Packers: John Schneider’s return appears tall order, but sources say Joe Philbin will be back
GREEN BAY — At the rate they’re going, the Green Bay Packers might have to dump Todd Rundgren’s “Bang the Drum All Day” and start playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” after touchdowns next season.
Not only did the Packers ask the Seattle Seahawks for permission to interview general manager John Schneider, according to an NFL source, but another league source confirmed that the Packers plan to bring former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin back for a role on coach Mike McCarthy’s staff.
And there’s more: McCarthy might also bring back ex-New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, who spent eight years in Green Bay on the offensive coaching staff.
How much of the band will be getting back together in Green Bay remains to be seen, of course, and getting Schneider to return to his hometown appears to be the tallest order of the three.
According to a league source, the Seahawks denied the Packers’ request to make Schneider available for an interview because the Packers would be interviewing Schneider for their GM position and he already holds that title in Seattle.
But that might not be the end of the Packers’ pursuit of the 46-year-old Schneider, who was born in Green Bay, drew up in suburban De Pere and got his NFL start with the Packers under Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf.
If the Packers are interested enough in Schneider and don’t have their hears set on one of their three internal candidates — director of football operations Eliot Wolf, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and vice president of football administration Russ Ball — they have two courses of action they could take in pursuing him.
One, they could argue that they should be allowed to interview Schneider because the Packers’ GM job would be a promotion because Schneider shares control of the Seahawks’ roster with coach Pete Carroll. According to one source familiar with the Seahawks’ leadership structure, Schneider has control of the 90-man roster, while Carroll has the final say on the 53-man in-season roster. With the Packers, the GM has full authority over the football operation, including player acquisition and the head coach’s job status.
Or, the Packers could offer the Seahawks compensation to essentially “acquire” Schneider. In 1992, the Packers paid the San Francisco 49ers a second-round draft pick to hire coach Mike Holmgren, and in 2002 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers paid a king’s ransom — two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million — to the Oakland Raiders so they could hire coach Jon Gruden.
Gruden is reportedly returning to the Raiders, where he’ll work with ex-Packers executive Reggie McKenzie. The Packers requested permission to speak to McKenzie about their GM opening, but a league source confirmed that McKenzie — not the Raiders — turned down the request.
There are a host of current Packers staffers — including head coach Mike McCarthy, who was introduced to wife Jessica by Schneider and his wife, Traci — who would love to see Schneider return to Green Bay. Schneider was in Green Bay from 1993 through ’96 as a pro personnel assistant and from 2002 through 2009 before leaving for the Seahawks’ job in January 2010.
It’s unclear what the Seahawks’ asking price would be or how much the Packers would pay to get Schneider back.
It won’t cost the Packers anything to bring back Philbin, however, and he could be just what quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense need to regain their scoreboard-tilting production from past years.
Philbin was the Packers’ offensive coordinator in 2011, when Green Bay set a franchise record for points with 560, the third-most in NFL history, and the Packers went a club-best 15-1. Rodgers won his first of two NFL MVP awards, throwing 45 touchdown passes against just six interceptions for an NFL-record single-season passer rating of 122.5.
Philbin, 56, spent nine years on the Packers staff and was originally hired by McCarthy’s predecessor, Mike Sherman. He left to become the Miami Dolphins’ head coach in January 2012 but lasted only three full seasons in South Florida before he was fired four games into the 2015 season. He spent the 2016 and ’17 seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant head coach/offensive line coach under Chuck Pagano, who was fired last week.
Philbin was a beloved figure during his time with the Packers — each week, he had non-football gatherings with his players, who nicknamed the sessions “Cup O’ Joe” — and he has no bigger supporter than Rodgers, who credits him for as much of his development as McCarthy and ex-quarterbacks coach Tom Clements.
“I think as a player you love to play, you love the games, you love the preparation, but the thing that’s going to stick with you long after you’re done playing is the guys, is the relationships,” Rodgers said. “The player-to-coach relationship is very special. To me, it always has been.
“Joe has been a large part of my success as a player and growth as a person. I really enjoyed our conversations together. (We’d) make sure we spend some time every Friday catching up, talking about things.”
McAdoo, meanwhile, is also available after being fired by the Giants late in the season. McAdoo let his contract run out and left to become the Giants offensive coordinator in 2014 after being blocked for at least two interviews in prior years. A member of McCarthy’s original staff in 2006, he coached the Packers tight ends and quarterbacks before leaving for the Giants.
The changes come after McCarthy informed Edgar Bennett, the team’s offensive coordinator since 2015, that he was being stripped of those duties earlier this week. A league source said Bennett was considering whether to stay with the Packers, for whom he had played from 1992 through 1997 and had coached since 2001, as wide receivers coach, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Bennett has decided to move on instead.
Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt allowed his contract to run out so he could pursue a coordinator job without being blocked by McCarthy — a club source said Van Pelt would have happily stayed in Green Bay had he been promoted — and wide receivers coach Luke Getsy is leaving to become Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator. The Sporting News reported Friday evening that the Packers are hiring ex-Colts assistant Jim Hostler to coach receivers.
Speaking at his end-of-the-year press conference Thursday, McCarthy said he was restructuring his offensive staff and it may not carry the traditional titles it has in the past. Thus, what Philbin’s title will be isn’t clear.
“The job responsibility, there’s something (must be decided). We had a different structure last year,” McCarthy said. “We had a ‘perimeter coach’ (in David Raih). There’s some things that have come out of that addition to the staff. My involvement, as far as how much of my involvement (there is) in the offense, on top of play calling, (isn’t set). These are all details that you have to iron out each and every year.
“The foundation of who’s here is what we’re going to build off of. It’s established. It works. We need to be better. So everybody that’s added to our staff, there will be a fit element.”