The Green Bay Packers will attempt to pull of a major upset this weekend when they travel to AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys, who haven’t lost a home game this year.
But there’s another obvious storyline many Packers fans are talking about.
For the second time, Matt LaFleur’s Green Bay squad will face Mike McCarthy, the coach LaFleur replaced and the same.guy who led the Pack to its last Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.
McCarthy led the Green Bay Packers to the playoffs nine out of his 13 seasons before he was fired with four games remaining in the 2018 season. The Packers had a (4-7-1) record at the time and missed the postseason the previous year finishing (7-9).
The Green Bay Packers hired Matt LaFleur the following season and he became the first coach in NFL history to lead his team to three straight seasons of 13 wins or more; his 39 total wins is the most for any head coach in their first three seasons. He reached the NFC Championship in his first two seasons leading Green Bay (2019, 2020) and has led the Packers to playoffs four out of his five seasons as head coach.
Mike McCarthy quickly became an afterthought as the Packers had found new life under their young offensive guru.
Tension seemed to develop between LaFleur and former quarterback Aaron Rodgers, despite the future Hall of Famer winning back-to-back MVPs in 2020 and 2021.
The Packers and Rodgers missed the playoffs in 2022 which led to the organization eventually trading him to the New York Jets, but McCarthy vividly remembers one game from that season and believes his approach in the first matchup against his former team led to a Cowboys loss.
The Green Bay Packers entered the year without Rodgers for the first time in 17 seasons. So most Pack fans entered the 2023 season with more questions than answers.
LaFleur inherited Rodgers from Mike McCarthy and found instant success, but now most of the players from those teams lead by Rodgers were gone.
Could Jordan Love truly follow the same path as Rodgers, who sat behind Brett Favre for three seasons before taking over as the starter? It felt like the first true “rebuild” in decades, and while general manager worked with Matt LaFleur to re-shape the team, they didn’t view it as a traditional rebuild that would take time.
Instead, the Packers brass pulled off one of the more masterful NFL Drafts in recent history — and the youngest team in the NFL with 17 players born after 2000 — has found its groove, gotten hot at the right time and especially on offense, thrived behind Jordan Love who has cemented himself as the QB for years to come. .
Now they are headed to Dallas to face a red-hot team led by the same coach that brought the Packers franchise so much success.
Former Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthty Regrets Making Old Team Focal Point In 2022, Downplays It Ahead Of Playoff Matchup
The Packers missed the playoffs for the first time under LaFleur in 2022, but they faced the Dallas Cowboys in a mid-November game.
It marked the first time McCarthy was returning to Lambeau Field to coach against the team that has a street named after him in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers engineered a late comeback and the Cowboys, who entered the game with a (6-3) record, fell to the Packers to were (5-6) ahead of the matchup.
This time around, the Dallas Cowboys are playing at home and clear favorites considering they haven’t lost at AT&T Stadium at all this season and have a dynamic offense with a stifling defense to compliment it.
The longtime Green Bay Packers coach was asked about the significance of facing his old team in such a big game.
He dismissed the storyline immediately.
“The drama of it, I’m sure you guys will love, but I will not participate in it this year,” the Dallas Cowboys coach said. “It’s playoff time. It doesn’t matter who we play, to be honest with you. … We need to play our best football.”
“It doesn’t matter who we play or where we play them. That has to be our mindset.”
According to a piece on the Cowboys official website, McCarthy was physically upset following the 2022 battle, and it was due to not only the fashion in which the Cowboys lost, but it was also very clearly who’d they lost to — torpedoing McCarthy’s homecoming. He now wonders if his pre-game approach to that matchup did his players a disservice despite, in the moment, his belief that the opposite might’ve been true.
“Last year, I thought it was important for me to talk about Green Bay at the beginning of the week with the team. I regretted it,” McCarthy admitted on Monday. “That doesn’t even need to come into our energy base, but you live and learn. This game is about our commitment. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.
“… That’s where I am. There’s just no time for that. … It will not help us win. And if it will not help us win the game, I’m not interested.”
Although the former Green Bay Packers and current Dallas Cowboys coach is dismissing such a big game against his former team, it’s impossible he won’t be taken back in time for at least a moment or two when he sees the green and gold jerseys take the field.
McCarthy has led Dallas to 3-straight (12-5) seasons, but fell in the Wildcard Round to the 49ers in 2021, and was knocked off by San Francisco again last season in the Divisional Round. This will mark the 6th time the Cowboys have reached the playoffs in 10 seasons but have yet to reach the NFC Championship during that span.
Ironically, two of those losses came to the Green Bay Packers, coached by Mike McCarthy in 2014 and 2016.
While this year’s Packers squad is the youngest team to reach the NFL playoffs since the league expanded to 16 games in 1978, a Green Bay upset is far from unattainable.
If the Packers can devise a similar game plan defensively Joe Barry deployed against Justin FIelds last bad the Chicago Bears last week —who plays a similar style as Dak Prescott — they will give their offense a chance.
Jordan Love has proven he can thrive against the top defenses, read schemes and make big plays when coordinators send blitzes or try to fool him.
The Cowboys have one of the top defenses in the league, but so did the Vikings. And the Bears entered last week’s matchup with a surging defensive unit playing as well as any team in the NFL on that side of the ball.
Love didn’t flinch and had two of his best games of the season for the 2023 Green Bay Packers. The pressure is on the Dallas Cowboys, so McCarthy can downplay the matchup against his former team, but he better not over look them.