Green Bay, Wis. — The standards are high in a place nicknamed “Titletown.”
The first season with a losing record and without a playoff appearance since 2008 has led to an extensive shake-up this offseason for the Green Bay Packers.
Alex Van Pelt was the latest assistant to exit the staff after coach Mike McCarthy said his quarterbacks coach followed through on a contractual decision to pursue other opportunities.
Edgar Bennett is no longer offensive coordinator, though he may stay with the team in another capacity. The offensive-minded McCarthy will still call plays.
“When you say you have a standard at the Green Bay Packers, it stops right there,” McCarthy said at his season-ending press conference Thursday at Lambeau Field. “I mean, the standard of the Green Bay Packers is to win world championships. Now, are we doing enough to win a world championship? That question needs to be answered.”
Joe Philbin, the assistant head coach with the Indianapolis Colts, could be a candidate to return to Green Bay. He was the offensive coordinator when the Packers won the Super Bowl in the 2010 season. Ben McAdoo, who was fired last month as coach of the New York Giants, was also a former offensive assistant in Green Bay.
On defense, McCarthy said holdover assistants Winston Moss, Joe Whitt and Darren Perry are candidates for the defensive coordinator position after Dom Capers was fired this week.
The Packers (7-9) finished in third place in the NFC North in a season in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed nine games after surgery for a collarbone injury.
“The part that no one wants to talk about is the personal aspect of it. That’s what keeps me up at night is the personal changes that you make. I’ll never, ever be comfortable with that,” McCarthy said about the coaching changes.
“But this is my professional responsibility, it’s in my job description and I have to do what I feel gives the Green Bay Packers the best opportunity to win — to win it all in 2018.”
The organization is searching for a general manager while Ted Thompson transitions to a senior adviser role in the front office. Thompson drafted Rodgers in the first round in 2005, and hired McCarthy as head coach the following year.
Under that trio, the Packers won the Super Bowl. The just-concluded streak of eight straight postseason appearances included five NFC North titles and three trips to the NFC title game.
“We had a hell of a partnership for 12 years,” McCarthy said about working with Thompson. The coach added he’s involved in the GM search led by team president Mark Murphy.
“The draft-and-develop still needs to be the core of who you are,” McCarthy said.
Roster turnover can lead to changes in locker room dynamics when older players leave. Injuries sapped depth the last two seasons at the cornerback position, forcing younger players who may not have been ready for bigger roles to step up. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix spoke about the toll that injuries took on defense, and the need for better accountability, as the Packers cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday.
McCarthy said better leadership was a “pretty common theme” during exit interviews to cap a frustrating season. All aspects of football operations will be evaluated once the coaching staff is set.
“We didn’t continue our streak of playoff appearances, so we need to reboot, cleanse, however you want to word it,” McCarthy said. “But we did not play to the standard of the Green Bay Packers and it’s my responsibility to make sure we get better and get back to that.”
Rolexes for Jags’ O-line
Leonard Fournette’s thousand-yard season is costing him thousands. Maybe even tens of thousands.
The Jaguars running back bought seven offensive linemen — five starters and two backups — Rolex watches.
Fournette ran 268 times for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie. He also had 36 receptions for 302 yards and a score.
“I couldn’t do it myself,” Fournette said Thursday, three days before Jacksonville (10-6) hosts Buffalo (9-7) in an AFC wild-card game.
TV ratings decline further
The NFL finished the regular season with TV ratings that fell nearly 10 percent below the previous season because of changing viewing habits, controversies facing the league and a possible saturation point in the number of games available, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The decline in ratings — bigger than last year’s 8 percent drop in viewership — meant the networks had to make good on commercials to NFL advertisers in order to compensate for the audience shortfall, according to one network executive.
The executive said all carriers of NFL games — NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN — “made a lot less money than they expected” as a result of the ratings decline.
Storm delays Giants’ search
The New York Giants’ coaching search was delayed by a winter storm that dumped nearly a 11/2 feet of snow on some New Jersey shore towns.
The Giants had scheduled an interview Thursday with Eric Studesville, the recently fired Broncos’ running backs coach who had been in Denver since 2010 and was the interim head coach after Josh McDaniels’ firing that year.
Studesville now will be interviewed next week.
Haley: Incident ‘non-issue’
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley says the team told him an incident at a restaurant last weekend near Heinz Field is a “non-issue.”
Haley’s wife Christine was involved in what Pittsburgh police described as a minor altercation at the Tequila Cowboy on Sunday night a few hours after the Steelers wrapped up the regular season with a victory over the Browns. Haley himself was not involved in the incident, though he did suffer a minor injury at some point during the night.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin was added to the Pro Bowl roster Thursday to replace injured Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
... A person familiar with the decision said the Dolphins have hired a former Bears assistant for the second time this week, giving Jeremiah Washburn the job of offensive line coach.
... The father of Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said his son has made significant progress since suffering a spinal injury in Cincinnati last month.