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Packers’ McCarthy: Focused on 2018 season

GREEN BAY, Wis. — For one of the first times in Mike McCarthy’s 13-year tenure as Green Bay Packers coach, his job security has become an issue.

A day after Thursday’s loss at Seattle dropped the Packers to 4-5-1 this season — including an 0-5 road record — McCarthy was asked if he’s concerned about his future.

At first, he gave the obligatory answer of: “I’m focused on what’s in front of us. Every individual on the inside, particularly the football team, we have a 2018 commitment, and that’s all I’ve ever focused on.”

McCarthy, who led the Packers to one Super Bowl title and nine playoff appearances in his first 11 seasons, is in danger of missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. His only previous non-playoff appearances were in 2006 (his first year as head coach), 2008 (Aaron Rodgers‘ first year as a starter) and 2017 (when Rodgers missed half the season with a broken collarbone).

“That’s the job,” McCarthy said of the external expectations. “That’s the way this business has gone. I’m not going to get into comparables but at the end of the day, that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coach. We set a standard here the past 12 years and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard. That’s the way we approach it, but that’s a blanket, general evaluation. There’s obviously more that goes into that. But at the end of the day, there’s so much that goes into each and every game throughout a seven-day period — obviously we’re on a 10-day stretch here — and that’s really where the energy has to focus.”

The Packers finish easily their most difficult stretch of the season — four road games in five week — next Sunday at Minnesota. The only win in that stretch came at home against Miami. They started with losses at the Rams and Patriots in back-to-back weeks.

When asked if he’s concerned the talk of his future will impact the locker room, McCarthy said: “I don’t think you can tune it out. That’s the old days. That’s when you had newspapers. But I think today’s world, everything is accessible, everything is instant. I’m sure they’re all aware. I think the bigger challenge is when you’re having a lot of success. I think negativity is an unfortunate part of this business driven by the externals, but that’s the business we’re in.”

McCarthy, who is under contract through 2019 after signing a one-year extension late last season, is in his first year reporting to team president Mark Murphy. The structure was changed in January after Murphy forced out general manager Ted Thompson, who hired McCarthy, and hired Brian Gutekunst as GM. If Murphy decides to make a coaching change, it’s unclear what input Gutekunst would have on the new hire.

After the game, it took some prompting for Rodgers to offer a reason why the Packers still have hope for this season. Rodgers mentioned the need for a galvanizing moment.

One of those moments could have come had McCarthy decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from his own 33-yard line with 4:20 left against the Seahawks. Instead, he punted.

He said Friday that his first reaction was to go for it.

“We have a network and the numbers were being calculated,” McCarthy said. “Three-and-out there, I think, puts us right about the 2-minute … I have great confidence in our 2-minute offense, especially with Aaron. That’s the decision we made. It’s a solid decision. Being an offensive coach, particularly early in my career, I had to develop a sense of operating more on the team mode, because my natural reaction, especially earlier, was always just to go for it. That’s the inside look at exactly what went on there. You could see at one point I started to walk to the referee because I was going to call the timeout and just make sure we were set, because I already had the play that I wanted. But we talked it over game management-wise and that’s the decision I made.”

It won’t get any easier given the lengthy injury list. McCarthy wouldn’t say whether Jimmy Graham broke his thumb, as NFL Network reported on Friday. He would only say that the veteran tight end was in the training room on Friday. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot), cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) and safety Raven Greene (ankle) all dropped out of the game. The Packers also were without cornerback Kevin King (hamstring), receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring), linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and safety Kentrell Brice (ankle). None of those four starters even made the trip to Seattle.

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