After three-plus years as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Joe Philbin is now out of a job.
Philbin was on the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff under both Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy, starting out as an assistant offensive line coach before serving as offensive coordinator from 2007-2011. During Philbin's tenure as coordinator, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV and went to two NFC Championship games, and Aaron Rodgers won his first NFL MVP award. Furthermore, the Packers' offense never finished outside the top ten in yards or points.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the rumblings of Philbin's impending firing on Sunday night, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly confirmed the news this morning.
Philbin's status now becomes an interesting situation to monitor. He has a great personal and working relationship with Rodgers, head coach Mike McCarthy, and playcaller Tom Clements, and as a result it is not difficult to imagine McCarthy finding or creating a place for Philbin to contribute to the Packers' offense in the future.
This look back at Philbin's time in Green Bay can help us imagine what sort of role he might be able to play, as this quote from Jordy Nelson, given before the Packers-Dolphins game in 2014, gives an idea of his contributions:
He ran all the meetings, all the walk-throughs and everything and I think just did a great job of keeping everyone on the same page.
It's clear from the quotes in that article that he remains highly respected by the Packers' coaches and players, and likely would be welcomed back with open arms by the team's veterans. Furthermore, because Philbin's contributions to the Packers' offenses as coordinator took place mainly during the week in preparation for the next opponent, he could do something similar in Green Bay once again - studying film, breaking down defenses' tendencies, and presenting that information to the other coaches for their use in crafting the final game plan.
There is of course the counter-argument, which is that the Packers' offense has hummed along nicely without Philbin. Indeed, the Packers led the league in points in 2014 on the way to Rodgers earning his second MVP award, and they don't need the help. Furthermore, the Dolphins' offense has been inconsistent under Philbin, topping out as merely an above-average unit during the 2014 season.
However, I would argue that any incremental improvement is worth an investment - in other words, you can't have too much of a good thing when it comes to people who work together well, who respect each others' opinions, and who have clearly-defined roles. That's something that would very much be the case if Philbin made a return to Lambeau. I'm not necessarily saying that McCarthy should do this mid-season - instead, my argument is that it should be explored this offseason so that roles can be well-defined for 2016.
Bringing Philbin back to Green Bay as some sort of special assistant on offense makes sense to me, even if all he becomes is just a film analyst and sounding board for ideas. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if Mike McCarthy has already made a phone call or two to his old friend.