Cory's Corner: Rich Bisaccia Has The Most Pressure

This is a huge risk-reward taking over a unit that has been known for its failures.

It isn’t Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard or Matt LaFleur. 

The Packers player or coach that has the most pressure on him this season is special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. It goes without saying that Green Bay’s special teams have been awful the last several years. That unit has been ranked 20th or worse in six of the last eight seasons. 

You could argue that the reason the Packers lost to the 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoff last year at a frigid Lambeau Field was because of a blocked field goal and a blocked punt. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” said LaFleur after the game. “We had two blocks in this game and obviously, it played a big part in us coming up short.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t new for the Packers. A certain special teams foible prevented Green Bay from reaching a Super Bowl after falling in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. 

That’s a tidal wave of bad luck that Bisaccia is trying to reverse. That won’t be easy considering kicker Mason Crosby had his right knee scoped earlier this summer and long snapper Steven Wirtel was released on Wednesday.

This might be one of the toughest challenges for Bisaccia, but if he succeeds and turns the Packers’ special teams into something resembling respectability, a head coaching job is sure to follow. If he cannot, then Bisaccia just becomes another special teams coordinator victim like Ron Zook, Shawn Mennenga and Maurice Drayton. 

“Rich definitely has a clear-cut philosophy,” said LaFleur after the opening of training camp. “He’s super intense, which I love. And he brings an edge to us. There’s no doubt. I’ve learned more about special teams  than I ever have in my life.”

So the head coach obviously trusts Bisaccia. And I think it’s awesome that Bisaccia brings that burning intensity because that’s the main ingredient you need to play special teams. 

This special teams unit doesn’t have to be top 10, it just cannot be 20th or worse once again and it cannot be the reason the Packers fail in the playoffs. Special teams haven’t been special in Green Bay for a long time, but the only way that changes is by making the little things matter. Pay attention to the details. How many steps does punter Pat O’Connell need before he sends a ball booming into the sky and does he tend to drift to one side or the other? Does Crosby like where O’Connell holds his kicks? Is there a crack in punt or kick coverage?

This is the NFL. Small changes make a big impact — especially when it comes to costing teams playoff games. 

So for all of those reasons, Bisaccia is facing the most pressure on the Packers. He was hired because he is supposed to be a special teams whisperer — heck, he’s even teaching LaFleur a thing or two. 

Bisaccia’s pedigree as a coach was proven last year. In an interim role as head coach of the Raiders, he led them to a 7-5 record with a playoff appearance and even tallied three votes for Coach of the Year. And Raiders former general manager Mike Mayock wanted to retain Bisaccia as head coach before he was fired himself. 

So this is a huge roll of the dice for Bisaccia. He has the chops to be a head coach right now, but first, he needs to succeed as a special teams coordinator at a place that has been in a special teams drought since 2007. 

Hopefully the Wayne State College product can lead this unit to water. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (6)

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PatrickGB's picture

August 13, 2022 at 08:07 am

Rough start but AmRodgers looks better. This looks like it won’t be a quick fix for “Wefense”. Time will tell.

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TarynsEyes's picture

August 13, 2022 at 11:14 am

SPTs has been an eyesore for the Packers for so long, I believe most don't want to even think about it much less make comments, thus leaving me to believe most don't care about the pressure on Bisaccia, or another coach that is assumed to be the one to fix it, but just want it fixed. Credit Bisaccia when it's done, I'm not praising nor sympathizing anyone as might be or may do. To use the Nike slogan, Just Do It.

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jlc1's picture

August 14, 2022 at 05:48 pm

I don't so much want to take exception to these points as to the sleight of hand. Tarynseyes starts with a belief, that most don't want to even think about ST and uses that as sufficiently factual to yield a second belief. I would be more inclined to take seriously an approach that started with something like given how few comments there are on special teams that one could believe most don't care. However there have been a lot of comments so I think many do care. I too will give credit to Bisaccia if they get to NFL average rather than high school JV level.

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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

August 13, 2022 at 12:17 pm

It has to be much better if we’re going to go far this year.

Lots of concerns still there, including Dallin Leavitt going out with an injury, Brkic missing a field goal, etc.

Gafford showed a bit. I wanted to see him at returner more though.

I’m glad Amari R had a nice return, but am not going to anoint him as “the man” yet. He needs to show consistency.

I hope LaFleur shows an understanding of how important this is by giving Special teams more practice time, too.

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murf7777's picture

August 13, 2022 at 01:55 pm

Good thoughts on the article. Yes, the more risk you take in life the higher the potential rewards. Now, kick some ass and let’s win this thing and you will get rewarded.

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jont's picture

August 13, 2022 at 09:42 pm

Or maybe not.

Packer ST has sucked for quite a while, bad enough to send coach after coach back into the job market.

So if the ST sucks again and Bisaccia gets the boot, whom do we blame? Is every coach bad or is the cause somewhere else?

Considering Drayton got hired pretty quickly after an awful ST year, perhaps some in the league think the Packers' ST coaches haven't always been the problem.

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