Aaron Rodgers was right.
When the Packers quarterback said following Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship that “[a] lot of guys futures that are, you know, uncertain, myself included,” Rodgers may or may not have have been referring to two of the team’s three coordinators. Five days later, two of the team’s three coordinators are gone.
The Packers announced on Friday night that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine won’t return, and that special-teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga was dismissed.
Coach Matt LaFleur originally kept Pettine, who had been hired by former coach Mike McCarthy in 2018. Pettine’s three-year contract expired, and Pettine won’t be back.
“We want to thank Mike for his commitment to the Packers for the last three seasons,” LaFleur said in a statement. “He was an important part of our success. As a first-time head coach, he was also an invaluable resource for us during our time together.”
Pettine’s goose was cooked by that fateful defensive call on the play at the end of the first half of Sunday’s game, which resulted in the Buccaneers scoring an unlikely touchdown. Pettine had only one safety deep, and the cornerbacks were playing what coaches call “inside leverage,” allowing the receivers to get to the sideline for enhanced field position or, in the case of Bucs receiver Scotty Miller, run right by Packers cornerback Kevin King.
“It was man coverage,” LaFleur said after the game. “Definitely not the right call for the situation, and you can’t do stuff like that against a good football team and expect to win.”
LaFleur is right, but LaFleur also could have overruled the call; he’s the head coach. And even though he’s an offensive expert, no head coach should abdicate responsibility for the side of the ball on which he didn’t make his name.