Cory’s Corner: The Packers’ special teams needs a reboot

The Packers’ special teams was anything but special this year.

Green Bay had seven kicks blocked and were ranked dead last in the annual special teams rankings compiled by The Dallas Morning News. Not to mention, a fake field goal and a botched onside kick sealed the Packers’ NFC Championship Game fate.

And to prove that this year’s ranking wasn’t a fluke, the paper ranked the Packers 20th last season.

Special teams are very fickle. A few crazy bounces and it could mean the difference between a decent year and a forgettable one.

And it’s those things that usually protect coaches. Special teams might be the most unpredictable position in all of football but Shawn Slocum did some questionable things this year.

Three blocked field goals, two blocked extra points and two blocked punts scream that teams saw something. They noticed a weak link and exposed it as often as they could.

That’s just like the Seahawks’ fake field goal. As Robert Klemko from reported, Seattle noticed how overaggressive Brad Jones came off the edge all season. And that’s all the Seahawks needed for holder Jon Ryan to throw the first touchdown pass for Seattle in the NFC Championship Game.

Obviously the onside kick was just as demoralizing, but Brandon Bostick trying to be the hero isn’t a fault of Slocum.

The main job of a coach is to teach a certain discipline or philosophy. The good ones realize when their teaching or philosophy isn’t working and opt for a change-up. Other ones stand pat and hope that their philosophy will eventually win out.

Slocum didn’t do that. Other teams found flaws throughout the season and continued to make the Packers pay.

Now, it’s time for coach Mike McCarthy to make a change-up.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


11 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: The Packers’ special teams needs a reboot

  1. If Vince Lombardi were the coach (extreme example, I know), that failed recovery by Brandon Bostick would have never happened. He didn’t tolerate mental mistakes for a minute. My point is, it IS at least partially Slocum’s fault for not disciplining his players. IMO, they don’t fear or respect him, and therefore tend to play by their own rules instead of his.

    1. You can discipline players all you want… it doesn’t remove mistakes from the equation.

  2. Unfortunately, a couple of years too late. Too many details are falling through the cracks and sloppy play has not been “cleaned up”. As much as we will try to improve the player personnel through the draft, Mike McCarthy needs to get to the bottom of why areas of the team persistently under-perform.

  3. The comment that “The Packers Special Team Needs a Reboot” may be the understatement of the decade. It is for sure the understatement of the season. Packers special teams need to tear everything down and start over. 2014 included FG blocking failed, FG defense allowed a TD in a championship game, PAT blocking failed, punt blocking failed, onside kick lost, again in a championship game, kickoff returns were consistently poor, Kickoff and punt return coverage were adequate, our punter is average at best and was terrible in Seattle. The only bright spots on special teams were some great punt returns by Micah Hyde and Mason Crosby had a very good season kicking FG’s when they weren’t being blocked. This may be the worst season ever for the Packers special teams. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now. Actually, it’s already too late since it cost us the season. Bottom line Special teams needs to start over and with a new coach. A fresh approach with fresh thinking and fresh eyes needs to rebuild our special teams or they will continue to cost us games and seasons. Thanks, Since ’61

  4. I agree with your assessment and just one thing to add. Coach should understand the game. When you are down 16-0 and 4:50 to play in 3rd quarter FG means nothing, neither mentally nor mathematically… So it is high probability that your opponent will try something “special”. If you can not understand that, you might be wonderful trainer, but you are not good coach! This is also on Shawn Slocum!

  5. Obviously MM and Slocum are having an affair that we are unaware of. There is no other explanation why Slocum is still here year after year. Love is blinding. Someone please tell MM he can find another butt buddy, it will be ok, sometimes a change in scenery can be refreshing.

  6. Nice article, I like the lead. The problem is Shawn Slocum goes way back with Mike McCarthy to their days together at Pitt in 1990. The question is, does McCarthy have the balls to fire one of his friends?

  7. There is a good argument that can be made ascribing fault to Slocum for the failure to secure the onside kick. Kickoff coverage is one thing, but the “hands team” is on the field only in critical situations. Often, if you secure the onside kick, the game is over, and if you don’t, the other team has new life.

    Anti-Slocum: Slocum put Bostick, who was known to have problems with “mental preparation” on the onside kick hands team. Bostick couldn’t get on the field as a tight end because he screwed up his assignments. Slocum put a known screw up on the critical hands team, and shouldn’t be surprised when a known screw up goes ahead and screws up.

    Pro-Slocum: Bostick as a tight end has pretty good hands, and MM called him during the preseason GB’s best blocking TE. Those dual physical traits make him ideal for the kickoff and for the hands team, outweighing his mental preparation problems. It appears that Bostick did know what he was supposed to do (so Slocum and the ST coaches did pound that in), but got excited and forgot what he was supposed to do.

    Each of us can decide which viewpoint to take, or perhaps can think of other arguments that can be made.

  8. How the Packers didn’t concede the 3 points there and cover every possible fake is just mind blowing. I haven’t watched a bit of the Superbowl coverage or anything football related since the Seattle loss. I still can’t believe Slocum hasn’t been fired. He should have been fired after the game and told to find another way home!

    I saw a interesting piece on Packers Report this morning. Hawk was just as much of a key on the play as Jones, here’s part of the story.

    It was A.J. Hawk, however, who was the primary target on the play, Ryan explained during Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day.

    “We looked to the sideline, and the coach (special teams coordinator Brian Schneider) called the play,” Ryan told reporters. “When we set up the line, I was just looking for the particular look that we were looking for.”

    The “look” was making sure Green Bay’s Brad Jones was on the field, because the Seahawks had noticed Jones’ recklessness as a rusher. It was that recklessness the desperate Seahawks wanted to take advantage of.

    “If we didn’t see that look, I was going to call the fake off,” Ryan continued. “As it happened, the look was there. I got the ball, and started rolling out to the left. We were trying to option No. 50 A.J. Hawk. A.J. Hawk came to me, and when he came to me, I threw it over the top for the touchdown.”

    It was a defining play in the Seahawks’ come-from-behind victory — and the Packers’ historic collapse. Incredibly, the Packers never considered the Seahawks might call a fake, even though it was 16-0 and the Seattle offense had done next to nothing the entire game. So, when the Packers’ Davon House and, especially, Jones rushed hard off the edge in an attempt to keep three points off the board, it enabled the Seahawks score a game-changing seven points. Because Hawk, who was stationed behind the defense, ran toward the line of scrimmage to stop Ryan, backup offensive lineman Gary Gilliam was at least 5 yards behind the rest of the defenders. Thus, what might have been a first-down run for Ryan became an easy touchdown pass.

    1. I think the last paragraph sums up Slocums abilities as a coach. 16 to 0 and the Seattle offense had done NOTHING! Why wouldn’t you just concede the 3 points or at least have every possibility of the fake covered.

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