Special teams – not so special

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(CindyV wanted to know what Packergeeks thinks of the Tom Silverstein article at jsonline.com this morning).

It’s funny because I was talking to a coworker (Scott W) about special teams and defense and whether or not the zone blocking scheme works earlier this morning. We hadn’t yet read the article (or I hadn’t anyway). I agree with what seems like Silverstein’s main point – even though Stock’s group was good in 2007, his entire body of work should be considered and he’s had 2 very bad seasons and only one really good one. These are my thoughts on the ST issue:

  • Kicking – last year our kickers were above average, some have argued that Crosby was just plain excellent. I’d say Crosby was very good and Ryan was decent.¬† I do think that cutting Ryan was a mistake (as we said at the time). It was a move most people questioned at the time because Ryan’s skills and potential were apparent to most. Ryan contends that he didn’t get along with Stock because Stock wanted him to change his punting approach. Ryan didn’t necessarily dispute that but just wanted to go to a punting teacher in Arizona who has worked with punters for years for extra help. Stock didn’t want him to – he wanted Ryan to do it Stock’s way. Ryan was pissed and I think it became somewhat of a personal matter. (I read an interview with Ryan after he left when he was in Seattle and I came away with the sure impression he and Stock just didn’t get along ultimately). So getting rid of Ryan was a mistake. And, one other possibility – has changing holders affected Crosby? It is very possible. He seemed to thrive with Ryan and struggle with the others. Maybe Matt Flynn should be the permanent holder – just having him out there would also keep teams even slightly on edge because of fake possibilities.
  • Coverage units – I do wonder a bit how much of a difference the loss of Tracy White makes. (White was picked up right away by the Eagles, so we didn’t have a chance to get him back). One of the concerns I have about TT is that I’m not sure he believes in the value of veteran leadership. I do. If Stock is right, that White was the clear leader of the unit, my thought would be “don’t cut a veteran leader who is good at what he does on the youngest team in the sport”. He was very good on special teams and from my understanding, a threat from another team to sign Lansanah off our practice squad is what led to the decision to drop White, just like that, so we could keep Lansanah. If he wanted to keep Lansanah so badly, maybe cutting Jarrett Bush would have been smarter, or putting Jermichael Finley on the practice squad.
  • This year, I was also bothered quite a bit by the automatic block in the back penalties and what looked like guys over-pursuing and over-committing a lot. This would be an area where a coach should help by reviewing plays and teaching players both why they screwed up and how to fix it.
  • So, do I think Stock should be fired? I would probably say yes. I’d say yes because of 1) the Ryan situation, 2) the terrible coverage¬† units (the play of the return units was a bit better) and 3) completing a second crappy year out of 3.
  • Going forward either with Stock or not, I do sense that communication between the ST coach, McCarthy and TT needs to improve. I still suspect that the Ryan move was a move made largely because Stock just didn’t like Ryan. TT probably went along with Stock because Stock probably pushed hard for it, but I’m guessing TT may not have had all his weight behind that move. On the other hand, I’m guessing TT is the one who made the White decision because he loves this Lansanah kid. And, I think it was a decision TT felt he had to make asap or we could have lost Lansanah.¬† I’m guessing Stock was not too pleased with that move at all and I wonder even if he had a say in it.

One question I do have re our 2008 ST performance and the ST personnel moves is this (and it’s similar to questions I have re our defense): where was Mike McCarthy when this was all going on? I’m sure McCarthy saw shanked punt after shanked punt by Frost. Couldn’t he have stepped in and told TT to get a new punter asap? I’m sure he saw the decline of the ST coverage units. Did he say anything or offer any assistance or guidance for Stock or the ST players? .

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5 Responses to “Special teams – not so special”

  1. 56Coop Says:

    I’m 53 years old & haven’t actually played football since high school (other than some touch games up until a few years ago) but IMHO special teams is fundamental football. You have a lane or a player that is your responsibility and you just need to go out and do your job. I like what the guy said in the article about the schemes being simple but sometimes guys tried to do too much (Chipping another player). I’ve spent a lot of time this year wondering if we just had a bunch of uncoachable players. There were just so many common mistakes (blocks in the back, offensive holding, O linemen jumping the snap). It seemes obvious the coaches saw it. They talked about it but it just kept happening.

    These guys have been playing football all their lives. Obviously they are coachable. When the same stuff keeps happening (good or bad) I think that points to coaching. There is an elementary school football team in my county that is 66 & 0. They’ve had the same coach for the past 8 years. In the NFL it’s obviously about production. 1 good year out of 3 doesn’t cut it & I agree it’s time for Stock to go. Especially after reading about the deal with Ryan & White (Andy where do you get this stuff)? It really bothers me about the White, Lansanah, TT combination. I also totally agree with the question where WAS MM during all of this. It leaves me terribly concerned about TT’s abilities as GM. He’s gonna have to show a lot of moxie this offseason — another year lke this and it’s time for him to go.

    I did not realize that Rodgers shoulder was still a problem but evidently it could be. Just read this at Roto’s World.

    “Aaron Rodgers plans to meet with the Packers’ medical staff after the team’s regular-season finale to determine whether his throwing shoulder will require surgery.

    Rodgers hasn’t undergone an MRI since he initially suffered the injury in November, so it’s not clear what condition his shoulder is in. There’s no point in reading too much into this until tests are run and facts are revealed. Dec. 25 – 8:31 am et”
    Source: Green Bay Press Gazette

  2. bucky Says:

    I’m not sure there’s a need to “fire” Stock. The man is 69 years old, and while he says he wants to continue coaching, I think there are ways to convince him that a timely “retirement” would be in everyone’s best interest. There’s no upside to firing him if he’s willing to retire instead.

    I don’t know what you mean about “automatic” block in the back penalties. What’s automatic about them?

    As for the communication amongst the coaching staff and the front office- it’s hard to say what is going on there, but as in most private organizations, the Packers are very good at keeping internal discussions out of the press. It keeps fans in the dark, but I’m not convinced that this is always a bad thing, since airing these discussions could result in a lot of bad feelings among a lot of different people, and like before there’s little upside to that.

  3. Ron La Canne Says:

    Manning’s long kickoff return was a perfect case study of juct how crappy the coverage team is. Set aside the marvelous tackling technique of our perenial All-Pro Jarred Bush (you don’t believe it). The end zone shot showed the enitre middle of the Packer coverage team had been wipped out by the Bears. There wasn’t a white jersey in sight. That is part crappy players (Thanks TT) and part crappy coaching (thanks Stock).

    I really don’t give a crap if we hurt feeelings here. I, being a 69 year old geezer, don’t think you need to play nice nice with them. The game has passed them by, get rid of them. TT didn’t seem to have any problem with getting Favre out. That is a decision I support this day. It has to be done.

    And TT, you’ve got this off season to set this ship on the right course. Get into the FA market early and go for at least two impact defensive players and one O lineman. Use the draft to get some high calliber Offensive linemen and an imact linebacker. P.S. we’ve got enough wide outs. If you screw this off season up as bad as you did this year’s, You too must go.

  4. Dave Says:

    If you put Finley on the practice squad he would be there for about 5 seconds.

  5. awhayes Says:

    Bucky – “automatic” because we get them on almost everyone return (when we’re returning).

    Dave – good point re Finley. I’ll scratch that point – but the general point remains: there were other guys we could have dropped.

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