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Packers set interviews with Josh McDaniels, Dan Campbell as college coaches appear unlikely to make NFL jump

January 2, 2019

GREEN BAY — New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is next on the Green Bay Packers’ interviewing to-do list, followed by New Orleans Saints tight ends coach Dan Campbell. But it’s looking less and less like the team will be luring Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald or Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley from the college ranks.

A league source confirmed an NFL Network report that the Packers have arranged interviews with McDaniels, whose Patriots have a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, and Campbell, whose Saints have a first-round bye in the NFC.

The NFL Network reported that McDaniels’ interview is set for Friday in New England, and Campbell’s is set for Saturday in New Orleans. The Packers have already interviewed two former NFL head coaches — ex-Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell, and ex-Colts coach Chuck Pagano.

The Packers have also reportedly requested to interview Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, who is coach Bill Belichick’s defensive play-caller but does not have the defensive coordinator title; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak; and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. One would think that the Packers would also interview Flores while they’re in Foxborough, Massachusetts, to interview McDaniels.

NFL rules allow teams to interview prospective coaches during the opening weekend of the NFL postseason if that coach’s team has a first-round playoff bye. Should the Patriots and/or the Saints reach the Super Bowl, the Packers would be able to conduct a second interview with them.

The Packers intend to cast a wide net in their search for a replacement for Mike McCarthy, who was fired on Dec. 2 with four games left in his 13th season as the team’s head coach.

McCarthy, meanwhile, is set to interview with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday and is expected to interview with the New York Jets as well sometime this week, ESPN.com reported.

The 42-year-old McDaniels has spent most of his career in New England working for Belichick, having departed to become the Denver Broncos’ head coach in 2009. He returned to New England in 2012 after being fired by the Broncos late in the 2010 season and spending the 2011 season as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator. He’s been the Patriots’ offensive coordinator the past seven seasons, reprising the role he first held on Belichick’s staff from 2006 through 2008. He spent seven seasons on New England’s staff in various roles before that.

Last year, McDaniels had agreed to become the Colts’ head coach but reneged after the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl and returned to New England. The Cincinnati Bengals, who parted ways with longtime coach Marvin Lewis on Monday, also reportedly will interview McDaniels.

The 42-year-old Campbell played 11 years as a tight end in the NFL and has 12 games of head-coaching experience, having taken over as the Miami Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2015 after the team fired Joe Philbin. Philbin was the Packers’ interim head coach for the final four games this season after McCarthy was fired. Philbin remains a candidate for the job as well.

Campbell is reportedly also scheduled to interview with the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals.

Meanwhile, a league source said Tuesday evening that the Packers still hope to interview Fitzgerald, who has been Northwestern’s head coach since now-Packers team president/CEO Mark Murphy hired him in 2006 following the sudden death of coach Randy Walker.

But despite his connection to Murphy, it’s possible Fitzgerald won’t even take an interview with the Packers. After the Wildcats’ Holiday Bowl victory over Utah on Monday night, he proclaimed to FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt, “This is home. I’m not going anywhere. This is home forever.”

The Packers could theoretically make Fitzgerald an offer he can’t refuse — or would have a hard time refusing — but he is a Chicago-area native and was a star linebacker at Northwestern. He has no NFL playing or coaching experience, is making more than $3 million per season in Evanston and the school just built a sparkling new football facility.

Another college coach who might have piqued the Packers’ interest — Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley — also appears unlikely to make the jump to the NFL. Riley agreed to terms on a contract extension and pay raise on Tuesday, the school announced.

Riley’s innovative Sooners offense led some to think he might appeal to NFL teams looking for a creative offensive-minded coach as the NFL trends toward the college game with some of its offensive concepts. As with Fitzgerald, though, Riley would have to overcome the odds to find success in the pros, as most college-only coaches have struggled in the NFL over the past 30 years — ever since Jimmy Johnson made the jump to the Dallas Cowboys.

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