11

June

Which Packers Assistant is the next to Become a Head Coach?

Could Tom Clements be the next Packers assistant to become a head coach?

Could Tom Clements be the next Packers assistant to become a head coach?

John Schneider to Seattle. Reggie McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey to Kansas City.

A lot of talented executives have left the Packers front office for general manager jobs with other teams over the last three years.

Joe Philbin has been the only Packers assistant coach to land a head coaching gig in that time period. Philbin departed as offensive coordinator and took over as Miami’s head coach after the 2012 season.

There’s plenty of talent on the Packers coaching roster. Linebackers coach Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry have been loosely linked to head coach openings in the past. Current offensive coordinator Tom Clements is also highly regarded for his role in the Packers’ offense and the development of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Edgar Bennett has received some publicity lately as a firey up-and-comer. Kevin Greene is also an intense guy that could catch the eye of a general manager who wants a motivator as a head coach.

It’s impossible to predict which way the wind will blow on the assistant coach open market. One season an assistant might be the next big thing and a cinch to become a head coach. Then his team falters, he doesn’t get offered a head coaching job, and we never hear from him again.

Even Dom Capers was whispered to be on some team’s head coach lists after the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Can you imagine anyone offering Capers a head coaching job now? Doubtful, but if the Packers make a drastic turnaround on defense, you never know.

I consider myself an obsessive NFL fan — not just a Packers fan — and even I never heard of Mike McCarthy when the Packers hired him. Now, he’s one of the most successful head coaches in franchise history.

If I had to guess, I’d guess that Tom Clements gets a shot at being a head coach before any other assistant. Guys that understand offense and the quarterback position will always have an advantage in today’s NFL. Based on what little I know about Clements, he also seems to have the demeanor to be a strategic and level-headed coach.

20

January

Miami Dolphins Hire Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin To Be Next Head Coach

The Miami Dolphins have hired Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as their next head coach.

According to both Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Miami Dolphins will hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to be their next head coach. Terms of his contract are reportedly already agreed upon and a press conference is slated for Saturday.

Philbin, who has held the role of offensive coordinator since 2007 in Green Bay, beat out Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Miami secondary coach and assistant head coach Todd Bowles for the position. All three men went through two rounds of interviews with GM Jeff Ireland and owner Stephen Ross.

Some, including ESPN’s John Clayton, figured McCoy was the front runner after the final round of interviews were completed. Philbin was a favorite of Ross, and that might have trumped any hiring that Ireland wanted to make.

Philbin’s hiring completes what has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 27-year coaching veteran. While in the process of interviewing in both Kansas City and Miami, Philbin’s 21-year-old son Michael fell through the ice on the Fox River in Oshkosh and drowned. That tragedy also conincided with the Packers preparation for their Divisional Round game against the New York Giants, a contest in which the Packers lost 37-20 last Sunday. Philbin was present at the game and served in his full capacity despite Michael’s funeral being on the Friday before the game.

Now, Philbin will take over a franchise that has been through several coaches and quarterbacks over the better part of the last decade. The Dolphins finished 6-10 in 2011.

Philbin also becomes the first of what could be many Packers assistant coaches to move on from their time in Green Bay. It’s entirely possible that Philbin could take several assistants from Mike McCarthy’s staff with him to Miami, including quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. However, the Packers may also want to promote Clements to their offensive coordinator position that is now vacant with Philbin’s departure. Either way, buckle up—because we could see a good chunk of the Packers coaching staff in other locales next fall. The Oakland Raiders, who are now run by former Packers director of personnel Reggie McKenzie, have yet to make their own head coaching hire.

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.

16

December

McCarthy: Bishop and Pickett Out; Starks, Sitton and Saine Questionable for Sunday vs. Chiefs

During his Friday press conference, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy ruled out both Desmond Bishop and Ryan Pickett for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs but said that James Starks, Brandon Saine and Josh Sitton all have a chance to play.

Bishop and Pickett have both been held out of practice this week. Bishop will miss his third straight game after injuring his calf against the Lions in Week 13. Pickett suffered his second concussion of the season against the Raiders last Sunday and won’t make the trip to Kansas City.

Rookie D.J. Smith will make his third straight start for Bishop, and C.J. Wilson is listed behind Pickett on the Packers depth chart. Jarius Wynn and Mike Neal should also see more snaps in Pickett’s absence.

Both Starks (injury) and Saine (concussion) have missed this week’s practices, but McCarthy said they’ll be game-time decisions. If they checkout on the field in Kansas City before kickoff, each will have a chance to play. The Packers are hopeful that one of the two will be able to play, as Ryan Grant and John Kuhn are the only other healthy ball carriers on the roster. No roster move was made to fortify the position this week.

Sitton, who went out in Detroit with a knee sprain, has done light work at practice this week and has a chance to play. The coaching and medial staff will weigh how Sitton feels about giving it a go with a brace on his knee. If he can’t play, Evan Dietrich-Smith will make another start at right guard. One could only assume the Packers would play it safe with Sitton even if he thinks he can play on Sunday.

A.J. Hawk (calf) and Vic So’oto (back) were full participants this week and are expected to play on Sunday.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s Friday press conference:

  • McCarthy was unaware of any interview being conducted with Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements at Penn State. Said Clements would be “an outstanding candidate.”
  • McCarthy was glad that WR Tori Gurley decided to stay. Pointed out that Gurley is an “up-and-coming player” and an “inquisitive” young man. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities in Green Bay so far.
  • Andrew Quarless has not had surgery on his knee. That procedure will happen soon. Quarless is on crutches but “spirits are high.”