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Van Pelt draws interest, but Packers can keep him

Jan 22, 2014 -- 9:29pm
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Alex Van Pelt has coached the Packers' running backs the past two years.

GREEN BAY – If the Cleveland Browns do indeed hire Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their next head coach, the Green Bay Packers could face a decision on running backs coach Alex Van Pelt.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday afternoon that if Pettine gets the job, among his top candidates for the offensive coordinator job would be Van Pelt, the former Bills quarterback and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator.

Van Pelt, who just finished his second season as the team’s running backs coach, coached the Bills’ quarterbacks from 2006 through 2009 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterbacks in 2010 and 2011. He also served as the Bills’ offensive coordinator in 2009.

According to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Van Pelt has one year remaining on his contract, meaning Packers coach Mike McCarthy could block him from interviewing for the job if Pettine is indeed the Browns’ pick.

McCarthy has blocked his position coaches from interviewing for coordinator jobs elsewhere in the past. He blocked former tight ends and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo from interviewing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ and Miami Dolphins’ offensive coordinator jobs in February 2012 and prevented then-quarterbacks coach Tom Clements from interviewing for the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator job in 2010. Clements later interviewed for the Bears' head-coaching job after Lovie Smith was fired after the 2012 season.

A popular misconception is that teams cannot prevent position coaches from interviewing for jobs that would be considered promotions. In reality, the only job interview a team cannot block is for a head-coaching job. Other teams must ask permission to interview position coaches who are under contract, and it’s at the team’s discretion whether to allow those coaches to interview. In the cases of McAdoo and Clements, McCarthy opted to not give permission.

It would seem that McCarthy would do the same in Van Pelt’s case, especially after losing McAdoo last week. McAdoo allowed his contract with the Packers to expire and was hired as the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator.

Van Pelt easily could slide over into the role of quarterbacks coach, given his background. During the final assistant coach availability session with reporters, Van Pelt gave no indication of wanderlust and said he’d coach whatever position McCarthy asked him to coach in 2014.

““I’m the running backs coach right now. Not to speculate on anything, (but) I’m very happy with my guys. I love my room. I really enjoy the experience the last two years of coaching running backs.

“But I work for Coach Mike and whatever Coach Mike asks me to do, I’m going to do with everything I got. Not to speculate, but if he wants me to clean the bathrooms, I’ll do that.”

While Pettine is reportedly a leading candidate in Cleveland, he’s not the only candidate. Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano are also reportedly candidates for the Browns’ job after the club fired Rob Chudzinski after just one season.

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