OK everybody, let's dive right in. I don't know if he's the answer to Rodgers' problems this year, but it very well might have contributed. He liked working with Van Pelt and made clear he wasn't happy Van Pelt wasn't brought back. Van Pelt didn't sign a contract extension before last season because he was hoping to get an OC job, but the OC job never came. McCarthy hired Frank Cignetti, and that was that. I was talking with an offensive coach from another team last week about it, and he said that if Rodgers liked the QB coach, then you do what you have to do to keep him, it's not a small price to pay. He's probably right.
It has to hurt his chances, it certainly wouldn't be a good look for any team to hire as head coach a coordinator who was fired in-season. I don't know if you can totally rule him out -- McCarthy coached the 32nd-ranked offense in the season before the Packers hired him -- but I'd think it hurts his chances immensely, as has Minnesota's offensive performance as a whole.
There's no yes or no answer to that question in my opinion. You can't have everything in today's NFL, free agency and the cap just won't allow for it. So for some positions you just have to go with good enough. And a lot of it is on the quarterback to make it work with whoever is playing on the line -- it's not like Brady has had really good offensive lines. But you can't totally neglect the position like Seattle did for a years, either. As for the Packers specifically, center Corey Linsley is really good, he probably is or should be in consideration for the Pro Bowl. So the Packers are strong at LT and C. The other positions, yeah, the Packers should be looking for upgrades in the draft and free agency. Lane Taylor hasn't played nearly as well this year as the past two seasons, and the Packers will want a fallback option for that job next year, but he also might bounce back next year too.
I'm not sure. I don't know anything about his relationship with Gutekunst. Some young GMs might view bringing in a guy like McKenzie as a threat to their job (a ready-made replacement if things don't go well), others might welcome the experienced hand. The Packers' front office is pretty young, so I'd think they could use his experience and personnel expertise. From talking to people with the Packers over the years, I got the feeling he was one of the best talent evaluators to come through there. I'd think he'd be a great guy to have around, but that's without knowing what his relationship with Gutekunst is like.
No simple answer to that, depends on who they like for the head coaching position. Whoever they like has to be able to choose his own staff, IMHO. Forcing assistants on a head coach is a bad idea, he should pick his own guys. But if the Packers really like what Pettine has done and hire a coach with an offensive background, they'd probably encourage him to seriously consider retaining Pettine and his staff. If they hire a coach with a defensive background, I'd think Pettine would be gone because the coach would want to run his own defense. Same if the coach comes from a defensive background, if Rodgers finishes strong, the new coach at least might consider retaining Philbin as OC, though the new guy might already know who he wants running his offense. I'd think some of the other assistants would at least have a chance to stay with a new coach -- McCarthy kept Philbin, for instance, and Pettine retained Joe Whitt, among others, this year, though I don't know if that was Pettine's call or strictly McCarthy's. But which assistants would have the best chance of sticking, no way to know that right now.
A lot of truth to what you say. Leadership is the most important part of being a head coach, that's the main job. That's probably why a lot of guys who are good coordinators fail as head coaches, they just don't have the leadership skills necessary to win consistently as head coaches. You don't hear pundits talking about because it's hard to measure and how to know how good a leader a guy is when he's a coordinator, you're projecting, whereas you can find tangible evidence for whether a coordinator is good at running his side of the ball -- statistical rankings, the development of QBs if he's on the offensive side of the ball. With college coaches maybe you can get a better feel for the leadership thing -- I read a column about Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald that said that a lot of NFL people consider him a great leader. But then you have the risk of hiring a college guy -- the track record isn't good for college coaches who have never worked in the NFL and then become NFL head coaches. Basically, there's a lot of guesswork and projection involved whichever way you go. The only guys who have a track record are head coaches that have been fired by another team.
Your points are valid. If I were Murphy I'd have handed off total control of football to Gutekunst this offseason and let him make the hire. Murphy made clear at the press conference after the McCarthy firing that he thinks he has the experience and knowledge to run the search and make a good hire, and he wants to put himself on the line and do that, because ultimately the success or failure of the franchise is on him. I'd argue that Gutekunst is in better position because he's been working daily in scouting and coaching circles, so he knows the landscape. While Murphy played in the NFL and has worked in it in many different capacities, he hasn't worked in personnel or coaching and doesn't have those first-hand, daily contacts. I'm not a fan of the new structure, the other structure had a clear delineation of authority and responsibility. This allows for more wiggle room, potential back-stabbing down the road during tough times, etc. The other side of it is, this is a really attractive place to work because they put their resources into football, and have continued to under Murphy. In the end, nothing is guaranteed. You can have a great GM and system and still pick a bad or mediocre coach. Murphy very well might make a good or great hire. I know it's not a satisfying answer, but we'll just have to wait and see.
They do. I think all or many teams do, but I know Al Davis was well known for doing that. He'd use the interview to find out everything he could about his rivals.
Working against him would be he was part of the offensive staff that had such a rough season. Murphy very well might just want to start over, bring in a new staff to work with Rodgers. But what if Rodgers goes off the last three games (he played a pretty good game last week)? That could change things.
I haven't looked hard yet at who will be available, and that will change between now and the start of free agency as teams extend some guys' contracts, franchise other guys, and cut guys who might be decent players for cap purposes. I have to think they'll look hard at the top pass rushers. I have to think they'll also sign an offensive lineman or two, though they wouldn't have got top dollar there and could go for more middle and lower tier guys. Same at safety. Interesting question on Barr. Depends what defense they're running. If they're still 3-4, I wonder if Barr could play OLB and add some pass rush? The Vikings have spent big money on a lot of guys, and you can't pay everybody, they're eventually going to have to let a decent player or two walk.
Yeah, a strong finish could make Philbin a viable candidate not just in name but in reality. If Rodgers plays lights out, how could it not help his chances? The assistant coach from another team I mentioned earlier in this chat said that he thinks a change in offensive system would be a bigger deal than many think. That even with an experienced QB like Rodgers there's still a learning curve, and that he would take that into consideration when hiring a coach and try to bring in a West Coast guy. That would also work in Philbin's favor. The question is, how strongly does Murphy feel about making a clean break and starting over?
I'm not ready to make any grand pronouncements. The hardest thing about following this league and evaluating performance, etc., is to not be a prisoner of what happened most recently. So in this instance, what happened most recently was the Packers played as bad a game as you can imagine against a bad team (Arizona), then come back and play a pretty good team against another bad team (Atlanta). They'd also played some pretty decent games against good teams earlier this season under McCarthy (at the Rams, at NE and Seattle), so it's not like every game was like Arizona. So, kudos to Philbin for rallying the team and getting it to play pretty well in his first game. The offensive operation looked a tad smoother -- seemed like the play calls were getting in faster and the offense was getting lined up a little quicker -- but we don't know if that was a one-off. Teams also can get a temporary boost when they make an in-season coaching change. This week will be more revealing. They're facing a really good defense on the road. So I want to see what happens against the Bears before making any judgments.
It could be, though I'm more inclined to think he made the change because he thought everyone knew McCarthy was going to be fired anyway, and it would have made for a bad environment for the team. Let's face it, everyone in the locker room knew Rodgers didn't like the way McCarthy was running the offense. That had to make for a bad vibe. Now that's gone.
In the regular season we send at least five us: Tom Silverstein, Jim Owczarski, Olivia Reiner, Ryan Wood and me. We also send at least one photographer, and sometimes two. Our Packers editor, Stu Courtney, goes to a couple road games too.
Yeah, $8M a year is way too steep. His injury history (from the offseason accident on which he hurt his foot to the groin and hamstring injuries he's had this year) will hurt his value a lot. I'd think they could get him for a relative bargain price, maybe even if it's on a one-year, prove-it type deal for, I don't know, just kind of wild guessing here, but $3M, something like that? You're right, that's a hard one to project. But if I'm the Packers, I want him back.
I haven't heard of any interviews they've conducted. It probably would be tough -- not impossible, but tough -- to keep that under wraps.
Yes, there's a very good point there, and it's not just the QB salaries but -- and I'd argue this is the bigger factor -- that the sustained success of the teams with the highly paid QB has them picking later in the draft almost every year. That takes a toll on talent as well. Look at Jacksonville. Had a really good year last season with a good defense and RB, but the QB caught up to them and now they're bad again. Kansas City eventually will have to pay Mahomes, but what's the alternative? Let him walk, save the money and spend it on other positions, and risk going 20 years without a good QB? If the Packers weren't willing to give Rodgers the extension, then they would have had to have been willing to trade him. I'm sure some people are now saying they should have traded him, but would you have said that in August?
Lewis can't run, so I wouldn't throw to him more. I wonder why Tonyan doesn't get more snaps. Agreed on Graham, he's having a tough time catching the ball with that thumb injury, yet they're playing him basically full time.
OK, this will have to do it, time to get to other responsibilities. But thanks for coming by, lots of good questions, and there will be big things to talk about in the next month or so as the Packers look for their next coach. So we'll do it again next Wednesday, same time and place. As for your question, the Patriots don't do this every year, but in a lot of offensive seasons they sign several mid- to lower-level free agents and treat it almost like a draft. They pay a signing bonus to get a look at these guys, and the ones they don't think are an upgrade they just cut and eat the money and consider it the cost of doing business. You can upgrade a few of your biggest roster weaknesses that way, improve depth, etc., and maybe every once in a while get lucky and find a guy who's pretty good. Vrabel was a guy like that for the Patriots. And with that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts and ask questions. Until next week, take care everybody.