According to a Jan. 15 press release, the Green Bay Packers are staying in-house and promoting offensive line coach Joe Philbin to offensive coordinator.
While the move was somewhat expected, since head coach Mike McCarthy calls the plays and the offensive coordinator is used more to implement schemes, it is a safe pick that I honestly don’t see improving an offense that finished 9th overall but near the bottom in rushing and scoring in 2006.
Philbin did do a decent job with the offensive line last season considering he was working with as many as 3 rookie starters. But, I don’t think he did a good enough job to be considered for a promotion. I’m not saying he’s a bad choice; it’s just there are other candidates who are better.
I think, considering the offense’s struggles in 2006, McCarthy should have gone outside the organization to bring in some fresh ideas. And, saying that, I think there were two candidates, who were considered, that would have been better choices.
First was Greg Knapp, who served as the Atlanta Falcon’s offensive coordinator. The Falcons ranked 12th in total offense in 2006 and finished 1st in rushing offense. Knapp is very familiar with the zone-blocking scheme, having learned it from Alex Gibbs and I think he would instantly improve the offense.
The second candidate the Packers should have considered over Philbin would have been long-time assistant Paul Hackett. While Hackett might be a bit too conservative as a play caller, something he wouldn’t be asked to do, he is very good at teaching fundamentals. Especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Assuming Brett Favre returns in 2007, he would have had the chance to work with the same coach that turned Rich Gannon’s career around. And, if Favre doesn’t return, 3rd year player Aaron Rodgers would have gotten the benefit of an experienced coach helping him through his first season as a starter.
I think McCarthy prefers younger coordinators on his team because they relate better to the players. But, I do think this was an opportunity for him to bring in an experienced coach to help him iron over any flaws and improve on an 8-8 season that had the Packers missing the playoffs for the second straight year.
In a conference that isn’t very dominant, the right choice at offensive coordinator could have gotten them a legitimate Super Bowl shot in 2007. Unfortunately for them and for their fans, I don’t think McCarthy made the right choice this time around.