Packers notes: Joe Philbin in familiar role as interim head coach

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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy laughs as he talks with Joe Philbin during practice Wednesday, November 21, 2018 inside the Don Hutson Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

GREEN BAY – On Thursday, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was asked if he would ever want to be a head coach again after he spent three seasons and four games in that position with the Miami Dolphins, and the 57-year-old demurred, saying his focus was on preparing for the Arizona Cardinals and winning games under Mike McCarthy.

But he did allow that “it’s a difficult job, it can be a lonely job.”

“Theoretical writers sometimes make it more challenging for head coaches. It’s a tough job, but it’s a great job and if you love football and you love coaching, in my opinion they’re all great jobs.”

On Sunday night, the Packers made the decision for him by naming him as the interim head coach for the remaining four games of the 2018 season after firing McCarthy following Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Cardinals at Lambeau Field.

Philbin was brought back to Green Bay this season by McCarthy to coordinate the offense.

He went 24-28 with the Dolphins before being fired four games into the 2015 season. His best record was 8-8, accomplished twice in 2013 and 2014.

Philbin left Green Bay after the 2011 season following five seasons as the Packers coordinator, including the Super Bowl winning campaign of 2010.

Crosby misses chance late

When Mason Crosby’s potentially game-tying kick hung right of the goal post Sunday afternoon, it marked his seventh missed field goal and ninth missed kick overall on the season. His field goal percentage dropped to 75.9 percent.

“It’s my job, and I welcome the challenge every time,” Crosby said. “I can’t take credit whenever I win a game, all of the credit, and I can’t take all of the credit whenever I don’t make the kick at the end. So, for me, we win and lose as a team, and I’m just disappointed to not make the kick whenever I’m called on there. I need to make that kick to tie the game and see what happens in overtime.”

Last season he made 78.9 percent of his field goal attempts but missed just four on a career-low 19 attempts. Crosby has not missed this many field goals or total kicks since 2012 when he went 21-for-33 for a career low 63.6 percent on field goals.

He missed four field goals and an extra point in a 31-23 loss to Detroit on Oct. 7, and then promptly made nine straight before missing a kick in Seattle on Nov. 15.

“Obviously, I’ve bounced back every time,” Crosby said Sunday. “I’m just going to continue to work, and I take each kick as its own entity. So, for me, it’s disappointment not making that kick, but I’m going to move on to the next.”

Earlier this season, Crosby hit the game-winner against San Francisco on Oct. 15 but missed a potential game-winner against Minnesota in Week 2 after making his first five attempts that game.

Kumerow makes debut

Jake Kumerow insisted he didn’t hear the crowd cheering for him as he made his first career catch, an 11-yard reception on the Arizona sideline on second-and-10 that helped set up the Packers’ game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. No, he said he put his head down and headed back to the huddle as fast as possible.

But the UW-Whitewater alumnus, who was activated off injured reserve Saturday, did allow himself to savor the moment to a degree.

“It felt good to be out there. It sucks, the outcome, but we’ll come back on Monday and fix it in the film room and get back after it this week,” Kumerow said. “Just a little specific play we had and I just did my job. That was my job, was to run the right route, be in the right position at the right time and I tried to do that. And if the ball comes my way, make the catch.”

Kumerow saw his first target earlier in the game, an incompletion when it looked like Aaron Rodgers was hurried.

Ray of light

This season has hardly presented the opportunity for glowing reviews of the Packers' special teams, and Sunday was no different. The onslaught of special-teams penalties trucked right on through their embarrassing loss to the Cardinals. Yet beneath the carnage, rookie Jaire Alexander provided a single ray of light.

Alexander returned a punt 24 yards to give the Packers a short field in the first half, a play that mercifully stood without penalties. It was the Packers' longest punt return of the season, and gave the offense possession at the Caridnals’ 35-yard line.

They scored their lone touchdown of the half five plays later with a 13-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams on fourth-and-four.

“I was just trying to get into the end zone,” Alexander said. “For real, just trying to change the game.”

Alexander had success in college returning punts, including one he took for a touchdown in his sophomore season at Louisville. The Packers had been reluctant before Sunday to have him field punts. It wasn’t until Trevor Davis landed on injured reserve this past week, and initial replacement Tramon Williams muffed a punt in Minnesota, that Alexander got a chance.

Perhaps he’ll see more attempts going forward.

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