Packers president Murphy believes team can rebound
But after exiting Raymond James Stadium, he was not in step with the fervent, knee-jerk section of Packers fans who wanted everybody in the organization fired immediately.
Murphy said Monday that he left disappointed in the way the season has gone but confident enough in the team’s structure that it could bounce back from consecutive losses that dropped its mark to 4-4.
“Obviously the loss to the Vikings at home (Nov. 1) was an emotional loss,” he said. “It was, I think, disappointing for our fans, and the loss yesterday was disappointing. And it was for us. Everybody in the organization felt it.
“I think we’ll bounce back. I’m hopeful and expect that we’ll make the changes that we need to end up having a successful season.”
Whatever those changes are, they aren’t going to be implemented by Murphy. The Packers’ top executive said he is in regular contact with general manager Ted Thompson, but in no way wants to stick his nose into the football operation at the halfway point of the season.
Murphy played eight seasons in the NFL and was co-captain of Washington’s 1982 Super Bowl championship team, so he knows a little about how a season can go. He also knows the team is in danger of missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Thompson, a string that would bring the Packers back to the dismal days of the 1980s.
But rather than act now, he said it’s better for him to sit back and let things play out before making any judgments about the football operation. He said he would do as he did last year in his first season as president and CEO and wait to see the final outcome before conducting a review.
“The goal is we want to win games and championships,” Murphy said. “Right now, we’re not where we want to be. But I’ve been around the NFL long enough that a lot can happen in half a season. I’ve seen it both ways—teams that start out great and fade and teams that start out poorly and come on at the end.
“The right thing is to wait and do a thorough evaluation at the end of the season.”
Murphy said the job the coaches do in turning the tide on a season in danger of going under will be part of his evaluation. He said he believes the proper structure is in place for such a turnaround and that it isn’t necessary for him to bring in a consultant to review the operation.
“Really, in terms of my evaluation, I think part of the job is in terms of our coaches, do they make the adjustments and changes that are needed throughout the year to make the team successful at the end,” Murphy said. “That’s part of the process. To have the full season to evaluate it, it makes sense. There’s no question we’re disappointed where we are, obviously coming off a very disappointing loss to Tampa.
“I think we have a great structure in place and it has worked.”
Murphy said he receives input from the executive committee and board of directors, but he said they are an advisory board and the decision on how the franchise moves forward is his. He said he has heard the fans’ frustration with losing twice to Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and understands their sentiment.
His response is that the season isn’t over.
“The fans are extremely passionate,” Murphy said. “I think there’s a sense of disappointment where the team is. Hopefully, we can make the changes we need to get the team going in the other direction and challenging and getting a playoff spot.”
On the football side, coach Mike McCarthy said he was not considering any changes in the structure of his coaching staff to address a continuing problem with the offensive line and special teams. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was a well-respected line coach before moving into his present position, but he said McCarthy has said nothing to him about directly overseeing the offensive line.
McCarthy said that he, Philbin, offensive line coach James Campen and assistant line coach Jerry Fontenot all have expertise with coaching the offensive line and that he has no concerns about how the line is being trained. He said first-year special teams coach Shawn Slocum has changed the philosophy of previous years for the betterment of the unit.
“Our problems to me aren’t teaching and scheme,” McCarthy said. “They do not fall in that area.”
McCarthy said he did not think it would do any good to bring in somebody from outside to offer an assessment on why the Packers lead the league in sacks allowed with 37. Both he and Philbin said the problems aren’t with players not understanding the scheme or lacking training, but rather making physical and mental errors at the wrong time.
“I think anytime you are in problem solving, it’s about applying solutions,” McCarthy said. “It’s obvious what has gone on in our particular failures in that area. There are other options as we move forward, and those are some of the things we’ll look to in certain situations.
“We don’t need wholesale change. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have all the answers, but I’m very confident in the issues that we’ve had in pass protection, that they are correctable.”