Barring an unexpected winning streak and a deep playoff push, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t seem long for his job. Sooner or later, the Packers are going to have to find his replacement. But who’s it going to be?
We have some guesses. Well, maybe not guesses. Maybe wishes. At any rate, here are the candidates the APC staff would like to see considered as McCarthy’s successor.
Mike Vieth - Chris Petersen, University of Washington Head Coach
I’m sure there is an APC writer or two with Josh McDaniels crushes, me included, that will be written but I’m going to the college level for an amazing coach. Chris Petersen has been a winner wherever he goes. Petersen is 138-32 over his 13 year head coaching career at Boise State and Washington.
He was named the head coach at Boise State in 2006 and only went 92-12 in eight years. After he took over a Washington team, that was extremely mediocre under Steve Sarkisian, he has gone 46-20 over five seasons...so far. Twelve of those losses came in his first two years when he was still dealing with the players from Sarkisian. He has had nine 10 win seasons including two undefeated years at Boise and, most likely, will have another 10 wins this season.
If you’re wondering if he could be an effective offensive NFL head coach, the answer is yes. Petersen has the reputation of being highly respected by his players and I’ve read that NFL executives and scouts greatly value his input when scouting players. So, he know how to reach his players and what it takes to play in the NFL.
He runs a wide open, multiple offense that stretches the defense from sideline to sideline, utilizes space, and focuses on getting his playmakers into those open spaces. He’s not afraid to run the ball, he loves to use multiple tight ends, and he uses RPOs regularly. Each play has multiple options so the Mike McCarthy predictability that we have become accustomed will go out the window.
As an added bonus, Petersen has credited multiple coaches for his style, including an Aaron Rodgers favorite, Jeff Tedford. Petersen and Tedford also coached together at Oregon from 1998-2000 and Tedford was part of Petersen’s staff at Washington in 2016. Maybe a reunion in Green Bay, especially to make Rodgers happy, could be another possibility.
The biggest question that really remains is will Chris Petersen leave the college ranks for a shot at the NFL? Only time will tell.
Bob Fitch - Mike Leach, Washington State Head Coach
As a big fan of the modern Air Raid scheme and interesting interviews, who better? We have our defensive coordinator set for the future with some building blocks, and the best teams in the NFL are those who score the most. Long gone are the days of 16-12 contests with teams that used two fullbacks. I want Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball until his arm falls off, and I want a coach that gives wedding advice to media members and is full of strange, hilarious quotes.
Air Raid schemes have become prevalent in the college game, and the NFL is beginning to slowly take on some of those as well. I know Kliff Kingsbury and Josh McDaniels will be the most sought-after, at the very least for OC, but why not go with the man that started it all?
Evan “Tex” Western — Josh McDaniels or Lincoln Riley or whoever for head coach, as long as they hire Kliff Kingsbury as OC
Who’s the guy who made Patrick Mahomes into Patrick Mahomes, first-round draft pick? That would be Kingsbury, the former head coach at Texas Tech who recently received a pink slip. Sure, Kingsbury’s Red Raiders teams went 35-40 in his six years, with four losing seasons, but that’s not really his fault. He has a terrific grasp of the Air Raid style of offense run by Mike Leach, one of his predecessors at TTU, but he also adds in plenty of NFL-inspired tweaks.
Mahomes told USA Today’s Doug Farrar that “Our offense is a lot more complex than the old Air Raid, because Coach Kingsbury, coming from the NFL, has made it more complex,” That sounds like a recipe for success in the pros -- after all, it’s not just the Air Raid. I encourage you to read Farrar’s piece to learn much more about the scheme. And although the concepts are complex, Kingsbury’s play calls were all a single number, which should help a team that has struggled to get to the line of scrimmage with more than five seconds left on the play clock in recent years. Furthermore, as a record-setting quarterback in college, Kingsbury also sees the game through the eyes of the field general. That could help endear him to a certain two-time MVP in Green Bay who seems to crave a genuine connection with his offensive play-caller.
As our Jason Hirschhorn noted, Kingsbury also has a connection with a pair of potential Packers head coaching targets. McDaniels; the former was a Patriots draft pick in 2003, which was the latter’s third year on the New England staff. Interestingly, Lincoln Riley tried to walk on at Texas Tech during Kingsbury’s tenure as a starter, later earning a student assistant job there after Kingsbury was drafted. If either of them is the pick for head coach, Kingsbury would seem to be a great fit as OC.
Paul Noonan - Not a retread
I don’t actually watch that much college football outside of Wisconsin (and no one wants to see that) so I don’t really have a specific crush. I mean, I love McVay, I love Shanahan, I love Belichick, I think I love Tampa’s Todd Monken, but we need more info on that one. None of these people are available, but they capture what I look for in a coach. I want an offensive mind with a progressive playbook and a good high-level understanding of offense, who doesn’t rely on Rodgers to get by but sets up his team to use Rodgers as the superweapon he is supposed to be. Maybe that’s Lincoln Riley. I don’t know. People seem to like him.
What I don’t want is any retread. If I’ve heard of a coach who has been recently let go, they’re probably bad. Heck, the best one is likely to be Mac. The old school of the NFL is no longer competitive, and I’d rather have a coach I’ve never heard of than one I’ve heard of. My crush is the Mystery Date.
Jon Meerdink - Mike Pettine
I know Mike Pettine says he doesn’t want to be a head coach again, but this isn’t about what he wants. It’s about what I want.
Pettine bears all the hallmarks of a guy who could succeed in the right environment. He’s measured, forward-thinking, and adapts his scheme well to the personnel he’s given. Just as importantly, he seems to know how to put the right people around him. His offensive coordinators for his two seasons as head coach in Cleveland were Kyle Shanahan and John DeFilippo, both highly regarded offensive minds.
That he didn’t succeed in Cleveland does not bother me in the slightest. The Browns’ meddling owner will make it difficult for pretty much anyone to find sustained success there, and the organization as a whole has been a trash fire for most of the last 30 years. Even Bill Belichick managed just one winning season there and he seems to have gone on to have some relative success elsewhere.
So go for it, Mike. Get over your selfish desire to avoid the constant stress, insane demands, absurd work hours, and virtual certainty of being fired some day and make my dream come true.
Kris Burke - Josh McDaniels
Yeah, I know he wrecked Denver and drafted Tim Tebow but he was only 33 when he took the job and the Broncos entrusted the young hotshot with far too much personnel power. In Green Bay, he’ll have Brian Gutekunst firmly installed at general manager and the Packers won’t let the head coach have too much say over the roster like what McDaniels had with the Broncos.
Don’t forget McDaniels also made Kyle Orton (that’s former Bears game manager Kyle Orton) look like a Pro Bowl player for much of 2009 and there was still enough potential even among all the chaos he caused in Denver. Also, he was the one responsible for trading Jay Cutler to Chicago so I think he already endears himself to Packers fans a little bit.
He also would a fresh offensive approach to Green Bay and is the kind of play caller Aaron Rodgers would go through a wall for. He’s aggressive, still young (only 42) and has been able to craft an attack around Tom Brady that’s kept the quarterback at the top of his game into his 40s, which is something Rodgers had publicly stated he would like to do.
One would hope McDaniels would keep Mike Pettine around who has done a phenomenal job with a defense that either has some talent deficiencies or a slew of inuries and the players seem to love the guy. There’s no guarantee of this however as McDaniels does branch from the Bill Belichick tree.
Belichick’s coaching tree hasn’t seen the results many thought it would (Bill O’Brien seemingly the lone exception) but McDaniels learned a lot from his time in Denver and his personality and offensive system seem a no-brainer for the Green Bay Packers.