What’s to Make of All the Packers’ Coaching Changes?

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Mike Pettine

It’s been a whirlwind! Here’s an updated breakdown of who’s out, who’s coming in, and who’s been re-signed as Green Bay Packers’ coaches.

Defensive Coaches – Outgoing

  • Defensive coordinator Dom Capers – in college coaching at seven schools for 12 years, 1972-83; NFL coach for 32 years 1986-2017; Packers DC, 2009-17.
  • Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, in college coaching at five schools for 11 years, 1984-94; NFL coach for 23 years 1995-2017; Packers DL line coach 2009-17.
  • Assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley. With Packers since 2006, starting as an intern; linebackers coach from 2009-17.

Defensive Coaches – Incoming/Re-signed

  • Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine – NFL coach for 16 years and counting (2002-18); now with his fifth NFL team. He was just named Packers’ defensive coordinator – chosen over three other Packers’ coaches for the job.
  • Defensive coach Patrick Graham – college coach with four schools, 2002-09; NFL coach 2009 to present mostly with New England from 2009-15 – and mostly as a defensive line or linebackers coach; Graham’s precise title has yet to be announced.
  • Cornerbacks Coach Joe Whitt – college coach for three schools, 2000-06, NFL coach for 11 years and counting (2007-18); with Green Bay; he’s progressed from defensive quality control coach to cornerbacks coach to his brand new title: defensive passing game coordinator.

Defensive Coaches – On the Hook

  • Safeties coach Darren Perry – an NFL coach since 2002, with Green Bay being his fourth team (2009-17). Having failed to be named defensive coordinator, it is felt he might leave the Packers.
  • Winston Moss – has coached in the NFL since 1998, has been with Green Bay since 2006, mainly as a linebackers coach, but also named assistant head coach in 2017.

Offensive Coaches – Outgoing

  • Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett – after nine years as an NFL running back, he was a Packers’ coach 2005-17, going from RBs coach to WR coach, to offensive coordinator (2015-17); within two weeks of departing, he was hired to be the Raiders wide receivers coach.
  • Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt – following his 11 years as an NFL backup QB, has been an NFL coach since 2006; Packers running backs coach 2012-13, then QBs coach 2014-17; hired within two weeks of departing to be Bengals’ quarterbacks coach.
  • Receivers coach Luke Getsy – college coach 2007-13; with Packers 2014-17; left in 2018 to become offensive coordinator at Mississippi State.

Offensive Coaches – Incoming

  • Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin – coached at eight colleges from 1984-2002; with Packers from 2003-11, progressing to offensive coordinator; left Packers to become head coach in Miami, 2012-15 – compiled a 24-28 record; assistant head coach and offensive line coach for Colts in 2016-17.
  • Quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti – from 1989 to now, he’s bounced back and forth between college and NFL coaching, having coached for at least six colleges, and five NFL teams prior to Green Bay; he’s primarily been a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator.

Comments

Ten years ago, after the Packers went 6-10, coach Mike McCarthy released six members of his coaching staff, including five on defense. His purge of the last few weeks is similarly sweeping. Of the departed coaches, Capers, Trgovac, McCurley, and Bennett had all coached under McCarthy since at least 2009.

With three offensive and three defensive coaches already gone, this purge has matched, and will likely soon exceed, that of Big Mike’s 2008 expulsion.

In addition to the quantity, the quality or experience of these departing guys is impressive: Capers has 32 total years of NFL coaching experience; Trgovac has more than 20; Bennett, Van Pelt, and McCurley have more than 10. Should Moss and Perry leave, they represent another 20 and 16 years, respectively, of NFL coaching.

The inscrutable head coach has so far kept on or promoted a number of coaches assigned to units that performed poorly in 2017, in particular: Whitt/cornerbacks, Perry/safeties, Ron Zook/special teams, and Brian Angelichio/tight ends.

On the other hand, Big Mike fired linebackers coach McCurley though that unit (the ILBs at least) exceeded expectations in 2017.

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans deserves a mention for helping rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams outperform expectations.

Van Pelt almost surely was axed due to backup QB Brett Hundley’s poor showing – following the season, Big Mike opined that Hundley was “unprepared’ to step in.

Getsy, after two years as wide receivers coach, probably moved on before he was fired, as starters Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb underperformed, and reserves Geronimo Allison and Trevor Davis failed to get better.

I’ll further analyze the Packers’ incoming coaches at a later time, but here’s a preview: they tend to consist of long-time NFL coaches who McCarthy has known for years, and though the names might be different, in terms of coaching style, philosophy and energy level, nothing much seems to have changed.

About The Author

Rob is currently twiddling his thumbs on Whidbey Island in Washington. He likes to do research, although he has no shortage of opinions. He saw his first live Packers game in 1958, the only win of the year.

13 Comments on "What’s to Make of All the Packers’ Coaching Changes?"

  1. PF4L

    Jordy Nelson wasn’t in the game plane with McCarthy without Rodgers, sans Hundley throwing wide to Nelson a yard behind the LOS.

    Jordy Nelson performance will be judged to have under perform under Rodgers, not Hundley. Anyone that disagree’s with me can toss Mordecai’s salad.

  2. Andy Peth

    It amazes me how McCarthy gets by scapegoating everyone to take the fall. He hasn’t been an effective coach for years, living off the mealticket that is Aaron Rodgers.

    Capers was awful for years. Who kept him? McCarthy. Bennett was a joke. Who kept him? McCarthy. Clock management, personnel usage, playcalling, awful motivation–you name it, McCarthy is bad at it.

    Ah, but with weak team leadership, this loser can always parade the scapegoats out to save his own neck.

    • Skinny

      True. Ive said he should have been canned after the 14 NFC title game meltdown. He was done after that as far as players ever giving a shit about anything he says. The idea you cant fire the entire staff and take a step forward is laughable. The Rams fired their entire staff and MADE the playoffs the next season with a n

  3. MJ

    Even though I don’t think McCarty is the great coach he fully believes he is… I am glad we are not the Steelers with Tomlin at the helm. They have a talented offense (seriously, how do they always have one great receiver after another?) and defense. The talent level is better than ours at every level but QB (and theirs is no slouch either), yet they kept falling consistently short in the recent years. Tomlin’s situational awareness is worse than McCarthy’s. Yet, incredible talent around him will shield him from having a terrible season and be sacked.

  4. Gort

    The last statement in Rob’s article accurately sums up not only the coaching changes, but the front office changes as well – “nothing much seems to have changed”. Overall they are the same poeple, just different faces / names. The one position not changed will doom the organization for a repeat of the dark times. There were multiple coaching and front office changes during the dark ages. None of those changes had any significant and positive impact until Bob Harlan took over the top position. That is the key to everything and until that position changes the lack of accountability, lack of cooperation, lack of communication, and lack of success on game day will continue.

  5. Deepsky

    I think the changes indicate 1) there was a lot of miscommunication, disagreement, bad blood, whatever you want to call it between McCarthy and others, including Ted Thompson, Dom Capers, and even coaches on his own staff. 2) The executive committee, lead by Mark Murphy, thought they only had a few years to make changes and get Rodgers back to the Super Bowl and thought that keeping McCarthy was important in achieving this goal.

    Murphy didn’t want to bring a new head coach and risk upsetting Rodgers or having said coach completely flop. Rodgers only has a few great years left. And Murphy didn’t want to bring in a new GM who ran the entire football operation, someone who might clean house and begin a rebuilding process with “his guys”.

    It’s clear McCarthy now has a much bigger say in coaching changes and probably has a much bigger say personnel moves, although I don’t think he was given final say in drafting. Basically Murphy and the executive committee has put all the chips on McCarthy.

    • Cheese

      Denver got a new coach and won the Super Bowl in his first year. Cleaning house might be the best thing to do, otherwise it’s the same old crap. You can’t tell me McCarthy isn’t responsible for multiple losses with his boneheaded play calling. And we all know how willing he is to evaluate himself and make changes. He’s never wrong and how dare you suggest such a thing.

      • Ferris

        The Head Coaches that call the plays are so few. McCarthy has to do it because he can’t do anything else. He’s not a game manager, he decision making sucks.
        Andy Fat Ass calls his own plays look at his playoff/SB record. MacAPornstache did as well…look what that got him.
        Green Bay need a real coach. Not a shitty play caller.

  6. Kato

    Spotrac does a player market value analysis and apparently Morgan Burnett’s open market value is 4 years $45 million? Wtf…

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