"Energy" Is the Key to Packers' Joe Whitt Jr. in New Role

Among other changes to take place in Green Bay during their early start to the 2018 offseason, a new role for Joe Whitt Jr. is one of the subtle, yet, impactful ones.

Whitt was promoted from cornerbacks coach -- a post he's held since former defensive coordinator Dom Capers' arrival in 2009 -- to defensive pass game coordinator. He now has the ability -- and authority -- to oversee every dynamic of the passing game from his own perspective.

Jason Simmons will also assist Whitt as the Packers' secondary coach. He first came to Green Bay in 2011 as a coaching administrator for three seasons before being shifted to the job of assistant special teams coach. Now, he and Whitt are together under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

These changes were announced Wednesday morning when the Packers finalized their renovated coaching staff.

"He's a really good coach," said Whitt of Simmons. "He's done certain assignments, he's led the room at times. ... He's a fine coach. He's going to do a great job in the secondary with us, so I'm excited to work with him."

The Packers won't have a cornerbacks or safeties coach this season or for the foreseeable future if the recent adjustments pan out. Whitt will be accommodating into a new role after the stellar work he's done with the Packers' cornerbacks for nine consecutive seasons.

"The key thing is the energy, and the finish is something that we have to get right," Whitt said. "I hope all the guys understand that we have to play with a passion that's second to none, and hopefully, they'll understand that.

"One thing I have really noticed [with the coaches] is the energy in the room is really high, and the players are going to feel that."

During Whitt's stint with the Packers after his brief run as the defensive quality control coach in 2008 saw Green Bay's defense finish first in the NFL in interceptions since 2009, seventh in opponent completion percentage and ninth in opponent passer rating.

His glaring success with the team's cornerbacks during that span was a major reason why he was one of the three internal candidates for the Packers' defensive coordinator job, but ultimately, Pettine saw the dice roll his way -- a move Whitt called "the right decision."

"Being in that room with [Pettine] and having the opportunity to share ideas, we're on the same page, we see defensive football the same way. Terminology's the only thing we're really working on; stream-lining it and making sure we get on the same page.

"Mike [McCarthy] understands what I am, I've coached for him for a long time. I just appreciate this opportunity to be able to help us win in 2018 and get to that Super Bowl. That's the only thing that matters right now."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (43)

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HankScorpio's picture

January 25, 2018 at 08:18 am

I'm glad the Packers were able to keep Joe Whitt around.
His success rate in developing talent was better than anyone on the defensive staff that was together so long under Capers.

I'm excited to see what he can do in his new role with a bunch of new coaches that are bringing together experience & perspective from a variety of different places.

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Turophile's picture

January 25, 2018 at 08:35 am

Keeping Whitt is fine. I'm not so sure about Perry.......... but then I was very critical of O line coach James Campen, back when the Packers went from Favre to Rodgers.

The Packers had some poor linemen back then, just as they have had good ones for a while now.

So, how much is it down to the coach and how much is it the player ??

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worztik's picture

January 25, 2018 at 08:58 am

Heard someone say “once”... “coaches coach and players play”... very astute and obvious comment! I have a feeling that Pettine is going to be the key in making all the coaches better because I don’t see him as one who minces words and looks like a bad insurance salesman (with a rug!). It was so obvious last year that our DBs were LOST much of the time and it may have been that Caper’ defense was too cerebral for a group of young guys that just wanted to play decent football. If he had a five legged octopus D and 1 or 2 arms had no clue where they fit with the other 3, that may be why people were standing and staring at each other (and more) after a disastrous play. I don’t see anything but good things happening to our team, including coaches, now that TT and Crappers are history! Just sayin’

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Savage57's picture

January 25, 2018 at 09:02 am

I'm shocked the Packers even kept him around.

Since 2009, he's had 24 CB's play for him. He's developed two, Shields and Williams, into what one could consider solid NFL corners. Hayward had to leave to emerge and Hyde was JAG until he moved to safety. He's also been responsible for the unit that has consistently been the Packers Achilles heel.

Horrible move. Look for another season of torchings on the back end. Maybe the Packers can piss away another 1 and 2 this draft, too.

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zoellner25's picture

January 25, 2018 at 09:07 am

Whitt hasn't had a ton of talent at CB. Lots of late picks or undrafted guys. Or they let guys go too early (Casey Hayward). Give him better players.

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comeonman's picture

January 28, 2018 at 07:18 pm

2016 they spent there 1st and 2nd picks on Randall and Rollins, 2017 there top pick King, so TT spent some serious draft capitol on DB's. Rollins was a TERRIBLE pick, a basketball player with 1 year of football??? I too have my concerns about Whitt, his backs have been awful. Hoping the new title in Perine's system will turn things around.

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dobber's picture

January 28, 2018 at 08:03 pm

Rollins was a gamble pick...a guy who showed ball-hawking skills in one year at Miami (OH) enough to be conference defensive POY in the MAC. Win that gamble and you get a gem CB or S (several scouts said he was a better prospect at S) in the 2nd round. Lose and you get little to nothing out of a premium pick. TT lost that gamble, at least so far. Not to say he can't still put it together, but I suspect it will be at S if he does.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 29, 2018 at 09:42 am

His Revis style beard was a factor, I think.

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John Kirk's picture

January 25, 2018 at 09:18 am

I echo your sentiment. This one is a head scratcher. Our CB play especially the last two years has been dreadful at best. I don't understand half change. Dom goes but Whitt who had a group of low producing CBs stays? If we were going to change, no hedge, change it all.

There's got to be a little Eliot Wolf angst there with Whitt. He interviews for DC and doesn't get it so you move him from CB coach to passing game coordinator? I'm sure he's in a great place mentally after feeling like he was passed over. Don't like the dynamics of how all that went down.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:33 am

You can't coach speed and fast twitch. Thompson's horrible drafting is the root cause of the problems, as well as injuries. UFA's can't be expected to jump in and cover Julio Jones

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Qoojo's picture

January 25, 2018 at 03:19 pm

I'm right there with you. Whitt was repeatedly handed UDFA after UDFA and told to make it work at the end of the season due to injuries. You can see on many plays where the CB just wasn't quick enough. On other plays, there was clear miscommunication between two players, which falls towards not understanding scheme, or ambiguous scheme criteria.

He has developed Randall, Shields, Hayward, and I won't mention the vets. Like you mentioned, you can't coach speed.

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dobber's picture

January 25, 2018 at 09:50 am

The question ultimately is why he was kept. If it was to keep a loyal, MM-supporter in the room, then it was a bad move, I agree. If it's because they feel he's particularly insightful and has an eye for detail that they covet, then it's not necessarily a bad move, right? Up until the 2016 season (and then 2017) when the secondary was decimated by injury, people were blowing Whitt's horn left and right. Who is ultimately responsible for what appears to be an upward trajectory for Randall?

Different job. Different responsibilities. Different skill set. I'm willing to give him a chance.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 29, 2018 at 09:43 am

Thanks as always for the calm rational take on things. It's more and more refreshing to hear lately.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:52 am

He also helped turn Charles Woodson's career around. Woodson has spoken very highly of Whitt. I would take Woodson's word for how good of a coach Whitt is.

Hyde was playing out of position and that would be on Capers. Also how much of Capers defenses allowed the DB's to play to their strengths? We have heard a lot that his defense didn't allow players to play to their strengths.

Since 2009, he has had the below list of players to work with.

2011- Davon House - 4th round
2012 - Casey Hayward - 2nd Round
2013 - Micah Hyde - 5th round
2014 - Demetri Goodson - 6th round
2015 - Demarious Randall - 1st round, Quinten Rollins - 2nd round.
2017 - Kevin King - 1st round

Not exactly a ton of talent has been thrown his way. King, Rollins, Randall all of have battled injuries, but have shown promise at some point. Hayward had a great rookie year, then had injuries also.

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The TKstinator's picture

January 25, 2018 at 05:56 pm

(King was a 2nd)

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 26, 2018 at 07:14 am

Sorry, You're right... I was thinking first pick. I still think of him as a first round pick even though he was the first pick of the 2nd round.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 26, 2018 at 08:08 am

Don't be shocked. Before Sam Shields suffered a career-ending concussion, the CBs were the strength of the Packer defense for the entire run of Capers. Woodson, Harris, Williams, Shields, House & Hayward all played well in GB. I don't fault the position coach for the decision made above his head to let Hayward walk. While Hayward was in GB and on the field, he performed good enough to earn a big $$ contract from SD---just like House did. His efforts with Hyde are far from a negative on his record, IMO. Hyde was always a Safety miscast as a CB in GB. Again, that's a decision that was made above Whitt's level of authority. That he played as well as he did in GB shows what Whitt can do with a guy that was not at all suited to the role from a talent standpoint.

To be sure, they have yet to really recover from that unexpected loss of Shields. It hasn't helped any that their 5th and 6th CBs out of camp have played lots of snaps due to injury in that time. Not to mention that the 1-4 were playing injured a lot, as well. Still, in the midst of all that, the job he did in righting the ship with Randall was remarkable.

There is a reason Whitt is held in high regard by so many close observers of the Packers.

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zoellner25's picture

January 25, 2018 at 09:23 am

don't forget Kevin King played with bad shoulder most of season until IR. Rollins on IR. House injured all year. They weren't healthy or extremely talented. The talent problem the last few years falls on Ted Thompson.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:54 am

Last year during the playoffs the most healthy CB and number 1 was Gunter. An undrafted rookie who was slow.

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Chuck Farley's picture

January 25, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Good pick for Ted, King missed big parts of fresh and sen years with bad shoulder issues and Ted dissed this and took him anyways.

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billybobton's picture

January 25, 2018 at 01:35 pm

Ted did not give him medical clearance ...
that was the genius of the title town district where everyone can now come and get that same great medical care and diagnosis

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Tundraboy's picture

January 29, 2018 at 09:45 am

Anyone else think it's funny that a Health care facility is a team sponsor.

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DukeDivine's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:05 am

For anybody that thinks coaches do not matter as much as players see Jean Francious and James Harrison starting in the Superbowl... and the Rams go from 4-12 to 12-4...

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4thand1's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:50 am

Vince lombardi

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worztik's picture

January 25, 2018 at 11:30 am

I noticed that as well... can you say Billy Bell???

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The TKstinator's picture

January 25, 2018 at 05:57 pm

The TKstinator prefers to “just say” Billy Bell.

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dobber's picture

January 25, 2018 at 06:44 pm

Then be just sayin' it...

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The TKstinator's picture

January 25, 2018 at 07:14 pm

Which, as we know, is necessary for clarity. Without the “just sayin’ “ one might suppose that someone is NOT just sayin’ it.

For example, see all the blank space below this line? That is all the stuff that I’m NOT just sayin’, and what the heck do I mean by that??

.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 25, 2018 at 07:19 pm

I am not exactly sure what you're sayin or not sayin, but then, that is not exactly uncommon now, is it?

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The TKstinator's picture

January 25, 2018 at 07:24 pm

Logical to conclude there is some intentional ambiguity here.
But then again, it may well be unintentional.
Grunts and clicks are so much clearer.

Or are they?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 25, 2018 at 07:57 pm

LOL.

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4thand1's picture

January 25, 2018 at 10:53 am

Pettine and Whitt have gotten together already. I'm sure they've discussed what they have and what they need. We could have Sherman and Ramsey but if the opposing QB has all day it won't work.

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zoellner25's picture

January 25, 2018 at 11:36 am

Good call

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Chuck Farley's picture

January 25, 2018 at 12:38 pm

I was hoping they would dump the entire d coaching staff and re load, the current staff including Capers didnt get it done.
Mike is way too comfy bringing back people who are yes men. he doesnt want anyone coming in who has thoughts of rattling the cage and changing things up.
Ergo this team will not improve much next year.

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4thand1's picture

January 25, 2018 at 02:23 pm

Dumping everyone makes some sense since they are going to have new play books on both sides. But not all coaches are bad, they just happened to be hamstrung by the OC or DC.

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fthisJack's picture

January 26, 2018 at 07:41 am

no...i think he realizes his butt is on the line if they don't turn this around so he better get it done or he is the next to go. i think he picked great OC and DC that have had success before. all he has to do is get out the way.

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Tundraboy's picture

January 29, 2018 at 09:48 am

And talk to his OC more in game, and maybe put the Waffle House menu down every now and then.

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Packer_Pete's picture

January 25, 2018 at 03:28 pm

One can blame Ted for not drafting good talent, one can blame Dom Capers for the wrong or too complicated scheme.
But anybody who has seen the Packers play the last few seasons must be seeing that the CBs are not playing with sound technique. And that is on the position coach, I'm sorry. I think Whitt was kept since he is a yes man for McC. I do hope Pettine will hold him accountable at least. But I don't have big hope that Whitt will be able to teach sound technique to the CBs on the roster...

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fthisJack's picture

January 26, 2018 at 07:52 am

i disagree completely. whats that saying.????..you can't turn a sows ear into a silk purse. look at the guys he's had to work with the last couple years. Goodson,Gunter,Rollins, Hyde, Hawkins, Randall, Pipkins, Brown...not exactly a list of all pros. and due to injuries, different guys playing every week. not to mention Capers scheme that would have confused Einstein.
when Whitt had the horses, he coached them up.

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DD's picture

January 26, 2018 at 09:05 am

Guys he had to work with? It's been since 2010! Hello. All Capers? A big part no doubt, but coaches coaching them up? Please, I haven't seen it in years with the D-backs, even our so called best DB's. Sorry to burst bubbles.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 26, 2018 at 11:08 am

I doubt you burst any bubbles so there is no need to be sorry

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DD's picture

January 26, 2018 at 09:01 am

Good coaches? Energy? My question is where has the energy been then? Players? Isn't it the current DB coaches job to uplift and instill energy? Maybe I'm missing something here? I'm confused, help.

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dobber's picture

January 26, 2018 at 09:20 am

I would argue that it's up to the coaches to put the structure and tempo in place. If the players don't bring the fire? Well, that's a whole different problem.

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