The off-season has begun for the majority of the NFL and with that comes the annual pursuit of coaching candidates to fill head coaching vacancies. The Cardinals, Browns, Bengals, Buccaneers, Jets, Dolphins and Packers have all begun their intensive search.
In Green Bay, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin took over on an interim basis after Mike McCarthy was dismissed after the Packers fell to the Cardinals on December 2, 2018. McCarthy went 125-77-2 over 13 seasons including eight seasons with ten or more since and a Super Bowl victory. However, the team struggled to 11-16-1 under McCarthy the past two seasons, including 4-7-1 at his dismissal.
Here’s a list of top candidates for head coach of the Packers.
Caldwell is a veteran with plenty of success in the league, having been head coach of the Colts from 2009 – 2011 and Detroit Lions from 2014 – 2017. The 63-year old Caldwell has an extensive collegiate coaching resume with eight different teams before his first NFL coaching jobs as quarterbacks coach for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Colts. He’s had a losing record only twice in seven seasons, but after winning his first two post season games, he’s lost his last four. One may question Caldwell’s ability in the big games, having failed to win a Super Bowl with the Colts in 2009 despite having a 14-2 regular season mark with Peyton Manning at quarterback.
The 39-year old LaFleur played briefly in the National Indoor Football League in 2002 and the Indoor Football League in 2004. He spent time coaching at the collegiate level before become offensive quality control coach for the Houston Texans in 2008. After time on the coaching staffs of the Washington Redskins (2010-2013), Notre Dame (2014), Atlanta Falcons (2015-2016) and Los Angeles Rams (2017), LaFleur became offensive coordinator for the Titans in 2018.
Most of his work has been developing quarterbacks and has been successful no matter who has been behind center. Not only has LaFleur developed quarterbacks, he began calling the plays for the Titans this season. Although the Titans haven’t been explosive on offense, ranking in the lower half in scoring, he’s gotten the most out of a bunch of mostly anonymous players. Many compare LaFleur to the likes of Frank Reich and Doug Pederson, whom have had a great deal of success with coaching the passing game. That is an attractive quality in a league that thrives on the passing attack.
McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator of quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots since 2012. One can’t argue the success of New England’s attack, however with Tom Brady at quarterback, is that a reflection on McDaniels or would any coach have similar success?
On the other hand, despite a mediocre 11-17 record in his brief head coaching stint with the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, the Colts gave McDaniels a chance last season to be their head coach. However, McDaniels turned them down to return to New England. The question then is whether or not McDaniels would really leave his comfortable position with the Patriots. Would another team give him a shot knowing how he spurned the Colts? Offering McDaniels a head coaching job could be a high-risk, high-rewards proposition.
Speaking of the Colts, former head coach Pagano is an intriguing option. Pagano clearly was one of the top coaches in the league his first three years with the team from 2012 through 2014. He had three consecutive 11-win seasons including a deep run in the 2014 post season before the tide changed. Much of the fall had little to do with Pagano, as an injury to franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and questionable roster moves lead to an eventual 4-12 2017 record and Pagano’s firing. However, sound minds around the NFL know the kind of influence Pagano can have on a roster. He’s an attractive candidate, but the question is whether or not the 58-year old wants to get back into coaching. If so, Pagano moves among the top of the coaching candidate list.
Another member of the Patriots current coaching staff, the 37-year old Flores has been part of the Patriots staff since starting as a scouting assistant in 2004. After holding positions as pro scout, special teams assistant, assistant offense and special teams, defensive assistant, safeties coach and linebackers coach, Flores because defensive coordinator in 2018. Flores has become well-known for substituting Malcolm Butler as the end of Super Bowl 49, which culminated in Butler’s interception of Russell Wilson to seal the victory.
Flores has done an admirable job this season, orchestrating the defensive into one of the top ten in the NFL. A strong motivator and developer of talent, Flores has gotten the most out of veterans and rookies alike.
Having coached nearly every position on the field, Flores appears to be well-suited and ready for the next step as a head coach in the NFL.
Just two years removed from a 10-6 season and playoff appearance as head coach of the Dolphins, Gase was fired following this season with a 23-25 overall record. However, he’s very intriguing option, having had success with young quarterback Ryan Tennehill, despite an overall roster with very little firepower. Gase has been an offensive/quarterbacks coach since he started his NFL coaching career with the Detroit Lions in 2003. In a league dominated by offense and quarterback play, Gase is a strong candidate, particular with for a team looking to develop a quarterback for the future.