List of candidates grows as Packers seek interviews with Josh McDaniels, Brian Flores, Mike Munchak

January 1, 2019

GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have planned all along on an exhaustive search for their next head coach. On Monday, they began the process in earnest with a host of interview requests.

Among the coaches team president/CEO Mark Murphy, who is heading an in-house search committee that includes general manager Brian Gutekunst and others, has requested to interview according to ESPN and the NFL Network are legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s top lieutenants, Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores; New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak; and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.

The Packers have already interviewed two men: Ex-Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, and ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who replaced Caldwell in Indianapolis in 2012. The team also wants to interview Northwestern University coach Pat Fitzgerald, whose Wildcats played in the Holiday Bowl against Utah on Monday night.

Another coach who figures to pique the Packers’ interest is former Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, whom the Dolphins fired Monday after three seasons.

Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin is also expected to interview after coaching the team to a 2-2 record over the final four games. Philbin wouldn’t say after Sunday’s 31-0 loss to Detroit when he was slated to interview.

The Packers will have plenty of competition for coaches, as eight of the league’s 32 teams are in the market for a new coach.

Six teams dismissed their coaches within 24 hours of the regular season ending on Sunday: The Dolphins, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.

In addition, the Cleveland Browns are interviewing candidates for their head-coaching job after Hue Jackson was fired earlier this season and replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. With ex-Packers executives John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith in Cleveland, there figures to be overlap in the teams’ lists of candidates.

The 42-year-old McDaniels’ candidacy makes sense given he’s worked with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — a friend of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a fellow future Pro Football Hall of Famer like Rodgers — for much of his career. McDaniels, 42, was the Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010. Denver made the playoffs in his first season but he was fired with four games left in the 2010 season with the Broncos at 3-9.

McDaniels got the Broncos’ job after eight years in New England during his first stint there, including three as the offensive coordinator. After being fired in Denver, he spent 2011 as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator before returning in 2012 to New England, where he’s been the offensive coordinator the past seven years.

Last year, McDaniels had agreed to become the Colts’ head coach but backed out after the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl and returned to New England.

The 37-year-old Flores is listed as the Patriots’ linebackers coach but handles most of the defensive coordinator duties. The Browns have also requested an interview with Flores, who has been in New England since 2004 and interviewed for the Cardinals’ job last year that went to Steve Wilks. Wilks was fired Monday.

Campbell, 42, played 11 years as a tight end in the NFL and replaced Philbin on an interim basis in Miami when Philbin was fired four games into the 2015 season. He’s been the Saints’ assistant head coach/tight ends coach since 2016.

Munchak, 58, played 12 NFL seasons as an offensive lineman with the Houston Oilers and was teammates with former Packers GM Ted Thompson. He was the Tennessee Oilers/Titans line coach from 1997 through 2010 before becoming the Titans’ head coach in 2011. He went 22-26 in three years as head coach before being fired when he refused to make staff changes after a 7-9 finish in 2013 and has been the Steelers’ line coach ever since.

LaFleur, 39, has coached with the two current NFL head coaches considered to be the most innovative offensively — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

LaFleur worked with McVay in Washington as the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach (2010-13), while McVay coached tight ends and. LaFleur then worked with Shanahan as the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterbacks coach while Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator (2015-’16).

Gase, 40, went 23-25 in three years in Miami but was a successful offensive coordinator for John Fox in both Denver (2013-14) and with the Chicago Bears (2015), working well with both Peyton Manning in Denver and Jay Cutler in Chicago.

Philbin’s turn?

As for Philbin, he said he will be at Lambeau Field the next few days talking with players and doing some evaluations — “Kind of standard operating procedure at the end of every season,” Philbin said — but wouldn’t say when he’d interview.

Philbin said he learned a lot from not only his time with the Dolphins but from the interview process he went through in January 2012 before getting the job.

“I think one of the things I’ve learned is how important fit is,” Philbin said. “The first time I went through it, when I’m 50 years old and you’ve never been a head coach, you’re not as concerned about some of that stuff. (You’re thinking), ‘Boy, I want to get a head-coaching job. I’ve been 28 years in the business and I’ve never been a head coach and here’s my chance.’

“While it’s important that they do know me, there’s some things we haven’t discussed. I want to present who I am, because it’s not going to work if they don’t like who I am. And I was in a situation (in Miami) where I’m not sure if that was the exact fit. And it wasn’t (Dolphins owner) Steve Ross’ fault, I’m not blaming anybody. I think fit and alignment in this particular situation — Mark Murphy, Brian, (director of football operations) Russ (Ball) and the head coach — is absolutely vital. And if it’s not, it won’t work.

“These are hard jobs. They’re not complicated jobs, because in football the game is not that complicated. But they’re hard. ... I’m sure they have criteria that they want to have met. If Joe Philbin meets those better than anybody else, then potentially, maybe I’ll be the next head coach. If I don’t, then that’s OK.”

Extra points

The Packers signed all 10 of their practice-squad players to free agent futures deals for 2019 — tight end Evan Baylis, defensive linemen Eric Cotton and Deon Simon, offensive tackle Gerhard de Beer, guard Anthony Coyle, fullback Malcolm Johnson, safeties Jason Thompson and Tray Matthews, wide receiver Teo Redding and linebacker Brady Sheldon. … With the Packers finishing in third place in the NFC North behind Chicago and Minnesota, their 2019 slate of opponents is now set. In addition to their home-and-home series with the Bears, Vikings and Detroit Lions, the Packers will also play home games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers. Their road schedule includes trips to face the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers. … Philbin chuckled when asked if his middle name is “Lombardi,” as his Wikipedia page has said in recent weeks. “I don’t know where that came from,” Philbin said. “No, no, my middle name’s Anthony — just for the record. I’m named after one of my uncles who passed away before I was born. Yeah, I don’t know where that came from.”

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