Mike McCarthy could’ve made excuses. Pete Carroll could have asked for a mulligan. Ron Rivera could have said, “We were this close…”No, when your backup quarterback plays well enough to beat the Saints at home and the Steelers in Pittsburgh and the defense can't get off the field, you have a problem.
But as their offseasons began in disappointing fashion these last two weeks, those three coaches demonstrated that in the NFL, there’s no room for complacency.
McCarthy didn’t view the Packers earning a 7-9 record despite the nine-game absence of his future Hall of Fame quarterback as a moral victory.
The Seahawks going 9-7 and missing the playoffs by just one game amid an injury-plagued year didn’t give Carroll any consolation. And Rivera didn’t accept the Panthers’ return to the playoffs (where they lost 31-26 to the Saints) one year after going 6-10 in 2016 as sufficient progress.
Instead, all three coaches made the difficult decisions to fire key members of their coaching staffs in hopes of better positioning their teams to win the Super Bowl in 2018.
Firings and hirings happen every year. But it’s not often that you see perennial playoff contenders make such drastic moves.Yes, and process worship is for mediocrities. And politicians. There is still a steep grading curve in sports.
McCarthy, however, best explained the reasoning.
“Are we doing enough to win a world championship, or are we doing everything we need to do to win a championship?” he asked during a recent news conference after his team having missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years and for only the third time in his 12 seasons as head coach.
“You don't get to say, ‘But if Aaron (Rodgers) doesn't get hurt’,” McCarthy said. “That's a loser's mentality. We don't get to operate that way.”
How many times have team leaders preached staying the course following bumps in the road similar to the ones Green Bay and Seattle experienced this year? How many coaches have given the “trust the process” line when their teams still don't quite deliver?
McCarthy, Rivera and Carroll will not settle, however, because they understand any NFL team's window remains open for only so long.