue coaching in 2019, according to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Twitter link).

That doesn’t necessarily mean McCarthy will be back on the sidelines next season, but some clubs have already reached out to express interest, per Wood. McCarthy’s firing was deemed nearly “unprecedented” given that he’s only the second Super Bowl winning coach to be let go in the middle of a season, but there’s an argument to made that McCarthy’s early termination could be beneficial to his future job prospects.

Now that’s no longer tied to Green Bay, McCarthy can freely speak to other teams about their vacancies. In addition, he can reach out to contacts around the league in an effort to formulate a potential staff. Both of those factors could give him an edge over other head coaching candidates who are still employed.

A clearer picture of where McCarthy could end up in 2019 won’t fully develop until more head coaching openings are created, but there is already conjecture on his destination. The Jets have been mentioned as possible suitor if Todd Bowles is fired, while the Browns also make sense as a landing spot given the presence of former Packers executives — John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf, Alonzo Highsmith — in Cleveland’s front office.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Browns, Harris, Ravens

Mike McCarthy may well have options going into this coming hiring period, but the Jets might not be a great fit. The status of GM Mike Maccagnan will likely be a deterrent for a coach with other options — in the likely event Todd Bowles is fired soon — multiple NFL executives told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv. The New York GM has just one more season remaining on his deal and is not expected to follow Bowles out the door. A lame-duck decision-maker could spook McCarthy. With former Packers execs John Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland, many people around the league believe McCarthy will end up with the Browns, Vacchiano notes. The Browns also have a young quarterback and are projected to possess more than $86MM in cap space. While that’s not on the Jets’ level ($106MM-plus), Vacchiano adds McCarthy is known as being a bit sensitive to criticism. That might be an issue in jumping from the league’s smallest market to its biggest.

Here’s more from the Jets and the latest from the AFC:

  • Josh McCown received another start for the Jets on Sunday, doing so despite Sam Darnold being at or close to 100 percent. The rookie quarterback lobbied to play against the Titans during warmups, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, but Bowles stuck with McCown. Bowles would not commit to Darnold starting against the Bills in Week 14, but Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports Darnold showed he was healthy in practice and will likely return Sunday.
  • On the subject of possible quarterback switches, the Ravens may be able to put off their decision for another week. Joe Flacco was not moving too well this week, walking with a noticeable limp, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. While the Ravens could be forced into a choice of benching Lamar Jackson (3-0 as a starter) and returning to Flacco for a pivotal game in Kansas City, this call might be tabled. The possibility of Flacco returning as the starter at some point this month is not out of the question, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but Jackson may see more work off the bench than he previously did when Flacco was healthy. The difficult prospect of preparing for the quarterbacks’ disparate skill sets intrigues John Harbaugh, per Rapoport, so the Ravens may keep it quiet if they do intend to pivot back to Flacco.
  • Although the Broncos improved to 6-6 Sunday, it came at a cost. Denver lost one of its top players in Chris Harris to a fractured fibula. However, the All-Pro cornerback is not going to be placed on IR and has a goal of returning before a potential playoff game. The eighth-year defender wants to return by Week 17, when the Broncos play the Chargers in what could be a key game — if Denver wins out and receives help — for Vance Joseph‘s team. “I always heal fast,” Harris told Aric DiLalla of DenverBroncos.com.“I’ve got the right people around me to help me get back fast and I’ll work night and day to get back. My goal is three weeks, but they said four. My goal is three weeks because I want to play against [the Chargers].” Harris’ other notable injury (a torn ACL) came against the Chargers in a 2013 divisional playoff game, but the corner returned by Week 1 in 2014.
  • By intercepting three passes, Harris already cashed in $200K of the incentive package he agreed to in the offseason. But another key financial bump is tied to playing time. Despite standing to miss perhaps the rest of the regular season, Harris can still earn an additional $300K if his 736 snaps end up being 65 percent of Denver’s season total, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), adding that scenario is in play.

Reactions To Mike McCarthy’s Firing

Immediately after their shocking home loss to the Cardinals, the Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy. While McCarthy was widely believed to be on the hot seat, it’s still somewhat of surprise the team made the move in-season because of his winning history with the team. The move could have a massive ripple effect on the rest of the league, and reactions and opinion pieces immediately began pouring in.

We’ve compiled the most interesting observations and responses below:

  • Assuming the Jets fire Todd Bowles, McCarthy should be at the top of the list in New York’s coaching search, argues Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Vacchiano writes that McCarthy is “exactly what the Jets need”, and thinks that the Jets’ next coach needs to be someone like McCarthy, who is used to being in the spotlight, in order to handle the intense media pressure of being the Jets’ coach. Vacchiano thinks McCarthy would be a nice fit with Sam Darnold, and compares him to Andy Reid, who was fired after a long run in Philadelphia and has gone on to have great success with the Chiefs. It’s not the best comparison since Reid has been widely hailed for his innovation while McCarthy has been criticized for being overly-conservative, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Jets are interested.
  • Because of the new structure of the Packers’ organization, it’ll be team CEO Mark Murphy who is making the call on who to hire as McCarthy’s replacement and not GM Brian Gutekunst, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. While Florio thinks Gutekunst will have a role in the process, it’ll be Murphy making the final call now, which is a change for the team. Previously, GM Ted Thompson would’ve had the decision making authority in situations like this. For what it’s worth, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets that the decision to fire McCarthy was a joint one made by both Murphy and Gutekunst.
  • The move to fire McCarthy before the end of the season was “almost unprecedented”, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Schefter notes that this is just the second time in league history where a Super Bowl winning coach was let go in the middle of the year, with the only other time being when the Colts fired Don McCafferty in 1972. It underscores how surprising it was that they didn’t wait until after the season out of respect for McCarthy, and helps explain why McCarthy was reportedly blindsided by the decision.
  • The team made the right call letting McCarthy go early, according to Pete Dougherty of Packersnews.com. Dougherty argues that it’ll give the Packers a head start in their search for a new coach, and as such give them a leg up on all the other teams who will be looking for a new coach. Dougherty also writes that “former general manager Ted Thompson would never have done it during the season and might never have let McCarthy go” at all.
  • Ryan Wood of Packersnews.com took a look back at the McCarthy-era, and ranked the highs and lows of his tenure. Among the highs, of course, was the Super Bowl victory, as well as a streak of eight years in a row of making the playoffs, while the lows include today’s loss to the Cardinals and the history of losing in the NFC Championship game.

Packers Fire Mike McCarthy

The Packers have made a shocking mid-season change, firing head coach Mike McCarthy, the team announced in a statement posted to Twitter.

The team also announced that offensive coordinator Joe Philbin would take over as interim coach. While McCarthy was widely known to be on the hot seat, an in-season change is still a surprise because of his history with the team. The change comes immediately after the Packers’ embarrassing home loss to the Cardinals, where they lost as massive favorites.

A source told Adam Schefter of ESPN that the team brought McCarthy in immediately after the game and let him go, and that McCarthy was “not expecting it” (Twitter link). The “writing was on the wall” already, but today’s loss was the “final straw” for McCarthy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), who notes that McCarthy will be “very desirable” as a free agent.

McCarthy has been linked to the Browns’ opening in recent weeks, and he should be considered a strong candidate for that job. This was the 13th season in Green Bay for McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with the team back in 2010. There have been rumors for a couple years now that McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers haven’t seen eye-to-eye, and things appeared to reach a boiling point in recent weeks with multiple tough losses. First-year Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has already made a ton of changes, and was never as loyal to McCarthy as longtime GM Ted Thompson was. Philbin is in his first year back in Green Bay after coordinating the offense from 2007 to 2011. While he’ll be a stable presence for the time being, he probably isn’t a serious candidate for the full-time job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike McCarthy Discusses Job Security

Mike McCarthy has missed the playoffs three times during his 11-year tenure with the Packers, but the team is in danger of missing the postseason for the second consecutive year. Green Bay didn’t do much to help their efforts on Thursday night, as their loss to Seattle dropped their record to 4-5-1. The head coach was questioned for some of his play-calling decisions during the loss, including his decision to punt on what proved to be the Packers’ final offensive possession of the night.

Naturally, there have been rumblings that McCarthy is now on the heat seat. The team might be willing to ride out the season without making a change, but reports from yesterday indicated that McCarthy might not be back for the 2019 season. The head coach previously signed a one-year extension that’d take him through next season, but as our own Sam Robinson pointed out, McCarthy is now reporting to team president Mark Murphy under the post-Ted Thompson power structure. With Brian Gutekunst now the GM, different voices will have a say if McCarthy will be brought back.

McCarthy partially addressed his job security during a weekly press conference. We’ve compiled the notable soundbites below, with a hat tip to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky:

On whether he’s focused on his future standing with the organization:

“I’m focused on what’s in front of us. Every individual on the inside, particularly the football team, we have a 2018 commitment, and that’s all I’ve ever focused on.”

On if the “hot seat” rumors could have a negative impact on the locker room: 

“I don’t think you can tune it out. That’s the old days. That’s when you had newspapers. But I think today’s world, everything is accessible, everything is instant. I’m sure they’re all aware. I think the bigger challenge is when you’re having a lot of success. I think negativity is an unfortunate part of this business driven by the externals, but that’s the business we’re in.”

On the team potentially not making the postseason for a second consecutive season:

“We set a standard here the past 12 years, and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard. That’s the way we approach it, but that’s a blanket, general evaluation. There’s obviously more that goes into that. But at the end of the day, there’s so much that goes into each and every game throughout a seven-day period — obviously we’re on a 10-day stretch here — and that’s really where the energy has to focus.”

On his decision to punt it in the fourth quarter vs. Seattle (fourth-and-2 from his own 33-yard line with 4:20 left, Packers were trailing Seahawks by three):

“We have a network and the numbers were being calculated. Three-and-out there, I think, puts us right about the 2-minute [mark]. … I have great confidence in our 2-minute offense, especially with Aaron. That’s the decision we made. It’s a solid decision.

“Being an offensive coach, particularly early in my career, I had to develop a sense of operating more on the team mode, because my natural reaction, especially earlier, was always just to go for it. That’s the inside look at exactly what went on there. You could see at one point I started to walk to the referee because I was going to call the timeout and just make sure we were set, because I already had the play that I wanted. But we talked it over game management-wise, and that’s the decision I made.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: McCarthy, Lions, Tuitt, Ravens

Mike McCarthy‘s enjoyed the benefit of coaching two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and the Packers have qualified for nine playoff brackets in the coach’s 12 previous seasons. But with the team in danger of missing the NFC bracket for the second straight season, McCarthy appears to be firmly on the hot seat. The 13th-year Green Bay coach’s job status is “pretty clearly” uncertain regarding 2019, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). McCarthy signed a one-year extension to take him through the ’19 season, so the team isn’t committed long-term here. He’s now reporting to team president Mark Murphy under the post-Ted Thompson power structure, and with Brian Gutekunst now GM, different voices will have a say if McCarthy will be brought back.

That’s the job. That’s the way this business has gone,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, when asked about his status. “I’m not going to get into comparables, but at the end of the day that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coachWe set a standard here the past 12 years and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard.”

The Packers are venturing near must-win territory if they want to secure their ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons. They face the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • The post-Megatron Lions relied on the Marvin JonesGolden Tate tandem. For the first time since Calvin Johnson retired, neither will suit up for Detroit. Jones is out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers after missing practice this week, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein reports the veteran Lions wideout is seeking a second opinion on his injured right knee. Initial tests revealed no damage to Jones’ ACL or MCL, and Jones was diagnosed with a bone bruise. He’ll miss only his second game as a Lion. T.J. Jones would likely be the starter in Marvin Jones‘ place.
  • T.J. Lang‘s Lions tenure hasn’t gone as smoothly from a health standpoint. The former Pro Bowl guard landed on IR this week because of a neck injury, but that setback is not believed to be career-threatening, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Lang also suffered a concussion that forced him to miss time earlier this season. He only played in six games this season after missing three in 2017. Set for his age-32 season next year, Lang — with an $11.1MM cap number — will be a release candidate in the offseason. The Lions could save more than $8MM by releasing the acclaimed blocker. Lang is due a $500K roster bonus on the fourth day of the upcoming league year.
  • Darius Slay, however, will be back for the Lions after missing Week 10. Bears wideout Allen Robinson gouged the Lions in Slay’s absence, but the All-Pro cornerback was not on the injury report as of Friday and will return Sunday.
  • While the 2018 Jaguars haven’t been the kind of impediment the 2017 version was, the Steelers will be without a key starter in their attempt to beat a team that went 2-0 against them last season. Stephon Tuitt will miss Sunday’s game with an elbow injury he sustained against the Panthers. Tyson Alualu will start in Tuitt’s place up front, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Although Robert Griffin III has been mentioned as a possible Ravens starter Sunday, the expectation remains Lamar Jackson will take the reins, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Jackson’s hospital trip Thursday, coupled with Joe Flacco‘s hip injury, left Griffin as the Ravens’ lone practice quarterback that day. But Jackson returned to practice Friday.

NFC Notes: Dez, Seahawks, McCarthy

Saints WR Dez Bryant suffered a brutal blow when he tore his Achilles just two days after signing with the club, thereby shelving him for about eight months. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) noted that Bryant’s recovery timeline could make his 2019 foray into free agency just as complicated as his 2018 one, though RapSheet does report in a separate piece that the Saints are open to bringing Bryant back next season (which Jay Glazer of FOX Sports [video link] also hears). Rapoport also says that Saints head coach Sean Payton fully expects Bryant to continue his playing career, and that Saints players quickly got to know Bryant and were stung by the injury (Twitter link). Given that, and given that Bryant made a concerted effort to improve his route running this offseason, perhaps he will still end up playing for New Orleans.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details (via Twitter) the $500K in incentives (all tied to receptions) that were built in to Bryant’s contract with the Saints, which is obviously a moot point now. Earlier today, Schefter reported that the Saints are expected to pursue Brandon Marshall now that Bryant is on IR.
  • Rapoport writes that, when the Seahawks are sold to a new owner, the beneficiary of the transaction will be the Paul G. Allen Foundation, which consolidated the causes of recently-deceased owner Paul Allen. That means that the proceeds of the sale — which could exceed $2.5 billion — will be going to charity. As of now, Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, has taken more of a visible role in team operations, but the club is still expected to be sold (though it will remain in Seattle). Potential buyers are already preparing for the Seahawks to hit the market.
  • Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com confirms what we have been hearing for some time: that something is off in the relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, which could lead to McCarthy’s ouster at the end of the season. McCarthy is widely perceived to be on the hot seat, though Dougherty points out that team president/CEO Mark Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and has final say over all football matters. However, Murphy will give a great deal of credence to the opinion of new GM Brian Gutekunst when it comes to the head coach’s future with the club.
  • We learned that top decision-makers for the Giants were in attendance at the Oregon-Utah game yesterday to scout Oregon QB Justin Herbert, even though Herbert is unlikely to enter the 2019 draft. Greg Joyce of the New York Post confirms that GM Dave Gettleman was one of the attendees, along with assistant GM Kevin Abrams and West Coast scout Jeremy Breit. If Herbert changes his mind and declares for the draft, New York will certainly be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys nearly fired OC Scott Linehan during last month’s bye.

North Notes: Bell, Browns, Green, Cook

The Le’Veon Bell saga is coming to a head, as the Steelers running back must sign his franchise tender by November 13 to be eligible to play for any team this season. But as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, the CBA does not dictate that Bell must report by that day, only that he sign the tender. That means that Bell could sign the tender and not report until next Saturday, which would make him eligible to be added to the roster for next Sunday’s game — not that he would be playing in that game regardless — or he could just not sign the tender at all and skip the entire season.

The latter option is not considered likely at this time, but La Canfora says that if Bell does skip the entire 2018 campaign, the Steelers would strongly consider slapping the franchise or transition tag on him next offseason, which would of course set up another drama-filled battle. La Canfora further reports that no rival clubs called Pittsburgh at last week’s trade deadline in an attempt to acquire Bell.

Now for more the league’s North divisions:

  • When the Browns have hired a new head coach in recent seasons, they have used a search firm, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) says he would be surprised if the team, with respected GM John Dorsey now in charge, goes that route when it looks for another HC this offseason. Rapoport’s sources expect Dorsey to conduct the search himself, and they expect that he will do so very “secretly.” Rapoport says one name under consideration would be Josh McDaniels, who is reportedly open to revisiting HC opportunities (should another one come his way), and RapSheet also lists John DeFilippo, Mike McCarthy, and Lincoln Riley as potential targets.
  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is battling a toe injury, per Rapoport (via Twitter), who says that Green either has visited or will visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. There will be more clarity on the injury soon, and Rapoport says surgery remains on the table. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Green is expected to miss time regardless of whether he has surgery.
  • Vikings WR Stefon Diggs will miss today’s game with a rib injury, per Rapoport (video link), though it is uncertain whether Diggs will miss any additional time (given that he expected to play today and was listed as questionable on the final injury report, it seems that he’ll be ready to go after Minnesota’s bye next week. Meanwhile, RB Dalvin Cook is expected to hit the field today, which will mark his first appearance since Week 4. Cook will be on a pitch count and is only expected to see 20 snaps or so, but when the team returns from bye, it could have Cook and Diggs at full strength.
  • The Packers signed punter Drew Kaser yesterday, but the team is not moving on from incumbent J.K. Scott at this time, per ESPN.com. However, it is still an open question as to whether Scott will be punting against the Patriots tonight.
  • We learned earlier today that Ravens HC John Harbaugh is on the hot seat as the team faces a critical divisional matchup against Pittsburgh this afternoon.