Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is the most familiar with Philbin since he had him as his offensive coordinator from 2007-11. The two are close friends and have a lot of mutual respect for each other, so it was an honest evaluation by Philbin’s former boss.
“I just think his football team finally started playing to his personality,” said McCarthy, who won Super Bowl XLV with Green Bay in the 2010 season. “The beauty of Joe Philbin is he’s not only an excellent football coach, he’s an excellent human being and that resonates with people in a people business. I’m sure that was reflected in the way his team grew throughout the season and most importantly it probably started in the offseason. So I’m sure his players and everybody in the building are very confident in Joe after going through Year One and I look for bigger and better things for him. I have the utmost respect for him.”
Of course the transition from coordinator to head coach is difficult enough, but Philbin also was dealing with the tragic loss of his son and was trying to keep his family together and be strong for them at the same time. Throw in the fact that he was moving his entire family from Wisconsin to South Florida and it’s even remarkable what he did.
“It’s something you don’t want to see anybody go through,” he said. “The loss of a child is tough and just being there with Joe, it was very difficult and I know it’s something that we still talk about today. But he does an unbelievable job of separating his personal life and his professional life because he’s a very devoted Christian man with a great wife and a great family. That definitely was a tragedy.”
McCarthy was reminded how that aspect of Philbin’s first year in Miami kind of slid under the radar and Philbin himself gave some insight into some of what went on behind the scenes.
“As you guys remember with the timing of events, I think the family came down two weeks after I took the job, which was unheard of in coaching,” Philbin said during his one-hour session with the media. “Certainly it would not have been that scenario had it been a different set of circumstances. It was a gradual process. You move a sophomore in high school who has five great buddies and a girlfriend in the midst of what he had to go through, and it’s not all hunky dory just because we are in South Florida in the sunshine. There were certainly transitions that we had to work through, but I do think that the change of scenery was good for everybody. Not easy, but good.”
What Philbin is able to accomplish in Year 2 should only help make things a little easier as time progresses.