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Green Bay Packers 2012 Report Card Grades: Coaches and Special Teams

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Green Bay Packers 2012 Report Card Grades: Coaches and Special Teams

We continue our 2012 Green Bay Packers report card grades with the coaches and special teams.

My grading scale for players is as follows: A=Pro Bowl caliber, B=Solid NFL starter, C=Average NFL player, D=Below average player, F=Fringe NFL player.

I don't have a corresponding scale for coaches, so please grant me the liberty that the grading curve is relative to other coaches in the NFL. I'll also be sticking to the head coach and coordinators rather than trying to get into position coaches.

Without further ado...

Coaches

Head coach Mike McCarthy (B)––Coaching football is an outcome-based profession. And so much of judging the performance of a coach, head coaches in particular, is based simply upon their record and how far they advance in the playoffs. Including the postseason, Mike McCarthy compiled a 12-6 record, twice as many wins as losses and won the NFC North division title. But for the second straight season, the Packers also exited the playoffs in the divisional round in embarrassing fashion. One can't help but wonder how the season might have been different if one play in Seattle would have been ruled differently and the Packers received a bye and a home game in the divisional round instead of having to go on the road. For perhaps the first time as the offensive play-caller, McCarthy made more than few questionable decisions, primarily in how he would abandon the run game and lose the time-of-possession battle. In spite of sharp criticism of players like Mason Crosby and Jermichael Finley, McCarthy gets points for staunchly defending his players with dividends paid down the stretch by turning things around. Next we see how he handles the defensive coordinator position.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers (C-)––The playoff loss to the 49ers, the third in the Dom Capers era in which the Packers have given up an average of 44 points and 510 yards, has more influence on the image of Capers than any other game, and rightfully so. It's one thing to lose in the playoffs, it's another to look like you're not even deserving to be a playoff team to begin with. That being said, the Packers made major strides in 2012 compared to 2011 when they were the NFL's 32nd-ranked unit in overall defense and gave up the most passing yards in the history of the NFL. Capers also did it with a young defense that, at times, featured five rookies on the field at the same time. The Packers ranked 11th in the NFL against the pass, 17th against the run and 11th overall in the regular season. The interceptions were down, but the sacks were up. The red-zone defense was among the worst in the NFL. Where the Packers choose to go from here is anyone's guess.

Offensive coordinator Tom Clements (C)––It's difficult to make any sweeping generalizations about Tom Clements as an offensive coordinator after just one season, but with 18 games of evidence, Clements didn't do as much with the Packers offense as former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin did. As NFL defenses devised game plans to defend against the Packers' spread-em-out, receiver-heavy attack, Clements and the Packers offense was forced to adapt. Seeing many teams play two safeties deep, the Packers ran more often than in the previous few seasons and had to settle for fewer deep passes. The run game ranked 20th in the NFL, up modestly compared to 2011. The passing offense ranked ninth in the league, down from last season. Overall, the Packers were the 13th-rated overall offense. Unlike the defense, the Packers had one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum (B-)––Unlike 2011 when the success of the special teams was defined almost exclusively by the success of the specialists (kicker, punter, kick returner), this season, the special teams achieved in spite of the struggles of the specialists. The coverage units were the best they've been in the Slocum era. The Packers gave up a long kick return of only 41 yards and a long kick return of only 25 yards in the regular season. Their kick and punt return averages were better than that of their opponent, and the Packers had better field position than its opponent by an average of five yards per possession. This came despite the relatively disappointing season turned in from Randall Cobb as a return specialist. Outside the punt return from a touchdown in Week 1, it was downhill from there.

Special teams

Kicker Mason Crosby (D-)––Crosby entered 2012 coming off the best season of his career in 2011 when he made over 85 percent of his attempts. Then things fell apart in 2012. Crosby's saving grace might be his late resurgence when he converted on the final six field-goal attempts of the season. Still, his 63.6 percent field-goal percentage in the regular season ranked dead last among regular NFL kickers. In Crosby's defense, his biggest struggles came from attempts of 50-plus yards where he converted only two of nine field goals. Those with no mercy will point out that the kicker across the border, Minnesota's Blair Walsh, made 10 of 10 field from 50-plus. Crosby did a good job on kickoffs, part of the reason the Packers had better field position than their opponents most of the season. Now that kickoffs have been moved up in the NFL, it might be more important for the Packers to make sure they have a kicker with good accuracy rather than one who has a big leg.

Punter Tim Masthay (C+)––While continuing an upward trend that began from the moment he joined the Packers, Masthay appeared to fade down the stretch for the first time in his career. From a statistical standpoint, he was an average NFL punter in 2012. His 45.6-yard gross average ranked 15th in the league, his 38.6-yard net ranked 21st. At midseason, Masthay ranked among the league leaders in punts downed inside the 20, but he finished with only 23, which ranked 18th. Masthay's strength is his placement, an innate ability to place a punt exactly where he wants it to land, especially when he's pinning opponents deep in their own territory and not having to worry about distance when he's pinned deep inside his own. Having a guy like Jarrett Bush downing punts by using his speed and selling out his body helps in this regard. The get-off time on Masthay's punts avoid blocks. He was also an adequate holder and deserves credit for the perfect flip to Tom Crabtree on the fake field for a touchdown against the Bears.

Long snapper Brett Goode (B)––Some people give pass/fail grades to long snappers. Either they get the job done or they don't. If that's the case, Goode gets a "pass." In his fifth NFL season, Goode has yet to have an blatantly inexcusable snap on either a punt or a kick. He expertly executed blocks on the fake field goal for a touchdown against the Bears and a fake punt for a first down against the Saints. You perhaps would to see him record more than one tackle on special teams over the course of an entire season, but the punt unit as a whole did a good job from a coverage standpoint.

I encourage you to leave grades for the position coaches in the comments if you'd like to further the discussion.

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and an editor at Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CSS's picture

Seems to me Tom Clements is an awfully difficult coach to even grade. Can anybody even accurately articulate his exact role? Is he more quality control than traditional offensive coordinator? What curve do you even grade him on? (I have no idea).

Also, tough to compare him to Philbin's 2011 unit. The offense in 2011 looked just as inept against the late season Chiefs and Giants that played a two deep shell while rushing only four and rarely blitzing as did Clements that faced that particular brand of defense all season this year. Would Philbin have fared any better? (and that's assuming I could even articulate what Philbin's role was as 'offensive coordinator'.)

Tough one to grade.

Idiot Fan's picture

IMO, there should always be a Lambeau/weather adjustment for kickers and punters. Crosby's issues are clearly bigger than that, but I wonder how much of Ginge's fade down the stretch had to do with kicking a block of ice.

Evan's picture

I just did a quick scan of kicker rankings for the draft. Not surprisingly, most of the top guys are warm weather kids. No one really jumps out.

NoWayJose's picture

What a strange season. It just felt like the Packers never had an identity.

The 2010 team, once it hit its stride, was a relatively balanced offense and ball-hawking defense.

The 2011 team was the high-flying, spread-em-out juggernaut, and non-existent defense.

The 2012 team was just kind of mushy. Fits and starts on offense and defense. Flashes of brilliance. Weeks of lethargy.

I put a lot of that on the coaches and a lack of direction - very down year for them if you ask me.

cow42's picture

I don't disagree with very many your of the grades given offensive players, defensive players, special teams players, or coaches...

which makes me wonder...

how thee HELL did this team win 11 regular season games?

the schedule ended up being fairly easy (look at some of their wins).

i have a very strong feeling that if something doesn't change, we could be in for a very large shoe-dropping next season.

i know it's impossible to judge a schedule a year in advance but next year's lineup of opponents is BRUTAL.

young guys are gonna have to improve.

coaches are gonna have to get a handle on things.

veterans are gonna have to step up.

a couple guys have to cross the threshold and become playmakers.
(candidates?)

dawg's picture

+1

This team needs an attitude adjustment all around.
TT better find some players and coaches that want to win, badly.
Sick and tired of the pee-wee pre-game group jump around, and I want to see some ass-kickin, mouth-droolin, bone-rattling hits out there,
Now, Im ready for the f^%$g draft.

Point Packer's picture

"How did this team win 11 games?"

Two words:

1) Aaron

2) Rodgers

jeremy's picture

candidates?

Casey Hayward, (led the NFL in passer rating against) MUST play full time. He is the most fluid natural CB in the hips I have seen since Revis.

The fact he was not on the field full time after week six leads me to believe Dom Capers is a fool.

Jamie's picture

Did you not give Goode an A for the jynx factor? Otherwise, you grade him on what he is supposed to do at his position, which is first and foremost snap, which he did perfectly. Not to mention he's regularly in the mix on tackles, which is a bonus...fake blocking, bonus.

A+ is the only grade that makes sense here.

WisconsInExile's picture

Brett: you're not allowed to lobby for a higher grade. And quit posting as Jamie.

ron's picture

CAPERS RECORD IN PLAYOFFS.Points given up 2009-51,2010-25,2011-37,2012-45.The better teams are out coaching CAPERS......

bomdad's picture

I'd bump up Slocum to a B+ or A for the early season trick plays, but then there were questionable calls like the throwback pass vs the Bears and having a rookie street free agent Jeremy Ross making a fair catch inside the 15 in a playoff game instead of a healthy Randal Cobb (who probably would have let it touchback).

PackerBacker's picture

Or just caught the damn thing. Yikes.

Lou's picture

How can DEAD LAST in field goal percentage and 21st in touch backs be graded anything But F as in FAILURE. Even a casual observer could see Crosby should be replaced ASAP. He cannot kick under pressure from any distance, his kick to send the Colt's game into overtime looked like a half time contest where they pick someone to kick out of the stands for $10,000, it was so far left it didn't stay on the field. The, to watch him miss RIGHT and have another chance after the opposing coach called a time out and then miss far to the LEFT takes the cake. He must be McCarthy's adopted son, there can be no other reason he stayed on the roster.

some guy's picture

"For perhaps the first time as the offensive play-caller, McCarthy made more than few questionable decisions"

Er, what? McCarthy has made boneheaded decisions throughout his tenure. It's one of his hallmarks: he might be the dumbest smart coach in football. Tell Nagler to stop screwing around at Bleacher Report for a few minutes and write up some recaps or at least get Kruse to do them. Carriveau seems to have taken up smoking crack and it's not meshing well with his writing duties.

I'm not just joking around. Since Nagler went to BR this place is getting increasingly homerrific. Mike "spend half a season bashing your head on a brick wall" McCarthy is a B! Tramon Williams, one of the worst corners in the NFL for two years straight, is a B! Sam Shields is a premiere cover corner! Get real.

Idiot Fan's picture

As Brian notes, this is an outcome-based profession. So what does the record say? Here are the top ten teams in terms of win percentage over the past three years:

1. Patriots: 39-9 reg season; playoffs - 3 appearances, 3 wins, 3 losses, no superbowl wins.

2. Packers: 36-12 reg season; playoffs - 3 appearances, 5 wins, 2 losses, one superbowl win.

3. Falcons: 36-12 reg season; playoffs - 3 appearances, 1 win, 3 losses, no superbowl wins.

4. Ravens: 34-14 reg season; playoffs - 3 appearances, 5 wins, 2 losses, no superbowl wins (though potential to win this year).

5. Saints: 31-17 reg season; playoffs - 2 appearances, 1 win, 2 losses, no superbowl wins.

6. 49ers: 30-17 reg season; playoffs - 2 appearances, 3 wins, 1 loss, no superbowl wins (though potential to win this year).

7. Bears: 29-19 reg season; playoffs - 1 appearance, 1 win, 1 loss, no superbowl wins.

8. Steelers: 29-19 reg season; playoffs - 2 appearances, 2 wins, 2 losses, no superbowl wins.

9. Giants: 28-20 reg season; playoffs - 1 appearance, 4 wins, no losses, 1 superbowl win.

10. Texans: 28-20 reg season; playoffs - 2 appearances, 2 wins, 2 losses, zero superbowl wins.

To recap: we have the second-highest win percentage in the regular season over the last three years; we have the most playoff wins (pending the Ravens in the SB this year) over the last three years; we are one of only four teams to make the playoffs in each of the last three years;
we have won a superbowl in the last three years.

What team would you rather have rooted for over the last three years?

I think many of us deep down have this belief that out there somewhere are some perfect coaches and players, but there aren't. Everybody makes mistakes. Our staff and players aren't perfect. Would I like to see a change at defensive coordinator? Probably. But I wouldn't take any staff/QB combo in the league over TT/MM/AR, and that includes Brady and Belichik (sp?).

Enjoy what we have, it's one of the best.

cow42's picture

Thank you.
This has calmed my nerves tremendously.

Perspective is a good thing.

Rocky70's picture

Pats --- Brady
Pack --- AR
Falcons --- Ryan
Ravens --- Flacco
Saints --- Brees
(Your top 5 teams)

Elite QBs always carry their HC, coaching staffs & GM along for the ride. ---- TT/MM would have been long gone a few years back if it weren't for Mr. Rodgers.

Idiot Fan's picture

I'm sure there's some degree of truth to that statement, but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the impact that good coaching has on the QB. The two best QBs of the last ten to fifteen years (Brady, Manning) were amazing talents, but they also benefited from good and stable coaching staffs. Or consider BLF. Did BLF make Holmgren, or did Holmgren make BLF? Probably a little of both. I would be willing to bet that there are instances of QBs with extreme talent never having great pro careers because of the team/coaching situations that they find themselves in.

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