Will the Packers Efforts to Improve Their Special Teams Units Pay Off?

When we last saw the Green Bay Packers on the field in a game that counts, the poor play of their special teams units was a major reason they lost their home playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Packers had a field goal blocked on the final play of the first half that would have given them a 10-0 lead heading into the break. In the fourth quarter, a blocked punt gave the 49ers their only touchdown of the game. Then, the Packers had only 10 players on the field as San Francisco kicked the winning field goal as time expired.

It was not an isolated incident. The Packers special teams have struggled mightily in the past decade or so, usually ranking at or near the bottom of the league overall.

This past offseason, GM Brian Gutekunst was determined to do something about it. He hired a new special teams coordinator in Rich Bisaccia who had more than two decades of experience coaching that aspect of the game.

During training camp, Bisaccia has run high-speed and high-intensity drills that were not done by the Packers in the past. He also didn’t hesitate to use more starters on special teams units and even had running back Aaron Jones take some reps during OTAs although Jones won’t see action in a game except on an emergency basis. The idea was to get star players involved emotionally in special teams units, to emphasize their importance and instill more pride.

Bisaccia’s emotional style and organized way of working are part of the Packers attempt to change the culture and mindset surrounding a special teams unit that has been largely an afterthought for this franchise in recent years.

Then, in the draft, Gute made several day-three picks who were selected in large part for their ability to contribute on special teams. Players like Tariq Carpenter and Jonathan Ford made the team despite not showing much on defense primarily because they could give the team some more juice on special teams.

During the offseason, Gutekunst brought in more players, many on the recommendation of Bisaccia, to help the Packers special teams get better. Punter Pat O’Donnell was signed even though he doesn’t have the leg strength of last year’s punter, Corey Bojorquez. But O’Donnell is more consistent, has more experience kicking in cold weather and is a better holder for extra points and field goals than Bojorquez is.

Then, the Packers added players who had played on Bisaccia’s special teams units in Oakland and Las Vegas like Dallin Leavitt and Keisean Nixon. Neither of these players were signed for their ability to play defense although they could see some reps in that capacity during the season. Both were added for their experience working with Bisaccia on special teams.

The effort to improve special teams continued even after the team announced their initial 53-man roster. On Wednesday of this week, the Packers claimed safety Rudy Ford off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The six-year veteran out of Auburn is considered one of the fastest gunners on punt and kick return coverage and had 11 special teams tackles in 2020 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The desired improvement was not apparent during the team’s three preseason games. Again, we saw poor decision making on punt and kick returns by several return men and poor coverage by both punt and kick coverage units. The 49ers and Saints were able to break off long returns that hurt the Packers field position.

Of course, many of the players who took the field on special teams in preseason are not on the team anymore or are on the practice squad. Starting next weekend in Minnesota, Bisaccia’s units will take the field for real in a game that counts and have a chance to show that they have improved.

This is a process and it will take time. I don’t think too many Packers fans expect their team to have one of the best special teams units in the league in 2022. But if Bisaccia and company can lift the Packers closer to the middle of the pack and not have the special teams unit hurt the team and cost them football games, that would be a big step forward.

The effort has been there this offseason. Now it’s time to start seeing the results.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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7 points

Comments (105)

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

September 01, 2022 at 12:19 pm

IF the packers have more speed and tackling prowess then possibly the special teams will be better. We will have to see. We tend to want to blame the coaches but the fact is, if your players are slow of foot and lousy tacklers, the coach cant fix that.

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KenEllis's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:53 pm

"Bisaccia’s emotional style and organized way of working are part of the Packers attempt to change the culture and mindset surrounding a special teams unit that has been largely an afterthought for this franchise in recent years."

What a damning statement - Special team have "been largely an afterthought for this franchise" when you consider STs contributed so much to the 2014 NFC Championship Game loss.

Can't be all about the players, when the players have come and gone and the results remain the same - putrid.

6 points
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dblbogey's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:44 pm

They've been horrible at least since Shawn Slocum arrived in 2006. Finally fired him after 9 years, 6 as the head special teams coach.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:10 pm

Three Phases of Football, it Never changes. Two failed chances at a SB totally on Packer management and laissez-faire coaching. They are culpable in the misuse of personnel. Bisaccia will present a different picture when the Pack lines up against the ship-wrecked sailors from the mudflats. He wants performance and Gutedkunst better jettison any fraud that slides along trying to pick up a paycheck without effort.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:27 pm

so... are you saying that we should have just kept Drayton and gotten better players?

Do you really believe that Mo Drayton was not part of the problem(s)?

3 points
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KenEllis's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:57 pm

Heck no Drayton should never have been given the job, just like Menennga, Zoom, and Slocum before him.

I'm saying the organization as an afterthought is how you get incompetent coaches, inadequate players, and overall poor special teams play.

Sure, the coaching has been bad, but that bad coaching was allowed by the organization because, as the author states, special teams were nothing more than an after thought.

It finally appears, with the hiring of Bisaccia and a few roster spots being dedicated to special teams, that the organization is taking special teams seriously.

Why it took a second playoff loss directly attributable to special teams for the proper respect to shown is what is the real mystery.

4 points
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canadapacker's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:21 pm

You dont spend big bucks on a Special teams coach and dont give him a big ear on who to draft in the later parts of the draft and who to keep on special teams without expecting a marked improvement on Special Teams. Now special teams as we all know has several different components - I would assume that the blocking on field goals is going to entail the use of best players for that job - even if it means starters - because they are not moving around too much. And the snapping and blocking appeared good on the field goals and converts in preseason. Blocking for the punter and coverage is a different matter as is coverage on the kick-offs and that is where things did not look like they have improved at all. I would hope that we see really big improvement - really big improvement. I would also be interested in how many times their kickoff returners bring the ball out from inside the end zone - we had a lot of that occuring because our coverage was so bad the other teams always took the chance. I also want to see if Crosby can get those kicks deep enough to help - otherwise we need to be looking for somebody who can specialize in that - wonder if ODonnell can.

9 points
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PatrickGB's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:27 pm

I agree. But as to your last point I don’t think that Pat can do that and it might be detrimental to his punting. If you want/need longer kickoffs then Ahmed is your man. Yet I don’t expect him to be active on game day unless Mason is hurt.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:22 pm

The new coach might help. But I think the new players are more important. It’s players not plays. The new guys bring sauce and discipline that others players did not. And the new coach will help them realize it. I think we can’t go any lower than last in rankings anyway. So I am realistically optimistic. (Sorry Taryn)

2 points
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HawkPacker's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:04 pm

They also bring the proper ST attitude coming from an organization with some success in that part of the game. Same with Rudy Ford. I believe if you use a few of these types, it should help to elevate the play of the other ST players.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:28 pm

so... are you saying that we should have just kept Drayton and gotten better players?

Do you really believe that Mo Drayton was not part of the problem(s)?

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Yes, SPT play was and has been as near to horrendous as could possibly be, but why are they always put forefront of the other significant issues that enabled the loss, again, to SF. The prolific Packer Offense scored 10 points, which IMO, strongly counters all the bad play by the SPT Unit.

This season, I've read comments and articles claiming that the Defense need only to hold teams to 17 points per game, well, for those who forget quick and easy, 17 points seems more than enough to defeat the Packers in January, and that is all that needs to be on the minds of the coaches and fans, because the Offense is what really sends GB home early. Not to ignore the fact that the Offense isn't what it was with the high number of inexperienced youth and questions on the OL that are being placed in 'higher expectation standards' by the one who has 'trust' issues and failed to meet his own standards not once, but two years in a row in January football.

Again, the SPT Unit has failed the team, but others and ONE have failed it more.

13 points
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Oppy's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Go buy a lotto ticket, taryn.
I just gave you a thumbs up 👍

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 12:48 pm

I don't see one, but TY.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:23 pm

Always wondered if you couldn’t see positives

Gave you one anyway.

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:42 pm

I always see the positives, but I find it hard to accentuate the positives when the negatives are at times as bright and in need of fixing.

0 points
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dblbogey's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:48 pm

Your glass isn't half empty as opposed to half full, it's completely empty.

-3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:05 pm

The dark defines the light.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:18 pm

Light is prismatic.

2 points
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Oppy's picture

September 01, 2022 at 09:31 pm

…I like turtles?

Best I could come up with

2 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:05 pm

Me too!

0 points
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canadapacker's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:00 pm

I dont know if you are doing a subtle jab at AR for the San Fran loss - but many games that are not decided by either the offense or defense totally can turn on special teams and that San Fran Loss definitely did. If you look at # 4's only superbowl win - that game had a lot of both O and D by both teams but the MVP was Howard who had both a long TD kickoff return and long punt returns ( total of 90 Yards).

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:32 pm

Do you mean the game where Holmgren was badly outcoached by Parcells, but was saved by the brilliance of Desmond Howard?

I cannot believe that Holmgren could be considered for the HOF when he was so badly mauled in both of his GB SB appearances.

I saw him in a small restaurant on Maui where our two tables were the only occupants in the place. We looked at each other and he knew that I recognized him. I looked away and didn't acknowledge him.

I am Sicilian, my people taught elephants how to remember...

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:21 pm

Should have bought him a Grappa....

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:41 pm

Every time the Offense goes 3 and out, they put the recognized bad SPT unit on the field to possibly be abused. The Packers Offense did that often in 2014, 2021, and 2022 playoff games, not to ignore the other years, but these stand out as the Offensive failures begged for the SPT to be abused, whether it was MM, or MLF decisions, or Rodgers changing plays. You cannot set your worse unit up for failure and then ignore doing so. Yes, Howard was MVP, but that is a long-gone era, and has nothing to do with this one or the recent decade. If Nick Perry doesn't jump off sides, GB wins. If Burnett doesn't listen to Peppers', GB likely wins, but let's blame Bostick for a play that never should have come about. SPT is and has been the scapegoat for failures, though not entirely deserving of all the blame, but it is easier than to blame the real culprits.

10 points
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jlc1's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:01 pm

We could also blame ST that gave up a TD on a fake punt in Seattle. Those are direct points on the board given up by ST. The other teams, offense and defense, point totals scored and allowed had Seattle beat. It is not complicated.
As for last year the same applies. Team lost by fewer points, 10, than the ST allowed or lost. It is pretty easy to say in any game the offense could have scored more or the defense should have shut them down more. But if they have done their job and have your team ahead and yet you lose there is only ST to blame.

4 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:34 pm

When you have a prolific Offense that the Packers have had for quite a few seasons, averaging 25+ points a game and 30 at times, you have to expect that this will offset any lacking of a Unit that has obvious faults. The failure of the Offense is not the fault of the SPT Unit, the failure of the SPT Unit, and the Defense at times, is the fault of the Offensive failure to play as they have all season when January football arrives. Again, I'm not excusing the SPT play, I'm just not ignoring the huge aid they received to be exploited.

-1 points
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SergioArgentina's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:21 pm

I absolutly agree whith you Taryn, special teams are only put in a position to decide the outcome of the game when the offense or defense fails

2 points
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dblbogey's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:51 pm

Desmond Howard decided the outcome of the SB win, on special teams. Special teams have sucked for 20+ years. It costs games, just like bad offense or bad defense.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:56 pm

Two words...

Nolan Cromwell...

You do the math.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:26 pm

I attended both SB s with Holmgren at the helm.

0 points
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4thand10's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:45 pm

I agree Taryn. With it all. Which is rare. And i’ll just add to the fact that Dillion Didn’t play the second half of that SF game which is huge. And yet they’re going into this year with 2 RBs and not a strong prospect for a 3rd with ….as you mentioned a less Exp WR/ OL core. Both SB teams they had beaten earlier in the year….mostly on the legs of AJ Dillion. One injury to Dillion or Jones and the seasons done. It’s IMO that they need to take that 3rd RB slot more seriously.

1 points
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Oppy's picture

September 01, 2022 at 09:36 pm

We had two very talented RBs at #3 and #4 last year. They refused to call their numbers. By they I probably mean “he”, because coaches tend to preach next man up, while Rodgers preaches “I don’t trust you yet”.

-1 points
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Rebecca's picture

September 02, 2022 at 05:26 pm

I think Dillon got injured during a special team assignment.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:53 pm

Find a playoff team that won a game after having a blocked FG AND a blocked punt that resulted in a TD. Take your time, I'll wait.

8 points
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MainePackFan's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:26 pm

Yeah but... if the offense had scored every time they had the ball, the special teams wouldn't have had the opportunity to prove how bad they suck. See how that works. Therefore it's ARods fault, because he shouldn't have let himself get sacked 5 times. You can't sit back in the pocket for damn near a second and not get rid of the ball ;) SMH

2 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:55 pm

Not every time, just twice would have been enough in one game, and not punk out on a run in another, less other obvious Offensive decisions on the failed side of the Offense.

2 points
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MainePackFan's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:53 pm

As bad as it was, if I recall correctly, the Packers offense outscored the 49ers offense 10-6, or 7-0 if you want to look at TD's only. Apparently it takes more than just the offense outscoring the other teams offense to win a game.

Neither one of us knows for sure if ARod could have run it in against the Bucs. I don't believe "punk out" accurately describes the play.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:58 pm

aye-ahh... you're WRONG!

-1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:31 am

It's so dumb. It doesn't matter what the offense did, with anything but the worst STs in the league(by far) they win that game. Everybody knew by November if the lost a game in the playoffs it was most likely to be STs and that's exactly what happened.

The best part about that Titanic of a disaster was everytime Drayton called a problem fixed it got worse. That part was funny.

1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:52 pm

How easy to dismiss the Offense, only scoring 10 points. 7 in the first half and 3 in the second, with their failure to do better and setting up both blocks. Failed play comes around to bite your arse, and GB's Offense in January excels in the welcoming of arse bites, then blaming the arse of the three Units.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:31 pm

You get this Taryn. When you sit around and figure out how you plan to win games, “dominate in all phases every game” over 17 games and playoffs isn’t a plan.

It sure looks to me like the Packers plan in 2021 was to keep the offense on the field, where we hogged the ball and scored points. We lost the opener, but were successful just about every game Rodgers was playing. Until the Historically Bad effort that ended the season.

In 61 playoff games in our history, we’ve scored 13 or more 57 times. The three previous failures were all losses.

We’ve all batted around theories (mine is an injury depleted offensive line), but it’s not right to lay this on one play of Steve Wirtle when our multimillionaire leaders couldn’t do anything after the first drive.

Hoping for better results this year, of course, but I think it’s a real good plan. We just have to do a better job of blocking against the best lines in playoff games.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:59 pm

we better be cautious of the kneecap biters in Detroit too...

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:30 pm

Two All-Pro linemen absent from the lineup, Burks takes out Dillon, but the Fans play the blame game.

-1 points
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NoNonsense's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:35 pm

The point you seem to be missing here is STs can directly affect the offense and vice versa. I mean the offense drives down for a FG and it gets blocked, that's on the STs not really the offense or 12 for that matter. They moved the ball and got within distance for an FG and couldn't convert.

Last I looked the 49ers have a pretty good defense. GB scores 10, should have scored 13 and if they don't shit the bed on the first FG and at the end of the game it's a 13 to 3 final score. Offense and defense did enough win that game. The STs failed miserably, let's keep the blame where it belongs.

As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Its gonna take some time to fix the STs. After years of poor play there I don't expect a quick fix but getting guys like Rudy Ford, Nixon and Leavitt at least gives them a chance to improve significantly throughout the course of the season.

I don't put much stock in what we saw in the preseason. Too much shuffling of guys in and out of the lineup to evaluate each player individually. Good coverage teams usually take all 11 guys but you always need that one guy who you know is gonna do his job and do it well.

I think that guy is Jonathan "Rudy" Ford or grease as I like to call him, as in grease lighting. He can bring some juice to those units, he is fast and can tackle pretty well. Leavitt is like the QB of the unit and should help hold these guys accountable and to a higher standard. Nixon is gonna play his role and if Rich trusts him then that's good enough for me.

5 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:00 pm

This team won 13 games three years in a row despite the known issues of SPT, and then when the Offense fails to do what it did all season in spite of the bad SPT play in January playoff games, it's the SPT fault. Again, SPT play allowed huge plays to happen, but the failure of the Offense to play to the same level that erased the play of SPT. The Offense as a whole knew the danger of an SPT failure, and failed to eliminate it's possible, then actual occurrence to prevail as the game decider.

If someone is KNOWN for sucker-punching, don't blame that person when he sucker-punches you because you failed to protect yourself from it. SPT is the sucker-puncher of the Packers, and the Offense opened themselves up for it.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:02 pm

Nononsense, imo we’ll never “fix” special teams, because thousands of coaches have been unsuccessful for a hundred years. At some point we should realize it’s the nature of the beast and not let it keep kicking us in the nuts.

An unsuccessful FG has the same net impact as a turnover and we should understand that we are going to have turnovers in that part of the game. Nobody’s perfect.

The offense did not play well enough to win. In our history, we’ve had 61 playoff games. In 57 of them, we scored 13 ore more. Only 3 times before have we failed to score 13, all losses. Hunter, Favre twice. Scoring 10 in a playoff game, at home, against a team you scored 30 on earlier, is not doing enough to win, particularly when you are designed to win with offense.

-1 points
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Oppy's picture

September 01, 2022 at 09:38 pm

there is no excuse for that offensive performance from this team.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

September 02, 2022 at 06:41 am

Let’s be honest, the offense and STs were guilty of woeful underperformance.

The thing is that we knew STs was a liability and stuck our head in the sand and did nothing. Then again, the mistakes on O were eerily similar to prior ones. This is why LaFleur doesn’t get the credit his record might otherwise suggest.

0 points
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Pizzadoc's picture

September 02, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Sick Burn. Taryn is on a roll lately. She has always been the voice of (mostly pessimistic) Reason, but recently, she is adding jokes and is pretty funny. Keep up the funny as the sugar to help your medicine go down😂

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:34 pm

Hell, enough codeine cough syrup and I might even start to agree with her. Otherwise, nah.

-1 points
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ricky's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:08 pm

If the special teams are respectable, it will be a huge improvement from the past several years. What is frustrating is that many on this site had commented, repeatedly, about how bad ST's played. And last year, not only posters, but also staff writers kept on warning that ST's could well cost the Packers at least one loss. The hope was it wouldn't be in the playoffs, much less the SB. Well, we saw it coming, and it happened. Though, the lack of adjustments by the offense after their first TD was also very frustrating. The team averaged 30 points a game at home last year, but only managed ten when it really counted.

0 points
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Lphill's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:37 pm

All last season I said special teams would end our season .

-1 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:38 pm

And yet it turned out to be the anemic offense instead.

A grand total of 3 points scored in the last 3 1/2 quarters, AT HOME, with a 50 million dollar QB and the best receiver in the game. Really awesome.

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:02 pm

Thanks for your stellar contribution here...

Why not give us all the outcome for this season so we can just not watch...

-1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:39 pm

Agreed, the writing was on the wall and the "we like our guys" bullshit was flowing out of Lombardi Ave. See the Problem, fix it! Bosa and Company were Healthy at the end of the year and the Pack did not have the TE to make the key plays in the COLD. Dillon goes down and Taylor was not used in the scheme. That is on La Fleur 100%.

1 points
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Gman1976's picture

September 01, 2022 at 01:13 pm

There's absolutely no way ST can be as horrendous as last year. We WILL see improvement.

1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:22 pm

Bisaccia spent most of the preseason games on the sidelines with a scowl on his face.

I am hoping he was auditioning prospects to see if he had ST players who should be on the 53 primarily for WeTeams.

Nixon, Leavitt, Ford, and Carpenter fit as ST starters first.

Also expect McDuffie and Barnes will be starters. Davis likely. A few of the rookie WRs will too with Watson, Toure and Doubs having played STs. Some really good ST athletes!

Now it is up to Rich to coach them up.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:03 pm

The first time Davis fu*ks something up, I would like to see him scapegoated and cut unceremoniously.

I really do not want that guy on this roster.

His beak is enormous and he is hogging all of the oxygen around him, no wonder his teammates have brain-lapses.

-2 points
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Lphill's picture

September 02, 2022 at 05:32 am

So personal attacks on players you don’t like makes you feel better?

1 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 02, 2022 at 09:25 pm

shut up ugly!

;-)

0 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

September 02, 2022 at 07:37 am

That is a bit harsh, but I agree we need a better TE4.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 02, 2022 at 09:25 pm

harsh is having to watch Davis attempt to play football.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

September 02, 2022 at 09:06 am

Coach Rich wants Davis on STs and Matt and Gutey want him on the 53. That has to be very encouraging for the young man. I hope he has a great season.

His size and speed make him ideal for all 4 return & coverage teams.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 01, 2022 at 02:49 pm

The kickoff and punt teams should be better. Ford looks like a stud gunner(see below). They have at least 5 new main STs players and Quay Walker will be on a couple too it sounds like.

I wish they would've tried harder to replace Rodgers as the returner, to say he is average is putting it nicely. Maybe they look at Smith-Marsette now that he was waived.

https://twitter.com/_John_Shipley/status/1403431897804517377?t=QepYhnE7X...

3 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:08 pm

Doubs, Watson, and maybe Toure could all be options there as well.

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:02 pm

They could be but then why keep Rodgers, to be a backup RB? I think it's Rodgers job for now, with hopefully better options this year when he's mediocre again.

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:55 pm

His job is to cover Gutedkunst's ass and secure a paycheck. I would have moved on from him last year.

0 points
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HawkPacker's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:57 pm

I have heard that Smith-Marsette was signed by the Bears.

0 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:03 pm

Yep, I saw that later too. A little surprising unless Velus is going to miss some time.

0 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:31 pm

Eventually, yes, I think so, but in the interim we will continue to suffer. Coach B brings hope and focus. That can't hurt. ST "success" in these early games might be as simple as avoiding catastrophes, then we can raise the bar. Maybe by the end of the season the ST unit will be an asset (dare I say a weapon?) rather than a liability.

4 points
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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:05 pm

avoiding catastrophe is a good start...

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 01, 2022 at 03:46 pm

I am going to enjoy this all year long. The angst, the confusion, the clueless desperation in the attempt to make a duck act like an eagle. Truly, I feel blessed.

3 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:11 pm

You know, LH, my dream used to be having 6.25 minutes alone with you in a locked room, but now it's more like 90 minutes in a good-sized pole shed with an open overhead door. We'd have food and beer, and I guess I'd like dobber and JB to be there, and Dusty Evely, maybe Since '61 could make it, and we'd just shoot the shit until it got dark and everyone would go home.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:06 pm

Can I bring Coldworld?

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LeotisHarris's picture

September 01, 2022 at 07:43 pm

Please!

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 08:27 am

You’re a humorous guy Leotis. I like that about you. Ask Murf, too.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:58 pm

And still they will not designate the kickers to drill the ball out of bounds...

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:19 am

Shortened fields equal more scoring. I posted a bunch of stats proving that a few weeks ago, I won't bother doing it again.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 10:57 am

So we should do what we can to shorten the field by another yard or two, e even if these actions result in turnovers, penalties, and injuries to key people?

Here are some field position facts for you:

NFL AVERAGE punt return: 8.8
Packers: 8.0

That's 8/10 of a yard...a little over two feet. 12 teams did better than 9 whole yards per return, which would be an improvement of an entire yard over us. Of course, these are averages and one long return averaged in would raise the average quite a bit. The Packers, for example, had 199 yards on 25 returns, just under 8.0. If we had returned one more punt for 41 yards, the average would have been 9.2.

IMO, that's a very small nit to pick.

Let's look at our average starting position. Our AVERAGE starting position for an offensive drive was the 30. That's 6th best in the league.
Do the return units get any credit at all for that? They should.

Our opponents' average starting position was their own 27.7......that's ranks us #9 in that measure. Do our coverage units get any credit for that? They should.

I'm glad we lost Kylin Hill for the season, and AJ Dillon for the second half of our playoff loss, because we were trying to improve our field position by an extra yard. You obviously think it's worth it because it shortens the field. I mean, a completion or a successful run by our best players on offense shortens the field too, but it's probably better to let the bottom of the roster try get that extra yard or two. It's critical to our success, right? I mean, we could NEVER lead the league in scoring with return units like this, right?

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:51 am

We've been over this before. I feel no need to beat you up again with statistics and facts. If you feel the need to take a beating go back and reread the last argument about this.

You seem to think this genius level football but absolutely no NFL team is doing it. Don't you ever wonder why?

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:57 pm

Actually Chesty, if you look at the facts from 20 years ago, and then look at the facts now, you'll see that everybody is catching on. Returns of kicks and punts are way down. Why? If it's such a critical deal, why aren't returns INCREASING?

It's not genius level football even if it feels that way to you. It's basic math.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:37 pm

Holy shit dude, you do know they moved kickoffs up right? 🥴

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Minniman's picture

September 01, 2022 at 04:27 pm

I’m going to start by setting the bar low in evaluating special teams this year.

2 areas that KILLED the Packers last year, and which need to be immediately addressed this year are:

1) being able to reliably kick the ball dead on kick-offs
2) punt\kick blocking - they must stop the backfield penetration by edge rushers

Sadly, these 2 areas involve a number of starters (or key special teamers), so won’t be a strong assessment metric of coach Bisaccia’s revamp of the unit.

An honorary mention will be the play of the gunner. That player needs to either make the tackle, or get the returner moving laterally (so the secondary defenders have a chance).

If the Packers resolve these areas, then they go a long way to improving the overall standard of special teams play.

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canadapacker's picture

September 01, 2022 at 05:56 pm

You are correct on the giving the ball back to the other team. On getting the ball - we need to be able to first catch the ball when needed - ie dont let it go over your head on punts and dont fumble it. And dont catch it inside the 10 unless absolutely necessary - let it get into the endzone if possible. That requires attention before going onto the field. Finally we shouldnt be coming out of the endzone like Hill did when he got injured - not even making the 25 is foolish - especially since we cannot seem to block. Finally we didnt take too many dumb holding penalties on either side of the special teams plays. That simply forces the O backwards or give their O too much field position. By being agressive and fighting through blocks makes them take the penalties - and we shouldnt be relying on the kicker to make the stop like Crosby had to do last year and Ahmad this preseason - bad spot to put the kicker in - they are bubble wrapped anyway and we dont need to lose a guy in the middle of the game

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:07 am

Welcome to the Darkside, Canadapack.

1. Don't return kicks out of the endzone.

2. Don't turn it over on the punt return. Even if the ball hits the ground and rolls for 30 yards and goes out at the 1, it's still better than turning it over. If you can catch it safely, signal fair catch and catch it. Don't try to make difficult catches in the wind and rain in the face of tacklers.

That will stop the penalties on returns, and the injuries, and the turnovers. Except for kickoffs short of the endzone, which we have to field.

xxx I would add one more point. A missed or blocked FG has the same net effect as a turnover. The opponent gets the ball at the spot of the kick. That happened to us too much last year.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:53 am

🙄🙄🙄

I'd also add when a DB makes an interception they should just get down immediately, like Morgan Burnett in the 2014 NFCCG. Absolutely no need to risk a turnover, who cares if another 15 yards would have put the Packers in FG range?

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:45 pm

Yes, that's what cost us the game. A DB didn't return an interception far enough. Perfect.

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Minniman's picture

September 02, 2022 at 03:26 pm

I partially agree with your statement LL.

As the emphasis for defenders in the modern game is to dislodge the ball (and they are now highly trained and skilled at that tactic) I would suggest that the most important thing is to secure the ball first, then make forward progress - and on the second point, only do this if you are confident that you have secured the possession (you don't need to make a set yardage, so there's no need to fight for YAC, get held up and stripped of the ball).

.... Or, the league changes the rules and introduces a No Advantage clause - so if a ball is intercepted or dislodged and the defending recovering team gets a 'free play' type scenario to advance the ball? That would certainly add to the excitement of the game.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:05 pm

I remember an old saying from years ago "The squeaky wheel gets the oil". Well, our special teams have been squeaking for quite a few years and it looks like the Packers head coach is trying to give it some oil. They hired an experienced special team coordinator with a good track record; they brought in three experienced special teams players who have excelled with previous teams; and it looks like the head coach is paying close attention to the special teams. Of course the bottom line, is how will they perform? Whether they wind up being a top 10 special teams unit won't be known for while, but I do believe we will see some significant improvement. Shooting ourselves in the foot like we did last year was like the old "Straw that broke the camel's back" and really got the attention and action of the Packer's management team.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 01, 2022 at 06:08 pm

Sometimes the foot deserves to be shot... just sayin...

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:47 am

Good one. I'll drink to that.

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PhantomII's picture

September 01, 2022 at 09:07 pm

As soon as he puts in 80% Starters from offense and defense it will improve with the talent infusion. GPG

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:14 am

Bill Huber had a good article about the changes to the STs today. I already linked something here but can find it a SI Packer Central.

"Meanwhile, the Packers didn’t even bother to re-sign Black as an exclusive-rights free agent. Just before the start of camp, they signed safety Dallin Leavitt. He was a standout on Bisaccia’s special teams with the Raiders and will be an extension of Bisaccia with the Packers. A No. 1 on all four phases of special teams, he took Black’s spot as personal protector. Presumably, he’ll know when it’s time to cover and time to block."

"With the additions of Nixon, who led the Raiders with nine special-teams tackles in 2019, Ford, who led the Eagles with 11 special-teams tackles in 2020, and Leavitt, who led the Raiders with 12 special-teams tackles in 2021, Gutekunst has put his money where his mouth is in terms of upgrading the team’s perennially downtrodden special teams.

While they might lack a game-changing returner, the things that lose games – bad snaps, bad holds, bad protection and bad coverage – have been addressed."

You Negative Nellies can keep your undies in a bunch if you want but I believe STs will not be a bottom tier group this year. Maybe not a top 10 unit but middle of the pack is better than the 30 foot deep pool of crap they were last year.

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LambeauPlain's picture

September 02, 2022 at 09:40 am

Huber has a good analysis.

Gutey admitted during his presser that the team was going in a new direction to address the "under-performing special teams" and make "specific investments" in them.

Instead of promoting assistants to replace their bosses, Rich was hired. He is well paid. Instead of staffing STs with back ups, core players have been hired to lead on the field. When drafting, research a prospect's ST experience.

I cannot recall when, if ever, the Packers has this strategy for STs.

Coach Rich. Ford, Nixon, Leavitt, Davis (STs kept him on the 53) as the core. Carpenter, Watson, Toure, Doubs, Walker all have ST experience.

Those are significant investments. I am bullish on STs this year.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 10:27 am

They have definitely focused some time and money at the problem. Maybe even to the detriment of a position group. I don't mind that they have so many guys that have proven to be good STs players but I do wish the players they added weren't all safeties. They drafted Carpenter because he had played a bunch of STs snaps not because of his play at S. I wish they would have drafted or added a true deep safety guy and it could become a glaring need with one injury. A TE that could play STs would have been nice too, even a UDFA.

Your DBs, OLBs, WRs and TEs are where most of the STs players come from, I'm glad they improved the units but I wish it would have been spread out a little more among those position groups.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:15 am

I think about half of our special teams guys are linemen. Who is blocking on punts and placements?

Snapper, Holder, Kicker and blockers on placements. Any gunners with their hair on fire?
,
Snapper, Punter, two gunners, one personal protector. What are the other 6 guys doing? They're blocking until they hear the sound of the punt and then they start chugging downfield. These guys are mostly linemen

If you want fast guys who can tackle on the coverage units, that's going to be DBs. And yes, we have signed guys who are here primarily for that, and not because they can play a position. It won't take very many injuries before that starts to bite us in the ass.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:58 am

There is so much wrong here it's amazing but you could start by looking at a punt formation.

Also did I say punt team? There are 4 main units plus the kicking team. On the kicking team you're right, it's mostly linemen.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 02:03 pm

We punt the ball. That's the punt team. Who's blocking on that? You've got the punter, the snapper, two gunners, one personal protector. That's 5 guys. Who are the other 5? What are they doing?

On the punt return team, we have a returner, we usually double team the gunners, so that leaves 6. These six rush the punter, guard against fakes, and then turn around and run back downfield so they can block somebody in the back. Who are those six guys?

The kicking team.....do you mean the unit that kicks off, or the placement unit?

You are pretty short on specifics, IMO.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:40 pm

Ok, I'm starting to catch on. You just really enjoy being wrong.

"In total, the team punted 12 times in the preseason, with 31 of their guard and tackle snaps going to inside linebackers and 17 of those snaps going to outside linebackers. They didn’t use every available outside linebacker to their disposal, though, as the players who had better movement skills, Tipa Galeai, Kobe Jones and La’Darius Hamilton, got those reps over the likes of Jonathan Garvin and Kingsley Enagbare, who made the team."

Yep, sound like there's an awful lot of linemen on the punt team. 🙄

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Leatherhead's picture

September 03, 2022 at 05:54 pm

Watch the real games and say that. Tell me what happens when that 230 lb gets his ass kicked and our punt gets blocked.

This is scrimmaging. We're trying things. Just cause we try them in a meaningless scrimmage doesn't mean that's what we do in the games.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 04, 2022 at 12:19 am

Well actually they were preseason games. Tell me the last time you remember an O lineman making a tackle on the punt team. They didn't use the bigger OLBs as Ts for a reason but they're going to use actual OTs in a regular season game? 🙄

Such a fine line between stubbornness and stupidity.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 11:56 am

All those guys....

So, on placement kicks, are any of them going to improve our FG unit, because they missed a lot of FGs last year and those are the same as turnovers.?

No.

Will any of them improve the blocking on punts?

No.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 02, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Yes, a missed FG is a turnover....on downs. You are correct in that sense.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2022 at 01:44 pm

Even more, because you lose the 7 yards, so it's more like taking a sack on 4th down.

The net effect of a missed or blocked FG is the same as a turnover.

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