Green Bay Packers Special Teams Woes Go Beyond Any Coordinator

The issues that the Green Bay Packers have experienced on special teams have been going on for nearly a decade and go beyond any coordinator. 

It shouldn't be a surprise, but the Green Bay Packers' biggest weakness all season long is what ended up costing them in the playoffs. I'm, of course, referring to the special teams unit.
 
Basically, pick any aspect of special teams play, and in all likelihood, something went wrong at some point this season. In short, there were muffed punt returns, poor blocking, penalties, bad snaps, questionable holds, shanked punts, missed field goals, an ineffective kick return unit, and Green Bay was the only team to allow a punt return this season, among many other problems. 
 
You get the idea, and you saw it with your own eyes--it was rough, to put it mildly. As expected, the Green Bay Packers special teams unit finished the season ranked 32nd in Rick Gosselin's annual rankings. 
 
Unfortunately, this is not new territory for the Packers, either. In Gosselin's rankings, Green Bay would finish 29th a season ago, 26th in 2019, and 32nd in 2018. In fact, as Bill Huber of SI pointed out, the Packers have finished 20th or worse in seven of the past nine seasons, including 32nd three times, and they haven't finished in the top-10 since 2007. 
 
Understandably so, special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton has come under heavy scrutiny for the unit's play--at the end of the day, he is the one in charge. At this time, Drayton is still Green Bay's special teams coordinator, but regardless of what happens moving forward, or if someone new is brought in to replace him, I'm not going to feel any better about this special teams unit.
 
The Packers' special teams unit was bad well before Drayton took the helm as head coordinator. These issues go beyond him and have spanned two head coaching tenures as well. At this point, the special teams woes seem to be rooted within the organization and how they view special teams.
 
Now, I'll start by saying I certainly don't have the answers on how to turn this unit around, but as the old saying goes, you get what you emphasize. I'm not at any of the Packers practices, outside of a few during training camp, so I have no idea how much time is actually spent on special teams play; all I know is that based on what we've seen over the years, it doesn't look like it's much of a priority.
 
Not all, but a lot of the errors that we saw had to do with fundamentals, such as blocking assignments, lane integrity, spacing, and so on. That isn't to say spending additional time on these areas would solve everything; there's obviously much more that goes into it, but I know it wouldn't hurt.
 
Green Bay could also look to utilize more starters on the special teams unit, something that Matt LaFleur discussed in a recent press conference. This, of course, does come with injury risk, just as we saw against San Francisco with AJ Dillon leaving the game in the second half, but especially in a win or go home situation, those are risks that Green Bay might have to take. 
 
“San Francisco had a lot of their starters on special teams,” LaFleur said. “That’s going to be something that I want to do some studies around the league and see how many teams operate that way.
 
“I think we can do a much better job, starting with myself, emphasizing the special teams, allowing some of maybe our starters to play on more phases of that and, granted, that’s got its own set of risks,” LaFleur said via SI.
 
Even if Green Bay doesn't rely heavily on some of their starters to play special teams, having players out there with special teams experience could be another option. All summer long, we talk about how special teams play is the path for several young players to make the 53-man roster, but with inexperience often comes mistakes. 
 
Green Bay still has a long ways to go when it comes to filling out their 90-man roster for the summer, and a number of those roster spots will go to young players. But perhaps mixing in a few additional veterans with some NFL experience and several hundred special teams snaps under their belts would be another way that they could try to turn this unit around--although typically, that will cost more money as veteran minimums are greater than what it cost to roster a rookie or a second-year player. 
 
Ultimately, when it comes to solving these special teams woes, there isn't one answer to doing so, and the few topics that I've discussed are only scratching the surface. 
 
Again, maybe Green Bay is already doing these things, and they're still struggling--I'm not in the building. But for this unit to actually improve, it's going to take an organizational shift in how they view special teams, from the time devoted to it, to resources spent on players with experience and even having some starters play key roles. 
 
This also isn't my way of giving Drayton a free pass for how this unit performed; as I said, at the end of the day, he is the one in charge of this unit. But based on the last nine years of special teams play here in Green Bay, there also isn't much to suggest that a new special teams coordinator is going to change anything either--it's likely going to take much more than just that. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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7 points

Comments (60)

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

January 31, 2022 at 11:12 am

I don’t really buy this. We’ve had a succession of cheap STC, to that extent perhaps: One gets what one pays for usually. Looking at who we’ve played, it’s really not that different in terms of perceived quality, and turnover is significant.

I’d agree that players like Burks and Sommers havnt developed into real aces, but physically they could have. I’d put that on the coaching. We’ve had college STers, we’ve had ones picked up from the NFL, such as Yiadom, who seem no better. For me that’s coaching inadequacy.

As to Drayton, he’s a whole new level of schematically and technically clueless. Just read what other teams think. We bungled a LS change, we never figured out how to block kicks. Other teams figured out what we were doing wrong, as they saw the weaknesses in our return game and thinking.

In The end, Drayton is far more than a poor choice, he’s a guy visibly overmatched to an extent unseen hitherto. That’s on LaFleur.

I have no doubt that other teams ST coaches would have done far better with the players we had. That, to me, says it all.

30 points
32
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Leatherhead's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:17 pm

You can paint stripes on a horse but that won’t make it a zebra. Ever since Knute Rockne was in diapers there have been special teams woes. It’s the nature of the beast. The best course of action is to reduce the role of special teams.

We go crazy over a blocked punt and ignore a dozen missed opportunities on offense.

You can replace Drayton, but that doesn’t change the nature of the unit.

-3 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 01, 2022 at 09:34 am

Leatherhead,
Always such words of wisdom without the emotional drama. Couldn't agree more with your comments.

Unfortunately, I always post using my phone (on the run) and two days ago tried posting something similar to what this article by Paul says but wasn't able to post my thoughts for some reason. The ST's failure is systemic and goes way beyond the coach. A good coach still requires talent which requires a fair amount of veterans who cost more than rookies and FA's.

I do find irony that everyone wants to fire Drayton and obtain new players to improve ST's. Paul talks about picking up veterans to play ST's. Many of those complaining the most regarding ST's also want Rodgers and Adam's back regardless of cap woes. When a QB currently eats up nearly 1/4 of the teams cap (and likely to be more if resigned) how do you field a ST's with more expensive paid veterans vs FA's and rookies? When you pay out the big dollars you have to hope guys like Rodgers plays big above and beyond other dueling QB's, and that injuries that befell Zadarious and Bachtiari do not happen.

The ST problems is only a microcosm of the bigger issues the Packers will see evolving on offense and defense in future years should Rodgers and Adam's be resigned. There are only so much cap dollars available and where do you best allocate the money? The more money paid out to guys like Rodgers, Adam's, Bachtiari, and Zadarius the younger the rest of the team has to become taking advantage of those minimum salaries. With youth comes inexperience, often lesser talent, and more difficulty coaching them for a variety of reasons. Do you think MO coached there only be 10 players on field at the end of the 49's game? No one has identified who the missing player was. That f***up is on the player. Question is who was the player. If it ever comes out I am relatively confident it was a young player vs a veteran.

ST's typically has what...10 or 12 plays a game? Offense and defense play what....65 to 75 plays a game? Of course the Packers are going to focus more cap dollars on offense and defense and hope the younger players can keep mistakes to a minimum. Subsequently, dealing with ST woes is way more than the coach as it ties directly into the cap issues. Make your decision fellow Packer fans as you can't have it both ways! I know where I stand!

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 01, 2022 at 09:42 am

Will add MLF's comment that he needs to do a "study on the rest of the teams in the league to see how many starters play ST's" is a line of BS! Do you believe for one minute with all the metrics and analysis done MLF doesn't know this fact? Every week when game planning he truly doesn't know this? Absurd and the media should have held his feet to the fire like "I'm immunized vs vaccinated".

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:34 pm

Burks and Sommers never should have made the cut out of training camp. If those are the best LBs you can put on your sp. teams, then you have problems. The responsibility lies Upstairs at Packertown , LLC.

2 points
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HawkPacker's picture

February 01, 2022 at 08:52 am

I believe it starts with right coach. Drayton appears to be a nice person but the few times the camera was on him during games he appeared lost. I am pretty disappointed in MLF that he is still a coach with us.

Solution: go out and get the right coach. Maybe the coach from new orleans is available. possibly the correct move is to hire an assistant st coach from a successful st team such as Baltimore. Get that coach in place and let him do his job of determining what our st needs are. Why would Matt be looking at that instead of getting a different coach.

It was very disappointing to me when he hired Drayton as he was an assistant to the previous coach who did a terrible job. if LAF stays with Drayton as coach I believe many will start to lose respect for him as a coach. He is great at saying that a particular problem the team has is stating that it falls on him as the HC. i am beginning to think that this is only lip service and he is not learning from his mistakes. If this happens, I will start losing respect for him and I can that with others.

sorry about my comment writing flaws today. I just had serious wrist surgery yesterday.

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

January 31, 2022 at 11:35 am

For starters, the Packers need to draft receivers with speed and elusiveness, not only for the offense, but for return duties as well. Amari has neither of these, and if you're thinking about starters, who? I know we saw Samuel and T. Hill make some nice returns in the playoffs, but the Packers don't have a player even remotely like that. And it only makes sense for the playoffs, anyway.

And then we have to make sure we're drafting good tacklers--BEFORE they make it to Green Bay. Sprinkling some low-cost veterans in to fill specific roles is not a bad idea, either.

The long snapper needs to be of reasonable weight, so I don't know what Gute was thinking there.

Go well outside the home confines to find a new coach, preferably an assertive one and definitely an experienced one; and be willing to listen to him from the start of the off-season to the end of the whole season!

Just do it!

21 points
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PeteK's picture

January 31, 2022 at 04:54 pm

The long snapper got destroyed on that punt block , but Black who was the safety valve was worse, looking downfield and not even attempting to block a charging Willis.

8 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:36 pm

He will not be on the squad next autumn.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:41 pm

Drayton has to go. I don't know why Lowrey or any Lineman is on Sts. Their to winded to tackle. And Too SLOW> We had a deep snapper and they changed him. They messed up Crosby with a new holder. They can't get 11 men on the field. It all adds up. And when you have No faith in the guy catching the ball. It changes the momentum of a game. Seems the thinking is they have to do something even if it's wrong. Well now they have too.

19 points
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dobber's picture

February 01, 2022 at 07:51 am

"I don't know why Lowrey or any Lineman is on Sts."

Because when you try to block another team's linemen with DBs and TEs, they get killed.

4 points
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wildbill's picture

January 31, 2022 at 12:23 pm

Even if the Captain of a ship isn’t in the control room when the ship hits an iceberg, it’s still his responsibility. Quit being a cheap ass and pay for a top notch ST coach!! At least we will have 11 men on the field, SMH

16 points
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HawkPacker's picture

February 01, 2022 at 08:55 am

agreed. its not like it goes against the CAP.

1 points
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ricky's picture

January 31, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Until the Packers pay some money to bring in a ST's coach who has shown elsewhere he knows how to field a top-tier unit, we won't know if coaching will solve the problem. To me, it's worth a try. Rather than "promote from within", and replace someone who is bad with someone who is worse, why not hire from outside? This is all too similar to the problem with inside LBers. If you don't value the position, you leave your team vulnerable. Will anything change? That Drayton has not been released from his duties after the debacle sends the wrong message. Either you hold coaches accountable, or you accept the consequences.

19 points
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Crankbait's picture

January 31, 2022 at 10:04 pm

Consequences have been accepted for 10 years.

4 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 31, 2022 at 12:45 pm

I'm not a fan of horror shows - so I often clench the arm rests when Packers are on STs. But really it's been since the Wolf era when STs have been treated as the less attractive and slow family member - with Thompson and Gutekunst and now MLF mindlessly carrying on this attitude. Only now is MLF going to research what makes a sound ST - after 3 years of being a head coach? Legally, this is gross negligence (to be shared by Gutekunst) - with the predictable outcome in GBs latest playoff loss.

9 points
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flackcatcher's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:03 pm

A sad and ugly truth AP. Some of this goes back to when the Cap was agreed to by the NFL/NFLPA. Wolf left the team because he did not want to operate under the new Cap rules. Under Thompson and now Gutekunst, ST were degraded, mostly because of money. But that attitude that ST was not important was clearly transmitted to McCarthy and now Lafleur. Now, it has caused the Packers a trip to the Superbowl. While Lafleur shares a large part of the blame on the field, it was Brian Gutekunst who shares most of the blame, and failure for not taking in fixing ST for the long term.

2 points
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Lphill's picture

January 31, 2022 at 01:01 pm

The answer was on the sidelines all season , Chris Gizzi the strength coach and former special teams stud, down vote away 13timesachump you probably get text alerts when I post .

-4 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:30 pm

While he may have some attractive attributes - he does not have the experience. And what the Packers really need is a top drawer ST coach with a history of success. Besides Gizzi has a stable position with the Packers, that probably has a longer shelf-life than a ST coach. If he has a young family, why would he risk this relative job security?

7 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:46 pm

If you insist....

I wonder where all those other down votes are coming from. Apparently, I'm not the only one on this site who thinks you're a clueless buffoon.

Do you have to mention me every time you post? Am I in your head that completely?

4 points
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Todd's picture

February 01, 2022 at 03:43 pm

How is Gizzi the answer? Yes, he played special teams while in the league, but he's been a strength and conditioning guy his whole career since he stopped playing. He's never coached a position.

0 points
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Roadrunner23's picture

January 31, 2022 at 01:29 pm

MO MUST GO!

13 points
13
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 31, 2022 at 04:39 pm

Firing Drayton would be just the tip of the iceberg. The entire philosophy-design-build of the STs needs a re-work.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:55 pm

Start with a proven ST guy. Pay to bring in knowledge and experience and then listen. Who are his top 3 guys at the end of training camp. Who excites him late in the draft? Which UDFA/SFA does he really think can help. Then try and fit them on the roster. The difference at the back end is negligible. Yiadom, Burks, McDuffie, Scott never added much. Cut the marginals and go for a gunner and a couple of ST aces where your STC thinks they would make the biggest difference. Employ a ST scout if necessary, or listen to one if we have one.

It’s no good just getting a motivator (culture) one needs knowledge to change schemes and ways. When one has run aground as we have, pay for the best and have him train his successor. Bring in expertise, experience and instill a learning culture so that the organization relearns too. Start with someone like Judge: pay him and tell Ball to butt out if he starts counting coppers.

5 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 31, 2022 at 11:31 pm

Any big plans this summer Cw? If not, would you consider a high-profile, high-stress part-time job with the Packers, for a few months?

2 points
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packerbackerjim's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:01 pm

Using starters in STs “has its own set of risks” knowing losing Dillon was a grievous injury. Especially when you drafted him for just this kind of game. While you’re studying how teams I the NFL do it, see if you can find a better coach. The errors were repeated ad nauseam. Well coached teams learn from their mistakes. Murphy must remember how the team in Washington used to excel in that phase of the game.

4 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:41 pm

Didn't Burks take Dillon out?

0 points
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packerbackerjim's picture

February 01, 2022 at 05:06 am

Yes, on a special teams play. Does it matter that it was friendly fire?

0 points
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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:11 pm

I’d make a hard push for Rich Bisaccia

5 points
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PeteK's picture

January 31, 2022 at 04:38 pm

I would love that. However, he's interviewing for the head coaching job in Jacksonville and I hope he gets it. It was enjoyable reading the great compliments his former players said about him.

5 points
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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 31, 2022 at 06:16 pm

I hope he gets it too. But if not I hope they go after him. I lived in the same apartment community as him in the early 00’s when he was with the Bucs. I used to play catch with his son and he’d make a point to talk with me when he was there. One of the nicest people on earth.

6 points
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dobber's picture

February 01, 2022 at 07:49 am

I don't think Bisaccia will get a HC gig this year. He should still be available as the dust starts to settle. There are several credible ST coaches out there right now with the clearing of coaching staffs.

3 points
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jhtobias's picture

January 31, 2022 at 02:48 pm

I can guarantee 100 percent that coach Drayton will be the special teams coordinator for 2022.

Willing to put my money where my mouth is

3 points
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2
BirdDogUni's picture

January 31, 2022 at 04:08 pm

As long as he's not the ST Coordinator as of 1March '22, I'm good with that...

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:57 pm

If he is still here in April, the organization is covering it self with gasoline and looking for a match.

4 points
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tm_inter's picture

January 31, 2022 at 08:25 pm

"I can guarantee 100 percent that coach Drayton will be the special teams coordinator for 2022."

Is LaFleur that dense?

1 points
1
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BirdDogUni's picture

February 01, 2022 at 09:57 am

I can't speak for him, but I think he was suggesting he is our STs coordinator right now in '22...

Which is technically true.

I just pray he isn't our STC for the '22 - '23 season...

0 points
0
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Barnacle's picture

January 31, 2022 at 03:27 pm

Most NFL folks know Mo is not good at his job. You softees that think it is acceptable to lose playoff games to protect some nice guy that shouldn’t be in the NFL. think different from me. We pay these guys for excellence and that is what we should get.

8 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:58 pm

Coaches and players have told us as much.

1 points
1
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Philarod's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:36 pm

It never feels good to call for somebody's firing, but in this case, it seems deserved.
Yes, the Packers haven't had good special teams in a while, but there's bad and then there's historically bad.

There's bad and then there's "give up a swing of 10 points in a low-scoring playoff game bad."
I don't mean that they had two bad plays that led to 10 points, but they had two disastrous errors that directly were worth 10 points. In a 3-point loss.
Unacceptable!

8 points
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GregC's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:56 pm

Serious question: Are there good special teams coordinators available, or is it just kind of a crapshoot with these guys? Special teams coordinators are typically not star coaches. They are much lower ranking than offensive and defensive coordinators and even some of the position coaches. They seldom become head coaches. John Harbaugh is a rare exception. I know the Packers missed out on a highly regarded special teams coach either this year or last year, but I don't know if there are many around in any given year. While Drayton clearly needs to be shown the door, I'm inclined to agree with this article that it will take more than a new coordinator for the Packers special teams to become decent.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2022 at 06:00 pm

Yes, there are. Waiting may change that as other teams staff up.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

January 31, 2022 at 05:59 pm

Let me try this.....

I don't think it's the coaches or the players, and I don't think changing the coaches and players makes a real big difference, other than the kicker and punter and returner/catcher. A long snapper. That's it. You need four good players.

The 11 guys who on are special teams are part of the 45 man gameday roster. The guys on special teams have to be good enough to fill in for the starter, so it's difficult to just say "draft special teams demons". They have to be able to play. They're almost always the bottom of your roster. Again, people say "play your starters on special teams" without thinking that through. Are we happy that we lost Dillon on a special teams play?

So you have to put 11 guys out there and you have about 20 candidates. That's who plays on our special teams units.

The placement unit puts points on the board, and often are called on to win the game at the end. That is the snapper, holder, and kicker and everybody else just has to block to the inside. An unsuccessful FG has the same net effect as a turnover, and should be considered as such.

IMO, we should have a four down mentality when we get close enough to kick, and only kick a FG if it's at the end of the half or the game.

PUNTS: Punt every ball out of bounds. No return, no injuries. And fair catch every punt. Put a sure handed guy back there, but if he needs to let it hit the ground, then he needs to do that. No Turnovers. No injuries. And no successful fakes, since the return unit is trying to return they can keep both eyes on the fakes.

KICK RETURNS: The league has caught up with me. Better to start at the 25, and teams are happy to do it, so now it's about forcing people to return kicks. Apparently, if you try to return a kick you might fumble it or pick up a penalty that puts you in a hole, so coaches are doing that. Me? I'd try to drill it through the endzone every time.

When we have to return, the primary consideration should be hanging onto the rock and getting down before hard contact knocks the ball out. I'll give up a couple of yards on each return to prevent a fumbled return.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The problem is that you're working with 21-25 year olds. They're big and strong and fast and sometimes not real smart and they do things that defy explanation. The crowd, the excitement, the adrenaline, and all of a sudden their brain just puckers up and farts. It happens. It's not always easy to keep your head when there's a lot of stuff going on around you.

MY THEORY takes into account what you're working with, and just minimizes the opportunity for them to impact the game. I'm not going to put the game in the hands of a rookie UDFA. That's just crazy, when you've got veterans who can fair catch a punt.

Rant off

-2 points
2
4
Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2022 at 06:03 pm

Without getting into your theory save to say that sometimes you have to be able to kick, block and even return, your point about young athletes is key. That type of player/maturity/knowledge is where a good coach can make the biggest difference.

4 points
4
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Qoojo's picture

January 31, 2022 at 06:56 pm

I was thinking it might be an issue with actual practice time. I was wondering how much time was spent in live practices. A position coach can't do much if he never gets to spend time practicing.

I truly wonder how much of the two weeks prior to the playoff game was spent on special teams.

It seemed like things got worse after switching long snappers in the middle of the season.

2 points
2
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Slim11's picture

January 31, 2022 at 08:25 pm

Switching a LS mid-season should only be made if (1) the first LS was injured or (2) said LS became a HUGE liability. To my knowledge, neither of those is true.

A 220-ish pound LS is inviting teams to load up closer inside. Rule changes do protect the LS but do not prevent teams from moving someone closer to the spot of the snap.

In seasons past, GB had marginal players who excelled on STs while also on the roster for depth at their positions. Jarrett Bush and Jeff Janis come to mind. Bush made a career on STs while being a marginal DB. Same for Janis...he was a WR on paper but an excellent gunner on STs.

As for the ST coaching...has Drayton done worse than Slocum or Zook or Menenga? That answer is a resounding YES!

5 points
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wildbill's picture

January 31, 2022 at 09:00 pm

ST coordinator should not be an OJT position! You should come in with a high skill level. It’s sad reading about the very basics not even in play.

4 points
4
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relleum61's picture

January 31, 2022 at 09:00 pm

What is needed is a STC who will come in and set a whole new tone and set of expectations over what we have done in the past. MLF, when first hired, wanted Darren Rizzi. Rizzi ended up in New Orleans because management did not want to pay. The bigger price was just paid. Now it is time to bring in a STC who will re-set the expectations, tone and execution level for GB STs. That person should be paid more because there is 20 years of ST mediocrity to overcome. The painful lessons we should have learned under Slocum and now Drayton must not be repeated. Players can be trained and coached after proper leadership is acquired.

6 points
6
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 01, 2022 at 06:53 pm

It all starts at the Top. They are responsible for this black mark and the three-year Fail.

0 points
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Crankbait's picture

January 31, 2022 at 10:01 pm

Discussing the Green Bay Packers special teams is nothing but mental masturbation.

3 points
3
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Roadrunner23's picture

January 31, 2022 at 10:17 pm

MLF is just giving all his loyal coaches a hard earned trip to Hawaii.

THEN THE AXE 🪓 GONNA FALL

BYE MO

NICE GUY, BAD SPECIAL TEAMS COACH

3 points
3
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bellarosie's picture

February 01, 2022 at 03:50 am

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

February 01, 2022 at 09:17 am

Well, Vegas, if anyone cares about the actual game.

1 points
1
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BAMABADGER's picture

January 31, 2022 at 11:47 pm

Drayton was the main problem with ST performance this season, period. He has to go.... now!

Of major concern is the immature statement from our HC:

“San Francisco had a lot of their starters on special teams,” LaFleur said. “That’s going to be something that I want to do some studies around the league and see how many teams operate that way."

“I think we can do a much better job, starting with myself, emphasizing the special teams, allowing some of maybe our starters to play on more phases of that and, granted, that’s got its own set of risks,” LaFleur said.

MLF had you done your job earlier in the season and corrected the ST coaching issue, we might be playing in the SB. I've never (in my 63 years watching the Packers) witnessed my Team's HC or any competitor's HC assume the role of Cheerleader from the sidelines. That sir was immature and embarrassing.

5 points
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Starrbrite's picture

February 01, 2022 at 12:51 am

Excellent Bamabadger.
MLF tells us he’s going to research the special teams of other teams —seriously? Perhaps this should have happened in July, or maybe 10 games ago. Isn’t that why they they’re paid a salary?
…and the head coach prompting cheers from the crowd, during a playoff (or any) game; it makes my head explode. Seems like he should have been concerned with other “things”?

4 points
4
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croatpackfan's picture

February 01, 2022 at 07:46 am

Well, maybe the hardest job to do is to unify 11-15 young unexperienced guys to compact unit. And that is what ST Coach needs to do. So, if you understand that, there is no reason why not to pay STC adequate money for his job that comes to be one of the hardest one on the team.

I know that ST playbook looks for many as pretty simple, but it is not. You have to adapt to others ST scheme and specific abilities of your opponent players. If you need to look at how other teams are doing that or this to be able to put scheming for your team, you are just at the beginning, you are at basic level. Any team with solid ST unit will have no problems to confuse your ST and win the ST battle, even to the level of making your ST unit terribly inadequate. And that is what I believe happened to the Packers ST unit this season. They were playing basic formation with no adaptation to what other teams prepare for them.

Also, you have to understand that if your players do not know how to sure tackle, whatever scheme you are putting in action will fail. Even if your players keeps their line filled, they will not stop opponent to win the position battle.

My take from this situation is that you have to understand complexity of the ST philosophy, and I also think that philosophy is quite different from philosophy of defense or offense. So, playing starters with no experience in ST playing will not improve much the unit. Also, every player on the team (except QB, top RB, top TE and top WR on O, top DLs, top LBs, top BDs on D) should be trained to play ST as well.

What amazing me, some fans here believe that 3rd faze of football (STs) are very simple. It is not. It may looks simple, but as limited as the rules for ST are, it brought more complexity to field adequate or even top unit on the field. That makes harder to find a way to have productive ST unit.

I agree with those here who does not think that every punt should be outbound, fair catch or let it go to end zone, as well as kick off should be always deep. Sometimes you need to spare time by short kick-off (example - Buffalo vs Chiefs - if they forced KR/PR to either catch the punt near the goal line or to return Chiefs will have no time to produce miracle in 13 sec, just because there will be no 13 seconds on the clock any more, or you'll have starting position deeper in opponent territory!).

It is my opinion that MLF does not care about ST because he believes it is simple and that every coach can do it (btw one fan here believe it is so simple that the job can be done correctly by Strength & Conditioning Coordinator!).

As we see only the product of Maurice Drayton (and the product is awful), we do not know what problems or tasks he had to work with. And may never find out. Mo may not have enough time to work with the unit or he might have only limited numbers of players to work with, while "starters" might be pulled off the ST sessions. Maybe MLF does not care a lot about ST situation as he believes that this is not that important part of the game, or whatever it can be.

I understand why most of the fans asking for the Maurice Drayton "head", because the product of his work sucks. I just want to emphasize that it might not be so simple as it looks on the first sight.

Only problem I have is that Maurice Drayton acts as everything was enough for his work (time for trainings and practice, time for establishing schemes, time for planning and translating that plans to ST unit, enough players to practice together, ...). If that so, than he is the guilty one. If he had not enough any of the components that are important for competent plays of ST unit, and he did next to nothing to change that, he is the guilty one. And he should be fired...

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Houndog's picture

February 01, 2022 at 07:17 am

The ST coach (or 'Coordinator) is of no consequence when the Front Office and Head Coach show no interest in special teams.
Yes, Drayton should have been handed his pick slip as they walked of the field last Saturday.
Murphy should have been second.

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relleum61's picture

February 01, 2022 at 01:27 pm

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ImaPayne's picture

February 01, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Not to kick someone when they are down, but comon folks. We know Drayton should have been fired mid season. By then it was obvious the special teams were anything but and it was on him. LeFleur refused to do it and it costs us in the playoffs.
LeFluer passed on Rizzi the best ST coach in football who we could have had instead of Drayton but we lo balled him and he said adios.
This team wants to play cheap ball and it costs us probably three or four possible sb appearances by not getting free agents to fill gaps.

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Littlejim51's picture

February 02, 2022 at 11:42 am

By far the best comprehensive article on the packers and its special teams. Thank you Paul for explaining the systemic problem with ST play and how it ranks up there ( until this fluck year of ILB) with lack of an ILB.

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