GREEN BAY – For weeks, Aaron Rodgers has been talking about how much quarterbacks coach Tom Clements means to him and the conflicted feelings he’s had about Clements’ outside job prospects.
But now that he’s lost offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to the Miami Dolphins, the Green Bay Packers quarterback is officially rooting for Clements to be back in Green Bay next season.
“I’m feeling a little selfish when it comes to Tom,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee and ESPN Madison. “I have a real good relationship with him. It’s been a real good six years together. I want to keep it going.
“I think Tom deserves to take a jump, though. I think it would be a seamless transition to have him as the offensive coordinator in Green Bay as Joe has moved on now.”
Rodgers, who is at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, where Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff are coaching the NFC squad, said he expects McCarthy to promote from within to replace Philbin, who was introduced as the Dolphins head coach on Saturday. He pointed out that last year, when wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson moved to the Dallas Cowboys, McCarthy moved running backs coach Edgar Bennett to wide receivers and promoted assistant offensive line coach Jerry Fontenot to running backs coach.
“I’m not sure what Mike is going to do,” Rodgers said. “His track record as what happened with Jimmy Robinson last year, moving Edgar over and Jerry over, they did a great job in their new roles.”
“I think Tom being so natural teaching the offense to the quarterbacks, I think he’d be a great offensive coordinator. He’s done it before so hopefully he gets that opportunity. If not, I think it’d be wise for a team to come interview him because he’s an incredible coaching talent, and a guy that really understand that game.”
Asked how his working relationship with Clements might change if Clements became coordinator, Rodgers suggested that McCarthy might pursue Billy Joe Tolliver to be quarterbacks coach. Tolliver’s NFL playing career ended in 2001 after he went to camp with the Packers but lost out on the backup job behind Brett Favre. Rodgers and Tolliver have crossed paths at the annual American Century Golf Championships in Lake Tahoe every offseason.
“I don’t see our relationship changing a whole lot. I think if he were to get the coordinator job, he’d still want to spend some time with the quarterbacks,” Rodgers said. “I would guess they would look for someone to be the quarterback coach. I know when Tom originally got hired, that one of the names that Mike was interested in was Billy Joe Tolliver. I’ve gotten to know Billy over the years. I don’t know if that would even be a remote possibility but that would be a fun pairing with Billy Joe. But I’m sure they would bring somebody in to coach quarterbacks and let Tom focus on his coordinator duties.”
At this point, it appears likely that Clements will return and be promoted. He’s working in Hawaii coaching the NFC quarterbacks (Rodgers, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Carolina’s Cam Newton) and while he interviewed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head-coaching job, the Bucs have scheduled second interviews with other candidates but not him. Among those candidates getting second interviews is ex-Packers coach Mike Sherman, who is thought to be the frontrunner.
Multiple reports have suggested that Sherman will go to Miami to be Philbin’s offensive coordinator if he doesn’t get the Buccaneers job.
“When it comes to Mike Sherman, Mike was here in 2005 when I got drafted in Green Bay. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, as a person, and I think he’d do a great job,” Rodgers said of Sherman, who was Philbin’s high-school English teacher and football coach at Worcester (Mass.) Academy. “It would be interesting to see it come full circle with Mike and Joe, but I know Joe has a lot of respect and keeps in touch with Mike. So I think if Mike were not to get the job in Tampa, it’d be a good pairing in Miami.”
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