Packers could go two ways in search for Mike McCarthy successor
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers are giving themselves a full month to evaluate the potential coaching candidates and they may need every week of it because the pool of replacements for Mike McCarthy isn’t that great.
That’s the consensus of an NFL personnel director and two agents who represent college and pro coaches.
The Packers are almost certainly going to pursue a head coach with an offensive background. They have had just one defensive head coach (Ray Rhodes) in the last 31 years and he lasted one year.
There are two directions the Packers probably will consider.
One is to hire someone with NFL head-coaching experience and the other is to hire one of the young, up-and-coming offensive minds that have become all the rage in the NFL.
The Packers will be looking for someone who brings a cutting-edge offense with him, but it’s possible that one of the former head coaches applying for the job would have an offensive coordinator who fits that description on his staff.
Here are some of the offensive coaches who might draw Green Bay’s interest:
» New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: His name is brought up any time there’s an opening, but he burned a lot of bridges when he accepted and then backed out of the Indianapolis job last year. He also had a disastrous 28-game stint with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10, finishing 11-17 and making several controversial decisions.
» Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor: Just 35 years old, Taylor has come up through the NFL ranks, starting out on Packers interim coach Joe Philbin’s staff and winding up in Los Angeles where he was assistant wide receivers coach in ’17 and quarterbacks coach this year. Taylor is former Packers coach Mike Sherman’s son-in-law and a former Nebraska quarterback.
» Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley: Designer of one of college football’s most dynamic offenses, Riley’s name has been linked to the NFL a lot. He will be focused this month on his team’s appearance in the national championship playoffs and might put off the NFL until then. Oklahoma will undoubtedly spend a lot to keep him.
» Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll: He spent seven years with the Patriots learning on Bill Belichick and went on to be a quarterbacks coach (Jets) and offensive coordinator (Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City) before returning to New England as an offensive assistant and tight ends coach for three years. Last year, he was co-offensive coordinator at Alabama and moved on to Buffalo this year.
Among the NFL and college head coaches whom the Packers might consider are:
» Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: It’s almost a lock the Packers will contact Fitzgerald, who came up through the ranks on the defensive side of the ball but has a high-octane offense. Murphy was athletic director at the school and surprised many people when he picked Fitzgerald to coach the team when Randy Walker died of a heart attack before the 2006 season. Fitzgerald has helped establish the Wildcats as a football contender, taking them all the way the Big Ten championship game Saturday against Ohio State. In 13 seasons, he has 95 wins and has led Northwestern to eight bowl games.
» Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh: A decision hasn’t been made on Harbaugh’s fate, but he could definitely be on the street. Harbaugh is known for hard-nosed defensive-oriented football teams and would need to bring a qualified offensive coordinator with him who can coach Rodgers. Harbaugh, like McCarthy, is a Super Bowl-winning coach.
» Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: John’s brother has been to the Super Bowl, too. His San Francisco 49ers lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. The Packers are aware of Harbaugh’s offensive ingenuity. His 49ers knocked them out of the playoffs twice. Harbaugh is not easy to manage and tends to wear out his welcome quickly. He has not had the success at Michigan many thought he would have.
» Stanford coach David Shaw: A number of teams have been interested in Shaw, but he hasn’t been willing to leave the Cardinal. Shaw has said being an NFL coach is not a career goal. It probably would take a special job for him to leave and maybe the chance to coach Rodgers would be it.
The two most likely in-house candidates would be offensive coordinator Philbin, who has been named interim coach, and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Philbin was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2012-15 and Pettine was coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2014-15.