Rumor: Packers Request Interviews With Josh McDaniels, Brian Flores
The day the Packers were swept by a division rival coached by a former Bill Belichick assistant brought news Green Bay hopes to interview a pair of Belichick assistant coaches in their search for a new head coach.
A league source told the Boston Globe on Sunday evening the Packers are "expected to request permission to interview" offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and linebackers coach Brian Flores.
NFL rules state a team cannot block an assistant coach from interviewing for a position that is a promotion, so it’s expected New England will grant Green Bay’s request. (The rule is different for college coaches, however, as a school’s athletic director can deny any request by an NFL team.)
It’s likely the Packers will interview both McDaniels and Flores in the coming days, as the league only allows assistant coaches whose teams are in the postseason to interview if the team has a first-round bye. In 2015, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons during Seattle’s bye week, but the Falcons were forced to wait until after Quinn’s Seahawks were eliminated to officially hire the coach.
Does this change anything for the Packers in their head coaching search?
No. Green Bay is expected to interview as many as a dozen candidates, and both McDaniels and Flores are high-profile assistants with head coaching aspirations. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky said late Sunday that McDaniels in particular is "believed to be high on the Packers’ list."
The Packers used their time during the season wisely, interviewing unemployed coaches Chuck Pagano and Jim Caldwell and now are able to directly contact NFL assistants.
As Jay Glazer has discussed in The Athletic, many NFL teams use back channels to gauge coaches’ interest before formally requesting permission. Whether through the coach’s agent or an intermediary, teams can have a good idea on who’s interested and who isn’t pretty quickly.
Will Josh McDaniels ever leave New England?
When rumors first connected McDaniels and the Packers, the offensive coordinator was asked if he wanted to be a head coach again.
"If that’s in the cards for me, then that’s great," McDaniels told reporters the Tuesday after the Packers fired McCarthy. "I’ve said that before. But again, I’m not worried about that right now."
Shortly after McCarthy’s firing, FOX Sports analyst Cris Carter said he didn’t believe the Packers would be on McDaniels’ radar because of the presence of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Carter went as far as to say he didn’t think the Packers "have a chance" at hiring McDaniels.
Glazer, appearing on Colin Cowherd’s radio show, seemed to back up Carter’s analysis. "McDaniels had a job last year and bailed out on it," Glazer said. "Let’s pump the brakes on ever believing that Josh McDaniels would do anything."
McDaniels is an appealing coach to others in the league, however. Yahoo Sports columnist Charles Robinson reported shortly after McCarthy’s firing a handful of NFL assistants "indicated interest in joining a McDaniels-led coaching staff in Green Bay."
Our readers are intrigued by McDaniels, too. He is one of three coaches (out of over 20 potential candidates) to receive a positive approval rating as the Packers’ next head coach.
Don’t brush past Brian Flores
The idea of hiring a defensive-minded head coach is generally a sour thought based on the comments we’ve received on social media. The bulk of the attention from this report will likely be paid towards McDaniels, considered a bright offensive mind and a trendy choice.
However, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Tom Silverstein said the Packers "might be able to do as well or better [than McDaniels] with Flores."
Flores has been with the Patriots since 2004 as a scout, but joined the coaching staff in 2008. While New England does not have a formal defensive coordinator, Flores serves as the closest thing despite his title as linebackers coach.
When asked to compare Flores to Matt Patricia, the Patriots’ previous defensive coordinator, one player said the team is "learning a lot better, a lot easier."
"We meet a little different. We talk about things a little different," Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower said of Flores’ coaching style. "It’s just small quirky things that you can’t necessarily put a finger on, but it’s obvious whenever you can kind of have first-year guys come in or even guys who maybe got signed that can pick things up. You can definitely tell there’s a difference somewhere along the line. It helps everybody else on the field when everybody knows what they’re doing. You can play faster and do different things. Whatever he’s doing is working.”