Everybody has a coaching crush. We detailed ours just a few weeks ago. But the sinister twin to the coaching crush is a coach you desperately fear getting the job to lead the Green Bay Packers. This week, we at Acme Packing Company are confronting our fears and sharing the coaches we absolutely don’t want to see taking over in Green Bay.
Mike Vieth - Jim Harbaugh
We are extremely early in this process and there are several weeks until we will start hearing the names that get an interview so I’m sure my least favorite candidate will change, but right now it’s Jim Harbaugh. I had another name when we got the topic for our Walkthroughs yesterday and that was John DeFilippo. His name might be thrown around as an offensive coordinator for the Packers next year but, as far as a head coach, I think his fate was sealed as a head coaching candidate once the Vikings fired him yesterday.
Even with it being reported that Mark Murphy thinks very highly of Jim, I just don’t think he would be what the Packers are looking for. After watching a few Michigan games this year, I don’t think his offense is overly explosive and has some very similar traits to what Mike McCarthy had been running. He was smoked by Ohio State again and, during that game, his offense looked out of date and slow compared what he was facing. That was very telling because the way Ohio State plays is similar to the way the NFL is trending and seeing him sputter that badly just wants me to take a pass on bringing him to Green Bay.
On a side note, I don’t think he would take the job because he hasn’t beaten Ohio State yet and now sees a prime opportunity to do exactly that since Urban Meyer has retired. That’s a huge knock on him with the Michigan fanbase and tucking his tail and running without a victory in that game would make Michigan’s favorite son look even worse.
Paul Noonan - Retreads
I’m open to anyone provided they’ve shown some progressive tendencies in their playcalling, and how they run a team. My big fear is someone like Gruden, and bless the Raiders for taking him out of the picture, but it’s scary to think what might have been given his previous history with the team, and his reputation as quarterback-friendly. In fact, I don’t think I really want anyone from the Packer family at this point unless Andy Reid became available for some weird reason. I want the next person to present strategy and presence outside of nepotism or organizational comfort. That’s really it.
Jon Meerdink - Bill Cowher
Every time I see Cowher’s name come up (ironically or otherwise) I involuntarily do a little cringe/laugh. With Gruden off the market (knocks very firmly on wood), Cowher is only other significant “former successful coach I’ve heard of” candidate whose name is regularly thrown out for consideration. I don’t want to dunk on the very earnest commenters of Twitter dot com, but Cowher last coached in the NFL twelve years ago. Even Gruden waited just a modest ten years before getting back into the game. For that (and many other reasons) I have a hard time entrusting the last few years of Aaron Rodgers’ career to Cowher.
Evan “Tex” Western - Pat Fitzgerald
The current head coach at Northwestern University has become a popular name in some media circles as a potential candidate for the Packers, and I want absolutely zero part of that. I understand why it’s out there -- Mark Murphy was Northwestern’s athletic director in the mid-2000s, and he hired Fitzgerald to succeed Randy Walker after he passed away. But that connection should not be remotely enough to get Fitz the job.
Yes, Fitzgerald has the Wildcats in the best stretch of success that the program has ever seen. And yes, three of the school’s four bowl wins (and yes, they’ve only ever won four) have come with him at the helm. But Fitzgerald still has some serious questions about his game management and even this year -- with the Wildcats making their first Big Ten Championship Game appearance -- they simply aren’t a very good team. They allowed more passing yards and rushing yards per game than they recorded offensively, and their overall point differential was just +3, suggesting that their 8-5 record is very much a fluke. In fact, five of those wins were by eight points or less, and four were within four points.
In addition, I don’t see Fitzgerald, a defensive-minded coach, as the architect of any sort of creative scheme. Mike Hankwitz is the defensive coordinator and he is the primary driver of NU’s defensive philosophy, not Fitz. And he certainly seems to bring no creativity to the table on offense, which would make his OC hire absolutely critical. Frankly, if the Packers hired from the college ranks, I would much rather look outside the Big Ten at an offensive mind, rather than just go back to Murphy’s buddy.
Peter Bukowski - John Harbaugh
Let me just echo everything that’s already been said. Hiring Fitzgerald would reek of nepotism and a rigged coaching search. Jim Harbaugh would be replacing one stubborn coach for another with an even bigger ego. What could possibly go wrong?
And although the ‘other’ Harbaugh falls into the “retreads” category, I’ll add Jim Schwartz, Bruce Arians, Jim Caldwell, Mike Shanahan (LOL), and any of the other ridiculous names being thrown around. This goes double for Joe Philbin who could just as easily have been my pick here.
John Harbaugh would be the worst for a simple reason: what is he good at? Baltimore has, from time immemorial, been an excellent defensive team, cycling through virtuoso coaches and players like an assembly line. One comes in after another comes out. On the other hand, the offense has been one disaster after another, with myriad obviously bad coaching hires on offense (Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell failed, so I’m sure Marty Mornhinweg will clean up that mess). So what exactly would Harbaugh’s value to the Packers be in 2019 and beyond?
At least Schwartz has some defensive chops. Bruce Arians would be an attitude adjustment with a gunslinger mentality. Harbaugh would be like sending back your bacon and eggs order because you really wanted undercooked rye toast.
No. Just no.
Shawn Wagner - Joe Philbin
I will cheer for the Packers down the stretch no matter what. But even if they go 4-0 under Philbin, I really hope the Packers move on with new blood next season. While Philbin may not be the candidate I least want to see (I’m not sure I quite have a definitive one yet), his hiring is something I certainly would not be excited about.
With Philbin returning as offensive coordinator this season, the Packers have not looked any more dangerous than the past few years without him. There is no doubting that Green Bay was once very successful on offense with Philbin as coordinator earlier in Aaron Rodgers’ career. But Philbin’s offense already looks too similar to Mike McCarthy’s through his first game at the helm despite some improvements on third down. As many have noted, McCarthy’s system became outdated and the lack of trust and effectiveness in the system even more apparent. Furthermore, Philbin’s record as Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins was 24-28, with the team failing to post a single season with a winning record.
Completely overhauling the offense carries large risk, but change can also act as a jump-start to an offense that can be much more successful than it is, even with young players getting significant reps. This is an opportunity for the Packers to build a new system around those first- and second-year players while trusting the football intelligence of Rodgers to adjust adequately.