One year of mediocrity was one too many for Ray Rhodes.
The Packers' first-year coach was fired Sunday night, just hours after Green Bay missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
"This decision was extremely difficult because of the respect and admiration I have for all the coaches and families involved," general manager Ron Wolf said today. "For whatever reason, our players did not respond to this program. We will begin our search for a new coach at once."
Wolf made no effort to hide his disappointment.
"Is he a different coach than I thought he was?" he said of Rhodes. "Yes, the answer to that is yes. What I think we have to have here is a well disciplined, tough, hard-nosed football team. That's the way you're successful in this business. We have to develop that. We don't have that here."
When asked what Rhodes' response to his dismissal was, Wolf said: "I don't think he's very pleased with it, but I think he understood. We had a long and involved conversation last night."
Wolf said Bill Parcells was not a candidate for the job.
"I think he's still employed by New York Jets," he said. "You can't do that. We have anarchy and chaos right now."
Parcells was reportedly ready to announce his resignation as coach, but planned to stay on as the Jets' top football executive.
Green Bay has fired
coach Ray Rhodes.(AP)
The Packers (8-8) thrashed the Arizona Cardinals 49-24 Sunday in their regular-season finale, but the Cowboys' 26-18 win over the New York Giants put Dallas (8-8) into the NFC's final playoff spot. Green Bay hadn't missed the playoffs since 1992, Holmgren's first year with the team.
Rhodes endured intense fan and media scrutiny as the Packers struggled to their worst season since 1992. As Green Bay's losses mounted, even quarterback Brett Favre began measuring his comments on Rhodes' control of the team and histrategic decisions.
The Packers have an additional incentive to field a winning team as quickly as possible. The team is attempting to entice Wisconsin residents to approve funding for extensive renovations to Lambeau Field or a new stadium entirely.
Holmgren led the Packers to two Super Bowls and one NFL championship during the franchise's return to prominence in the 1990s. In January, Holmgren left Green Bay after seven seasons to become coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
Though most of Rhodes' staff was new to Green Bay, offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis completed his eighth season with the Packers on Sunday. Along with defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas, Green Bay's staff was the first in NFL history with blacks in all three top positions.
Rhodes came to Green Bay with the reputation of being a players' coach, and the Packers initially responded to his methods. But as a pair of three-game losing streaks killed the team's playoff chances, grumblings began that Rhodes didn't assert enough control over his players.
Ironically, Holmgren was criticized for being too dictatorial when he left Green Bay a year ago.
"This is a total surprise," Favre told the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Sunday night. "I thought he was a real good coach. Guys related to him well because he was a former player. I think what happened, to a certain degree, guys took advantage. And Ray, he wanted to trust in guys."
Rhodes, the 12th coach in Packers history, becomes just the second to be fired by the team after one year on the job. Ray "Scooter" McLean was dismissed after the 1958 season.
Rhodes was Holmgren's defensive coordinator in Green Bay for two seasons. He spent the previous four seasons as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, who fired him a year ago.
None of the coaches indicated they had any knowledge of their firings when they left the stadium after Sunday's season-ending victory over the Cardinals.
"I'm sure they'll sit down and evaluate the coaches and see if they can't make some decisions," Lewis said before leaving the stadium. "We'll just wait and see."
When Holmgren left, San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci was thought to be Wolf's first choice for the job. A native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and a former Packers quarterbacks coach under Holmgren, Mariucci instead signed a contract extension with the 49ers.
"Everybody feels bad about the way things have gone this season," Rhodes said after the Packers were eliminated. "I'm disappointed that we didn't get the help we needed today from the Giants.
"It's tough to have your season end the way it has, watching Dallas win a game on television. But we have no one to blame but ourselves we got in this situation by not taking advantage of some opportunities we ha earlier this season."
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