Most conversations about Joe Philbin’s five-year tenure as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator include a “Yeah, but….”
“The Packers’ offense finished in the top 10 in points and yards in all five of his seasons.”
“Yeah, but … he wasn’t calling the plays.”
It’s true, Philbin wasn’t. That job has been head coach Mike McCarthy’s since 2006. But according to many current and former Packers, Philbin — who arrived in Green Bay as an assistant line coach in 2003 — was more than capable of doing it, and was one of the main reasons for the success of the offense.
The fact that Philbin didn’t call plays “is, in my opinion, way overrated,” said Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider, who worked with the Packers from 2002 through ‘10. “You’re talking about a guy who’s doing the majority of the prep throughout the week. I think Mike would tell you that (Philbin) had a huge impact on what they were doing.”
Philbin, who in less than two weeks will open his first full Dolphins training camp, certainly convinced owner Stephen Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland of his acumen when he sought the Miami job in January. Philbin, 51, presented them with a synopsis of his personal beliefs and coaching philosophies developed over the last three decades.
“I knew about 15 minutes into the interview that this was a guy that we should seriously take a look at,” Ireland said.
But what does an offensive coordinator do if he’s not calling the plays? In Philbin’s case in Green Bay, plenty.
Every day at practice, starting on the Monday before a game, he would address the entire unit.
“I was in front of the offense every single day,” he said.
Later on Monday, Philbin and his fellow offensive coaches would split up game plan responsibilities — third down, red zone, blitz, short yardage, goal line, etc. – and collaborate on Tuesday morning to put it all together in a PowerPoint presentation. Later on Tuesday, Philbin would present that week’s game plan to McCarthy, and then to the players in a meeting on Wednesday morning.
Everything about that presentation had to be perfect.
“If any PowerPoint slide had a spelling or grammar mistake, any typo, any scheme error, that was my responsibility, just like a teacher,” Philbin said.
“If I presented something to the offense, they knew it was going to be done right and done professionally, and I expected them to do the same thing. If I get up there and show them something sloppy or half-assed, the players are going to notice that, too.”
During practices, McCarthy called the offensive plays, so he had Philbin help set up the defense.
“Joe would coordinate the defense, just to make sure the defensive look was exactly what we wanted,” McCarthy said. “So I think it tells you something about him, that he makes sure that the big picture is always right.”
On Saturday mornings, the Packers had a meeting at 8:30 with McCarthy, Philbin, quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and all three quarterbacks. They would put the final touches on the game plan, script the first 15 or so plays and address potential game scenarios. And on game days, Philbin would serve as McCarthy’s “eyes and ears in the sky.” Philbin, seated in the coaches’ booth, was usually in charge of letting McCarthy know whether he should throw the red challenge flag. Philbin also would review overhead photos of plays to relay information about the opposing defense to coaches on the field.
McCarthy estimated that “90-95 percent” of his communication on the headset was with Philbin.
“He and Mike talked about every play he would call,” Packers GM Ted Thompson said. “It wasn’t like Mike was in a vacuum. They did it together.”
And while Philbin won’t call plays in Miami, either – offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will have that responsibility – McCarthy said Philbin would excel at it.
McCarthy said Philbin often called plays in pre-season games, and McCarthy considered giving Philbin play-calling duties before the 2008 season.
“I thought about taking a step back,” McCarthy said, “and with that I was going to give the play-calling to Joe Philbin, which I wouldn’t have even thought twice about.”
McCarthy called Philbin “an excellent communicator” and expects the Dolphins to improve significantly on his watch.
“Joe is extremely organized and detailed, and that will be evident from Day 1 when the Dolphins take the field,” McCarthy said. “I think the character of the man speaks for itself, but I have always appreciated Joe’s ability to coach the whole room.”http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sport ... gre/nPs4Y/