MT5: After disappointing end to season, focus is now on future

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On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.

Our 100th season certainly didn’t go as we had hoped. With Aaron Rodgers back healthy after missing over half of the 2017 season, expectations were understandably high, and we obviously did not come close to meeting them. The decision to fire Head Coach Mike McCarthy after the loss to the Arizona Cardinals was very difficult. He had been a terrific coach for us with a long run of consistent success. As the season continued to spiral downward, however, I felt it was necessary to make the change. By making the change during the season, it gave us the chance to get a head start on the process of finding a new head coach. It also gave us an opportunity to see how the players responded to interim head coach Joe Philbin. Although the loss to the Lions to end the season was disappointing, I thought Joe did a good job under difficult circumstances.

Now that the season has ended, our focus is on improving the team for the future, and that starts with finding the right head coach. I’m very excited about the future and confident that we will be able to hire an excellent coach. Although things looked bleak at times this year, things can change quickly in the league with a strong draft (we have 10 picks overall and six in the top 120), smart free-agent signings (we have ample cap space) and by hiring the right coach.

Now, on to your questions.

Dan from Minneapolis

You have been gracious in answering questions I have submitted in the past, for which I thank you. A bit of a tougher question this time, based on the head coaching search process.

I work in a corporate setting, so I understand the role of recruiters. But I am wondering – what can the executive recruiting firm that the Packers plan to use possibly bring to the candidate vetting process? It seems to me they wouldn’t be an effective mechanism for identifying and screening candidates for the NFL. What does the recruiter know about “X’s and O’s”? As always, thank you for taking questions from the fan base.

Excellent questions, Dan. We have used executive search firms in the past to fill front office positions. They can be very helpful, as you mentioned, in identifying and screening potential candidates. They also can bring a structure to the search. For this search, though, we decided not to use a search firm. The pool of potential candidates is relatively small and the NFL has resources available to teams to assist in the search process, including recommendations regarding candidates from an advisory panel of former NFL executives and video interviews with candidates.

A question from Schooney

Why do you think you are qualified to lead the search for a new head coach – to me it is an ego thing. You appear much more qualified to do ribbon cuttings.

Thanks, Schooney. I appreciate the question. First, this is a crucial hire for us and we will do everything we can to hire the right person. We’ve put together a search committee with several people with strong football backgrounds, including General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Executive Vice President and Director of Football Operations Russ Ball. Brian’s input will be important and I will not hire a head coach unless Brian is supportive of him. I was very fortunate to play for two Hall of Fame coaches during my eight-year NFL career, George Allen and Joe Gibbs. I was one of five captains during Coach Gibbs’ first four years and learned much while watching him build a championship team in Washington. Also, during my 17-year career as an athletic director at Colgate and Northwestern, I hired almost 50 head coaches, including three head football coaches.

A question from Steve

Any ideas on where next year’s draft picks will be?

Yes, now that the regular season has ended, Steve, we know where almost all of our picks will be. We will have the 12th pick in the first round as well as New Orleans’ pick in the first round (which will be determined by how the Saints fare in the playoffs). We will also have the Redskins’ pick in the fourth round (15th pick) and Seattle’s pick in the sixth round (also determined by their playoff performance). Overall, we will have 10 picks in the following order: 12, New Orleans’ 1st, 44, 76, 108, 112, 140, 172, Seattle’s 6th, and 204.

John from Ashland, WI

Now that there are eight vacant head coaching positions, are you worried about how attractive our position is relative to the other open positions?

Great question, John. I know that the media focuses on the relative attractiveness of each position, and likes to rank them, but I am not worried about these rankings. In my mind, the key is to find the person who is the best fit for our organization. It is also really a good sign when the candidate is genuinely excited about the opportunity (as opposed to being excited about the pay or perks of the position). The search process is meant to not only identify the top candidates, but to allow the candidates to get to know the organization and the people they will be working with.

Dave from Buffalo, MN

Hi Mark, I am a proud Packers shareholder since 1997. I recently visited the Rock of Gibraltar. One of the world famous Barbary Macaques apes jumped on my shoulder to get a better look at the Packers 100 Seasons logo pullover I was wearing. Despite the language barrier he appeared to say he liked the cool 100 Seasons pullover and wanted me to ask you a question: How successful would you say the Packers 100 Seasons celebration was in 2018, and what exciting new things can we expect to see with the culmination of the 100 Seasons celebration in 2019?

Dave, this is the first question we’ve taken from an ape, and I’m glad that he liked our 100 Season logo. I think the 100 Seasons celebration has been very successful. It provided a good opportunity to highlight our great history and tradition, and to share this with our fans. The Lambeau Field Live traveling exhibit was well-received and the Packers Experience during training camp was excellent. During the season, we celebrated a different decade at each home game, and I think fans enjoyed that. In terms of the culmination of the 100 Seasons celebration, we will have a special birthday celebration in August during training camp. Also, this fall, we will unveil the entire documentary “Legacy,” as well as a book written by Cliff Christl commemorating our 100 Seasons.

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