Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another quality hire by Mike McCarthy. At least the Packers have never fired Mike Stock before. Stock has been around forever and got his first coaching job with the legendary Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame back in the 1960s. He was special teams coach of the year in 1987 and apparently he has been coasting off that past success plus his relationship with Marty Schottenheimer ever since.

Special teams is very important. The special teams coach is like the 3rd coordinator. Last season, K Ryan Longwell can take blame for at least the Tampa Bay loss and was one of the worst kickers in the NFL. The Packers were killed all season long by poor field position due to bad kicks, bad kick coverage, and bad kick returns. WR Antonio Chatman had a late season punt return for a TD and CB Ahmad Carroll was a good late season kickoff return man, but they were the only positives from a unit that was a drag on the Packers all season long. The Packers should replace or provide a serious challenger to both Longwell and P B.J. Sander next season.

Stock has not had a lot of success in the NFL despite his longevity. Stock sat out the 2005 season while recovering from hip replacement surgery and supposedly"you can't gauge him by what happened in St. Louis" during 2004 because "Martz never let (Stock) coach there" according to one unnamed personnel director. Football Outsiders goes all the way back to 1998 with ratings for special teams and special teams coached by Stock (Kansas City 1998-2000 and Washington 2001-2003) have never done better than Packers special teams during that season. Frank Novak is one year older than the 66 year old Stock and Novak has been working with Packers special teams since 2000. Novak's special teams have been better than Stock's special teams in every season, but the Packers are attempting to bring in a less competant coach at every position this offseason; so Novak is out and Stock is in.

Improved play out of Longwell or the new 2006 kicker will go a long way to improve the special teams in 2006. The Packers have not paid enough attention to special teams over the last few seasons and there is no reason to believe that they have changed. Stock will probably receive a lot of credit for the likely improvement from the second worst special teams unit in the NFL during 2005, but it probably won't be his to take because he hasn't proven that he can do a better job than any Packers special teams coach in the last several seasons.

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