Category Archives: Special Teams Coaches

21

May

Packing The Stats: What Makes a Returner?

Packing the StatsWith the selection of Jared Abbrederis by the Packers in the 5th round, fans all over Wisconsin gushed that one of their own was finally picked by the Packers.  Fans were quick to heap praise on Abbreferis’ try hard attitude, underdog story and “little engine that could” mentality.  Others however questioned the logic, Abbrederis was going into a loaded position and doesn’t have the physical tools to really contribute right away.  How about as a returner?

Lacks elusiveness and is a straight line athlete. He will catch the ball and get some yards (what its blocked for) but he won’t be a good returner that can make plays, just a guy that won’t make mistakes. If your ok w/ that from a return man that’s up to you. I prefer a little more.  - Stroh 2014/05/10 17:51

Challenge accepted!  I think the question before addressing whether Abbrederis could be a good returner for the Packers is first to look at what kind of players the Packers typically like.  I would argue that the Packers do not seem to be very fond of speed/jitter-bug returners that are currently in vogue like Dexter McCluster, Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Tavon Austin etc (interestingly not many of these types of players did all that well in returning last year).  Randall Cobb might be the closest player to that mold, but I would argue that Cobb had a much better and diverse skill set than any of the players I just listed.  What I decided to compare combine/pro day results of notable Packers returners from 2008-2013 to the top ranked returners from the 2013 season based on ProFootballFocus metrics (I excluded some players who had incomplete combine/pro day numbers to make analysis a little more straight forward).

The combine/pro day drills I chose to look at were the 40 yard days, which measures straight line speed, the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone, which measures agility/flexibility and finally the broad and vertical jumps, which measure acceleration.  I didn’t analyze bench press for instance because I felt it was largely irrelevant to being a good returner, who typically don’t block or tackle anyone.

Workbook1

 

Data 1

Data 2

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8

February

Cory’s Corner: Assistant coaches don’t excite me

Ron Zook was the head coach at Florida at Illinois. And is now the Packers assistant special teams coach. How did that happen?

Ron Zook was the head coach at Florida at Illinois. And is now the Packers assistant special teams coach. How did that happen?

It’s usually pretty hard to get excited about assistant coaches.

But now the Packers have the highest number of middle management in the NFC North.

And I’m still not excited.

Granted, Mike McCarthy knows that changes need to be made, but I don’t think having 21 assistants is going to be the difference. Does Ron Zook really get anyone excited? And what exactly does an assistant special teams coach do?

That’s quite a fall from grace for a two-time major college football head coach.

But new assistants are just window dressing. This team needs personnel. It needs players that don’t give a half-hearted effort like B.J. Raji and then turn down $8 million from the Packers.

It needs Tramon Williams to play like it’s 2010 and Derek Sherrod to start his first NFL game in his fourth season.

This team needs Clay Matthews to start 16 games for the first time in his career. It needs a tight end to fill Jermichael Finley’s shoes but do it without chirping.

I think we all saw how important a mean streak is. The Seahawks and 49ers approach the game like the movie, “Slapshot.” Both teams try to blow you up on every single play and it’s about time the Packers thought the same way.

Green Bay doesn’t have that on-field sergeant that will not only impose its will but make the opposition think twice about something just because of the physical ramifications.

By the end of the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos wide receivers knew they were beaten. They knew they weren’t going to outmuscle, out tough and outwork the best secondary in football.

I need to see more out of guys like Nick Perry and Andy Mulumba to get an accurate gauge. But adding a dynamic linebacker for the 3-4 defense wouldn’t be a bad thing.

This team needs more creativity from the offensive play calling. Just because it’s first down, it doesn’t automatically mean you have to run the football. This team needs more quarterback pressure out of the front seven to ease the burden on the secondary.

7

February

Packers Add Two New Coaches to Staff, Re-Assign Others

Packers special teams coach Ron Zook

The Packers will announce the hiring of Zook to coach special teams

The Green Bay Packers reportedly have added two new coaches to head coach Mike McCarthy’s staff.  As reported by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Ron Zook comes on as assistant special teams coach.  Zook replaces Chad Morton, who had been on McCarthy’s staff in that capacity since 2010.

Zook has been out of football for the past few years but most recently was head coach at the University of Illinois from 2005 – 2011.  Prior to that, Zook was head coach at the University of Florida.

Zook’s most recent NFL experience came as defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints in 2000 – 2001, where McCarthy was the offensive coordinator.

When this news broke earlier today, it was speculated that Zook would be taking the outside linebackers coaching spot, replacing Kevin Greene.  Silverstein’s report confirmed, however, that Zook will coach under Shawn Slocum, current special teams coordinator.

The Packers will also add Sam Gash as running backs coach.  Gash replaces Alex Van Pelt, who was promoted to quarterbacks coach upon the departure of Ben McAdoo last month.  Gash was the Detroit Lions’ running backs coach from 2008-12.

Gash played 12 years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens.  He appeared in two Pro Bowls and was the first back selected to a Pro Bowl despite not having carried the ball that season.

UPDATE:  Here are all the coaching changes announced today: The Packers have named Winston Moss assistant head coach/linebackers, Alex Van Pelt quarterbacks coach, Scott McCurley assistant linebackers coach, Jason Simmons defensive/special teams assistant, John Rushing defensive quality control coach, Sam Gash running backs coach, Ron Zook assistant special teams coach, Luke Getsy offensive quality control coach and Chris Gizzi strength and conditioning assistant.

The Packers still have an apparent vacancy at the outside linebackers coaching spot.  The team may hire someone to fill Greene’s old position, promote from within or ask current inside linebackers and assistant head coach Winston Moss to absorb the role.

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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30

August

Packers News: Kickalicious works out for Green Bay

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

According to Havard Rugland’s official Twitter account, the Green Bay Packers worked out the YouTube sensation known as “Kickalicious” on Friday morning.

Rugland spent the summer as a member of the Detroit Lions, but he was cut after being beaten out by established veteran David Akers. Akers, 38, will fill in for 43-year-old Jason Hanson who recently retired after 21 seasons in the NFL.

The workout seems surprising, considering the team just restructured kicker Mason Crosby’s contract this week. After bringing in Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez to challenge Crosby for the job, the Packers turned to financial motivation for their placekicker.

The team bringing Rugland in for a workout could mean trouble for Crosby, especially if the Packers ever have an opportunity to punt the ball through the uprights from 90 yards away. Or kick a ball to a dude standing in a boat on the Fox River.

In all likelihood, the Packers are likely seeing what else is on the free-agent market in case Crosby struggles to start the 2013 season. It’s highly unlikely that the team would replace Crosby after restructuring to an incentive-based deal Thursday.

Through four preseason games, Crosby was a perfect 6-for-6, including a long of 48 yards. After a thoroughly unimpressive Family Night scrimmage, Crosby separated himself from Tavecchio and Ramirez late in training camp.

For now, it would be a surprise if anyone not named Crosby was the kicker to start the season. But again, the Packers appear to be preparing themselves for a backup plan should Crosby falter early in the season.

In three preseason games with the Lions, Kickalicious was three-for-three on field goals with a long of 50 yards. He also converted both of his extra point attempts.

One additional interesting fact: Every NFL team is allowed to add one international player to their practice squad, as a ninth member. However, that international player can not be signed to an NFL contract with any team while on a practice squad. here are the full rules:

Section 1. Practice Squads:

  • (a) The League may elect in any League Year in accordance with this Article to establish Practice Squads not to exceed eight (8) players per Club. The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season.
9

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Kickers & Specialists

Overview: To kick off the next series of evaluations on AllGreenBayPackers.com, the ALLGBP staff are going to be analyzing each position group starting off with the specialists.  Overall, the specialists did a pretty good job keeping their names off the papers and blogs, outside of about 6 weeks of utter CROSBPOCALYPSE.

Where We Are Now

Here are the current suspects;

  • LS Brett Goode (Undrafted, 2008)
  • P Tim Masthay aka Ginger Wolverine (Undrafted, 2010)
  • K Mason Crosby (6th round, 2007)

Listen to expanded coverage of this topic using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

So that’s where we are.  Not much to report here; specialists are often drafted in the later rounds or not at all, and the Packers are no different, only using a 6th round pick on Crosby and picking up both Goode and Masthay off the free agent street.

  • Goode: Goode again finished the season without a bad snap and even recorded a tackle in week 9 against the Cardinals, a pretty hard feat considering Goode has the least idea of what’s going on on the field since his head is between his legs at the beginning of the play.  Goode was also not responsible for any blocked or batted kicks which overall for a long snapper basically is a job well done
  • Masthay: Tim Masthay ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of punting efficiency on ProFootballFocus, which can mostly be attributed to his lack of power, but Masthay makes up for that and more with his accuracy and hangtime.  Masthay uses his “aussie” style drop kick as well as his good directional skills to pin opponents back and usually never outkicks his coverage.  Outside of one misguided pass play that I wouldn’t really put as Masthay’s fault, Masthay had a consistent yet basically unremarkable season, but for a special teams unit that has been desperate for just an average punter after Jon Ryan’s departure, Masthay was a godsend.

1

November

Packers Playbook (aka Hobbjective Analysis): Week 7 vs Jacksonville Jaguars

So I’m going to do something a little bit unusual from the usual Packers Playbook series; first off I’m going to breakdown a special teams play, namely Davon House’s blocked punt which turned into a special teams touchdown, but ru because I want to hear your rationale for running this play because frankly I don’t really understand it.

The Situation: The score is 7 to 3 in Green Bay’s favor and the Packers defense has just forced a 4th down.  The Jaguars have stayed in the game longer than most people had predicted but it’s probably more because the Packers seem to be off rather than any offensive firepower displayed by the Jaguars.

The Formation: To be honest I wasn’t able to find any of the position names for any of the positions, so I will be using my best approximations.  Naturally first off is KR Randall Cobb (18), who for obvious reasons is not in the picture and since this is a blocked punt play, is irrelevant to the play.  In the gunner/jammer positions are CB Davon House (31) aligning to the top of the screen and CB Jarrett Bush (24) and CB Casey Hayward (29) aligned to the bottom of the screen.  In terms of linemen (are they called linemen?), at RDE is ILB Jamari Lattimore (57) and at LDE is OLB Dezman Moses.  In the “middle” at DT is ILB Robert Francois (49) and TE Ryan Taylor (82).  In the “backfield” are SS Sean Richardson (28) and FS MD Jennings (43).

For astute readers out there will have noticed that this only adds up to 10 players, which is probably another reason why the Jaguars aren’t probably winning many games.

Pre-snap: SS Richardson approaches the line and looks to blitz while CB Hayward motions from the jammer position to the outside shoulder of LDE Moses.  After that CB House motions to the outside shoulder of RDE Lattimore.  Essentially at this point there are 8 players in the box, which is even with the 8 players the Jaguars have to block.

The Snap: CB Hayward bails out of the blitz to cover WR Kevin Elliot (87) who is the gunner that CB House was originally covering.

“OT” SS Chris Harris (43) blocks DT Francois leaving one of the upbacks, #35 to deal with RDE Moses.

22

May

Packers Coaches Campen, Slocum Out of the Fire?

James Campen

Is James Campen finally off the hook in the eyes of Packers fans?

There’s been something missing this offseason, and I’ve finally figured out what it is: the annual tirade of Packers fans against special teams coach Shawn Slocum and offensive line coach James Campen. What once was a common occurrence has quietly but certainly escaped from our foremost thoughts. They have only been mentioned in mere passing in recent news stories, and even the most rabid of fans have barely even whispered their names.

All of this, evidently, must be a good thing.

Just about 11 months ago, our own Zach Kruse wrote a post detailing five areas in which the Packers could improve in 2011, despite having won a Super Bowl title the previous year. Three of those areas were Kick and Punt Returning, Kick and Punt Coverage, and Pass Protection. In revisiting those now, we’ve seen some noteworthy improvements.

In first looking at Special Teams, the addition of Randall Cobb as a punt and kick returner was huge. Not only did he win the NFL Honors Play of the Year for his 108-yard kickoff return against the New Orleans Saints, but he made a significant mark on the statistics sheets. In yards per punt return, Cobb ranked third in the NFL (13.4), and he ranked seventh in yards per kickoff return (27.6).

While a lot of this is due to the athletic talent and vision that Cobb possesses, these plays would not have been possible without the blocking of the special teams units. And for that, we have to give credit to Slocum. If we are going to blame him for the failures, then it would only be right to praise him for the successes.

In fact, if you go by the advanced statistical measurements of Football Outsiders (FO), the Packers special teams unit ranked 8th in DVOA (3.5%) across the league in 2011. Last year they ranked 26th (1.6%).

Now how about that offensive line?

Well, to look at it statistically, they actually slid back a little bit. Their 41 sacks allowed last year numbered three more than the year of their Super Bowl run, and according to FO, their Adjusted Sack Rate rose from 7.2% to 7.4%. But if this is the case, why haven’t we heard the rallying cry against Campen lately?