Lombardi: Coordinator candidates

PackerReport.com's John Lombardi lists the candidates to fill the offensive coordinator position that will be left open by the departure of Jeff Jagodzinski, as well as candidates for defensive coordinator, if Bob Sanders is fired.

With Offensive Coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski leaving to take the head job at Boston College, there is an opening on Coach McCarthy's Green Bay staff.

There a few fans and media types who feel that McCarthy should make it a clean sweep and relieve Defensive Coordinator Bob Sanders also. It is possible that the Packers could be looking to replace both coordinators this off-season.

Let us take a look at the offensive coordinator's position first. Including Packers Offensive Line Coach Joe Philbin, rumored as the front-runner for offensive coordinator, who might get the job? Considering that the Texans (and eventually others) are looking for an offensive coordinator, the stakes are on the rise.

First, a couple of questions to consider:

How are they connected to the Packers or McCarthy?
Do they have experience coaching zone-blocking?
Are they available?
Can they handle not calling the plays, or will McCarthy relinquish those duties?

. Joe Philbin - Current Packer Offensive Line Coach – a holdover from Mike Sherman's staff, he has a very good reputation from those who have worked with him. As the offensive line coach, he is most responsible for insuring the success of the zone blocking scheme. He is already here and has worked with the scheme already. It makes sense that he get the nod.

Greg Knapp – Atlanta Offensive Coordinator - He has worked with the scheme and with the Falcons struggling a bit, he may be available. Jagodzinski knows him from Atlanta and may recommend him.

Mike Heimerdinger – Broncos Assistant Head Coach – he has the experience with the zone blocking scheme and has been around the league, but I find no evidence that he knows McCarthy or any of the other offensive coaches that well. He is probably not available and the Broncos could block his moving for anything but a head job.

Rick Dennison – Broncos Offensive Coordinator – same as Heimerdinger. Knows the scheme but he has been with the Broncos for 12 years and I do not think there is a connection with McCarthy. He could leave if he got a promotion to assistant Head Coach.

Brian Schottenheimer – Jets Offensive Coordinator – getting rave reviews at the tender age of 32. There is the family connection between his father Marty and McCarthy. It would probably take an assistant head coach title to pry him away if that is even possible, so I doubt it will happen. I do not believe he has a background in the zone blocking scheme.

Ken Wisenhunt/Russ Grimm - Steelers Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach – If Bill Cowher retires and one of these two guys is not promoted or gets a head job somewhere else, they might be available. Both have great reps throughout the league.

Mike Martz – Lions Offensive Coordinator – may want out of Detroit, but probably wants a head job. Not sure he is a good fit for Green Bay.

Jack Henry – Chargers Offensive Line Coach – knows McCarthy from the Saints. Has only been in San Diego for a season and they are having a great season, so I doubt he would leave so soon.

Norm Chow – Titans Offensive Coordinator – Considered a offensive genius by some, the chances of him leaving here are remote. The Titans coaches have saved their jobs and he has turned down more prestigious jobs elsewhere.

Paul Hackett – Bucs QB Coach – McCarthy coached under him at Pittsburgh. Hackett was unfairly run out of town with the Jets and may be too damaged to get the job.

There are many other names that may pop up and it maybe a surprise as to who gets the job, but the even money is on Philbin being promoted with assistant offensive line coach James Campen taking over the line job. That still leaves a spot open for McCarthy to fill.

On the other side of the ball, it would not be a surprise to see Coach Sanders get fired. There have been enough problems and mistakes to justify it. But he is in his first season and if he can lose his job in just one season, then why stop there. But if he does get the axe, here are a few names that may pop up.

Jim Bates – Guy on the street – the Packers former defensive coordinator still lives in Green Bay and may jump at a chance to coach again, but he may still be too upset at being passed over for the top spot. And McCarthy may not want the guy, whom the fans preferred to be head coach, to look over his shoulder.

Tim Lewis – Giants Defensive Coordinator – If Tom Coughlin gets fired and if the former Packer Lewis is not promoted, he would be available. Is an up and coming coach with a great reputation. McCarthy probably knows him because Lewis was a player and coach at Pitt, but not at the time McCarthy was there.

Jim Schwartz – Titans Defensive Coordinator – Unlikely, because the Titans staff will probably not get let go, but he is one of the smartest minds in the game. (Bias alert - we are friends).

Monte Kiffin – Bucs Defensive Coordinator – if Jon Gruden is fired, Kiffin might be available. He is the father of the Cover 2 defense that is in vogue in the league. He did coach here one year in 1983. His rep overcomes his lack of connection to McCarthy.

Dick Lebeau – Steeler Defensive Coordinator - Like Wisenhunt and Grimm, he may be available if Cower retires. Coached for the Packers in the late 70's. Same as Kiffin when it comes to his connection to McCarthy.

Jerry Gray – Redskins Secondary Coach – the former Bills coordinator could leave for a promotion.

Ed Donatell – Former Packers defensive coordinator could come back for another try if the Falcons coaches get axed. (Bias alert – my brother works for him in Atlanta)

There are others, but none of them have huge questions marks as to their future at this time.

There is one other question to ask any of the coaching candidates out there. Why would they want to come to Green Bay? Here are a couple of answers:

1. Because it would be a promotion.
2. Because they need a job.
3. Because they want to be here in case the head job opens up.

It is the nature of the NFL that coaches change jobs all the time and Jagodzinski and Sanders may not be the only ones to depart Green Bay. Kurt Schottenheimer could possibly depart, either voluntarily or not. Jags is gone and if Sanders leaves, the Pack would be working on their fifth D-Coordinator in as many years. Keep those eyes and ears open to see who the next guy is.


John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.


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