Tom Clements and Brett Favre.
With the recent news that the Chicago Bears are interested in interviewing Green Bay Packers‘ offensive coordinator Tom Clements, Mike Burzawa over at beargoggleson.com, the fansided.com Bears fan site, picked my brain about what Clements might bring to the Bears’ franchise.
Of course, I was more than happy to answer his questions, with the caveat that I would hate to see Clements leave the Packers organization, especially if he stole away to join the Bears.
That said, I spoke highly of Clements for many reasons – most notably the respect he’s gained from the players under him and the trust that head coach Mike McCarthy has placed in him over the past few years. He not only handled the rogue Brett Favre, but also guided Aaron Rodgers to the ultimate prize during his time as a quarterbacks coach. Clements, as I explained to Burzawa, has also guided a Packers offense that lost its top running back early in the season, two of its top receivers, and offensive linemen while still producing wins for the team. That has been quite an accomplishment.
But without giving too much away, here is how I answered Burzawa’s questions.
1. Tom Clements has been on the Bears’ radar for the last few seasons from when he was quarterbacks coach and they tried to interview him for their vacant OC job, but the Packers blocked the move. Well, there’s no blocking this interview request. How has Clements been so successful in working with guys like Favre and Rodgers? Do you attribute the Packers’ offensive success to personnel or scheme?
"A. It’s got to be a combination of the scheme and personnel because Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are complete opposite players. Favre was rogue and Rodgers is more technique-centered. For Clements to be able to succeed with both of them is pretty phenomenal, when you think about it. I think the major point to consider here is that Clements is pretty smart. Clearly, he knows how to mold his system around the personnel with which he is working. I think that’s his best attribute. Add to that fact he’s been working with McCarthy for so long I think the two of them have developed schemes each year that fit the team concept, not just the individuals. So, to answer your question, I really do think it’s a combination of scheme and personnel."
2. I know he’s only been the Packers’ OC for one year, succeeding Joe Philbin who took his talents to South Beach but could you describe Clements’ leadership skills? Is he a rah-rah guy or a fiery guy? How does he motivate his players? Would you characterize him as a player’s coach or a disciplinarian?
"A. Clements is NOT a rah-rah guy and certainly not fiery. Though McCarthy doesn’t allow his assistants to talk to the media often, from what I’ve heard from Clements in the past was far from fiery. If the type of coach the Bears seek is the fire-breathing motivator, then they should probably veer quickly from his direction. He’s more of a brain, a schemer, and system guy. That’s not to say that he couldn’t be a helluva leader. He’s been in the game a long time at all levels and has an understanding of winning. That would certainly be a positive aspect that would help the Bears franchise tremendously. He’s mature, he’s been around, he understands the Bears’ rivalries intimately and would certainly add a new dimension to the Bears offensive strategies."
3. Even though he’s not a defensive-minded guy, do you think Clements’ knowledge of the Packers’ offensive system gives him a leg up to finally help the Bears beat the Packers?
"A. I feel that Clements is a wealth of knowledge. He certainly has gained the respect of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre before him, so he must be doing something right. Even though the Packers offense has seen a dip in overall numbers this season, it’s still what I would call prolific. With Clements guiding it for the first year he certainly got the best out of what he had in hand. Consider that the offense was just starting to click when RB Cedric Benson went down with injury. Consider that the offense went without their top two wideouts for much of the season and they were still able to score points and to lean heavily on a second year player (Randall Cobb) for much of their production. With the running game producing more at the end of the season and the return of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, the offense has picked up even more heading into the playoffs. Much of that has got to be the work behind the scenes by Clements. Would he help the Bears? Without question. It would be a huge loss for the Packers and a boon for the Bears."
4. The Packers’ offense hasn’t exactly been known for running the ball. What do you think he’d do with a running back like Matt Forte?
"A. Clements would have a field day designing an offense that would utilize not only the running abilities of Forte, but even more importantly, his pass-catching skills. I always felt the Bears didn’t utilize him enough out of the backfield. You get that guy into the open field and he’s going to make a lot of guys miss. And when it comes to him running the rock, he’s always been a huge threat. I can see Clements using him in all sorts of formations that would free him up. I think under a system designed by Clements, Forte would flourish."
5. The all-important question – do you think Tom Clements could get the most out of Jay Cutler? Can he get Jay back to a Pro Bowl form?
"A. I’m not sure any coach can mold Jay Cutler, but if he would accept what Clements brought to the table it could be a great match. With the players at the skill positions, especially wide receiver, Clements could make a huge difference in the Bears’ offense. If they can add a tight end who can consistently catch the ball, the Bears would be a huge threat to the Packers’ dominance of the NFC North. Given that the Bears will always play defense, attaining an offensive mind like Clements is what the Bears need. And it would definitely put a scare, not only into every Packers fans, but the entire Packers franchise. My hope is that the Bears pass on Clements, not only because he is such a value to the Packers, but because of what he could do to improve the Bears. If the Bear do land him, it will be a huge pickup. It would surely make the NFC North very competitive."