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Scoring points on offense

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

    Nov 22, 2005
    Posted: Jan. 7, 2008

    Green Bay - Scoring is up by more than eight points per game. The running game has gone from poor to pedestrian to operative. The gunslinger has set a personal best for completion percentage. Turnovers are down. So are sacks.

    As offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin has scripted the Packers' development into the second-best total offense in the NFL this season.

    As debuts go, this has been quite a remarkable season for first-year offensive coordinator Joe Philbin of the Green Bay Packers.

    The 46-year old from Springfield, Mass., doesn't at all resemble his predecessor, the fiery Jeff Jagodzinski, who left the Packers after the 2006 season to coach Boston College. But Philbin has one valuable trait that helped his transition from overseeing the offensive line to the entire offense: He is a natural at teaching.

    "He's extremely well-spoken. The guys respect him. He's bright. He's got a good football mind," backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

    Former coach Mike Sherman hired Philbin to be the assistant to offensive line coach Larry Beightol in 2003. Philbin added tight ends to his responsibilities in 2004 and '05 and then last season under coach Mike McCarthy and Jagodzinski, he was the top assistant for the offensive line.

    He helped newcomers like tight end Donald Lee become productive in a short time. He helped coach the line in 2004 that broke records for allowing the fewest sacks in Packers history. And last season his offensive line, with starting rookie guards for the first time in team history, clearly improved every week.

    In this, his fifth season in Green Bay, Philbin's promotion might have been the shot in the arm the offense needed.

    Last season, the Packers averaged 18.8 points per game, 22nd in the NFL. This season they put up 27.2 points, fourth behind New England, Dallas and Indianapolis. The 8.4-point improvement is what Philbin finds most satisfying.

    But not far behind is quarterback Brett Favre, who has completed 66.5% of his passes this season, his best in 17 seasons and a 10.5-point spike from his 56% mark in 2006.

    "That was a big thing we emphasized really since May," Philbin said. "That's a significant jump."

    Philbin also oversaw a few impressive streaks. With emphasis on cutting down the turnovers, Favre had two of his longest interception-free streaks of his career this season. He went 142 pass attempts from Sept. 16-Oct. 7 without a pick, and 139 attempts from Nov. 4-29 without one. Favre's longest streak was 163 attempts, from the end of the 1995 season into the 1996 season.

    And then there's the sack-free streaks by Favre and the offensive line. When Favre was sacked at Chicago in Game 15, it ended a streak of 152 consecutive pass attempts without a sack, just one short of Favre's record of 153, which happened in 2004 (also under Philbin's guidance).

    Philbin has overseen the three best 16-game seasons in team history in terms of fewest sacks surrendered. The 19 sacks allowed this season were the second-best total (tied with 2003). The franchise record for fewest sacks, 14, came in 2004.

    It was one thing to see the old offensive line of Chad Clifton, Mike Wahle, Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera and Mark Tauscher set those sack records in 2004. That was a veteran group.

    But the interior of the current offensive line was rotated throughout the season and there have been injuries as well. It's a major accomplishment for Philbin, who still takes time out every practice to oversee the offensive line's individual drill work.

    The true test of any good coach worth his clipboard is his ability to fix problems. The Packers entered the season with injuries to their few veteran running backs so they started rookies at fullback and running back.

    Philbin rolled up his sweatshirt sleeves with the other assistants and kept working at improving the run.

    "You know, we just did a chart last Friday, with graphics that look like what you get with the stocks," Philbin said. "When you own stock, you get a report each quarter. The first quarter of the season in rushing we were 2.7 (average yards per carry). The next one was 3.3. The next one was 3.8. And now we're 4.2."

    All part of the second-best total offense in the NFL and second-best passing game behind the perfect Patriots.

    Philbin defers to McCarthy in play-calling, a task assigned to some coordinators. Still, McCarthy picks Philbin's brain.

    "Coach will bounce ideas off him all the time," said Rodgers, who overhears their conversations on the headset. "He'll say, 'OK, Joe, what's our best run here?' Coach McCarthy is calling the plays but when he needs ideas, Joe, it's amazing. It's, like, 'Hey Joe, what's your first run? Joe, what do you think? What's your first pass in this situation? I like this.' OK, boom."

    Philbin expresses no discontent at not being the play caller. He helps script the first 15, he is part of what he described as a collaborative effort during the week by the entire offensive staff to design plays and he is there as a set of second, higher positioned eyes during the game to advise McCarthy.

    "But during the game, the play caller, I don't think, wants too many voices in his head when he's trying to sort it all out," Philbin said. "The last thing you need is too many cooks."
  2. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

    Aug 12, 2006
    Good find, Heather.

    Of all the credit that the Packers are getting Philbin seems to be left out. Good thing bringing him up here.
  3. yooperfan

    yooperfan Cheesehead

    Dec 4, 2004
    Good read!
    Philbin sounds like another team player, smart, good coach and no big ego baggage.
    He is "Packer people".

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