Rich Bisaccia's Finger Prints on Packers Offseason

Looking at a few of the Green Bay Packers offseason additions, it is clear that Rich Bisaccia has been given a voice when it comes to turning around this special teams unit.

At one point or another last season, pretty much every aspect of the Green Bay Packers special teams unit would falter. From poor blocking to inconsistent snaps, missed field goals, shanked punts, fumbles, and issues in coverage--you name it, and it probably happened.

The end result was a special teams unit that ranked last in football -- which, unfortunately, isn't the first time over the last decade -- and ultimately, special teams were a major reason why the Packers lost in the NFC Divisional Round in the playoffs.

In order for this unit to turn around, it's going to take an organizational shift in how the Packers view special teams because, again, while 2021 may have been the worst performance, by and large, Green Bay's special teams unit has been bad for a decade.

Hiring Rich Bisaccia was certainly a good first step in the right direction, and with several of the moves that the Packers have made this offseason, it is easy to see that Brian Gutekunst is giving Bisaccia a voice when it comes to building this special teams unit.

While my expectation is that Mason Crosby will still be the kicker come Week 1, at a minimum, it would appear that there is going to be some level of competition this summer. With JJ Molson already on the roster, in late February, Green Bay would also sign Dominik Eberle, who was on the Las Vegas practice squad during the 2020 season under Bisaccia.

Punter Pat O'Donnell was another offseason addition and is someone who Bisaccia has admired from afar, even though he has never had the opportunity to coach him until now.

"Yeah, we're real excited about being able to add Pat," Bisaccia told reporters back in April. "I tried to get him four years ago when I first went to Oakland and didn't work out, and now that he was available this year, you know Coach LaFleur and Gutey were great about our conversations about seeing what we could do to try to get him. You've seen a proven player, not only in the league but in this division because he's played real well in bad weather, he's played outside his entire career, he's a tremendous athlete, wonderful holder, and his job at holder is to make everybody right."

The Green Bay Packers would also sign cornerback Keisean Nixon, who could compete for playing time in the slot this summer, but first and for most, he is someone who could very well end up being a core special teams player this season. And if you hadn't guessed by now, yes, he played in Las Vegas under Bisaccia as well.

When it comes to this year's draft class, I don't imagine that Bisaccia wasn't in Gutekunst's ear the entire time and pounding the table for some special teams help. However, he certainly got some of that in addition to what these players can add on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

“Well, I think this draft class, in particular, the skill players have played a lot of special teams at their respective schools, so we’re expecting them all to contribute in some way,” Bisaccia told reporters on Tuesday. “And we’ve only had our hands on them for a couple of days, but we’re seeing some things again, effort-wise, retention-wise of the system, we’re hoping they can all contribute in some way.”

Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs could provide needed sparks to the return units. The three offensive line selections may bolster the field goal and punt protection units, while Devonte Wyatt and Jonathan Ford could be utilized on the field block and kick units, just as TJ Slaton was. 

Meanwhile, Samori Toure was a gunner during his time at Nebraska, with Quay Walker and Tariq Carpenter both having over 400 career special teams snaps in college.

In addition to hiring Bisaccia and giving him a voice when it comes to how this unit is constructed, LaFleur is also going to have to devote additional time to special teams in training camp and regular practices. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I know how much time was spent on special teams last season, but as the old saying goes, you get what you emphasize--and it certainly didn't look like special teams were an emphasis. 

Ultimatley, only time will tell if this unit is improved, and if you're still skeptical, I certainly get it. But compared to offseasons past, there does appear to be an added effort towards bolstering Green Bay's special teams unit, and Bisaccia has played a role in that.

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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13 points

Comments (25)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2022 at 11:25 am

I was reading about something Bisaccia said about do you want a return guy who's trying to make something happen, or are you looking for a guy who'll just turn it over to the offense? Did anybody else see that? It encouraged me, because I think that's EXACTLY the job of the return guy....give the ball to the offense without turning it over.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:18 pm

I think you can probably add Gafford to the list of RB related signings. He’s played STs and returned kicks for him too.

4 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 20, 2022 at 05:22 pm

Gafford seems like he'd make a better punt returner at his size. Usually you want a stouter guy returning kickoffs.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 20, 2022 at 05:49 pm

Just stating history and connection, not making a recommendation. I will let RB make that call.

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Guam's picture

May 20, 2022 at 05:00 pm

Hard to believe the Packers finally got religion about special teams. I guess the debacle against SF was the final straw. I loved the choice of Bisaccia, not only for the coaching, but also for the change in ST philosophy. Don't turn the ball over when we get it and make the other guy turn it over. Wow...........

7 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2022 at 10:35 pm

I love it. We haven’t had this good of ST coaching in GB since Nolan Cromwell. I can’t wait to see fierce ST play again from our Packers. I think we will, soon.

6 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 20, 2022 at 11:57 am

I would expect a ST turnaround this year. Yet I do have some minor concerns about drafting players just for their role on ST’s. The whole organization needs players on the offense and defense first and if they can play on teams that’s great. I just don’t want that to be the primary focus. But that concern may be unfounded and we shall see.

-2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 20, 2022 at 05:04 pm

Bill Parcells used to tell his bottom of the roster guys every Spring he would keep the two best STs players every year and it was in their best interest to sign up for every STs group. Last year that was Gaines and that other S I can't remember the name of and the Packers didn't keep either of them on the 53. Drayton couldn't fix a thing but there was no priority on STs. It seems like they've realized the error of their ways now.

7 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

May 21, 2022 at 05:49 am

The Twenty-Year Plan.

0 points
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Vforrest's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Sounds like we know who our punter will be.

7 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:19 pm

His contract gave us a strong indication too

3 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Bisaccia’s ST units have returned 8 TDs…. 4 on PR, 4 on KR. They’ve blocked 18 kicks. 10 FG attempts. 5 punts. 3 PAT attempts.

Enough of the milquetoast BS on STs. No more, here in Green Bay with Rich Bisaccia around.

BTW, nice piece, Paul. One guy I am insanely stoked about is DT Jonathan Ford, 6-5 333. The Miami Herald said Ford’s arms measured 36 3/8” at his Pro Day. He brings a ton of ST experience from Miami on FG and PAT blocking teams. Another might be 5-Tech Hauati Pututau, who may have a knack for blocking kicks, knowing he had 13 PDs last year?

13 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Many like to talk about kick and punt returners. We have decent kickers. Of course that’s important. Yet I think that many of the ST problems were due to the other 9-10 guys. Coverage guys and blocking guys were often outplayed. Those are the real key players on ST’s.

6 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2022 at 02:15 pm

I agree, Partick.

I’m thinking that PR/KR aspect of STs will all shake itself out, and Bisaccia will tap the best players we have for those positions along the way. He’s an old salt there who will have his bases covered.

What I did like seeing from Gutekunst this last draft was his follow through with every pick. Players who are not one dimensional STers, but offer a lot to both STs and their respective positions.

EDGE Kingsley Enagbare offers solid STs experience as well as S Tariq Carpenter. Both called out by Packers Asst. Director of College Scouting, Patrick Moore, for the athleticism they bring to STs. WR Samori Toure’s another, as is WR Romeo Doubs. Have to figure one or two UDFAs jump in here as well as ST contributors. Coco?

Add CB Keisean Nixon and CB Rico Gafford, both well known to Bisaccia, and, that’s quite an infusion of talent to work with. Eight new players right there if you include Ford.

6 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

May 21, 2022 at 05:59 am

Well, we know who was Excluded from the group. Moving out the deadwood improved the Sp. Teams room before a newbie was even drafted.

3 points
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greengold's picture

May 21, 2022 at 05:59 am

Truth. Addition by subtraction.

2 points
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ricky's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:10 pm

What is bothersome is that sometimes the Packers seem to be amazing stubborn in their beliefs. For years, the team hired second rate ST's coaches, even though at times top-rated guys were available. Then, they'd have terrible play, but somehow always hoped that it wouldn't matter. The last straw was promoting the assistant of a second rater last year, who proved he was not ready for prime time. Throughout the year, not only on CHTV but other sites, there were the warnings that this weakness on the team was going to cost them a game. Then it did. In the playoffs. And suddenly, the Packers brass woke up. Better late than never, I suppose. At least it wasn't the SB- that would surpass 28-3 in infamy.

8 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

100%, ricky. Great take.

1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

May 20, 2022 at 04:48 pm

At least being stingy with the STs coaches paychecks worked out great! 👍

4 points
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mnbadger's picture

May 20, 2022 at 12:37 pm

I'm not sure if I'm suffering off season blind optimism or if this team has really been put together well, from top to bottom? Probably a little of both, but our holes used to be sizeable. Now we're talking about lack of 2-deep or 3 deep some positions. Most front line guys are not All pro's, but virtually all would start someplace else if not in Green Bay. We haven't been able to say that in a long time.
And yes, a very good article, thank you. GPG!

10 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2022 at 10:48 pm

Yeah, mnbadger, it’s almost laughable. Wanting to plug every roster hole on the 53 with known quantities. It’s unrealistic.

Sometimes GREATNESS can only be forged in the fire of NFL play. I trust this staff. The talent, from afar, looks solid.

3 points
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croatpackfan's picture

May 21, 2022 at 03:44 am

While I agree, Paul, that Packers ST was unorganized unit for a decade (well, except that year when Randall Cob was serving as PR/KR), I can not agree that ST unit cost Packers NFCCG last season, as you wrote "...special teams were a major reason why the Packers lost in the NFC Divisional Round in the playoffs."

I know that this is not popular opinion, but for me, main culpruit was not ST (as bad as they were), nor Packers D (Packers D was the best unit on the field for a much), but Packers offense that produced only one TD and secure only 2 tries for FG (one successful). Also, they were buried ST units deep in own territory almost regurarly through second half of the game by producing only ~50 yards total. That means they reached center of the field 2 or 3 times during the whole second half of the game.

Calling Packers D for not stopping DS on the last try is cheap as Packers D was on the field for way to much time.

For me main culpruit for that loss is offense by at least 60% if not more and ST unit for the rest. D was able to keep Packers in the game, but D effort was ruined by unacceptable offensive plays.

You can call ST as much as you want, but when you know what is your weakness, you have to adapt to that and minimaze the influence of the weakness to your success.

It is obvious that Game plan was to beat Niners by using only 2 players on the offense. When Niners saw that they adjusted in the 2nd half and they were covering only DA, and concentrated to pressure QB. Other Packers receivers were flying around free, but they were not in game plan.

So, who is the main culpruit for that loss in divisional round? Offense!

With this I'm not trying to minimaze bad show of the ST unit, just to correct popular narrative that ST unit was main culpruit. That is just excuse for those who are blindly in love with AR. I can agree that AR is not the only one responsible for that loss, but he shares responsibility with MLF, who was and is (I hope MLF will understand that and change it) also culpruit for that loss because he is acting like AR butler. Packers HC acts as his main task is to please AR. Not to prepare team for winning all.

I'm interested how many down votes I'll see under this post...

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 21, 2022 at 09:53 am

Dillon getting hurt played a role too.

1 points
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greengold's picture

May 21, 2022 at 11:46 am

It was a shit show of epic proportions, and it all rolls downhill.

Matt LaFleur blew it.

If you can’t control your players, then wtf are you doing out there? Hell yeah this was on our Offense. Just garbage play, garbage … uh,… “planning?” Completely devoid of in-game real-time adjustments.

Matt LaFleur needs to change, for the better. He can’t get much worse in big game situations.

Can you make a real-time adjustment, Matt, when that horrific OL jumble clearly is not working? He did the same blinders on thing at KC in Love’s first NFL start.

Get your shit together, man!

Be the Head Coach, FFS. That whole AR to DA exclusive we witnessed for more than 3 entire Quarters of football? No other WR getting a single target? WTAF was THAT?

I’ve never seen inmates running the asylum like that in GB. Never. Until that hot mess of a day… anyway…

Apologies, but, let’s all be real here. Matt LaFleur needs to look in the freaking mirror, and leave his beard trimmer in the other room.

croat, I agree with you.

4 points
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Dragon5's picture

May 21, 2022 at 08:22 pm

Despite the impressive accolades now tagged to his name, I still, to this day, often refer to him as "LaFlake." Prove me otherwise.

There's an aspect of consecutive 13-3s suggesting false confidence; beating up your little brothers in the NFC North year after year means little when facing roster talent that equals or exceeds your own in the playoffs...as Mike Tyson said: "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Plan or no plan, they continue to choke / not execute.

3 points
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