This is a storied franchise. This is the team that Vince Lombardi coached. This is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Coaches should be eager for the chance.
But the Packers must be choosy. This isn’t about landing a big name. This is about getting the right coach. This is about updating the offense in which Rodgers operates. This is about finding an innovator. This is about following the lead of the Los Angeles Rams, who hired Sean McVay to work with quarterback Jared Goff, and the Chicago Bears, who went with Matt Nagy to develop young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Those teams are getting results, and their blueprints are what all franchises with head coaching vacancies now must follow.
Rodgers isn’t a young quarterback like Goff and Trubisky. He is a future Hall of Famer. He is a Super Bowl winner. He is a two-time league MVP. And he turned 35 Sunday.
But he needs help from his next coach. He needs an offense that looks like the offenses of the Rams and Chiefs, with concepts that have trickled up from the college game. Rodgers needs an offense that helps him. Too often, he has been asked to do too much, to make extraordinary plays.
The Packers need their version of McVay or Nagy. That means looking at the league’s most promising offensive coordinators. It also means looking to the college ranks.
Lincoln Riley has said that he has no plans to leave Oklahoma to coach in the NFL. Could the Packers change his mind? Maybe not. But perhaps working with Rodgers would be an opportunity that he could not pass up.
If Riley is unavailable, the Packers’ search should focus on NFL offensive coordinators. There’s New England’s Josh McDaniels, who spurned the Indianapolis Colts after last season’s Super Bowl. That should not dissuade the Packers. If McDaniels is willing to leave New England this time, the Packers should consider him.
But McDaniels might even be too traditional of a choice. The Packers would be wise to consider a less prominent group that includes the New Orleans Saints’ Pete Carmichael Jr., the Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy, the Tennessee Titans’ Matt LaFleur and the Minnesota Vikings’ John DeFilippo.
Bieniemy succeeded Nagy as Andy Reid’s top offensive lieutenant in Kansas City. Yes, that is Reid’s offense, and Reid gets plenty of credit for the rapid progression of second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But Bieniemy has soaked it all up, and he also deserves a share of that credit.
DeFilippo was in Philadelphia last season as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach — working for Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, now the head coach of the Colts — to help oversee a Super Bowl-winning offense that relied on the run-pass options now so popular throughout the league. LaFleur has coached alongside McVay in Washington and Los Angeles. Carmichael has spent years working for Sean Payton and with quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans.
There are other possibilities. If John Harbaugh is fired in Baltimore, he is a former Super Bowl winner like McCarthy, who would need to be considered. If Bruce Arians, who left the Arizona Cardinals after last season, would be willing to return to the NFL to coach the Browns, as he has said, wouldn’t he be willing to listen to the Packers about the possibility of coaching Rodgers?
Coaching Rodgers isn’t easy. Just ask McCarthy, who lasted nearly 13 seasons in Green Bay, won a Super Bowl and got the Packers to the playoffs nine times. But the conversation this season became not only about the possibility of a second straight non-playoff season, but also about the notion that he should have won more than one championship with Rodgers as his quarterback.
This is a coaching job of consequence and the candidates to fill it will be an interesting group.