Mike McCarthy has officially been relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Packers.
The firing of McCarthy had been a couple years in the making, but the few expected it to be during the season—the loss to the Cardinals in Lambeau was the last straw. The search is on for a new Leader of the Pack, and it’s an attractive position with five years left on Rodgers’ contract and an up-and-coming defense. Here are some possible candidates for the job.
Would the Packers keep their interim head coach on after firing McCarthy? It’s unlikely, but Philbin has to at least be considered a possibility. He was with the Packers for eight years from 2003-2011, reaching two NFC Championships and winning a Super Bowl with the Packers in 2010. In those eight years, the Packers were in the top 10 in points and total yards each year.
While his head coaching experience is limited, he does have a couple years under his belt, going 24-28 in three-and-a-quarter years with the Dolphins. If the Packers turn it around in these last four weeks of the season and upper management sees potential in Philbin, his odds of running the show next year could increase dramatically.
One of the favorites to get the position, McDaniels is generating a lot of buzz around Green Bay—and why wouldn’t he? He’s worked under one of the greatest coaches ever since 2001, and he’s had the privilege of working with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever lace ‘em up—Imagine what he could do with the mind of Rodgers.
It’s not all roses with McDaniels though—he took a three-year sabbatical from the Patriots, where he coached the Broncos in 2009-2010 and was the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2011. Based on these three years, some may wonder if he is worthy of venturing out on his own, away from Belichick and the mighty Patriots. And then there is the Colts debacle—last February, he was announced as the Colts head coach, which he turned down later in the day to stay in New England. This move wouldn’t come without risk, but he’s a prominent name that would usher in a new era in Green Bay.
Lincoln Riley and Aaron Rodgers together? It could be a match made in heaven.
Riley is young, and his experience is minimal—but what he has done in his two years at Oklahoma the past two seasons is nothing short of incredible—he’s posted a 24-3 record, has the Sooners in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and is about to produce back-to-back Heisman winners (I think Murray locked it up this past week after Tua’s poor performance) from the same school for the first time since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush in 2004 and 2005 at USC.
Now, while their offense has been historically great, the knock on Oklahoma has been their defense, which has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. If the Packers do make the push for Riley, there will be a point of emphasis on the defensive side, but that’s why Green Bay went out and got Pettine—this is the first season in a while that the defense has looked better than the offense, and a high-powered offensive coach could bring balance back to the Pack.
This might break the internet—one of the biggest coaching personalities in the sport coming to one of the most historic franchises in the NFL would be a journalist’s dream, and the sports shows would talk about it for weeks. Though it may seem unlikely for Harbaugh to leave given that he seems to be building a successful program in Michigan, he currently has the fourth-highest odds to become the next head coach of the Packers. And according to a Packer insider, Gutekunst loves Harbaugh—even though it’s Mark Murphy making this coaching hire, Gutekunst will inevitably have some say in the decision.
Onto his qualifications—no coach on the Packer’s list of prospects is more qualified than Harbaugh—he has had success in both the college and pro levels, including leading the 49ers to a 44-19-1 record and three straight NFC Championship appearances. He has a tendency to get a hot head, but that may just be what the Packers need right now. If the price is right, this could be worth a shot.
DeFilippo isn’t one of the bigger names on the prospect list, but he is currently the odds-on favorite to take Mike McCarthy’s job.
After winning the Super Bowl last season as the quarterbacks coach with the Eagles (he deserves a lot of credit for the way Foles played in those three games), DeFilippo was hired as the Vikings offensive coordinator four days after his victory. A month later, he was given the prized free agent, Kirk Cousins.
However, the Viking offense has not performed to their standard this year, and it seems as though Zimmer and DeFilippo have been at odds—Zimmer feels that Minnesota hasn’t run the ball enough.
If things aren’t meant to be in Minnesota, DeFilipo would work very nicely in the green and gold—a former quarterback coach could be just what Aaron Rodgers needs to get back on track. I believe that, although it’s not the only criteria, the Packers have to hire someone that Rodgers gets along with, because they go as he goes.
Mike Holmgren or Brett Favre
Both are +100,000 for Vegas odds, but we can dream, can’t we?
Stats courtesy of ESPN and VegasInsider