Friday, February 07, 2014

Packers Hire Two New Coaches: Ron Zook and Sam Gash

UPDATE: The last significant coaching news was that Assistant Head Coach Winston Moss would now coach the inside and outside LBs, taking over OLB duties from Kevin Greene. I thought that might happen, instead of bringing a new LB coach they'll defer to Moss since he carries the AHC title. It's not a big deal, I recall being a little surprised when they split the positional LB duties into two coaching positions in the first place.

At first, this headline made me wince because Ron Zook has become a bit of a punchline after two failed head coaching jobs at the Universities of Florida and Illinois. But his new job is as the assistant special teams coach, so the reality is that it's not a big deal. Zook knew Mike McCarthy because they worked together with the Saints over a decade ago.
I had missed that McCarthy previously let former assistant special teams coach Chad Morton go. As a unit, despite a comeback season for K Mason Crosby, it was a down year for special teams and they were given a negative grade by Pro Football Focus. Morton might have lost his job because of the failed Jeremy Ross as a kickoff returner experiment, but I'm just speculating. It was an area that needed improvement and Zook certainly has a better resume than Morton.

Actually his resume is a little too good. Usually the assistant special teams coach is a young guy, not someone with head coaching experience. It looks like Zook just wanted to get back to coaching in any role. That's not really unusual. Last season, Steve Spagnuolo was given the vague title of "Senior Defensive Assistant" by the Ravens after a couple of failed jobs as the head coach of the Rams and DC for the Saints, probably so he could keep his foot in the NFL door. In Zook's case, this might an attempt to jump start his career or maybe he just misses coaching. In either case, I don't see why it would hurt to have him on the staff.

As for the other hire, after Ben McAdoo left for the Giants and McCarthy shuffled his coaching staff in response, it left him with an opening at running backs coach. Sam Gash had a very good career as an NFL fullback with two Pro Bowl appearances, so he certainly knows the position. He lost his job in 2012 with the Lions, probably because Mikel Leshoure hasn't developed into a legitimate NFL running back, and it didn't help that former Lions HC Jim Schwartz probably had to do something after a disappointing season. He looks like solid hire as someone to mentor RB Eddie Lacy.

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