GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have fired coach Mike McCarthy and made offensive coordinator Joe Philbin the interim head coach, the team announced early Sunday evening.
The move, announced by team president Mark Murphy, came after a stunning 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, dropping Green Bay to 4-7-1.
Murphy, in a statement, said the 2018 season “has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers. As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately.”
Murphy said the process of hiring the next head coach would begin immediately.
McCarthy was in his 13th season as coach. The Packers won the Super Bowl under McCarthy in the 2010 season. He finishes with a record of 125-77-2.
“Mike has been a terrific head coach and leader of the Packers for 13 seasons, during which time we experienced a great deal of success on and off the field,” Murphy said.
But this is a third straight year in which Green Bay has had extended struggles.
In 2016, the Packers started 4-6, then won eight straight games to get to the NFC Championsghip Game, losing to the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs in 2017, when Aaron Rodgers missed extensive time with a broken collarbone.
McCarthy shook up his coaching staff, including bringing Philbin back as offensive coordinator and hiring Mike Pettine to replace Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. Different problems emerged.
This year, Rodgers hurt his left knee in the season opener, though he is feeling better now. Receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have missed time with injuries. The same issues kept popping up for the offense, most glaringly, empty third downs and a lack of explosive plays.
Rodgers was asked after the game — but before McCarthy’s firing was announced — how much blame offensive players should get if the Packers made a coaching change after the season.
“Yeah, a lot probably. We haven’t played very well,” Rodgers said. “We all take part in the disappointments and the failures that we’ve had this season. We’ve had a number of opportunities. It’s not like we’re getting blown out in a bunch of games. We’re in games.”
Cobb’s return on Sunday didn’t help, with the Packers just 3 of 14 on third downs.
“I hate to repeat myself, but it’s applicable. ... we’re not executing the right way,” Rodgers said.
“It’s poor throws, not on the same page with receivers, wrong depth, protection,” he added. “We all have a part in that and we’ve all picked our time to mess up a third down.”
The opening play of the fourth quarter was a perfect example of Green Bay’s offensive struggles. Rodgers found Cobb for a 36-yard completion on third-and-11, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty on right tackle Jason Spriggs.
Rodgers said his focus was getting his teammates to “play with that pride” and focus on the next four games.
“Yeah, I mean I’m not even thinking about that right now,” Rodgers said when asked if he would have any role after the season with general manager Brian Gutekunst or Murphy about what direction they should go with the coaching staff.
The offensive players, Rodgers said, bear blame for whatever happens in the future.
“Yeah, a lot probably,” he said. “We haven’t played very well.”
SOMERS — Performers in the Studio of Classical Dance Arts’ annual production of “The Story of the Nutcracker” hope to entertain, inspire and spread Christmas magic.
Linda Bennett and Marc Darling, the studio’s owners and directors and former Milwaukee Ballet dancers, want to sweep audiences away and to see them transported to a magical land of dance and dolls come-to-life.
Darling believes that the classic ballet, which features a cheese cannon and more than 150 costumes, is accessible to everyone.
“We try and make it interesting and fun and entertaining and a little silly here and there, a little scary here and there,” he said.
This year’s show, the Mount Pleasant studio’s 13th annual performance, will feature a cast of 69 students, from 6-year-old angels to 22-year-old soloists. Although the “Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition for the dancers, set to an iconic score by Tchaikovsky, the show changes every year.
In contrast to a professional company that has contracted dancers, the studio’s cast changes each year depending on which students graduate. For example, this year Catherine Clark, 18, will play the Mouse Queen. Traditionally the show’s villain is the Mouse King.
This year’s Sugarplum Fairy, 15-year-old Lainnie Kauth, started out in the annual production years ago playing an angel, one of the youngest performers in the show.
“When we get to watch the little angels, it reminds me of when I did it and it feels like it was, like, two years ago,” Kauth said.
When Kauth played an angel, she always wanted to touch the soloists’ costumes but was too scared to do so.
“I never really thought that I would get to be one (a soloist),” Kauth said.
Many of the students playing bigger parts this year started out as angels.
“We feel very parental toward these kids and it’s very much like a parent watching their little one grow up and seeing them start to develop their wings and fly,” Bennett said.
Clark first played a soldier in the studio’s “Nutcracker” when she was 13. This year she’s tasked with several soloist roles, including the Mouse Queen and the Arabian Soloist, her favorite part.
Clark, who said she is lucky this year to be playing all of her favorite roles, wants to help audiences connect to the show.
“I just really want to be able to make them feel like it’s magic,” Clark said.
Bennett hopes that the performance gives kids in the audience an appreciation for live theater and the arts. She said that many audience members have fond memories of watching Nutcracker when they were children and are excited to share the experience with their own kids and grandkids.
Although Clark and Kauth, who like their fellow students have been rehearsing since the end of September, admitted to some pre-show jitters they both said those generally melt away once the music begins.
One highlight of the show for Clark is a battle scene between the mice and the soldiers.
“There is so much going on and it takes a lot to choreograph it so everyone knows what they’re doing,” she said. “You could watch the battle scene like 100 times and you’d find something new every time. It’s really cool.”
The Arabian scene this year will have a bit of added excitement, Darling said, as it will feature a surprise.
Kauth said she enjoys the snow scene most of all.
“It just makes everything feel more real,” she said. “It’s just really fun at the end when we’re all tired but you see the snow coming down and it’s just like, ‘yay.’”
The show, is set for the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16 on the main stage at the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities (“The Rita”) on the University of Wisconsin Parkside campus, 900 Wood Road, Somers, and is supported entirely by ticket sales. Show times are 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children 12 and younger. The show lasts one and a half hours with intermission and is appropriate for all ages.
“It’s a great way to support local kids doing a local production that’s really high-quality,” Bennett said. “We don’t say this ourselves, but we’ve heard it compared to bigger productions in larger cities and we certainly strive to make a production of that quality.”
RACINE — A Racine woman indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $775,000 from her late father’s Racine law firm has pleaded guilty.
Kathleen A. Fetek, a real estate agent, in August pleaded not guilty to a charge of mail fraud, but on Nov. 1 she changed her plea to guilty.
If convicted, Fetek faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the Eastern District of Wisconsin’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. She would also face up to three years supervision after her release and be forced to pay victims of the crime restitution, totaling $788,277.
Fetek is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 15 at the Milwaukee Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 517 E. Wisconsin Ave.
According to the indictment, Fetek worked for her attorney father, James Fetek, from 2012 until his death in 2016. By 2014, Kathleen Fetek reportedly diverted money belonging to beneficiaries and estates represented by Fetek Law Office and kept it for herself.
Fetek pleaded guilty to writing checks to herself from the firm’s account, signing her mother’s name. She then cashed the checks at various locations, such as banks and liquor stores, and would prepare and mail “materially false distribution summaries and estate account documentation” to beneficiaries.
An FBI investigation uncovered Fetek’s plot when after her father’s death, Fetek provided the firm’s records to a new attorney. She provided checks she had cashed for herself that were altered to look as if they were written to beneficiaries.
During the period that Fetek worked at her father’s law firm, the plea agreement alleges she was “gambling frequently.” It also states that between January 2015 and December 2016 Fetek lost more than $212,000 at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.
Fetek is prohibited from visiting any gambling establishments or participating in online gambling, according to her order for release.