Packers planning on being without Philbin
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the wake of the tragic death of the son of Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, the team is making adjustments in preparation for its NFC divisional round playoff game this weekend against the New York Giants.
Philbin is not with the team, and coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that he will not reach out to Philbin regarding his job responsibilities given the circumstances.
"Joe Philbin is where he's supposed to be," McCarthy said. "He's with his family and he'll return when he feels he's ready to return."
All indications from the team are that Philbin will not be back before Green Bay's next game.
Although Philbin is not the Packers' play caller like most NFL offensive coordinators, he runs the team's Wednesday offensive meetings and organizes much of how the offense prepares during the week for the upcoming game.
"As a staff, we've been together six years," said McCarthy, who became Green Bay's head coach in 2006. "Everybody's picked up some responsibility. At first, I was just going to assume Joe's responsibility, and frankly it was really the idea of the other offensive assistants that they need me to be in the same routine that I'm in, too, so we basically just broke it up amongst ourselves. Everybody has taken on more than their normal responsibility."
Philbin's weekly power-point presentation to the offense was handled by McCarthy and other assistant coaches, though McCarthy gave most of the credit to the assistants.
However, Philbin's work will contribute to the Packers' preparation for the Giants. Last week, with Green Bay waiting to find out who its opponent would be, Philbin was game-planning for all three possible teams. Though perhaps he had a feeling the opponent would be New York, which ended up traveling to Lambeau Field.
"We actually worked more on the Giants (last week), probably more than the other two teams," McCarthy said, "as far as what we presented to the players, as far as the concepts that we worked on Wednesday and Thursday. And Joe was part of that plan. We feel really strong about our plan. The way it was installed, practice was quality."
As far as the in-game work Philbin does from in the press box, McCarthy has not yet decided how that will be handled.
"We're working through that," McCarthy said. "We've got two scenarios, and we'll take the week (to decide). We'll be ready to go."
Not having Philbin around the team this week is also a change for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Recently, as Philbin was interviewing for the then-vacant head coaching position with the Kansas City Chiefs — since filled by Romeo Crennel — Rodgers spoke glowingly about his offensive coordinator.
Now that Rodgers is going through a week without Philbin, it's been apparent to the Super Bowl XLV MVP that something is missing.
"Joe's important from a game-planning standpoint, from helping practice run the right way," Rodgers said Wednesday. "There's been a plan set in place by Mike in his absence. We miss Joe obviously, we miss his presence around, we miss his friendship, we miss his coaching. But other guys are going to have to step in and pick up the slack in his absence.
"It will be as close to a normal week of preparation as possible."
Despite the Packers' best attempts to continue their season uninterrupted, it certainly wasn't all business on Wednesday. McCarthy had a very emotional moment during his press conference as he spoke about Philbin.
"I think the reality of this just gave everybody a punch in the heart to let you know the reality . . . " McCarthy said before pausing. He then lowered his head and was holding back tears as he soon continued on in his response, ". . . how fortunate to be where we are."
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