Following the Packers 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers have decided to move on from head coach Mike McCarthy. In a press conference on Monday, Packers President Mark Murphy did say that he did not regret the extension, but that McCarthy had run his course as coach of the team. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who also has head coaching experience with the Miami Dolphins after his first stint with the Packers, has been named as interim head coach.
The Search Begins
Joe Philbin has been named the interim head coach for the Green Bay Packers. Philbin had been serving as the offensive coordinator in his second stint with the Green Bay Packers, after serving many roles with the team from 2003-11 before being named the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Philbin’s tenure with the Dolphins was highly scrutinized as unsuccessful, with a 24-28 record. Murphy and Gutekunst did say that Philbin will be a serious candidate going forward, but that the team will conduct a thorough search process. This would certainly be an odd long term solution given that Philbin comes from the McCarthy tree and would in many ways be an extension of what Green Bay had. That being said, if the front office and team sees something over the last four weeks of the season, that could keep Philbin around. Some early reports are indicating other candidates may lead the way this offseason.
Josh McDaniels seems to be one of the most common names being thrown around, and for good reason. McDaniels is an offensive-minded guru in one of the best systems in all of football. It was reported by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports that one assistant coach has already taken his name out of consideration for a college coordinator job in preparation that McDaniels would take the job in Green Bay. It is also speculated that McDaniels would have interest in coming to Green Bay for what should be the highest profile coaching position open this offseason. It should be noted that there may be some cold feet with hiring McDaniels this offseason after he left the Indianapolis Colts hanging last offseason, having accepted the job and then withdrawing from the position the day of the press conference. McDaniels also had his struggles as a head coach in Denver. Belichick assistants have infamously struggled when they branched out to be head coaches. All that considered, this seems to be a perfect situation for both parties.
Bruce Arians is another name some groups of Packers fans are clamoring for to replacing McCarthy/Philbin. Arians would certainly be an interesting fit with Green Bay, as he brings a spark that really seems to be currently lacking from the Packers. Arians is also known as being a players’ coach, something that Green Bay has not experienced since Mike Holmgren. Aaron Rodgers may be the biggest benefactor from an Arians hiring, as Arians was responsible for the Carson Palmer resurgence and could possibly find a whole new level of Aaron’s talent. Arians has been reported to be only interested in a job at the head of the Cleveland Browns, of course it certainly comes as a surprise that the Packers job may have been an afterthought at that point. Another concern is wondering if Arians would be able to translate his system to the current state of the NFL.
John DeFilippo might be one of the larger names available this offseason of the candidates who have never been NFL head coach. With a path very similar to that of Sean McVay, having been the Eagles quarterback coach before jumping ship to become the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. In his absence, the Eagles offense has sputtered while Kirk Cousins has been playing some very good football despite numerous injuries around him. If he is as good as he seems, the Vikings may have some serious reservations in letting him interview for a division rival. DeFilippo’s biggest weakness may be that he just hasn’t had the time to prove it yet.
Eric Bieniemy has been another hot commodity around the NFL as of late. He is another descendant from the talented Andy Reid tree, and is currently serving as the Chiefs OC. Interestingly enough, Reid descended from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree, and that certainly worked out well for the Packers. While Bieniemy doesn’t call the plays in KC, the thoughts of Aaron Rodgers in an offense like Kansas City or the Rams is enough to excite even the old guard of Packers fans who lust for the return of the Packer Sweep. The Andy Reid tree also produced Super Bowl Champion Doug Pederson and Bears head coach Matt Nagy. Bienemy certainly does make sense as a legitimate coaching candidate, but will the Pack look for someone with a bit higher pedigree?
Pretty familiar last name right? The grandson of Packers all-time great Vince Lombardi is thriving as quarterbacks coach in New Orleans. While there are many factors for the Saints success, such as Drew Brees’ individual greatness, the running backs that command so much attention and another great coach in Sean Payton, Lombardi may receive an interview in Green Bay. Imagine the Green and Gold being led onto the field by Coach Lombardi once again–instant chills. By no means is Lombardi a favorite for the position at this time, having very limited success as a coordinator in Detroit before going back to the Saints. Lombardi’s recognition may be more in name than ability to guide an offense. Of course, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t lead a team and that he wouldn’t get an interview. Lombardi was a member of the Saints resurgence before taking the Detroit job, and serving as QB coach during the Super Bowl run in New Orleans.
Lincoln Riley may be the most intriguing candidate. Riley has been at the forefront of college head coaches who could find their way to an NFL sideline. He definitely fits the theme of offensive mastermind, leading Oklahoma to another spot in the College Football Playoffs with another Heisman candidate quarterback. Riley would bring a new level of excitement to the Green Bay offense that Aaron Rodgers certainly could use at this point. He worked wonders with Baker Mayfield, who many have compared to another Packers great in Brett Favre. Baker actually did play similar to Rodgers in extending plays with his feet and having an ability to throw on the run as well. While it is unlikely Riley would leave Oklahoma, it certainly would be an interesting choice.
Harbaugh is known as a quarterback expert who could certainly inject life into the Packers. A proven NFL head coach with the ability to lead a team to a Super Bowl could fit very well into Titletown USA. While Harbaugh is unlikely to leave his alma mater at the University of Michigan, this could be another interesting choice should the Packers pull the trigger. Harbaugh has drawn a lot of McCarthy-esque critique, not making adjustments and running a stale offense, but this big name hire could be on the short list the Packers have.
If there is one thing the Packers are known for, it’s surprising fans and media with unheralded hires. Last season, Eliot Wolf was considered to be the favorite for the Packers GM position before picking Gutekunst. Is there a name we are missing? Who do you think will be the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers? Where will McCarthy land? Let us know!