Who Will the Packers Hire as Head Coach? Five Under-the-Radar Candidates

So, now that Mike McCarthy is out as Green Bay’s head coach, who will the Packers hire to take advantage of Rodgers last few seasons? Our Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling discussed New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, retired ex-Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley as potential options on The Monday Morning NFL podcast. They settled on McDaniels as a top pick, because of his success and experience working with a veteran quarterback like Rodgers. After he left the Colts at the altar last February, can McDaniels be trusted to actually leave New England? Benoit made a great point about why Arians style of deep-intermediate passing game would be good for Rodgers, who tends to extend plays. Later today on The MMQB, Jonathan Jones will argue why Nick Saban should be the next Packers coach.

With McDaniels as a likely leading candidate, here’s a list of other under-the-radar replacements. Note: This is not a reported list, just a hypothetical list of possibilities.

Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator: Bieniemy is the latest of Andy Reid’s talented lineage of offensive coordinators. So far, former Chiefs OC Matt Nagy has turned around the Bears in his first year as a head coach, and Doug Pederson, another Chiefs OC alum, already won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia. Though Reid calls the plays, Bieniemy is the voice in quarterback Patrick Mahomes ear, and he’s played a big role in the Chiefs explosive offense this season and he helps put together the playbook and weekly game plans. At 49 years old, he’s older than Rodgers and might have an easier time earning respect than a younger guy would.

Kliff Kingsbury, free agent: Kingsbury was recently fired from his position as Texas Tech’s head coach. Though his time there came with mixed results, he is coached an explosive offense and helped develop current Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has had an impressive first season as an NFL starter. At 39 years old, Kingsbury is a young and creative offensive mind that might attract Green Bay. USC offered Kingsbury to come on board as their offensive coordinator and is currently waiting for his decision. Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager reported that Rams head coach Sean McVay reached out to Kingsbury and discussed having him come aboard for the rest of the season in an offensive assistant/consultant role. But ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported there’s more NFL interest than just the Rams. “Kingsbury’s holdup isn’t merely interest from NFL teams to join staff—but also NFL teams with interest in him as head coaching possibility,” Darlington tweeted. If the Packers decided to go with a defensive head coach paired with a young innovative offensive coordinator, Kingsbury would be a good fit.

Joe Philbin, interim head coach: Packers president Mark Murphy said that interim head coach Philbin is a “legitimate candidate” for head coach and that the next four games give them a chance to evaluate him as head coach and see how the locker room responds to him. Philbin seems like an unlikely pick, considering his prior head coaching stint with the Dolphins lasted just three seasons and four games. But Rodgers knows Philbin well, as this is his second go-round in Green Bay. Now that Philbin will be calling plays, his chances will hinge on whether the offense shows any sign of improvement.

John DeFilippo, Vikings OC: Rodgers has said in the past that he values coaches that played the quarterback position. DeFilippo played the position in college at James Madison and has worked with quarterbacks throughout his career. It would be a smart move for Green Bay to hire a head coach with personal experience playing quarterback. DeFilippo has been a hot coaching name since he developed Carson Wentz as Eagles quarterback coach and helped the team to its first Super Bowl title. DeFilippo had a few head-coaching interviews last offseason before landing in Minnesota as offensive coordinator.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern head coach: Fitzgerald is highly unlikely to leave Northwestern, where he’s completely beloved as an alumni head coach, and recently signed a 10-year contract extension and moved into a brand new $270 million athletic facility. And Fitzgerald came up coaching on the defensive side, so he doesn’t fit the mold of offensive innovator that Green Bay will likely target. But there are Northwestern ties in Green Bay that shouldn’t be ignored. Murphy, who has the final say in hiring Green Bay’s head coach, was Northwestern’s athletic director in 2006, when he hired a fresh-faced Fitzgerald as head coach after then-head coach Randy Walker died of a heart attack before the season. It was surprising move at the time, considering Fitzgerald was just 31. Fitzgerald’s agent, Bryan Harlan, is the son of former Packers executive Bob Harlan, who hired Murphy in 2007 to succeed him as CEO and who is still the team’s chairman emeritus. And Green Bay’s personnel department seems fond of Northwestern players—there are currently four former Wildcats on the 53-man roster.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer’s MMQB leads with the end of the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay. … Conor Orr reacts to MNF (Eagles 28, Redskins 13) and how Washington’s playoffs chances fell apart after it mishandled its QB situation. … Jonathan Jones with a roundup of which coaches are on the hot seat. … Andy Benoit analyzes the Texans. Is it time to talk Super Bowl?

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Ben Baskin on praise and criticism for Odell Beckham Jr. in Giants win. … A year after the anthem issue drove social justice to the forefront in the NFL, Jenny Vrentas shows what NFL players and teams are doing in their communities.


1. Kareem Hunt cleared waivers Monday night, meaning no NFL team claimed the balance of his rookie contract.

2. Aaron Rodgers won’t be involved in the Packers search for a new coach.

3. Lions offensive lineman Taylor Decker scored the first touchdown of his life on Sunday and he threw the ball into the stands out of excitement. Then he realized he very much wanted the ball back as a souvenir from the special moment. Through the magic of Twitter, Decker was able to find the fan who got his football.

4. Mychal Kendricks will return to game action Monday night after serving his an eight game suspension under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy for his guilty plea to federal insider trading charges.

5. Washington football team president Bruce Allen says that the team’s investigation of Reuben Foster found, “a side of the story that is different.”


The Butt Fumble returns… but this time Sanchez recovered it. Sweet redemption.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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