When the Packers 2018-2019 season came to a merciful end last week, the search for finding Mike McCarthy’s replacement kicked into full gear. Packers president Mark Murphy took time away from cutting ribbons and his tubing schedule to conduct interviews. Along for the ride came “general manager” Brian Gutekunst. Mark Murphy has a lot riding on this decision. He will need to hire the right person to be the next Green Bay Packers head coach.
Although many, especially this writer, have doubts that Murphy has the ability to hire the right coach, he is doing his due diligence to find the right person. In the past week, Murphy and his sidekick Gutekunst have conducted several interviews with several different candidates and have reportedly more set up.
The list of candidates are quite interesting. To take a look at who might be the next Packers head coach, we will take a look at the candidates by group.
The Veteran Former NFL Coaches
Like in most cases when looking for an NFL head coach, the top of the list starts with veteran former NFL head coaches. Murphy looks to be following that playbook. Reportedly, his first two interviews were with former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and fellow former Colts coach Chuck Pagano.
Fans didn’t seem too excited about the Packers interviewing either of them, but it did make sense. It was reported that Murphy and Gutekunst spoke to both before the end of the season. With both being out of work, the Packers were able to do so.
Out of the two candidates, Caldwell has had the most success. During his time with the Colts and the Lions, Caldwell accumulated a 62-50 regular season record and a 2-4 playoff record. Along with having a better record, Caldwell would seem like the better candidate out of the two. Like if he were to coach Aaron Rodgers, Caldwell has experience coaching superstar veteran quarterbacks. He did so when he was with the Colts and Peyton Manning was his starting quarterback.
There has been reports that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has spoken to Murphy and Gutekunst as well. Munchak is the former Tennessee Titans head coach. Since he was let go by the Titans, he has been in charge of the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line and has done a marvelous job with that unit.
In his three years as the Titans head coach, he accumulated a 22-26 regular season record and never led the Titans to the playoffs. Munchak also played in the NFL from 1983-1993, as an offensive lineman.
McDaniels in Play
If you believe what is on Twitter, then you think New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is the leader for being the Packers next head coach. He reportedly interviewed with Murphy and Gutekunst on Friday. If you fancy placing a wager on the next head coach, MyTopSportsbooks’ editor in chief Alexander Paruk notes that McDaniels was the odds-on favorite when the Packers head coach prop was available for betting last week. It’s only looking more likely that he’s going to get the job as of Monday. He’s the smart choice for people wagering real money.
McDaniels has been successful as the Patriots offensive coordinator. But so was Bill O’Brien when he was the Patriots offensive coordinator. The point being it isn’t too difficult to be the Patriots offensive coordinator when Tom Brady is your starting quarterback and your boss might be the best head coach ever to coach in the NFL. The true test is how McDaniels has done on his own, which isn’t very impressive at all.
He was the Denver Broncos head coach for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He accumulated an 11-17 record and never led the Broncos to the playoffs. While in Denver, he was in charge of personnel, which led to the Broncos selecting Tim Tebow in the first round.
After flaming out badly in Denver, McDaniels headed to St. Louis to be the Rams offensive coordinator. That lasted just one season. The Rams offense finished 31st in total yards that season. After that season, he made his way back to Brady and Bill Belichick.
There is a good chance, like Belichick did after he coached the Cleveland Browns, he has learned from his failures. If named the Packers head coach, he would get to work with another Hall of Fame type quarterback in Rodgers. But his track record has to give pause, along with the fiasco he was a part of last off-season with the Indianapolis Colts.
Gutekunst, who won’t be the one making the hire, will also need to think long and hard about supporting the hire of McDaniels. McDaniels was power hungry when he was in Denver. With how Murphy has the Packers front office structure, McDaniels would report directly to Murphy, not Gutekunst. If McDaniels develops a thirst for more power, he very well could go over Gutekunst’s head to Murphy to do so.
It is understandable why McDaniels could be the leader. The idea of him getting Rodgers back to the standard of play Packers fans are used to is very tempting. Still, there is more to the Packers failures than just Rodgers. McCarthy lost this team and they need a leader, for the whole team. There are some serious doubts McDaniels is that person.
Looking for the Next Sean McVay
It seems that every NFL team that is looking for a new head coach is looking for the next Sean McVay. The Los Angeles Rams head coach has been very successful in his first two seasons as the Rams head coach. Albeit just in the regular season (so far). He is young, energetic, and has a very creative offensive mind.
Several of the candidates the Packers have interviewed or been linked to, are hoping to follow in McVay’s footsteps. Matt LaFleur is a prime example of one of those candidates. LaFleur spent this past season as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for McVay with the Rams.
This past season the Titans offense finished an unimpressive 25th in total yards. LaFleur didn’t have much success in developing fourth year quarterback Marcus Mariota either. He finished this season with just 11 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. It was just Mariota’s first season under LaFleur, so you can’t put much stock into Mariota’s numbers. Still, the poor numbers don’t put LaFleur in a good light and it might hurt his chances with landing the Packers head coaching job.
LaFleur isn’t the only offensive mind the Packers have spoken to or will speak to. New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase are also on the Packers radar.
Carmichael has been the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator since 2009, working under Sean Payton. Working under Payton, one of the best offensive minds in the NFL, will help Carmichael. But while he holds the title of offensive coordinator, he has never called the plays. The fact that Payton is the one in charge of the Saints offense will hinder Carmichael’s chances of landing the Packers head coaching job.
Just like with Carmichael, Monken wasn’t in charge of calling the Buccaneers offensive plays. Former head coach Dirk Koetter had those duties. Still, Monken was a part of an offensive staff that helped the Buccaneers finish third in total offense.
Gase was recently fired by the Miami Dolphins. In his three seasons as the Dolphins head coach, he accumulated a 23-25 record. He did lead the Dolphins to a 10-6 record in his first season and helped lead the Dolphins to the playoffs. Although he had a losing regular season record, Gase didn’t have much to work with, especially at quarterback. Ryan Tannehill made Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga look like an iron man. He was constantly injured and Gase had to work with several different quarterbacks.
Coming off two losing regular seasons like Gase has, might be a tough sell for Murphy. Still, Gase is one of the better young offensive minds in the NFL. His work with the Denver Broncos and especially the Chicago Bears, where Jay Cutler was the starting quarterback, was very impressive. Under Gase’s guidance, Cutler threw 21 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. If the Packers don’t hire Gase, and instead hire somebody who hasn’t been an offensive coordinator, he might be a great choice to be their offensive coordinator, if he is available.
The Wild Cards
While offensive coordinators and former NFL head coaches top this list, there are two very intriguing candidates the Packers have spoken to. One being from the defensive side and the other a positional coach.
Former NFL tight end Dan Campbell learned under Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells. He played under Parcells and when Parcells was in charge of the Miami Dolphins, Parcells brought him in as a tight ends coach. Interesting enough, Campbell was named the interim coach for the Dolphins in 2015 when Joe Philbin was fired. He went 5-7 while the Dolphins interim head coach.
Most recently, he has been the assistant head coach/tight ends for another Parcells coach, Sean Payton. Campbell is another no-nonsense coach. Although he has never been an offensive coordinator, he might be the type of leader that the Packers are in dire need of.
Joining Pagano as the only other defensive candidate is Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores. Flores has been an assistant under Belichick for the past 15 years. This season, although not given the defensive coordinator title, he called the defensive plays for the Patriots.
Although the Patriots defense finished 21st in total defense, Flores didn’t have much talent to work with on the defensive side of the ball. Many believe that it was quite remarkable that the Patriots defense did as well as they did. Which should help Flores in landing a head coaching job.
Unlike McDaniels, Flores doesn’t bring the baggage or failures McDaniels does. In his 15 years, he has spent time as assistant on offense, special teams, and defense. He has a very well-rounded resume, something that might be intriguing to Murphy and Gutekunst.
Candidate with No Chance and Other Possible Candidates
Packer interim head coach Joe Philbin received an interview right after the season concluded. But in all reality, the interview was granted to Philbin for being such a loyal longtime Packers employee. Philbin’s chances of landing the job went out the window after the Packers were embarrassed in their last game under Philbin. Unless the new coach retains Philbin, his days as a Packers coach are numbered.
Murphy and Gutekunst might not be done interviewing candidates. There are still assistant coaches out there that could be looked at. We recently highlighted Dallas Cowboys secondary coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard as a possible candidate. Richard calls the defensive calls for the Cowboys and spent many seasons under Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. He looks to be an assistant that is on the rise.
With the playoffs still going on, there is a chance that the Packers might line up more interviews with coaches not named on this list. No matter the case, Packers are waiting patiently, hoping Murphy doesn’t mess up the hiring.