Packers' confirmed coaching candidates indicate a desire for discipline
GREEN BAY - If you were to conclude anything from the coaches they’re preparing to interview, Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst are looking for someone with a reputation for discipline.
Only four of their requests were known and confirmed through sources Monday, so it’s likely many more will surface as the search goes on, but after an embarrassing 31-0 loss to Detroit Sunday, Murphy and Gutekunst apparently feel they need to restore some order.
The four assistant coaches whom they are known to have contacted for interviews Monday are New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Patriots defensive play caller Brian Flores, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell.
They have already interviewed former head coaches Jim Caldwell and Chuck Pagano.
And they were planning to request an interview with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald after the Wildcats concluded their season at the Holiday Bowl on Monday night.
Among those candidates, only Flores has not been a head coach.
Murphy and Gutekunst seemingly plan to evaluate mostly those with head-coaching experience first. It’s possible once they conclude with those interviews, they will move on to some lesser-experienced assistants. They reportedly also want to interview Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
Missing from their list of contacted coaches so far were former Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor.
After the Packers went 4-7-1 to start the season, Murphy decided to make a change. He fired coach Mike McCarthy after the team looked sloppy and uninterested in a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 3.
Interim coach Joe Philbin took over and led the Packers to victories over Atlanta and the New York Jets, but the team again looked listless against Detroit in the season finale. The fact it was played at home, in the cold against a dome team, made it all the worse.
Since McCarthy was fired, McDaniels has been the coach most likely to draw interest from the Packers because of his experience working with veteran quarterback Tom Brady. McDaniels has not been afraid to stand up to the future Hall of Famer and has coached under one of the great disciplinarians in all of sports, Bill Belichick.
Murphy and Gutekunst might feel they need someone who can deal with the big ego of Aaron Rodgers, the highest-paid player in the NFL. From the outside, it appeared he was fighting McCarthy’s authority over the offense and playing for his own statistics, refusing to take the chances that great quarterbacks take in favor of an interception record.
During his one brief head-coaching stint in Denver, McDaniels benched star receiver Brandon Marshall for disciplinary reasons before a game he needed to win to make the playoffs. After going 8-8 in 2009, he went 3-9 in ’10 before being fired.
There’s risk involved with McDaniels. Last year, he agreed to become the Colts’ head coach while the Patriots were still in the playoffs. But he changed his mind after the Super Bowl and left the Colts high and dry.
He may not like the structure or the talent in Green Bay. He would not have any say over personnel and so if he didn’t get along with Rodgers, for example, there would be nothing he could do about it if Gutekunst or Murphy were against it.
Green Bay was one of only a handful of teams that were known to have requested an interview with McDaniels, which might be a sign teams are wary of a guy who pulled out of a handshake deal last year.
McDaniels’ Patriots colleague, Flores, has drawn considerable interest around the NFL. According to reports, Miami, Denver and Cleveland had requested interviews with the 37-year-old defensive play caller.
In multiple interviews, Flores described himself as a disciplinarian who held his players to high standards. He has been in the Patriots organization since 2008, working his way up to the position Matt Patricia held before accepting the Lions head-coaching job.
Munchak is another former head coach with a no-nonsense approach. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection of the Houston Oilers coached three seasons (’11-13) for the Tennessee Titans, going 22-26. After being fired, he joined the Steelers as their offensive line coach and has been widely regarded as one of the best in the business.
However, his ability to build a coaching staff will be scrutinized. He did not have a strong one in Tennessee and teams will want to know whom he plans to bring in as a play caller and defensive coordinator.
Munchak showed poor judgment during a 2016 playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals when he yanked Bengals safety Reggie Nelson's hair. It drew a penalty and Munchak was fined $10,000.
In addition to the Packers, Miami, Cleveland and Denver want to interview him, according to news reports.
Campbell served as interim coach of the Dolphins in 2015 after current Packers interim coach Joe Philbin was fired four games into the season. Campbell went 5-7 and was not retained. He fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and replaced him with Taylor, who is former Packers coach Mike Sherman’s son-in-law.
Campbell, who played tight end in the NFL for 10 seasons, worked to instill more toughness into the Dolphins, practicing them in pads whenever possible and even making players go through the dreaded “Oklahoma” drill. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells has been a model for him as a coach, with Campbell having played for Parcells the first three years of his career.
McDaniels, Flores and Campbell are restricted to one interview this week because their teams are still in the playoffs. Only coaches whose teams have a first-round bye can interview this week.
Munchak can interview as many times as needed.
The Packers can start interviewing coaches from teams who advance from the wild-card round to the divisional round next week.