Category Archives: Joe Philbin

7

January

Legacies of Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson Coming Into Focus As Green Bay Packers Assistants Draw Interest Around The NFL

If someone were to ask either Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson or head coach Mike McCarthy about their legacies, both men would likely scoff at the question and say that they’d rather wait until retirement to reflect on that and instead say they are focused on the present.

They’re right.  Still, with the Packers coming off a regular season in which they won the most games and scored the most points in franchise history as well as making a push for a second consecutive world title, the legacies of both men are coming into focus.

There is no further proof of this than the interest both Thompson and McCarthy’s assistants are drawing around the NFL.  Before last season, I wrote an article wondering if McCarthy would soon be the next head coach to form a “coaching tree” like Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren.  Both men had assistants go on to long and successful head coaching careers and with McCarthy’s development of Aaron Rodgers, it seemed like a distinct possibility.

Well, with the Packers in position to win a second straight Super Bowl with one of the most potent offenses in the league such a tree is indeed beginning to sprout.

The first example is offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.   Whenever an offense breaks all sorts of records, the offensive coordinator naturally is the one people begin to look at.  Philbin has drawn interest from the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.

However, Philbin is working for an offensive minded coach in McCarthy who also is the play caller.  Given how much of a hand McCarthy has in the Packers offense, that could work against Philbin.

The more intriguing candidate on the Packers staff may be quarterback coach Tom Clements.  Rodgers often publicly has credited Clements as well as McCarthy for how he has become the best quarterback in the NFL.   Throw in the incredible play of Matt Flynn in Week 17 against the Lions and Clements could be a hot commodity in the offseason.

Let’s not ignore Thompson either.  His masterful building of the Packers has made the franchise a model for the rest of the league. Thompson and his team have proven you don’t need a lot of splashy free agent signings and can create a championship (and perhaps dynasty)-caliber team mainly through the draft.

6

January

Packers QB Coach Tom Clements Appears Safe, For Now

Packers QB coach Tom Clements reportedly lost out on the Penn State coaching job.

ESPN is reporting that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become the next head coach at Penn State University, a development that would take Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements out of the running for a job he’s shown interest in.

Clements, a Pennsylvania native, had interviewed for the job on at least two different occasions, according to the Pittsburgh Press-Gazette. They reported that Penn State was welcoming Clements for a second interview sometime this week after a Skype interview towards the beginning of the process.

O’Brien interviewed on Thursday and the process of his hiring sped up from there.

The move would make Clements’ role as the Packers quarterbacks coach safe, for now. He still has the rest of the week to take on any potential interviews from other teams or programs.

A factor in Clements’ future in Green Bay could be the career progression of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who interviewed in Kansas City  on Wednesday and will in Miami sometime this weekend. Each interview will be for the respective team’s vacant head coaching position. While still a long shot, any potential hire of Philbin as a head coach could open the door for Clements to become the Packers’ next offensive coordinator.

Clements has experience in the position, as Dick Jauron hired him to be the Bills’ offensive coordinator in 2004. He served two years in Buffalo before becoming the Packers’ quarterbacks coach when head coach Mike McCarthy arrived in 2006. Clements has held that position ever since.

But with Clements’ value sky rocketing alongside the meteoric development of both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn under his watch, the Packers may need to promote the 58-year-old to keep him on the staff. Clements has earned the opportunity to advance back up the coaching ladder, if he so pleases.

For now, however, we know Clements will not be making the trip east to State College. Until we hear of any subsequent interviews or openings, his position with the Packers appears safe.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

4

January

Joe Philbin and Tom Clements Drawing Interest For Head Coaching Jobs

Packers QB coach Tom Clements is drawing interest from Penn State University.

Success in the NFL breeds opportunity, and two offensive coaches for the Green Bay Packers are drawing interest for head coaching jobs around the football landscape.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will interview for the Kansas City Chiefs head coaching position on Wednesday night.

Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who earlier interviewed for Penn State’s coaching vacancy, will get a second interview in person sometime this week, according to the Pittsburgh Press-Gazette.

Philbin has been the Packers offensive coordinator since 2007, when he was promoted from offensive line coach to coordinator after Jeff Jagodzinski left to be Boston College’s head coach. Philbin started in Green Bay as an offensive line assistant in 2003.

Clements, a 15-year NFL coaching veteran, has been the Packers quarterbacks coach since 2006. He is credited for helping groom both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn during his time in Green Bay.

It’s no coincidence that the success of the Packers, who won 15 games this season after capturing a win in Super Bowl XLV last season, has coincided with interest in their assistant coaches, especially on offense. The Packers offense set numerous franchise records this season on their way to becoming the NFL’s top ranked scoring offense in 2011 and second-highest scoring offense in NFL history.

It was reported earlier this season that Philbin was drawing interest from Tulane Universtity, his alma mater, for their head coaching vacancy. Philbin denied those rumors and Tulane later hired New Orleans Saints receivers coach Curtis Jackson.

While an interview with the Chiefs is an encouraging sign for Philbin’s vertical movement in the coaching profession, it’s unlikely he’ll land the job. While residing over the offensive coordinator position in Green Bay for five seasons, Philbin has yet to be the full-time play caller for the Packers offense. Head coach Mike McCarthy, a former offensive coordinator, calls the Packers’ offensive plays. The Chiefs are also widely assumed to be retaining Romeo Crennel as the head coach after he helped lead the Chiefs to a 2-1 record, including a win over the Packers, after taking over for Todd Haley.

Losing Clements appears to be more imminent. Penn State has dwindled their candidates list, and Clements looks to be one of the front-runners. The Norte Dame alum has shown a mutual interest in the job as a Pennsylvania native.

21

December

The Birth and Death of the Packers’ Wildcat Formation

Aaron Rodgers Tom Clements Packers

Rodgers and QB coach Tom Clements likely not talking about the Wildcat formation. (Photo: Evan Siegle, GBPG)

We may have witnessed the birth and death of the Green Bay Packers “Wildcat” formation, or at least a certain Packers quarterback made it sound like it yesterday.

Before we talk about its potential mortality, let’s document the birth of the Wildcat in the Packers offense.

On Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers lined up Randall Cobb, a former college quarterback at Kentucky, in the formation on the second play from scrimmage to start the second half.

Cobb took the direct snap and ran off right tackle for a gain of four yards.

(For those who don’t know, the Wildcat is a single-wing formation in which, more recently, a skill player lines up in the shotgun with some kind of pre-snap motion. Once the ball is snapped, the runner has the option of running directly, handing off to the motion man or throwing, with the latter being the rare exception. However, that player usually has some kind of throwing experience or prowess in order to keep the defense honest to the pass. The Miami Dolphins, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, ran the formation successfully during portions of the 2008 season. There are different variations of the formation, but the one listed above is which most fans are now familiar.)

The possibility of running Cobb in the Wildcat formation was briefly discussed after the Packers drafted him in the second round last April. Cobb started nine games at quarterback during his freshman season at Kentucky, throwing for two scores and running for another seven. He moved to receiver full time the next season, later becoming one of Kentucky’s best all-time players. Despite the switch, Cobb obviously possessed the kind of versatility to pull off that kind of formation on occasion in the NFL.

But after just one snap in the formation, that page in the Packers playbook might have been torn out.

While nothing catastrophic happened during the Packers’ trail run at the formation, Jason Wilde’s weekly interview with quarterback Aaron Rodgers suggests that Sunday’s appearance of the Wildcat may be a one-time deal.

“I’m not crazy about it,” Rodgers said matter-of-factly when asked about the formation.

11

September

Despite Slow Start, James Jones Still a Weapon for Packers

Don't give up on James Jones just yet.

Packers WR James Jones didn’t see much action Thursday Night against the Saints.  Does this mean the Packers don’t need him or won’t use him?

It reminds me of a guy I know who has a basement full of weapons. Guns, ammo, knives, night-vision goggles, explosives, flares, etc., etc. If you hear of  something blowing up and creating a giant hole, it’s likely in his basement.

I always chuckle when I’m at his house. If you go downstairs to get a beer, chances are good that you’ll have to step over an AK-47 or a giant tub full of bullets the size of your arm to gain access to the fridge. People’s reactions to these weapons differ. Some are fascinated, some are frightened, some wonder why he has so many and some don’t know what to think.

It’s the same with the Packers WRs. There are so many weapons, that people get overwhelmed, probably even the WRs themselves.

James Jones is probably the one overwhelmed right now. He was only targeted once on Thursday night while everyone else seemed to get all kinds of opportunities, even if they weren’t open.

People are wondering why the Packers bothered to resign Jones in the offseason. They just drafted Randall Cobb. Jordy Nelson appears ready for a breakout season and Jermichael Finley was returning. Why did the Packers need to spend over $9 million on Jones, a player that causes just as much frustration as he does excitement?

I’ve always liked Jones and probably give him more love than he deserves, but I’m glad the Packers resigned him and I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

While the rest of the roster has dropped like flies, Packers WRs have been abnormally healthy. Jennings hasn’t missed a game since 2007. Nelson missed three games in 2009, but has otherwise stayed on the field; and Driver has only missed three games since becoming a full-time starter in 2002.

If the Packers luck on keeping their WRs healthy runs out, someone is going to have to fill in. Like Frank Zombo, Charlie Peprah and Jackson/Kuhn/Starks were at various positions last season, Jones is an ideal depth guy at WR and could adequately replace one of the other guys (speaking of health, Jones has only missed six games in his career).