Staff shakeup part of McCarthy's effort to get Pack on track
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) 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."
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Updated January 4, 2018