1) Introduction: Unlike Dom Capers, Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum did not have a bounceback season. The Packers are a patient organization, rarely quick to fire a coach or cut a player on a whim. However, Slocum’s time very well may be up in Green Bay. The Packers have had more bad seasons on special teams than good under Slocum. And 2014 might have been the worst.
- Age: 49
- Born: 2/21/1965, in Lake Charles, LA
- NFL Coaching Experience: 9 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: Don’t be the weak link. We knew the Packers offense would be tough to stop. We thought the defense had a shot at being better thanks to a few new players. Special teams? It’s never been a strength for the Packers. We all kind of hoped it could hover around average and not cost the team important games.
4) Season Highlights/Lowlights: Nobody had Micah Hyde pegged as a dangerous punt returner when he entered into the league, but he had a few nice returns this season and seemed to improve. Mason Crosby also had a great season, knocking down a big field goal late in the NFC Championship.
Now for the lowlights. Well, just about everything else was a lowlight. Seven blocked field goals. A 75-yard punt return TD at Buffalo. A fake field goal that resulted in a TD in the NFC title game. Botching an onside kick later in that same game. A kick return game that never got going. A punter that tanked as the weather turned cold. It was ugly.
5) Contribution to the overall team success: Well…I suppose we have to give Slocum some credit for Hyde’s progression and Crosby’s big season, right?
6) Contributions in the playoffs: Cheering loudly on Hyde’s nice punt return against the Seahawks. That’s about all I can think of.
7) Intangibles: Ron Zook was brought in to give Slocum some help leading the special teams unit. It didn’t work.
Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):
(D-) Level of expectations met during the season
(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(F) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: F
ADDENDUM: This evaluation was written before Slocum was fired by the Packers. Obviously, I agree with the decision to let Slocum go. But so far his replacement, Ron Zook, has really put his foot in his mouth. When asked what went wrong with the special teams in 2014, Zook said “there’s 12 plays that were not good.” Um, wow. Twelve bad special teams plays is almost one bad special teams play per game. That’s a ridiculously high number, yet Zook seems to think 12 bad special teams plays is just a bad bounce here or there. Zook was also asked what will be different about the special teams under him instead of Slocum. Zook said he didn’t know. “Hopefully, we’re a little more lucky than what happened to Shawn at times,” Zook said.
There ya have it. Zook’s new strategy for fixing the special teams: cross your fingers that the unit’s luck improves. Hopefully Zook is a good special teams coach, but he gets an “F” in the offseason interviews category.