Yes, we reported on how the Green Bay Packers replaced aging defensive coordinator Dom Capers with Mike Pettine – a man 16 years younger than the Packers fixture.
Outside of that obvious and overdue move, however, I’m not seeing an infusion of youth, energy, or new ideas that I’d hoped for.
Joe Philbin, at 56, is returning to Green Bay to replace 48-year-old Edgar Bennett. Not only is this a move toward an older coach, it’s also bringing back an old crony of head coach Mike McCarthy. Philbin was on Big Mike’s coaching staff from 2006 through 2011, so don’t expect a lot of fresh ideas here.
Frank Cignetti, Jr., at 52, replaces the 47-year-old Alex Van Pelt as quarterbacks coach. The fifth quarterbacks coach since Aaron Rodgers’ arrival. He was preceded by Darrell Bevell (2005), Tom Clements (2006-11), Ben McAdoo (2012-13), and Van Pelt (2014-17). I assume Aaron was consulted and approved this change.
Patrick Graham, though he has 15 years of coaching experience, is a youngster at age 38. Strangely, other than being a defensive coach, his precise role has yet to be announced.
Two of the youngest Green Bay coaches also departed, though quietly, at season’s end. Receivers coach Luke Getsy, 34, returned to college coaching after only two years. Defensive quality control coach Tim McGarigle, only 33, did the same after only a year in Green Bay.
Current coaches said to be on the fence are Darren Perry, 49, and Winston Moss, 52.
In sum, in just two weeks, coaches who’ve separated from Big Mike’s staff include those who are 48, 47, 34, and 33. Instead of developing and holding on to a team of experienced coaches, McCarthy has used a revolving-door approach. There can’t be a lot of loyalty or sense of security felt by the coaching staff toward the head man at this point.
Youth Is Being Served Elsewhere
The Chicago Bears have replaced 62-year-old John Fox with 39-year-old Matt Nagy. Since Fox had become ineffective, the Packers should anticipate a tougher Windy City opponent in the coming years.
In Detroit, 62-year-old Jim Caldwell will most likely be replaced by Matt Patricia, the highly regarded 43-year-old defensive coordinator of the Patriots. It is theorized that Detroit is waiting until the end of the Patriots’ postseason to close the deal. If this happens, Detroit also should be a more difficult adversary going forward.
In 2018, the Packers will play the Rams in Los Angeles. Their coach of one year is 31-year-old Sean McVay – all he’s done is take a 4-12 team and turned it into an 11-5 playoff team.
Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders at reportedly $100 million over 10 years, has hired 15 men to his coaching staff – I count eight who are under 45 years old. Defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is an interesting choice – at age 36, he went straight from Alabama’s recent national championship win to Gruden’s NFL coaching staff.
Gruden, who is 54, was but 28 when Mike Holmgren made him an offensive assistant for the Packers in 1992. After only three years he moved up to being the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. Three years after that he was named head coach of the Raiders. As a head coach Gruden went 38-26 in four years in Oakland, and 57-55 in seven years with the Buccaneers. He’s been a highly-paid television broadcaster for the last nine years.
Going into the 2017 season, 11 of the league’s coaches were under 50.
The trend toward younger, more enthusiastic, more creative – and more successful – NFL coaches is happening in many NFL venues, though not in Green Bay.