Packers likely to replace Philbin from within

Packers likely to replace Philbin from within

Published Jan. 21, 2012 7:53 a.m. ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. — With Joe Philbin on his way to Miami to take over as head coach of the Dolphins, the Packers are left with a vacancy at offensive coordinator.

The most likely scenario is that head coach Mike McCarthy will decide to promote from within, much as he did with Philbin five seasons ago. After one season under McCarthy as offensive line coach, Philbin was elevated to offensive coordinator, where he stayed until accepting the Miami job this week.

There are five legitimate internal candidates McCarthy could consider. However, the head coach could end up competing to keep his own staff in Green Bay, as Philbin might consider hiring one of his former Packers coworkers for the Dolphins' coordinator job.

Perhaps McCarthy's best option is quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. Three weeks after McCarthy was appointed Packers head coach in 2006, he hired Clements. In that role, Clements spent two seasons working with Brett Favre, and, more important, helped develop a young Aaron Rodgers into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Clements also has experience as an offensive coordinator, a title he held with the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005.

With McCarthy and Clements having spent the past six years working in the same system in Green Bay, a Clements promotion would make sense. The one holdup could be if Philbin were to offer the Dolphins' offensive coordinator position to Clements. After all, no matter who is the Packers' offensive coordinator, McCarthy will still call plays. Philbin never called plays while with the Packers. And Clements, 58, might want more responsibility.

Clements was also a candidate for the Penn State head-coaching position, but that job eventually went to New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

While Clements seems the most likely option for McCarthy, there are other qualified coaches on the Packers staff.

Perhaps McCarthy will turn to Edgar Bennett. The Packers Hall of Fame running back who won a Super Bowl alongside Favre at the end of the 1996 season was Green Bay's running backs coach 2005-10 and spent this season as the wide receivers coach. Bennett, who will turn 43 in February, has never coached for anyone other than the Packers. But his experience coaching two positions could be of great benefit if he were to be offered the offensive coordinator position.

No Packers coach has spent as many seasons with McCarthy as tight ends coach Ben McAdoo. He was with McCarthy in New Orleans and San Francisco. When McCarthy joined the Packers, McAdoo followed.

Two other options could be offensive line coach James Campen and running backs coach Jerry Fontenot. Campen finished his seven-year NFL playing career with the Packers and was coaching in Green Bay two seasons before McCarthy arrived. Fontenot was an assistant offensive line coach for four seasons before taking over the running backs spot that was open when Bennett switched to wide receivers.

Though McCarthy could consider an outside hire, he would then be risking the possibility of losing some of his top assistant to other teams.

"There is activity around our coaching staff, and rightfully so," McCarthy said at his season-ending news conference this week, before Philbin accepted the Dolphins job. "It's a very talented staff. There may be some men who have some other opportunities."

Given that, it seems likely McCarthy would want to keep at least one of his top assistants by rewarding him with Philbin's old job.

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter