The Incredible Rise of Adam Stenavich

Packers hope his decision to stay home pays off.

Marshfield, Wisconsin is a peaceful town in the north central part of the state, about 212 miles northwest of Milwaukee.  On Sunday afternoons in the fall, most of its nineteen thousand residents are parked in front of their television sets watching the Green Bay Packers, who make their home at Lambeau Field, 106 miles to the east as the crow flies.  Marshfield has pretty much always been a Packer town, but these days the locals have a particular interest in seeing the team do well. 

Back in 2000 they would show up, as they always did, to support the various athletic teams of their beloved Marshfield High School Tigers.  In particular, one young athlete stood out...in three different sports.  His buddies called him “Steno”, a shortened form of his last name, Stenavich.  No matter what the season, Steno seemed to be in the middle of it, as a left tackle for the football team, as an inside force for the basketball team, and as a left handed pitcher and first baseman for the baseball team.  As graduation approached, there wasn’t much doubt as to which sport he would pursue at the next level. 

His football coach at Marshfield, Len Luedtke, called him “one of our best offensive linemen ever”.  Good enough to attract major college scholarship offers from several schools, including Wisconsin.  "He was an excellent leader in the weight room, so he was a good role model for the kids behind him. He was a class act. He was the kind of kid you wanted your seventh and eighth graders to look up to,"  Luedtke told the Marshfield News-Herald.   

Steno broke a lot of hearts in his home town and his home state when he chose to play his college ball at Michigan.  He would be a four year letterman in Ann Arbor, voted all Big Ten twice.  However, NFL scouts were apparently not impressed.  He went undrafted in 2006, but his drive and determination would not be quelled.  He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers, and drifted in and out of training camps and practice squads for three other teams, including the Packers.  He even spent a season playing for Amsterdam in NFL Europe.  Much to his bitter disappointment, by 2010 his playing career was drying up. 

Undaunted, his determination and passion for the game he loved compelled him to keep trying, to find something, anything, to stay in football.  He went back to Michigan and took a job with the Wolverines strength and conditioning program.  Not as a coach.  As an intern. 

That was 2011.  What would take place in his career over the next ten years is nothing short of meteoric.  In quick order, he advanced to graduate assistant, then got the offensive line coach job at Northern Arizona, jumped to offensive line coach at San Jose State, leaped into the NFL as assistant O-line coach with the 49ers, hired by Matt LaFleur as O-line coach for the Packers, and this offseason was named offensive coordinator and run game coordinator for Green Bay.   

Steno had found his niche, big time.  In ten years, he went from handing out towels for college players in the weight room, to being in charge of one of the best offenses in pro football.  His ability to design the run game helped Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon become just the second tandem in Packers history to both achieve over 1,100 yards of total offense in a season.   (John Brockington and MacArthur Lane in 1972)  He has been masterful at mixing, matching and plugging holes in a Green Bay offensive line that has been decimated by injuries.   

Just 39 years old, he has been so good at what he does, that when previous OC Nathaniel Hackett got the head coaching job at Denver, he worked hard to lure Stenavich out of Green Bay to be the offensive boss for the Broncos.  This time, unlike after his senior year of high school, Steno decided to stay home.  That was welcome news for the folks back in Marshfield, who are not at all surprised by the rapid rise of their home town boy.  “What stuck out to me was his leadership skills, specifically in football," his old high school teammate Chris Fischer told the Marshfield News-Herald. "When you get to that professional level of coaching, everybody is really good at X’s and O’s and fundamentals, and I think with Adam there’s probably another level of leadership where he’s a really good leader of men, he’s a really good leader of personalities." 

Steno, LaFleur and the entire offensive staff will need all of the leadership and play designing skills they can muster this season, as the Packers face the challenge of maintaining that high standard of offense.  They must replace the production of Davante Adams with a mix of veteran receivers who, to this point, have only been role players, and young pass catchers who lack experience.  They are likely to rely heavily on the running game to set up most everything they do.  Fortunately, that’s where Steno excels.  It’s a good bet he will get the most out of what he has to work with. Maybe even enough to help his team win a Super Bowl.

If that were to happen, guys like LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers will become legendary figures statewide, maybe even world wide. 

But they'll never be the number one hero to the good folks back in Marshfield.  Not as long as their Steno is still in the team photograph.

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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9 points

Comments (44)

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

July 11, 2022 at 06:29 am

Okay, I'll bite:
Why is Marshfield described as "212 miles northwest of Milwaukee" instead of "130 miles west of Green Bay" or "140 miles north of Madison" or "40 miles west of Wausau?"

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:58 am

Simple answer... because the author chose to do so. He oriented Marshfield to both Milwaukee and Green Bay, it must be the dead zone...

That is his prerogative. You wanna make up the context? You write the article.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

July 11, 2022 at 12:42 pm

That is a remarkably defensive/aggressive response to a simple comment by me.
It's the Green Bay Packers. Marshfield is much closer to Green Bay than Milwaukee.
Why orient with Milwaukee? It stood out to me as an odd choice.

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 03:07 pm

PEO, sorry for my AGGRESSION... I just cant help myself!

I like to defend the writers here at CHTV (except for he who is never right), they don't get paid, but they sure get second guessed and criticized.

I know that you meant no harm, I didn't either.

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canyunman's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:57 am

Because the readership expands past the Wisconsin state lines. Many Packer fans might not have any idea where Marshfield is and the best way to describe it's location is to reference it to a Major City. Hence, Milwaukee.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

July 11, 2022 at 12:43 pm

But why Milwaukee instead of Green Bay?
It was just an odd choice.

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Carpy's picture

July 11, 2022 at 02:38 pm

Only the column's author truly knows, but one possibility is that MKE is by far the largest city in Wisconsin. Most of the follower's of this site are, I am guessing, current or former residents of this state. However, we are fortunate that our "home team" is so widely loved and followed, even overseas. For those folks the author may have determined it to be more helpful to give reference to a large metropolitan area in the state. It would be interesting to put this question out there to the worldwide Packers fan base: given an unannotated globe, put a pin where you believe Lambeau Field is located. The results may be very interesting!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 12, 2022 at 02:23 am

My exhibit A is "She Ain't No Olivia Munn" who, despite being a true Packers fan, probably does not know where Green Bay is. Said person might be a little iffy on the location of Milwaukee, for that matter.

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GregC's picture

July 11, 2022 at 07:12 am

Nice article. Somehow I missed that Hackett had been hired by the Broncos and Stenavich was promoted to OC. I know LaFleur runs the offense, but presumably the OC has a lot of input. Stenavich has done a good job with the O-line, so he deserves this.

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Since'61's picture

July 11, 2022 at 07:14 am

The next Packers HC!!?? Thanks, Since ‘61

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murf7777's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:41 am

He sure has shown talent while coaching the OL, but before we anoint him to HC, let’s wait to see how he does as an OC first. I agree thou, he has shown to be very good at coaching. His only flaw was choosing UM over UW!

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:00 am

Steno knew he could play at UM, beating out inferior talent and character guys there.

He might not have gotten the PT at the superior UW Badger program.

;-)

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murf7777's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:18 am

JB that’s true, but also what might be true is with better coaching and by beating out better talent he could’ve been drafted and maybe high and had a long NFL career.

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Since'61's picture

July 11, 2022 at 11:16 am

Murf, I would not anoint him yet either. However if the Packers win the SB this year and the offense has a few new wrinkles which are credited to Stenavich we should expect that he will get HC offers. As we know a successful OC is a pretty sure way to an HC offer at least.

For me the question is do the Packers want to keep Stenavich? He could get HC offers even if the Packers do not win the SB just as Hackett was snatched up by the Broncos.

I’d like to believe that MLF chose to promote Steno but maybe it was a strong suggestion from either Gute and/ or Murphy. After all this would not be first time the FO would be involved in a coaching hire since MLF came on board.

It is possible that MLF is on at least on a warm seat to get it done this season in terms of winning the SB. If he fails in the playoffs again the Packers might want to make a switch. We just had an article on that topic last week here at CHTV.

I think it’s unlikely the Packers will move on from MLF but maybe Stenavich has the leadership qualities to get the Packers over the hump to another Lombardi trophy. In any case I hope that the Packers can retain him for years to come. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 03:00 pm

If things go fantastically well this season and someone comes calling for Steno, mMLF/GBPFO can always use the Assistant HC card to deny access...

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Guam's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:17 am

I'm just hoping Stenavich is much better at in-game adjustments than Hackett was. The offensive brain trust of MLF, Hackett and Getsy were just not very good at in-game adjustments and it cost the Packers playoff games. If Stenavich can bring some insight and creativity to in-game situations, it will be very welcome.

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murf7777's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:47 am

Wouldn’t the in game offensive adjustments fall on to the play caller which is and was MLF? Sure, others would provide opinions, but I suspect the decisions were on MLF. If they could only siphon information out of Bellichicks brain.

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dobber's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:10 am

A different voice having LaF's ear could be noteworthy.

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YouAskedForThis's picture

July 11, 2022 at 10:21 am

Hope having Tom Clements back in Rodgers ear pays dividends as well.

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 03:02 pm

Bingo, cookie for YouAskedForThis, sorry Dobbs...

Naming names got the baked goods this time...

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dobber's picture

July 12, 2022 at 07:46 am

I'm a strong believer in baked goods for all

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Johnblood27's picture

July 12, 2022 at 01:54 pm

Great, a socialist pastry chef...

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Guam's picture

July 12, 2022 at 07:14 am

The final call will fall on MLF, but ideas have to come from the OC in the booth upstairs (press box) who has a much better view of the whole field. Hopefully Stenavich is more insightful than Hackett.

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mnbadger's picture

July 11, 2022 at 10:19 pm

Don't leave AR out the offensive brain trust group. REmember, he has authority to change plays in the huddle.
I strongly hope there's a way that CHTV can put together a chart that shows how many times AR changes a play in the huddle. Or, how many times he has two options, and chooses the wrong one.
I know it won't happen, but without that critical information, I can't accurately give credit or blame to anybody. Thus, I pile it onto the highest paid and most protected of the group - QB1.
GPG!

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EricinGB's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:22 am

Article speaks very well for Steno and for Matt L's ability to identify and attract leaders. Thank you Ken...it will be more fun to follow Steno's interviews after your background article.

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T7Steve's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:25 am

The OL is ALL that maters in an offence with AR as the QB. I hope he still is a force in that room.

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Vforrest's picture

July 11, 2022 at 12:49 pm

That was my first thought too. Steno’s ability to jell the OL and all the missing pieces over the last three years has been the MVP of coaches. Can’t lose that asset and I’m glad he’s still able to put his fingerprints on the OL if he wants to as OC. I’d just love to hear a story however that it’s really been Butkus being the secret ingredient or something.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:26 am

Love feel good stories like this!

Some follow up stories after retirement of Packer players, and coaches particularly during this slow time of year would be awesome!

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Turophile's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:18 am

One very popular business idea, is that all too often employees in a company are one position higher up the ladder than they should be and higher than the step below, where they were effective.

On the lower rungs of the employment ladder someone performs well, and so is promoted. This continues until they struggle with the increasing degree of skill needed to manage at higher and higher levels. In short, some struggle with the extra responsibility and higher-level decision making....................which means they tend not to be promoted further and worse, they lack the effectiveness that they had when they were one step lower, which was what got them promoted to their current position.

So, it's obvious that coaching the O line so well is what got him promoted to coordinator. Was O line coach Stenavich's peak............or will he be as good a coordinator as he was a line coach ? The answer is unknowable at this time, but at least the enthusiasm shown by the Packers in keeping him by promotion is a sign that those higher up the Packers chain want to keep him. Equally, the desire of Hackett to try and poach him from the Packers suggest good things about his opinion of Stenavich himself.

All in all, I'm hopeful this is an appointment that will turn out well, rather than that of a man promoted one step too far, but in reality you have to wait and see what you have. At least the signs on how he is viewed by others are very positive.

Just as an aside, we will also get to see how the current O line coach, Butkus, matches up to his former boss, Stenavich.

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Spock's picture

July 11, 2022 at 05:00 pm

"One very popular business idea, is that all too often employees in a company are one position higher up the ladder than they should be and higher than the step below, where they were effective." This is known as "The Peter principle" and my 'eye test' in various industries confirms this for me. :)
https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=E210US1045G0&p=the+peter+...
I would hope Steno's position is still below this threshold!

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HawkPacker's picture

July 11, 2022 at 06:36 pm

Cookie for you Spock. I thought of it as well, but just could not come up with the name.

Well done.

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:11 am

Let me be the Devils' Advocate for a moment here.

The perception of lack of adjusting can also be called having unwavering confidence in the game plan and the players ability to implement it.

Scrapping the game plan and going off-list or changing play responsibilities in an "adjustment" is an admission that either your original thought process or the confidence you placed in your players to execute has been defeated.

Competitors do not like to admit defeat. Stubborn loyalty to players, coaches, plans, etc is a hallmark of people placed in leadership positions in competitive sports.

I would like to see a little more humility in both our HC and QB in terms of becoming more flexible in alterations of play execution responsibilities (changing blocking scheme for a particular play, altering route concepts vs a specific defensive alignment, etc) as well as occasional seismic shifts in game plan when things are just plain going sideways (like the second half of the 49ers playoff game). Becoming a little less predictable would also help, such as completely forgetting that the run game exists when behind in the score.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:34 am

John, I agree but the loss of Dillon in that game may have nixed the decision to run more power football.

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 02:58 pm

Jones and Patrick Taylor were completely healthy.

The playcaller or the play changer lost their focus and scrapped the game plan in the second half and went into tunnel vision mode and couldn't take their stare away from the flashlight beam even as they heard the round being chambered...

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Guam's picture

July 12, 2022 at 07:21 am

Excellent point JB27. It also has occurred to me that perhaps MLF is too stubborn to make in-game adjustments rather than unable. After three seasons of playoff futility, I would hope MLF has done some soul searching and figured out he needs some help in this area - whether it be creativity or flexibility. We will see.......

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Johnblood27's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:12 am

Thanks for the informative article Ken.

This was a nice shift from dead zone articles full of "projections" and listing of depth players that might break out.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:44 am

I, also, wonder if Steno has the chops to be an effective OC. His rise has been meteoritic. I wonder how he will fare in the NFL environment. He has very little experience in that phase of the game. Also, Butkus is new as well. Perhaps the run game may play a larger role and that’s fine but what does he really know about passing concepts and all the other parts of the offense? In many ways this still is a projection article that others have complained about. The loss of Hackett might be a bigger loss than anticipated. Yet on the positive side the Niners might not know our playbook as well as they have in the past.

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T7Steve's picture

July 11, 2022 at 02:01 pm

All he has to do is plan how the OL blocks for MLF's game plan. Really how much can he change the plan. If he comes up with some wrinkles that they use (particularly) in the run game we're winning.

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LLCHESTY's picture

July 11, 2022 at 08:34 pm

LaFluer and Rodgers gave him credit for bringing up a couple red zone plays that were effective in games last year.

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LambeauPlain's picture

July 11, 2022 at 09:42 am

When Steno was announced as OL coach my reaction was "who?" Replacing Campen with this guy?

Then I heard his first presser. I was impressed. Clear, concise, persuasive and passionate about coaching but more so about the players under his direction. Believes in accountability.

He really embraces "starting the best 5."

And why I was very surprised he agreed to move Turner to LT and play the slow, lumbering Kelly at RT vs the niners. Both tackles had poor games as Nijman marinated on the bench the entire game...as everyone knew Yosh was the best option for EITHER T spot. These decisions great contributed to the loss.

But to Stenos credit he took the blame (when I believe it was Matt who made the call), saying he wanted more experience. Then he acknowledged he probably made a mistake not playing Yosh. He holds himself accountable too.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

July 11, 2022 at 10:31 am

Ken,
Why don't you provide a few comments made by the posters here on your article. It would be interesting to hear your take on the feedback.

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KenLass's picture

July 11, 2022 at 10:52 am

Ferrari-Driver, I appreciate your suggestion. I do read all of the comments made on all of my articles, but I prefer not to respond. I guess I feel like if I have written the piece well enough, it should be able to stand by itself without further comment from me. It's much more fun for me to follow where the readers are taking it.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 12, 2022 at 05:53 am

Nice!

I appreciate all your articles and work put into them. Thanks!

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lebowski's picture

July 11, 2022 at 11:44 am

Huh, didn't realize he went to Michigan... thought he stayed and played for the Badgers. An O-line coach is a good choice for coordinator the way our team is now constructed. Less flash, more smash.

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