Monday, February 02, 2015

Looking At The Changes To The Packers Coaching Staff

While Mike McCarthy has lost a couple of assistant coaches to other teams in recent years, it's amazing that the recent firing of Shawn Slocum was only the second time he's fired a coordinator during his nine seasons as head coach (DC Bob Sanders after the 2008 season). He's very loyal to his assistants. A couple of other special teams assistants, notably Ron Zook, remain on the staff, but there's no current rumors of who might replace Slocum.
I don't wish unemployment on anyone, but that is a very bad track record. As far back as February 2010, I wrote an article wondering how Slocum had held onto his job. While that was only after his first season as the coordinator, he'd been an assistant special teams coach before his promotion, and the special teams had never excelled with him as their coach.

It is a little shocking how bad a unit has to fall apart before McCarthy will make a move. The special teams were awful in 2014, but I bet Slocum keeps his job if it weren't for all the mistakes during the NFC Championship game. DC Bob Sanders was fired after the 2008 season only after the front seven was so bad down the stretch that they couldn't stop any offense from running against them. If Sanders had run his vanilla defensive scheme with the 2014 Seahawks, he probably would have gotten a head coaching offer instead of a pink slip. Coaches are important but they aren't the ones on the field making the plays. I wouldn't be writing any of this had TE Brandon Bostick just blocked on the onside kick instead of trying to catch the ball. But that terrible special teams track record over the past several years with Slocum is just too much to ignore.

An annual event over the past few seasons occurs when the Packers will lose an assistant offensive coach to another team. For 2015, it will be assistant OL coach Steve Marshall who's expected to become the offensive line coach for the New York Jets. If he's not under contract than McCarthy has little way of stopping him from moving on. The improvement by David Bakhtiari and the out of nowhere development of Corey Linsley I'm sure has helped Marshall's resume. I have no idea how much credit he deserves for Linsley, but finding him in the 5th round is one of the best value picks of the 2014 draft.

While the time to move on from Slocum has finally arrived, neither departure should have a big impact on the 2014 Packers. Special teams are important, but they aren't usually so important as they turned out to be in the NFC Championship game. It's a hidden part of football. Even if they become an average unit in 2015, we might not see a difference in any particular game next season.

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