Interim Packers coach Joe Philbin hasn't called plays since 1996, Aaron Rodgers is unconcerned
Philbin may be the offensive coordinator but until this week, Mike McCarthy has always called the plays
The last time Joe Philbin called plays Aaron Rodgers was 12 years old. But Philbin, the Packers offensive coordinator who was named interim coach when Mike McCarthy was fired earlier this week, will resume those duties on Sunday for the first time in more than two decades.
"It's been a while," admitted Philbin, via ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, who last remembered calling plays as the Northeastern offensive coordinator in 1996.
Yes, Philbin served as the Packers' offensive coordinator from 2007-2011, and before that, was an offensive assistant from 2003-2006. But he never called plays; that duty fell to McCarthy, who arrived in Green Bay in 2006 after stints as offensive coordinator in New Orleans (2000-2004) and San Francisco (2005). But don't misunderstand; Philbin is not only familiar with the offense, he's been a big part of the weekly game-planning.
"I would sit with Mike and Aaron a lot and talk about the calls and first 15 [plays that are scripted] and those things," Philbin said. "But yeah, obviously it's going to be a little bit different. Sometimes, because I wasn't calling the plays, I could kind of peek ahead a little bit so we could move forward a little bit. I think that will be the biggest difference. I'm not going to be looking at our next opponent until the game is over. I think that's one of the big changes. And then obviously just sequencing the calls the right way and hopefully they work when we call 'em."
For Rodgers, who reportedly was unhappy with the direction of the offense under McCarthy, transitioning to Philbin won't be a problem.
"I've been translating Pittsburgh for a long time, so I think I'll be able to figure out (Philbin's) East Coast dialect a little better from the start," Rodgers said Wednesday, referring to McCarthy's western Pennsylvania accent. "No, it'll be good. He was calling the plays in today at practice. You just get used to the voice. He was calling them in the preseason, in the fourth game. I wasn't there but I was talking to (backup quarterbacks) Tim (Boyle) and DeShone (Kizer) about it, and they said it was a smooth operation."
So what needs to happen in the days leading up to the Packers' Week 14 matchup against the Falcons, "Just the little things," Rodgers continued. "Signals I might give over to the sideline, whether I need the play again or just looks from time to time. Just get on the same page in our body language with the two of us. And then spending some time talking about the plan, which I'm sure we'll do the next couple days."
The 14-year veteran also expects to have the same freedom under Philbin that he had under McCarthy.
"That's always been part of the offense," Rodgers explained. "There's check-with-me [calls], there's audibles within plays. And then the stuff outside those when there's a look that we talked about this play into this play, but those are always stuff that we talk about during the week, and you're really never going to make stuff up out there. It's conversations that you've had, so the guys are expecting those checks when they come up."
The Packers (4-7-1) opened as six-point home favorites over the Falcons (4-8). All eight CBSSports.com experts are picking Green Bay to win though the team is currently 11th in the NFC, five places out of the final wild-card spot. Football Outsiders gives the Packers a 3.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, behind the Bears (96.3 percent) and Vikings (58.5 percent) in the NFC North.
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