7 Candidates to Replace Mike McCarthy as Packers Head Coach


Mike McCarthy has been fired as Packers head coach in the middle of his 13th season with the team. Today’s loss as two-touchdown favorites against the lowly Arizona Cardinals was the final nail in the coffin of what has been a profoundly disappointing season. As I’ve written numerous times, McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay was more successful in aggregate than he is generally given credit for, and Aaron Rodgers has certainly not been blameless in the slide. Nevertheless, this was the right time for the move. The tenure had run its course.

A version of this candidates list ran earlier this week, but has been updated to include Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

Eric Bieniemy

Bieniemy is in his first year as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid’s coaching tree has been more appropriately a forest of late. Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl with Philly. Matt Nagy is on the way to winning the NFC North in his first season with the Bears. With Bieniemy at offensive coordinator and Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, the Chiefs’ offense has been more explosive than ever. Bieniemy surely deserves some of the credit for that performance, and should at the very least be among those interviewed for open head coaching opportunities this season, starting with the Packers.

John Harbaugh

There have been persistent reports that Harbaugh and the Ravens would mutually part ways after this season if Baltimore does not make the playoffs. These have quieted a little given that they’ve won their three games since the bye and appear to be rolling. Nevertheless, if Harbaugh were available, this would be the slam dunk no brainer for the Packers to hire someone with a great temperament and Super Bowl pedigree.

Josh McDaniels

If I were a betting man, I’d say this is where they most likely wind up. Albert Breer broached the subject a couple weeks ago. McDaniels knows what it’s like to work with a legendary talent at QB. I’m not a thousand percent sold on the hire because Bill Belichick’s coaching tree is basically a telephone pole as far as the NFL is concerned (obligatory mention that Nick Saban is remarkable in college; Bill O’Brien has not been as bad as the rest in the NFL but he also is not a sterling beacon of success). I can see why the Packers would do this, though, because they need an offensive mind and the hot young coordinators have been picked off right and left the last couple years.

Dabo Swinney

Dabo coaching in the NFL may be a pipe dream that is only held by my boss Jason McIntyre and me, but I think this would be a great idea for the Packers. In my vision, Dabo would be a figurehead in charge of quality control and general motivation. Mike Pettine would stay in charge of the defense. Aaron Rodgers would essentially get the Peyton Manning treatment as offensive coordinator. It bears mentioning that Rodgers is not blameless for the Packers’ issues on offense this season, but at this point in his career I’m not sure he’s going to get along with any tight-reins coaching so we might as well see if he’s capable of handling the playcalling responsibilities like Manning was under Jim Caldwell.

There is, I think, a mistaken belief that college coaches are doomed to be bad hires because of prominent busts like Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, and Nick Saban. Nevertheless, as Jason Lisk pointed out in 2014, college coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll (who did have previous unsuccessful NFL head coaching experience) have actually been amongst the best hires in recent decades. As with Riley, the Packers would have to wait for the CFB playoffs play out before finalizing this hire.

Matt Rhule

Rhule, who has rescued Baylor from the ashes of the unyielding Art Briles scandals, turned down the opportunity to be part of the Colts’ coaching search last year. Though Baylor is just 6-6, they have been more competitive to this point than expectations. I expect Rhule to be a little like Riley where we are going to hear his name in NFL coaching candidacy circles every year until he takes a job.

Pete Carmichael Jr.

This is one that I qualify as highly unlikely to happen, but it bears mentioning that Carmichael has been the offensive coordinator for Sean Payton and Drew Brees since 2009. I know that Payton is the one who is really in charge of the offense there, but couldn’t the same be said for Andy Reid, who’s coaching tree has been exemplary? I guess now that I mention it I don’t think I’ve ever seen Carmichael speak so I have no idea if he could be the type of presentational force that NFL front offices covet, but it’s just weird to me that he’s had so much success and never gets mentioned for open jobs.