Packers’ first two head-coaching candidates? Jim Caldwell, Chuck Pagano
GREEN BAY — At least two of the Green Bay Packers’ interviews for their head-coaching job are in the books: Jim Caldwell and Chuck Pagano each have interviewed for the job, an NFL source confirmed Wednesday evening.
Caldwell’s interview was first reported by Pro Football Talk. Pagano’s interview was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Because the NFL season is still ongoing, the Packers can only interview coaches who aren’t currently employed or college coaches.
Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy figures to interview a number of current NFL assistant coaches after the regular season ends Sunday. Packers interim coach Joe Philbin, who took over after longtime coach Mike McCarthy was fired on Dec. 2, also is a candidate.
The 63-year-old Caldwell, a Beloit native, was the Indianapolis Colts’ coach from 2009 through 2011, taking over for Tony Dungy. He was later the Detroit Lions’ coach from 2014 through 2017. The Lions, whom the Packers will face Sunday in their regular-season finale, fired Caldwell after he went 9-7 last season and hired ex-New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The Lions enter Sunday at 5-10 under Patricia.
In his first season after taking over for Dungy, Caldwell led the Colts to a 14-2 record and a berth in Super Bowl XLIV, which Indianapolis lost to the New Orleans Saints. He also was on Dungy’s staff when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.
His Colts teams went 24-8 before a 2-14 season in 2011, when five-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning missed the entire season with a neck injury. The Colts fired Caldwell after that season.
Caldwell joined the Ravens’ staff as quarterbacks coach after his firing in Indianapolis, then was promoted to offensive coordinator late in the 2012 season, when he helped the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco to a Super Bowl XLVII win over San Francisco.
The Lions hired Caldwell to 2014, and he had winning seasons in three of his four seasons in Detroit, making the playoffs twice. The Lions went 11-5, 7-9, 9-7 and 9-7 under Caldwell.
Pagano, 55, took over in Indianapolis after the Colts fired Caldwell after the 2011 season. In five seasons as the Colts’ coach, Pagano went 56-46, including 3-3 in the playoffs. Pagano was fired on Dec. 31, 2017, after the Colts missed the postseason for the third straight year. He has been out of football this year.
Pagano’s first three Colts teams went 11-5 and the 2014 team reached the AFC Championship Game. He missed much of his first season in 2012 while undergoing cancer treatments, with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians serving as head coach during Pagano’s illness.
Pagano had Philbin and Packers offensive passing-game coordinator Jim Hostler on his staff the past two years in Indianapolis, and he worked with current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in Baltimore in 2008, when Pettine coached the Ravens’ outside linebackers and Pagano coached the secondary.
When general manager Ted Thompson hired McCarthy in January 2006, he interviewed six other candidates: Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Sean Payton, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates.