GREEN BAY – Having been passed over in Green Bay in 2007 and prevented from interviewing in Chicago in 2010, Tom Clements is finally getting a second chance at being an offensive coordinator. And for both Clements and Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the opportunity should be worth the wait.
While Clements’ promotion from quarterbacks coach wasn’t announced until Feb. 2, he said McCarthy made his intentions clear not long after offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was named the Miami Dolphins head coach on Jan. 22.
“Mike talked to me pretty quickly after Joe left, so it was a smooth transition,” Clements said Monday during a media availability session with him, quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot and running backs coach Alex Van Pelt.
Clements had served as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator in 2004 and ’05 under head coach Mike Mularkey, before Clements was stripped of his play-calling duties late in the 2005 season and Mularkey was fired when the season ended. After his first year under McCarthy in Green Bay, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski left to take over as Boston College’s head coach, and McCarthy interviewed both Clements and Philbin as in-house candidates during the 2007 offseason.
McCarthy chose Philbin, and Clements ended up becoming the person quarterback Aaron Rodgers considers the single most influential figure in his career. Clements said Monday that McCarthy decided he didn’t need to re-interview him for the job, which McCarthy made clear by saying Clements was the “obvious” choice.
“After Jeff Jagodzinski left, Joe interviewed and I interviewed for the coordinator spot. Joe was chosen,” Clements said matter-of-factly. “I did not have to go through that same process this time.”
During the 2010 offseason, the Chicago Bears asked the Packers for permission to interview Clements for their vacant offensive coordinator job, and McCarthy denied the request. NFL rules say a team must only grant permission for an assistant to interview if it’s for a head-coaching position, so McCarthy was well within his rights to block Clements from what would have been a promotion.
“Obviously like any coach, you’d like to advance. The way it was explained, I certainly understood why it didn’t work out, why I wasn’t able to do it,” said Clements, who had not spoken much about the incident since then. (The Bears went on to hire Mike Martz). “But obviously at that time, it would’ve been nice to go through the interview. But it was no big deal. After the decision was made, that I would not be able to do it, I understood the reasoning behind it – it was in the division. Like I said, I understood and we just moved forward.”
Now, Clements is getting the opportunity he’s been waiting for. While he won’t call the offensive plays, since McCarthy will continue to do so, he will have a greater role in the offensive planning. He also will move up to the coaches box on game-day.
“I wouldn’t look at it as pressure in that sense,” Clements said. “You have pressure each year to succeed, and we’ve had success over the last several years and want to continue to do it so everyone’s going to work toward that goal.”
While Clements won’t be Rodgers’ position coach anymore, he said he’ll still spend time with his star pupil.
“When I was the quarterbacks coach, Mike was quite often in the quarterback meetings, and as a coordinator, you tend to gravitate to the things you know best,” Clements said. “I’m sure I’ll be in all the meetings at some point, but I’ll be in the quarterback meetings.”
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