In 2000, Mike McCarthy and Jim Haslett helped lead the New Orleans Saints to a division championship and their first playoff victory.
From 2000 to 2004, Haslett was the Saints' head coach and McCarthy their offensive coordinator. Five years later, it's possible their roles will be reversed.
Haslett interviewed with McCarthy on Monday and Tuesday for the Packers' defensive coordinator vacancy, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
McCarthy left Haslett and the Saints (8-8) in a parallel move to be offensive coordinator for the bottom-of-the-barrel San Francisco 49ers (2-14) after his contract expired with New Orleans after the 2004 season. McCarthy didn't leave a good team for the worst in the league because he didn't see eye-to-eye with Haslett, however, as some previous reports stated. Rather, an insider told Packer Report on Tuesday night that McCarthy left New Orleans because of philosophical and personality differences with the Saints' front office.
Haslett is the third person to interview for the job, following Mike Nolan and Gregg Williams last week. Nolan agreed to be Denver's defensive coordinator on Monday. Williams is the top candidate in New Orleans and could be the top candidate in Tennessee if coordinator Jim Schwartz leaves the Titans to become Detroit's head coach. Haslett started last season as the Rams' defensive coordinator and finished it as interim coach. He remains a contender to get the full-time job.
Haslett was 45-51 in six seasons as the Saints' coach, a record sunk by the Hurricane Katrina-marred 3-13 season in 2005, which cost him his job. He went 2-10 as interim coach in St. Louis after Scott Linehan was fired.
Haslett runs an aggressive 4-3 defense, which would be appealing to McCarthy. In New Orleans, Haslett recorded just one top-10 defense (No. 8 in 2000). After that, it was 16th in 2001, 27th in 2002, 18th in 2003, 32nd in 2004 and 14th in 2005.
Of course, it helps to have talent, and the Saints have been short on talent on the defensive side of the ball for years. Part of that — and a reason why McCarthy left — is the Saints' front office's longtime preference for athletes instead of football players.
Haslett's defenses were more productive as the Pittsburgh Steelers' coordinator from 1997 to 1999. The Steelers reached the AFC title game in Haslett's first season behind the league's top-ranked rushing defense.
Haslett's aggressive schemes are one lure for McCarthy. So is Haslett's penchant for building a coaching staff, since he'd be starting from scratch here. In New Orleans, he had Ron Zook (University of Illinois head coach) as a defensive coordinator, McCarthy as offensive coordinator, and Mike Riley (Oregon State head coach), Winston Moss (in-limbo Packers linebackers coach) and Jimmy Robinson (Packers receivers coach) as assistants.
Green Bay would be a good fallback for Haslett should he not get the full-time gig in St. Louis. Among those in the mix for that job are defensive coordinators Leslie Frazier (Vikings), Steve Spagnuolo (Giants) and Rex Ryan (Baltimore) and Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Haslett wants to be a head coach again, and he could be on that path again if he can guide a quick defensive revival in Green Bay. One scenario could have McCarthy and Haslett convincing Moss to stay, and Moss getting serious consideration for the job should Haslett become a head coach in 2010.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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