Packers Head Coach Candidate: Joe Philbin


By virtue of literally being in the building when Mike McCarthy was fired, Joe Philbin is the coaching candidate most closely connected to the Packers’ vacancy. Having coached in Green Bay for more than a decade in various capacities, Philbin now gets a month to show the Packers he could be the man for the job.

The details on Joe Philbin

Most recent job: Interim Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers (2018-present)
Record as a head coach: 24-28 (2012-2015 with Miami Dolphins)
First job: Offensive Line Coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (1986)
Packers connection: Philbin was a longtime assistant coach for former Packers coaches Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy before departing for a head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins in 2012. He returned to the Packers in 2018 as offensive coordinator before ascending to the position of interim head coach following McCarthy’s firing.

The background on Joe Philbin

Philbin’s early career featured a laundry list of stops at small schools throughout the central and eastern portions of the United States. From 1986 through 1998, Philbin took a variety of positions at schools on varying points of the college football food chain. Most, including Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Northeastern, and Harvard (yes, that Harvard), tended to be known more for their academic prowess than their football excellent.

But after his stint at Harvard, Philbin made his first leap into the world of major college football, taking a job with Iowa as their offensive line coach in 1999. He held that position until 2002, when he joined the Packers as an assistant offensive line coach under head coach Mike Sherman.

Once in Green Bay, Philbin worked his way up the org chart, surviving a coaching change in 2006 and ascending to offensive coordinator in 2007. Over the next five seasons, the Packers rang up some of the best offensive numbers in the league, winning a Super Bowl in the process.

In early 2012, Philbin’s star appeared to be on the rise. After helping the Packers to a 15-1 record and watching Aaron Rodgers collect his first MVP award, Philbin interviewed for the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching job. But two days after he interviewed, his 21-year old son Michael was found dead near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, having apparently fallen through the ice on a river while intoxicated. Amidst this personal tragedy, Philbin was hired as the Dolphins’ head coach less than two weeks later.

Philbin’s Dolphins largely underachieved during his tenure as head coach. Miami never finished with a record above .500 in Philbin’s three full seasons there and he was fired just four weeks into the 2015 season. In all, the Dolphins were above .500 for just 19 of 55 regular season weeks during Philbin’s time as head coach.

Philbin returned to his roots the next year in Indianapolis, taking a job as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach. After two years there, he returned to the Packers in 2018, helping Mike McCarthy take a “scrub brush” to the offensive playbook. After McCarthy was fired following the Packers’ Week 13 loss to the Cardinals, Philbin was named the interim head coach.

Joe Philbin’s biggest moment

As offensive coordinator, Philbin presided over some of the best seasons in Packers’ offensive history. During his time in that job, the Packers ranked in the top 10 in the NFL for points scored and yards every year. The Packers were the second-ranked scoring offense in the league each season from 2009 through 2011.

In Joe Philbin’s own words

Joe Philbin has a simple philosophy on coaching, one he outlined after he was hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2012.

“We’re going to be demanding, not demeaning. So we’re going to coach these guys extremely hard and be very detail oriented. Going to be thorough, but not going to leave any stone unturned to help these guys develop and get better. And at the same time, we want to enjoy the relationship, enjoy the ride while we’re doing it.”

What are the chances Joe Philbin is the next Packers head coach?

Jon’s Rating: 3.75/5

Joe Philbin is the strongest internal candidate. If the Packers hire an internal candidate, it will be him.

At this point, it seems fairly clear on the outside that we know what Philbin is: a solid coordinator who had lackluster results during his only stint as a head coach. He coordinated a great offense in Green Bay that was predicated on overwhelming talent achieving at a high level, then stumbled working with less in Miami. Nothing we see over the next few weeks is likely to change that fact.

The question is whether the Packers are interested in finding out what’s behind Door Number 2. Philbin is a known if unimpressive quantity. An outside candidate could be better...or not. I think the Packers in the Mark Murphy era are willing to take the risk of a relative unknown, but sticking with Philbin would hardly be a surprise.

Gary’s Rating: 3/5

The Packers are in uncharted territory, as Joe Philbin is the team’s first interim coach since 1953. (Things could be worse – 1953 had not one but two interim coaches!) Philbin is a steady hand to take the reins, and but his tenure with the Dolphins is a blemish on his chances to remain as the head coach in Green Bay.

Philbin disappointed as Miami’s head coach from 2012 to 2015. His teams underachieved – in Philbin’s final two campaigns, six of his sixteen losses were to teams who finished 6-10 or worse. Fired four weeks into the 2015 season, the Dolphins trailed by ten or more in the first half of all four games. To top it off, a hazing scandal surrounding offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin occurred under his watch.

For better or worse, Mike McCarthy (and his predecessor Mike Sherman) regularly beat teams they were supposed to beat. If the Packers stick with Joe Philbin, they’re choosing a safe coach and prioritizing organizational stability. That sounds like Green Bay’s modus operandi, and it’s why I think Philbin’s a likely frontrunner.