Will Punter Pat O’Donnell Help Solidify the Packers Special Teams?

The Green Bay Packers have struggled on special teams for a long time now but the organization finally seems determined to change that in 2022. They hired Rich Bisaccia to be the new special teams coordinator and he brings roughly two decades of experience and expertise to the job. The Packers also signed a new punter in Pat O'Donnell.

O'Donnell has spent the past eight seasons with the Chicago Bears While he's never made the Pro Bowl, the former University of Miami (Florida) star has been a remarkably consistent punter in the NFL throughout his career. 

The numbers speak for themselves. For his career, O'Donnell has averaged a healthy 45.1-yards per punt. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he's played in the cold weather and wind of Chicago for his entire career.

The veteran punter also seems to be getting better with age. Over the last two seasons, he's exceeded his career numbers. He averaged 45.7-yards per kick in 2020 and then improved that to 46.2-yards per punt last season, the second best campaign of his career.

O'Donnell will be replacing Corey Bojorquez who the Packers decided not to bring back despite his strong leg. Bojorquez was very inconsistent last season and slumped down the stretch after a very strong start to the season. The final image most Packers fans have of Bojorquez is the blocked punt he suffered in the fourth quarter of the team's 13-10 playoff loss to the 49ers that San Francisco recovered in the end zone to tie the game.

Bisaccia sought out O'Donnell because of his consistency. He may not have as strong a leg as his predecessor, but he is a  more consistent kicker who can be counted on to deliver each week for his team.

O'Donnell is also very good at placing punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. In eight seasons, he has placed 200 punts deep in enemy territory, something that would give the Packers defense a big advantage if he can continue to do it this season. In 2021, he placed 19 punts inside the opponent's 20 while kicking only five touchbacks.

Another big plus with O'Donnell is his experience and ability to hold for extra points and field goals. This was a big problem for the Packers in 2021 with Bojorquez and kicker Mason Crosby never really becoming comfortable with each other. The result was nice missed field goals by Crosby and two missed extra points. The kicking problems also cost the Packers dearly over the course of last season.

Crosby and O'Donnell are already working together on their chemistry. In fact, the duo took things a step further when O'Donnell lived with Crosby for three weeks after he first signed with Green Bay.

"Him coming in right when he came in, staying at our hose and just getting to know his routine and how he operates," Crosby said. "Relationally, you couldn't ask for a better guy. I feel like we're on the same page with how we come into the building and how we operate on a daily basis."

At OTAs, they started working on their timing on field goals and extra points and the results were positive. Crosby made some long kicks despite a few days where the wind gusts were severe and conditions less than ideal for kicking.

"I think it's constantly just building that trust, so whenever we get on the field on Sunday, we look at each other, if we need to make adjustments pregame or whatever it is, there's just a trust there that we can go out and do it very quickly so stuff doesn't linger and move into a bad spot," Crosby explained.

O'Donnell has a positive attitude about coming to Green Bay after spending his NFL career playing for their biggest traditional rivals. "When a franchise like this omes calling, you definitely want to play for an organization that has such a history here. And playing for Bisaccia, that was a huge component. And also playing with Mason Crosby. I've obviously had a lot of games with him that I've admired him from afar. And just to see what he's done here for so long, to have an opportunity to play with him was a huge factor."

All this pieces sseem to be coming together for O'Donnell. But with training camp about a month away, it will soon be time for him to justify the faith that Bisaccia, GM Brian Gutekunst and the Packers organization showed in him. If it all goes to plan, the Packers special teams could be a lot more consistent in 2022 than they have been in recent years and that would be a big step forward for this team.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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10 points

Comments (14)

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

June 25, 2022 at 12:38 pm

If you are on the field 4 times as a punter, and you are the holder on two FGs and three extra points….which is more important? The punts, or 9 points you helped put on the scoreboard?

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Packers0808's picture

June 25, 2022 at 01:01 pm

All of the aforementioned

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PhantomII's picture

June 25, 2022 at 01:08 pm

I want this guy to never be utilized as a punter. I want our offense to execute at a high level....not hiccup play to play all over the field and never truly get in a groove. When we can do that folks.....Then we will be able to make some playoff noise. Whoever is calling the plays needs to hand it over to someone else. If our OL FINALLY gets healthy we may be able to play with the upper echelon DL's and form and keep a pocket for 5 Seconds. GPG

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Coldworld's picture

June 25, 2022 at 01:38 pm

Clearly our new ST coordinator believes so and his track record as a holder and directional punter is excellent, so there is other evidence that supports that belief. I think it’s likely that we see more emphasis on placement than simple length or hang time under the new regime. The question of whether he can overcome our LS’s deficiencies seems less certain.

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packer132's picture

June 25, 2022 at 02:24 pm

Good article Gil. The new ST coordinator was a huge signing, bringing his knowledge and over 20 years' experience. I liked Bojo as the punter last year until he fell off in the second half. O'Donnell should bring consistency week to week and no more shags or bad holds. It sounds like Crosby has a better connection already with the new holder. I like that he kicked in the windy city, so Lambeau should not be a challenge. Bisaccia has some speedy guys to work with, and a couple of new returners. All fans will be hopeful for a steady improvement from years past.

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GilMartin's picture

June 26, 2022 at 02:05 pm

Thanks, Packer132. I hope this is a step forward for the special teams, we really do need it. Appreciate the comment.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 25, 2022 at 03:23 pm

Will O`Donnell be worse, the same, or better than his predecessor? I vote for better.

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NickPerry's picture

June 25, 2022 at 04:53 pm

Actually, when you look at O'Connell's and Bojo's stats from last season there's not all that much difference. He kicked it inside the 20-yard line 19 times to 17 for Bojo but also punted 10 more times than Bojo. He kicked it out of bounds just 3 times compared to 9 for Bojo. His net average was actually 1.9 yards LESS than Bojo.

https://www.nfl.com/stats/player-stats/category/punts/2021/reg/all/punti...

Bisaccia wanted this guy and Crosby had the dude living with him for 3 weeks. I LOVE hearing this kind of stuff after YEARS and YEARS of just crappy ST play. Gute and MLF have DEFINITELY made it a priority to improve ST. Making Bisaccia the highest-paid ST coach and then paying O'Connell 2 million a year goes a long way in showing that commitment. It's just not lip-service this time.

I would feel a hell of a lot better if the Packers had a seasoned PROVEN long-snapper but for now, if Bisaccia likes Coco it's good enough for me.

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Packer_Fan's picture

June 25, 2022 at 06:17 pm

Gil. You write good articles. Thank you.

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GilMartin's picture

June 26, 2022 at 02:06 pm

Thanks Packer_Fan. I appreciate it.

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KKB's picture

June 26, 2022 at 12:49 am

Good article. But I suggest you take a moment to spell-check and proof-read things before you post them.

e,g, ...staying at our HOSE and just...

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

June 26, 2022 at 06:06 am

Yes, good article.

To add to the corrections:
1) Missing full-stop in 2nd paragraph.
2) 8th paragraph: The result was "nice" missed field goals by Crosby....
3) 13th paragraph: When a franchise like this "omes" calling....

Just pointing these out on the lighter side... I don't mind terribly, we can still decipher what the author means 😊

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Starrbrite's picture

June 26, 2022 at 01:05 am

I believe we are about to witness a dramatic transformation and improvement of our special teams.
It began with the hiring of a legitimate ST coach. The new punter was a “must-add” and will prove to be a critical component to a necessary realignment.

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PeteK's picture

June 26, 2022 at 10:42 am

I like the move to get an experienced and consistent performer. Also, Tariq Carpenter keeps popping up in my head as a possible elite ST tackler.

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