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Joe Philbin Returns With Experience, Appreciation for Packers

It would've been hard for Joe Philbin to gain even more coaching experience under his belt after his departure from Green Bay in 2012.

However, after a stint in Miami as the Dolphins' head coach, he returns to the Packers with even more of an appreciation for those above him on the coaching staff whose duties prove strenuous.

"I've had a lot more different types of experiences than I did the first time I was here," Philbin told Larry McCarren in an interview on "I have a much, much better appreciation for [Mike McCarthy's] job. Sometimes, when you're an assistant, you think of the head coach, 'why isn't he in this meeting?' All of a sudden, you become the head coach and there's no manual for becoming a head coach and you kind of get an understanding for some of the things you have to deal with.

"I definitely have a much, much better perspective for what [McCarthy's] job entails."

Philbin first got his feet wet in the coaching scene in 1984 as a graduate assistant at Tulane before holding various assistant positions over the course of what has sprouted to be a 34-year career. The most prestigious of those jobs, of course, was the time he spent in Green Bay from 2003-2011.

He knows what it's like having to go up against McCarthy and the rest of the staff that he's now -- once again -- a part of.

"I came on the visiting team bus to Lambeau Field about two-and-a-half hours before the game, and it's a totally different perspective," Philbin, who was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts for the last two seasons, told McCarren. "You really get a true appreciation of how unique and special Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers fans are when you're on that bus coming in."

As he said when he was first introduced as the Packers' offensive coordinator early last month, his job now is to make McCarthy look like "the smartest play-caller in the NFL." That shouldn't be the toughest job in the world, and it likely wasn't when Philbin commandeered an offense that saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers win his first of two MVP awards.

"Some of the things he can do on the football field, I don't know many people can ever duplicate," Philbin said of Rodgers. "So, I'm really looking forward to working with him again."

Philbin played a subtle, yet, instrumental role in Rodgers' developing from the year he was a starter to the culmination of the 2011 season -- and even before that. Philbin was the Packers' offensive line coach in 2006 that was in charge of protecting then-starter Brett Favre. Rodgers saw minimal action that season and the year following when he played in relief of Favre against the Dallas Cowboys. 

"I just remember meeting him the minute he came off the elevator in 2005, and seeing the development he had over time and to be a small part of that was a lot of fun. So now, to kind of be reunited and work with him again is certainly a real, real attractive part of the job."

According to multiple reports in January, the Packers scrapped their playbook and, with McCarthy at the helm, will completely redesign the offense under Philbin. That could spell good things given his past success with Rodgers and co.

Philbin is also inheriting a running game behind a trio of young, talented running backs with the exception of seventh-round draft pick from a year ago, Devante Mays, who hasn't exactly shown enough with his scarce opportunities.

Mays or not, a running game is foreign to Philbin considering the Packers didn't have much of one in his final season with the team.

The Packers cycled through a carousel of James Starks, Ryan Grant, Brandon Saine and Alex Green that season, and only Starks and Grant eclipsed at least 100 yards on the ground. Last season, the Packers had all three of their primary running backs eclipse at least 250 yards rushing.

"The Packers offense has scored a lot of points and been very productive minus me. That makes it a great challenge for us as a staff in 2018 to find ways to improve, get better. Maybe it's expand, maybe it's scale back, maybe it's tweak, maybe it's refine what we've been doing and find just the right balance to push this offense forward and help us win football games."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Razer's picture

I like Philbin and I like that McCarthy brought him back. Joe will be a good influence on both McCarthy's playcalling and all the moving pieces of this offense. Hopefully he can readjust the tendencies of this offense and breath some new ideas into our attack. Coming from the O-line side of things, I am also hoping that he can develop the run game and missing screen pass options on this team. So much potential yet to develop.

nigrivasilayesrej's picture

Philbin should be the primary play-caller, but sadly, Mashed Potato Mike's ego won't allow that to happen. I imagine AR was depressed watching that game yesterday, seeing how both OCs did a fantastic job of scheming to get guys open (both against top 5 scoring DEF in 2017). MPM's philosophy is predicated on guys "winning their 1 on 1", which basically means he either isn't smart enough or too lazy to do what teams like NE, Phil, LA, KC, & NO did this year. If AR had a top line OC, our offense would be unstoppable, but as it stands, QB1 elevates everyone on offense enough to still generate a top 10 scoring team each year. Doesn't change the fact that I watch opposing CBs nearly every game (year) beat our WRs to their spots, which tells me all I need to know.

DD's picture

Nigri: Spot on. With McMike, no offensive changes. Why? As you said ego, and inability to develop or improve since 2010. Example : titanic Hundley. Two shutouts at Lambeau? Enough of Hundley, MM lucky he had a contract to save his sorry *ss.

I bleed green more's picture

Glad he is back, we will know by mid season if we see improvement.

DD's picture

Offense? Philbin will do fine. Problem though is he still has MM ruling the offense. So change ? Doubt it. Defense will be better with Pettine. Can they be worst? I guess yes, but hopefully not. Season will again ride with Rodgers, with MM providing the anchor holding us back.

John Kirk's picture

I wonder if this means we'll finally see more of Aaron and the starters in the preseason to have game time with the new O? Same question with Pettine and the D.

Or...Will the horrors of Jordy at Pittsburgh continue ruling the playing time again?

Tundraboy's picture

"He knows what it's like having to go up against McCarthy and the rest of the staff that he's now -- once again -- a part of."

That's funny. Opposing teams worry about facing Rodgers., not MM. I worry about us facing other teams because of MM and in the past DC as well.

DD's picture

When I watch and see the playbook on offense change then I'll comment more. MM has shown since 2010 that he is predictable, lacks schemes to get receivers open, presents plays that defenses read easily, has no creativity, and plays not to lose. MM has NOT evolved or improved as a head coach as shown time and time again. You say division titles? Yes, because of Rodgers only!! MM has proven his true colors this year with his Frankenstein Hundley experiment, less any lightening. So change the offensive playbook? Really doubt it, but will give it a chance. Does anyone think MM's ego would allow that?

Tundraboy's picture

From 2012 on, absolutely. Let Philbin and Rodgers call the plays. Doubt he'll do that, but maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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