Tom Clements Departure is Green Bay’s Loss

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Tom Clements

Green Bay Packers’ assistant head coach Tom Clements slipped out of Green Bay with barely a tip of the cap a few weeks ago. On January 26, coach Mike McCarthy announced that Clements’ contract had expired and would not be renewed. There are several nuances to this news that deserve more exploration and contemplation.

Promoted Out of a Job

As we reported at the time, Clements’ position had become a redundancy. Here’s how that came about. Clements went through the typical NFL coaching journey: after playing quarterback for four Canadian pro teams and the Kansas City Chiefs from 1975 through 1987, Clements coached on the Saints, Chiefs, Steelers, and Bills from 1997 through 2005.

What about that gap in the late 80s and early 90s? He graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame law school, and spent five years thereafter practicing law in Chicago. Smart guy — I’d guess there aren’t a lot of other attorneys coaching in the NFL.

Less than three weeks after McCarthy was hired by Green Bay, he selected Clements to be his quarterbacks coach. A year later, Clements guided 38-year-old Brett Favre to perhaps his best season in Green Bay: 4,155 passing yards, 66.5 completion percentage, 28 TDs, and a 13-3 record. It was Brett’s final year with the team.

Clements then turned his attention to the new starting quarterback. In the four years Clements was his quarterbacks coach, Aaron Rodgers saw his quarterback rating go from 93.8 to the NFL’s all-time mark of 122.5 – and the team went from a 6-10 record to 15-1.

In 2012, McCarthy promoted Clements to offensive coordinator. In 2015, McCarthy gave Clements the title of assistant head coach (for the offense), along with passing on the offensive play calling responsibilities to him. In week 14, however, McCarthy reclaimed the play calling duties. Let the record show that in 2015 McCarthy’s play calling proved slightly less effective than Clements’ had been.

Everyone was predicting Clements would not be back in 2016. He lost face when McCarthy reversed himself and in effect demoted him. Clements, however, remained loyal to the team and stayed on for the 2016 campaign.

On January 26, McCarthy announced he was letting Clements go, saying, “I’d like to take this moment to thank Tom for an incredible 11 years here.” For all his loyalty and expertise, Clements got this “moment” of thanks. It wasn’t the first time McCarthy and the rest of the organization gave an employee such an inadequate sendoff.

McCarthy promoted Clements right out of a job. It appears there will be no replacement, and that offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett will assume Clements’ duties.

The Clements-Rodgers Bond

During their 11 years of working together, QB Rodgers routinely referred to Clements as his “close” friend, an adjective he’s never used when referring to his head coach.

Curiously, Rodgers made no comment upon the departure of Clements. Instead, McCarthy relayed that Rodgers much appreciated Clements’ help.

The ending of such a close relationships reminds me all too much of Favre’s final years in Green Bay. One by one his old teammates left the team, until he had no one of his own era to pal around with. Frank Winters, his teammate of 11 years, left after the 2002 season. Brett’s father died in December of 2003. Favre had a serious concussion in 2004. By 2005, he was contemplating retirement, and the game had clearly lost a good deal of its luster for the aging 35-year-old. He was 38 when he bitterly parted ways with the Packers.

What Does the Future Hold?

Under Clements’ watch, Rodgers won two league MVP awards. Not only has Rodgers’ friend departed, if Julius Peppers doesn’t return, Aaron will become the oldest player on the team. It’s reasonable to expect that Rodgers will face similar changes and challenges over his next five years to those that Brett faced.

The upcoming season will be the first time as a starting quarterback that Aaron Rodgers will not have Clements at his back. I’m not worried about Rodgers declining physically. I am worried that the burdens of the job and pressure from being in the spotlight are going to take a toll on Aaron – just like they did on Brett. Who would have thought, when Brett was 33, that he would ever be wearing another team’s jersey?

Big Mike offered up no reason why Clements was let go. My question for the coach: how can your decision to dismiss Tom Clements be viewed as a positive development for the Green Bay Packers?

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

10 Comments on "Tom Clements Departure is Green Bay’s Loss"

  1. Cheese

    Just goes to show the dysfunction with Packers management. We have an offensive coordinator who wants to pretend like he’s a head coach, or is it the other way around? A GM who is a glorified college scout because he only does half of his job, and a president who doesn’t question anything because he’s to busy turning Lambeau into an amusement park. Plus all three of them have the same definition of success- squeak into the playoffs so we can get embarassed every year by lesser teams, and then use the same old cliche “it’s a tough league, you can’t win them all.”

  2. PF4L

    One thing worth noting that Rob picked up on……….”QB Rodgers routinely referred to Clements as his “close” friend”

    How often, over the last 11 or 12 years have players or ex players praised Ted or McCarthy? i know Rodgers throws McCarthy a bone here and there. But other than that, i’m drawing a blank, and i think that speaks volumes.

    • Notsofast

      The decision to release Clements is a positive because it removes a layer of separation between the head coach and the quarterback. Essentially, Rodgers himself replaces Clements, and I’ll take Rodgers over Clements any day of the week. Suggesting this will develop into a Favre-like alienation situation is ridiculous. Favre isolated himself and played the role of diva – he played himself.

      Tom Clements day had passed in Green Bay – he will be fine.

      • Kato

        Agreed. It was a goofy structure to begin with. You will find some people on this site don’t really have a deeper level of thinking. They just rationalize it as TT and MM suck and Rodgers is the only reason they win games.

        • Empacador

          Hey Kato, who was the genius architect of a head coach that the Packers are SO lucky to have who put that goofy structure together? McCarthy ain’t Lombardi. Too bad we will never get to witness the version of Mike McCarthy without HOF QBs that would put an end to this bullshit once and for all.

          You’re always busting PF4L’s ball’s about Rodgers, maybe you ought to try, I dunno, admitting your mancrush on McCarthy is a bit over the top, and let it go man.

  3. Scott

    I am hoping that he takes the job of HC/GM of the CFL Toronto Argonauts that is open now. All we know is that they are secretly talking with NFL people, Tom would be perfect, he is a CFL Hall of Famer, he could have should have been in the NFL Hall, He was a fantastic QB as good as any NFL star no question about it

  4. GFactor

    Clements was not as much let go, as he had no intention of staying on board after the play calling fiasco (once his contract was up).

    MM is a good coach as he is very structured, does not get too up or too down, and makes minor improvements each and every year.

    At the same time, MM is NOT a very good coach as he always makes players fit the scheme, the scheme never fits the players. Too many times he makes round pegs try and fit into the square holes, instead of utilizing each players strength.

    Of course with TT making the Packers the Pac 12 club, he is limited what he can play…

    Crap I hate the off season!

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