Packers Head Coach Candidate: John DeFilippo

The last time the Packers needed a head coach, they hired a coordinator whose team’s success didn’t appear to have a bearing on their final decision. After all, Mike McCarthy’s Saints and 49ers teams were generally hardly world beaters, save for one top 10 season in New Orleans.

John DeFilippo has largely the same career background with a couple notable exceptions: he was fired from his most recent job and his coordinator experience amounts to less than two full seasons.

Is that enough to warrant the Packers taking the plunge?

The details on DeFilippo

Most recent job: Offensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings (2018)
Record as a head coach: 0-0
First job: Quarterbacks Coach for Fordham University (2000)
Packers connection: DeFilippo was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2015 under current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

The background on DeFilippo

Until he was dumped by the Vikings, DeFilippo’s career trajectory looked like that of a blossoming offensive mind just waiting for a big break that would propel him to the stratosphere of his profession.

DeFilippo spent his early- and mid-20s hopping from college job to college job, spending time at Fordham, Notre Dame, and Columbia before landing with the New York Giants as an offensive quality control coach at the ripe old age of 27.

In 2007, DeFilippo joined Lane Kiffin’s staff with the Oakland Raiders, serving as Kiffin’s quarterbacks coach. Two years later, DeFilippo signed on with the New York Jets, coaching quarterbacks there under Rex Ryan. While there, he connected with Mike Pettine, under whom he’d later coach in Cleveland.

After just one year with the Jets, DeFilippo jumped back to the college game for a two-year stint with San Jose State before again joining the Oakland Raiders as their quarterbacks coach. He spent 2012, 2013, and 2014 with the Raiders under head coach Dennis Allen.

In 2015, DeFilippo joined his old associate Mike Pettine in Cleveland, coordinating the Browns’ offense to a spectacular finish of… 30th in scoring offense and 25th in yards.

Doug Pederson liked what he saw, though, and hired DeFilippo as his quarterbacks coach in 2016. After winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017, DeFilippo was hired to shepherd the Minnesota Vikings’ offense in 2018. He served as the team’s offensive coordinator until he was fired after the Vikings’ Week 14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

John DeFilippo’s biggest moment

Winning a Super Bowl is an unmistakable high point in any coach’s career, and it’s the same for John DeFilippo. He was instrumental in Carson Wentz’s development as a passer over his first two seasons and also helped Nick Foles to a string of career-best performances en route to a Super Bowl victory.

In John DeFilippo’s own words

John DeFilippo and his family were comfortable in Philadelphia, especially after winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. It would take the job offer of a lifetime to get him to leave, he thought.

That’s (unfortunately in hindsight) exactly what he thought he was getting in Minnesota.

“To make that decision, my wife and I sat down, and I said, ‘Honey, this place has stable ownership, a stable front office and is stable at the head coaching position.’ Once we talked about that, it made the decision much, much easier. I had faith they were going to go out and do what’s best for this football team at the quarterback position. If I didn’t feel that, there was no way I would have taken this job.”

What are the chances John DeFilippo’s is the next Packers head coach?

Jon’s Rating: 2.75/5

If DeFilippo had been the guy Minnesota thought he would be, I’d have pegged him as one of the frontrunners for the Packers’ head coaching job, as unpalatable as hiring a former Vikings coach would be. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but he just seems like the sort of guy the Packers would have interest in. The broad strokes are there: a family guy, (apparently) emotionally intelligent, progressive job experience highlighted by big game achievements from his proteges. That sounds pretty good to me overall, except for the end of his most recent job.

It’s unfortunate, but the Minnesota is an albatross DeFilippo is going to have to wear, and I would have to imagine it puts a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of anybody trying to hire him. He probably needs a little bit of image rehab before he’s ready to make a run at a head coaching job. DeFilippo is probably a better candidate than most, but I have a hard time picturing the Packers making the plunge now.

Gary’s Rating: 1/5

DeFilippo’s father Gene and Packers president Mark Murphy were reportedly close friends during their time as athletic directors. Gene served as athletic director for Boston College while Murphy was at Colgate and Northwestern, and that friendship could garner John an interview. The reverse could also hold true – do you want to hire the son of a close friend for a job that ends nearly 100% of the time in termination?

Good coordinators are not always good head coaches, and good head coaches are not always good coordinators. DeFilippo could very well be a tremendous head coach, even after his failed season in Minnesota.

However, consider the negative publicity Green Bay would receive for hiring a head coach tasked to “fix” Aaron Rodgers when the coach was fired midseason for his team’s poor performance on offense. Murphy’s reversal on promoting Russ Ball to general manager hints that he may be able to be swayed by public perception – making DeFilippo’s chances of being hired in Green Bay unlikely.