Jason Wilde covers the Green Bay Packers for ESPN Wisconsin.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If seven straight playoff berths -- and still having a chance at an eighth despite a four-game midseason losing streak -- constitutes accepting mediocrity, Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy is guilty as charged.
A month ago, with the Packers mired in a four-game losing streak, Murphy had found it necessary to give head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson a public vote of confidence. Now, after three straight victories and with a playoff berth a possibility if their winning ways continue, Murphy is hoping the team’s passionate fans see the bigger picture.
“I think you have to be careful not to overreact. You’re going to have swings and ups and downs,” Murphy said in an interview on ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde & Tausch” earlier this week. “I always try to take a longer perspective, and our track record -- knock on wood -- has been pretty good. We’ve been through tough stretches before, [and] we’ve come through it.”
As for midseason suggestions that McCarthy and Thompson should be fired, Murphy took issue with the suggestion that it hurts the Packers to not have an impulsive individual owner.
“[The theory goes] that by not having an individual owner, we don’t have someone who could just walk in and fire people and shake things up. I guess I could do that if I wanted, but I would never do that,” Murphy said. “That’s not the way the organization’s run, and I think our structure over the test of time has proven itself.”
The Packers, who enter Sunday’s game at Chicago at 7-6 and likely needing to win out to reach the postseason, have qualified for the playoffs each of the past seven seasons. That is tied with the New England Patriots for the longest active such streak, and is just two years behind the record of nine straight playoff berths set by the Dallas Cowboys from 1975 through 1983.
During their seven-year streaks, the Packers (Super Bowl XLV) and Patriots (Super Bowl XLIX) have each won one title, although the Patriots also appeared in Super Bowl XLVI, losing to the New York Giants. The closest the Packers have gotten to another championship was losing the 2014 NFC Championship Game with an epic fourth-quarter meltdown.
“I have heard from fans that they don’t like that [statistic]. That we’ve ‘accepted mediocrity,’ that ‘just getting into the playoffs is good enough’ [for us],” Murphy said. “You know, first of all, you’re not going to win a Super Bowl if you don’t get into the playoffs, so that’s where you have to start.
“[Thompson and McCarthy] have done a great job. It’s almost unparalleled in the league. The NFL record for consistent success is nine in a row in the playoffs. We’re on the doorstep. We still have a lot of work to do, but hopefully we can achieve that.”
Murphy called those who were seeking McCarthy’s or Thompson’s ouster “a minority, so you really have to keep it in perspective. I think the vast majority of fans, they’re supportive of the Packers, they want us to win. They like us win or lose, but they like us more when we’re winning. That goes with the business. You understand you’re going to have some of that, and you try to see through that and take a longer term, bigger picture view of things.”
Meanwhile, Murphy wouldn’t address how much longer Thompson, who turns 64 next month, plans to continue as the team’s GM or how his status affects Murphy’s succession plan. Thompson is under contract through the 2019 NFL Draft and McCarthy is signed through the 2018 season.
Asked if he feared the team might lose 34-year-old director of football operations Eliot Wolf to another team in need of a general manager this offseason, Murphy replied, “I really can’t comment on Ted’s situation in terms of how long he’s going to stay. The reality is, we’ve had success and we’ve lost some really good people, but I have confidence in Ted that he’s hired really good people [to replace them].
“That always is a challenge, but I think the reality is when you have success, you’re going to have people come and look at your staff and hire people. And I think Ted’s done a nice job training. You look at our staff ... there’s a lot of talented people on there.”