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Green Bay Packers Report Card Grades: Coaches and Special Teams

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Green Bay Packers Report Card Grades: Coaches and Special Teams

We continue our 2013 Green Bay Packers report card grades with the coaches and special teams.

The 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

Mike McCarthy (B-): Bottom line, Mike McCarthy coached his team to a division championship and a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season, tied for the longest current streak in the NFL. And McCarthy did it all in spite of yet another injury-ravaged season in which the Packers had the fifth-most starts lost to injury in the NFL, according to Rick Gosselin's annual analysis in the Dallas Morning News. As McCarthy himself pointed out in his season-ending press conference, it's an extremely rare occurrence when a team is able to win its division when playing four quarterbacks. The Packers took a four-win step backwards in 2013 as compared to 2012, finishing with an 8-8-1 record (including playoffs), down from 12-6 the season prior. For as much criticism as McCarthy gets for his play-calling, much of it comes in hindsight. He deserves credit for helping to revive the run game in Green Bay, setting the Packers offense up for success in the future behind the one-two punch of Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy.

Dom Capers (D): Capers' unit didn't escape the injury bug either, but it still underachieved any way you slice it. Perhaps most disappointing was the slide the team took in run defense, ranking as high as third in NFL heading into their Week 8 game against Minnesota on Oct. 27 allowing an average of 79.0 yards per game before finishing the year 25th in the league, allowing 125.0 yards per game. Another disappointing development was the Packers' 22 takeaways that ranked tied for 21st in the NFL, especially after his units did so well in creating turnovers in previous seasons (fourth in the NFL since Capers was hired in 2009). The Green Bay defense also ranked 24th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 247.3 yards per game and 25th in opponent passer rating (95.9). Sack production remained mostly static, ranking 8th in the NFL with 44 sacks. Losing linebacker Clay Matthews for five full games and parts of three others was a detriment.

Tom Clements (B): The Packers ranked sixth in the NFL in passing offense (266.8 ypg), seventh in rushing offense (133.5ypg), combining to rank third in total offense (400.3 ypg). The biggest shortcoming was the team's red-zone offense, which scored touchdowns on just 50.8 percent of all drives reaching inside the opponents' 20-yard line, ranking 26th in the NFL. Like McCarthy, Clements deserves credit for not only reviving the Packers run game, but really changing the way it operates. For the first time in McCarthy's tenure, the team just didn't pay lip-service to getting away from the zone-blocking scheme, pulling and trapping more than ever before. Having Lacy helped, but Clements helped put him in a position to succeed. Obviously missing Rodgers for seven games late in the season would have been a blow to any offensive coordinator.

Shawn Slocum (D): While buoyed by good individual performances by kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay, Slocum's units took a nose-dive compared the previous few seasons. The built-in excuse is that after suffering so many injuries, the special teams was comprised of practice-squad and street free agent types in the latter half of the year, but even early in the season, the Packers special teams weren't performing well. The bright spot was the punt return unit, sparked by Micah Hyde, ranking seventh in the NFL with an average return of 11.3 yards. The rest of the Packers special teams units ranked 30th in kickoff returns (20.3 ypr), 29th in opponent kickoff returns (26.0 ypr) and 29th in opponent punt returns (13.1).

Special Teams

Mason Crosby (B+): The rebound performance of Mason Crosby ranks right behind Johnny Jolly's comeback in terms of the team's feel-good stories in 2013. After ranking dead last in the NFL with a 63.6 field-goal percentage last season, Crosby turned in a career-high 89.2 percent in 2013, plus two more cold-weather, postseason field goals and 100 percent on all extra-point attempts. Whereas Crosby was just 2-9 on field goals of 50-plus yards in 2012, he made 5-7 in 2013, including a long of 57 yards, the longest outdoor field goal in team history. In the offseason, Crosby agreed to a restructured, incentive-laden contract, bringing down his guaranteed money from $2.6 million to just $800,000 and ended up earning back every penny of his original contract in bonuses. The downside is that Crosby's 89.2 field-goal percentage ranked just 13th in the NFL as so many other kickers enjoyed unprecedented success. His kickoff average of 61.8 ranked 22nd in the NFL, although he was frequently asked for directional kickoffs and did better in that regard than Tim Masthay. Crosby's one onside kick attempt was recovered.

Tim Masthay (B-): Masthay continued to be a solid, consistent force at punter in 2013 and the argument could be made that he's the best punter in Packers history. He has the highest gross and net punting average in franchise history, highlighted by a career-high 39.0 net punting average in 2013. Masthay's net average ranked just 21st in the NFL, but when taking into account the environment he played in, his standing looks a whole lot better. If there's one area he could use improvement, Masthay had a career-low 22 punts downed inside the 20 in 2013. In almost half the amount of kickoffs as Mason Crosby (21 vs. 41), Masthay had more touchbacks (17 vs. 13). The issue with Masthay on kickoffs was that he was more prone to mis-hitting them and wasn't able to kick directionally with quite the same precision as Crosby.

Brett Goode (C+): If grading long snappers on a pass/fail basis, Goode gets a "pass." For the sixth consecutive season, he still hasn't had a single snap that's resulted in a turnover, although Goode seemed to have several off-target snaps that made it difficult for Masthay either as a punter or a holder. In today's new-age NFL in which long snappers are rarely asked to block due to NFL rules not allowing rushers to line up over center, athletic long snappers who can cover downfield are becoming more valuable. Goode is among the slower long snappers in the league, making just one tackle in 2013. But as long as he doesn't turn the ball over, Goode is worth his weight in gold.

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

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (32) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, Overall I agree..

I would say that based on going from last year to this year, I would have to give Crosby an A.
He made such a turn around from last year to this year.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Capers should have been easily graded a B. Considering whom TT picked the past three years on defense, Capers has done well with that group of losers. Oh, by the way, just announced the Rookie of the year when to an O linemen on the Lions and their other choice Ansah got honorable mention. So we have two top players again on one of our opposing teams. The Vikes had five rookies the past two years make the pro bowl.
To quote the O line coach of the Lions, this guy looked pro bowl quality from day one.
Apparently none of our competitors believe one freeeekin iota for draft and development Teddy boy.

4thand1's picture

Give ol Ted a break already, you loser. You act like he's the one who scouts, evaluates every college player himself. The whole team is involved in the draft you moron. Go support the Lions and see how you like it. Or the Vikes. Where'd they finninsh again. Oh yeah, behind GB.

Al Fresco's picture

He actually is the buck that the choice stops at. He is totally responsible for Perry, who in two years is a total busts, Datone hasn't shown much JOnes, Worthless Worthy who scouts said sucked, Burnett who has years to show his worth and has none, Hyde who can barely make it to the 20 before being tackled, Hayward who got three interceptions while playing out of place on tipped balls, Tramon W who couldn't cover a baby with a blanket. The list goes on but it is TT back.

4thand1's picture

Morons stick together I guess. Maybe you're the same person. Piss and moan, whine and bitch. Nobody likes you.

billy's picture

no, morons are people who never say a critical thing and then call real fans "trolls" if they perhaps mention anything that would improve the team...ignorant and football dumb...i appreciate your loyalty but your not a nice or smart person...

Bibbon Hazel's picture

They suck!

Seth's picture

If Masthay had one of the best seasons in team history, especially given the incredible punting job in clutch situations the past several weeks, how in the world did he only get a B-?

zeke's picture

Agree. Also don't understand how the long snapper can be "worth his weight in gold" and only garner a C+.

Brian Carriveau's picture

It's all about the grading scale, guys. As far as Masthay goes, yes, he'd probably rank a little higher if he played in a warmer climate, but it's not as if he'd shoot up to No. 1. And it's not like the best punter in Packers history is like being the top quarterback. It's all relative. The career-low of punts inside the 20 didn't help.

And for Goode, as long as he doesn't create any turnovers, he's fine. But it's not like he's on par with other long snappers in terms of athleticism.

zeke's picture

Not to pick nits, and for the most part I agree with your grades, but if you're grading on a scale I would argue that it's unfair to grade Masthay against someone punting in a dome, for example. Same for Goode. The most athletic long-snapper in the league is of limited use if he can't get the ball back to the punter/holder consistently. Having your long-snapper being able to be the first guy down the field on a punt is great, but I would argue it's secondary to being a reliable snapper. Goode seems more than just above average in that regard, but it's all subjective so it's all good.

Point Packer's picture

On Hester's big return against the Bears in week 17, #61 (Goode) looked like a beached whale. Dump him and get a more athletic long-snapper.

zeke's picture

Because Hester is going to the HoF based on his ability to take advantage of teams with slow-footed centers.

Jamie's picture

That's a terrible explanation for Goode.

Let's not only penalize him for the job he has, as opposed to how well he did it, but let's also penalize him for not being something that is largely inconsequential to how well he did (and is supposed to do) his primary job.

Strange really.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Go troll Bob McGinn's special team's rankings please.

ben's picture

The 3-4 relies and exemplifies the play of your linebackers. Our linebackers suck. I'd say except for clay but he commonly isn't on the field anyways. Hawk-below average loves getting blocked, jones-maxed out his 7th round grade but below average, perry-below average due to injury, neal-not a lb in the first place, lattimore-didn't get a chance but below average anyway.

We don't even have a true nose tackle anyway, with no options to get the one thru FA or the draft.

The one strength of our defense may be the man coverage ability of our corners. Which capers plays away from anyway with his stupid zone-blitz philosophy.

Capers is almost perfectly wrong for our personnel. He is a fine coach, but his time has come and gone. Next man up.

ben's picture

MM's coaching=B, offensive scheme=B, playcalling=D-, clock management=D

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

Mike McCarthy has yet to figure out how to attack a Cover 2 via the pass and remain persistent with the ball control passing game. Until he does the offense will stall against the Giants and 49ers of the NFL.

Point Packer's picture

That's been obvious for like three or four seasons, but thanks.

TommyG's picture

coincides with Philbin's (and others') departures.

Barutan Seijin's picture

They had the same problem vs. the cover 2 when Philbin was around.

Stroh's picture

Cover 2 is something you have to run teams out of. If they play a 6 or 7 man box just run the ball down their throats and they'll start to bring safeties down to help defend the run. Ryan Grant helped to a small degree w/ that, but Lacy is someone teams will have to commit safeties to help defend.

The other thing that helps is a playmaking TE that can get downfield.

Phatgzus's picture

The Packers have had little trouble scoring against SF, it also doesn't help that Rodgers has continuously missed passes in games bs. SF that he usually doesn't miss.

Phatgzus's picture

How does MM get a B- for doing something only 4 other coaches in NFL history have accomplished, all the while keeping the O one of the best in the league?

TommyG's picture

poor red zone production would be the only blemish I can see.

Hank Scorpio's picture

No grade for the position coaches?

Darren Perry, Winston Moss and Kevin Greene go into the D/F range.

I generally think the rest of them did an average (or above) job. But I'm really tired of the same old, same old waiting for some signs of life at S and LB. Maybe some intrepid reporter could tackle the issue of how the concept of accountability is applied to position coaches that consistently have units that before way below an acceptable mark.

TommyG's picture

I agree, Hank. I did listen to a radio show yesterday where they asked that same question, "are the position coaches the problem?". I have no doubt that MM has sat down with all of them and asked "WTF, mate?". Maybe theie answer was "listen, these guys just suck!". Fixing those two positions (LB and S) may come down to TT in the draft and FA.

Clark04's picture

I think something to be factored into Masthay's rating are his several touchdown saving tackles he's had this season. I was very impressed with him this season.

Phatgzus's picture

They weren't just wimpy, Spongebob Squarepants, flop-on-the-ground-and-let-the-returner-trip-over-you tackles either; the dude can hit, could we use him at LB or as the world's first slow-motion safety?

larry valdes's picture

I think we a terrific olb coach with kevin green and if tt get him 3more lbs and of course a safety and a nose tackle and 2de we could win another super bowl.

Phatgzus's picture

We don't need that much: 1 ILB, 1 S, and 1 NT and we're sittin' pretty.

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