Packers closing in on STs coaching search, leaning towards Shawn Mennenga

-- With just one major vacancy remaining on the Green Bay Packers' coaching staff, a new candidate has emerged as the clubhouse leader.

Vanderbilt special teams coach Shawn Mennenga is the likely name to replace Ron Zook for the same duty in Green Bay, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Mennenga has experience working under the special teams umbrella in both the collegiate and professional levels, even spending seven seasons as an assistant special teams coach with the Cleveland Browns. He worked under current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who was the Browns' head coach for two seasons.

While nothing is set in stone yet and it's important to note that Mennenga is simply the favorite to this point, Mennenga wasn't the Packers' first choice.

The Packers tried to hire former Miami Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who was believed to be the best coach of his caliber on the market. Despite their efforts, which seemed minimal, he didn't receive the offer he was expecting.

Silverstein said that the Packers later met Rizzi's number, but he opted to pull himself out of the running.

The team stood at a crossroads, presented with the options of either paying top dollar for one of the league's most respected and successful special teams coaches or settle elsewhere with someone who may not have been one of their primary options but could still help engineer even a slight turnaround for a 32nd-ranked unit last season.

The Packers also interviewed Mike Mallory from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tom Flynn from the New York Giants and Maurice Drayton, who served as Zook's assistant last season.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (55)

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

January 30, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Don't care who the pack choose, this part of the team must be very good in order for the pack to compete. We will see very early if the choice is any.good

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TheVOR's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:35 pm

I'd like to see Green Bay be RAMS like aggressive on Special teams. Some creativity and coverage.

Also, I hate to say it, because I love Mason Crosby, but today's NFL kickers have Monster legs. That Rams kicker? OMG, that game winner was from 57, and would have been good from 70+ easy!

Would not surprise me to see the Pack drafting a kicker late in this draft..

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Mojo's picture

January 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm

He has the look of someone we can be comfortable screaming at over our TV sets.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:29 pm

I had similar thoughts. He looks a bit like a confused George "The Animal" Steele gazing into the crowd in that photo.

That said, I think Leaning Towards Shawn Mennenga is one of the best movies Spielberg ever directed. Tom Hanks deserved that Oscar, that's for sure. The D-Day scenes alone won it Best Picture.

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egbertsouse's picture

January 30, 2019 at 12:48 pm

I always wondered what happened to Uncle Fester after the Addams Family was cancelled.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:31 pm

Thanks, man. Now I have an image of him with a lightbulb in his mouth.

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PeteK's picture

January 30, 2019 at 03:35 pm

Hahahahaha you guys are too much. Well that's what happens when you have two losing seasons in a row.

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PeteK's picture

January 30, 2019 at 03:37 pm

dbl

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Swigganz's picture

January 30, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Rizzi would have been nice...

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4zone's picture

January 30, 2019 at 01:14 pm

You don't close in on a search, you close in on your man?

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:35 pm

You can close in on them, then flush them varmints out! Or smoke 'em out, once you close in on them. Either way, you stay between your man and the basket. The FBI always gets its man.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:07 pm

This screams Pettine just saying to MLF that this guy can do the job competently. I don't know what Rizzi's demands were, but unless they involved a say in personnel or associate head coach title, I'd have paid them.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:33 pm

It's clear the Packers are simply going cheap on all the coaching staff. The ONLY guy I trust on this entire Packers team is Stone Cold Mike Pettine. Rather than have LaFleur throw darts on a board desperatly hoping to get someone/anyone to join his team, if Mike Pettine likes him and he can read and write and is breathing, I would say go with the guy who had ties with Mike Pettine. He's the real coach of this team anyway. LaFleur is a glorified babysitter who's just here to kiss Aaron Rodgers' ass. Pettine is who the players are going to look at for true leadership. Thank God he's on this team. Could any of you imagine the panic if Pettine left? My guess is the Packers would hire up and coming newcomer coach Justin Harrel to be the new defensive coordinator.

Dash

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:39 pm

I'm not sure, Dash. I'll try to imagine the panic, but it's new to me so it may take me a few days. In the meantime, I bet someone here could imagine it. We have a deep bench at CHTV with many seasoned panic imaginers waiting for an opportunity to showcase their talent.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

January 30, 2019 at 03:58 pm

So let me get this straight. Two losing seasons in a row with new green young head coach with no experience, an aging qb who has yet to comment on the head coach and instead of being in Green Bay getting to know and learn LaFleur's offense, the guy is in New Zealand? We also are replacing experienced highly respected assistant coaches with high school coaches and you Leroy do not find this the least bit of a problem? You clearly have taken my advice already and are on your 10th possibly 11th can of PBR today. You are a seasoned panic imaginer but you simply replaced panic with PBR. It's the same damn thing Leotis.

Dash

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 31, 2019 at 09:20 am

Please don't call me Leroy, Dash. It's unbecoming of a man of your integrity to resort to name-calling in your long-winded replies.

I'm concerned over your level of anxiety, friend. Do you have a hobby you enjoy? How about pets? Dogs are a wonderful way to take the focus off your woes, and put energy into something positive. Is there anyone in your world to bring you joy? Anyone you share laughter with, or even polite conversation? To me you seem angry most of the time, angry with things you can't control, and frustrated when you can't find another to sit in your misery with you. That's a crappy place to be.

Get outside, buddy. Go for a walk. It'll warm up this afternoon. Feel the sun on your face, and breathe. It's going to be okay.

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carlos's picture

January 31, 2019 at 02:32 pm

I have 6 dogs and always outside, despite the cold weather. and am always angry. Just joking Leotis. I really do have that many dogs and they bring a lot of work, but so much joy. Sun is always a refreshing antidote to a rough day. Best to look at the positive side of any situation and hope for the best.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 31, 2019 at 06:28 pm

Good for you, Carlos. If we lived in the country I'd have more dogs, but 2 is enough in the city. Hope you have breeds with double coats for this weather. My guys are good down to -20 for much longer than I care to be out. This week has been tough on everyone. Stay warm, friend!

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Daren726's picture

February 02, 2019 at 06:23 am

Amen Leroy. Lol

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WinUSA's picture

January 31, 2019 at 10:14 am

The Packers find themselves in a quagmire of issues that should concern EVERY Packer fan. Green Bay has returned to the glory days of the 80’s .... when coming to the Frozen Tundra was like a death sentence to the million dollar babies. We have an aging QB with an attitude that very often is resented by young receivers. Our brain trust upper management (Murphy) can’t even hire a top special teams coach ((Rizzo), we have picked a head Coach with zilch experience controlling a 53 man roster, running An offense AND defense.... the other hand picked position coaches are from the whose who list of unknowns.... all with the vision of upper management to capture the magic of another Sean McVay. Good Luck with that one. If upper management could have moved on the Bears Vic Fangio... that would have been impressive. But no we have “the flower”.. good luck with that one.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Fear is the shadow of opportunity.

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WinUSA's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Dash... BAHAHAHAHAAAA. Justin Harrell. That's a good one!

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The TKstinator's picture

January 30, 2019 at 05:15 pm

Sounds like we better get the Worry Bus up and running!

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Paul Konieczny's picture

January 30, 2019 at 06:51 pm

He my need two.

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Paul Konieczny's picture

January 30, 2019 at 06:53 pm

A double decker could work. I’m going to London next week, I’ll check out prices.

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dobber's picture

January 30, 2019 at 09:06 pm

Even with the weather the way it is, I suspect it's already good and warmed up!

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brinkofdisaster12's picture

January 31, 2019 at 11:25 am

It was -38 this morning in my neck of the woods. Hope that worry bus isn't around here, if so, it isn't starting.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 31, 2019 at 12:55 pm

No offense, but you can keep your neck of the woods. Couple of more years before I can consider moving to a warmer clime.

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Lare's picture

January 31, 2019 at 01:34 pm

I took early retirement and moved south last year. I miss Wisconsin, but I don't miss the winter weather. It was 20 degrees for a low here this morning, I can live with that.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:53 pm

I moved from Northern Wisconsin to Texas in my 20s. Loved Wisconsin, Love Texas. This morning, I was outside in my jeans and a T-shirt walking my dogs.

In a few years, when my wife retires, we'll spend summers in cooler places and we'll winter here with our heated pool.

Oh....no state taxes in Texas, either.

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carlos's picture

January 31, 2019 at 02:40 pm

That’s cold. -10 here this morning after a huge 2 day blizzard.

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WinUSA's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:31 pm

I'm not worried... I'm realistic...... The Pack has has two HOF QBs for the past quarter of a century.... That's two generations of "Packer" fans that hasn't seen what happens (until recently - Chewing gum Hundley, and that poor excuse of a QB Kizer) when a team doesn't have a quality QB. We had ample opportunity to give Boyle some real time experience but Murphy passed that one up. You think it's a cold winter? Well it's going to heat up faster than you think next season.

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WinUSA's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:48 pm

Go Pack

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Leatherhead's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Are you aware that many, many, many teams have won games, made the playoffs, and gotten to the Super Bowl that didn't have Favre or Rodgers at QB?

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WinUSA's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I'm not worried... I'm realistic...... The Pack has had two HOF QBs for the past quarter of a century.... That's two generations of "Packer" fans that haven't seen what happens (until recently - Chewing gum Hundley, and that poor excuse of a QB Kizer) when a team doesn't have a quality QB. We had ample opportunity to give Boyle some real time experience but Murphy passed that one up. You think it's a cold winter? Well it's going to heat up faster than you think next season. Rodgers body is on the brink of no return. When he goes down..and he will...this deck of card house is really going to show you how dysfunctional this organization has become.

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Bear's picture

January 31, 2019 at 01:56 pm

Rizzi stated his family wanted to stay in Miami and he wanted a job close to them. Packers second offer met his demands. Read the papers guys!

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dobber's picture

January 31, 2019 at 02:19 pm

Wait...so the Packers offered to move to Miami?

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carlos's picture

January 31, 2019 at 02:42 pm

Can’t blame his family on that decision. 80’s as compared to below zero. Good choice.

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dobber's picture

January 31, 2019 at 07:29 pm

Having lived in the hot for 7 years, I'll take the cold for a couple days over 4-5 months of stifling heat and humidity any day.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 01, 2019 at 02:11 am

We're going to be the Green Bay Dolphins? Ugh.

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Rak47's picture

February 01, 2019 at 02:24 am

I'm still working my way toward beautiful San Diego where it stays between 70-90 degrees all year round. Lot's of sunshine, beautiful beaches, and love the way the ocean feels on the skin whenever I visit.

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NickPerry's picture

February 01, 2019 at 06:50 am

LOL...I live in Los Angeles and have been here for almost all of my adult life. EVERY time I'm in San Diego it's at best 50 and usually rains!

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Rossonero's picture

January 30, 2019 at 02:40 pm

I don't know a thing about this guy, but here's a snippet of accomplishments from his Vanderbilt bio:

During his NFL tenure, Mennenga and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor helped the Browns' players set NFL and franchise records.

In 2016, punter Britton Colquitt set a team net punting average record with 40.3.

In 2015, kicker Travis Coons set an NFL record with 18 consecutive field goals to start his career and punt returner Travis Benjamin finished third in the league in punt return average (11.6).

In 2014, Mennenga assisted a special teams unit that finished second in the NFL in opposing field position on kickoffs, including 16 stops inside the 20.

In 2013, kicker Billy Cundiff set a franchise record with 62 touchbacks on kickoffs.

In 2012, kicker Phil Dawson and returner Joshua Cribbs were both selected to the Pro Bowl. Dawson's 93.5 (29 of 31) field goal percentage clip also led the AFC.

Prior to joining the Browns, Mennenga spent the 2009-10 seasons as the linebackers coach at South Dakota State University. In 2009, the Jackrabbits’ defense ranked in the top 20 nationally in four categories, including pass efficiency (4th – 99.55), rushing defense (14th – 104.3 ypg), points per game allowed (16th – 17.4) and total defense (17th – 289.5 ypg).

Before joining South Dakota State’s staff, Mennenga spent four seasons (2005-08) as the defensive coordinator at Fort Hays (Kansas) State University. He spent the previous four years at Culver-Stockton (Mo.) College, where he served one season as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator (2001) and the final three as the team’s head coach (2002-04).

During his collegiate coaching career, he has also held assistant positions at Hutchinson Community College (defensive coordinator – 1998-2000), Western Kentucky University (outside linebackers – 1997) and Southwest Baptist University (1995-96 – secondary; 1994 – graduate assistant).

Mennenga lettered one season as a defensive back at the University of Missouri in 1992.

A native of Iowa, he and his wife, Christie, have a son, Garrett, and a daughter, Ashley.

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LeotisHarris's picture

January 31, 2019 at 09:22 am

Thanks, Rossonero! Imagine if that kind of information could have been included in an article, or something.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 30, 2019 at 05:47 pm

Thanks Ross, I wondered about him. It’s also good to hear about how well his kickers did. If we chose him I hope he has some fire in him. Lackadaisical plays from STs are a hair puller for me.

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ricky's picture

January 30, 2019 at 06:51 pm

So, the Packers thought the best qualified guy was too expensive? Then, decided to grudginglly agree to his price, only to be spurned because the guy was insulted? And now they're going with a guy who has never been an effective ST's coach because he's cheaper (apparently)? You get what you pay for. Apparently the team would rather save their money for something other than hiring the best.

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 30, 2019 at 08:51 pm

So Murphy, after a great interview between ML and Rizzi where Rizzi was excited to join the Pack, nixed the deal due to salary issues.

This from a team president who is paying MM and his former assistants over $7 mil in dead money on a contract he extended after the failed 2017 season.

Then, just days after, Murphy agreed to Rizzi’s salary expectations.

Rizzi said “thanks Mark, but no thanks. I am looking elsewhere “.

Murphy should focus on skating rinks and theme parks and season ticket price increases.

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WinUSA's picture

February 01, 2019 at 01:51 pm

Exactly! 10 thumbs up on your post!

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dobber's picture

January 31, 2019 at 09:34 am

I tore a Mennenga in my knee in college. After about 8 weeks, it was much better, but I still can't run a sub 4.5-40.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 01, 2019 at 02:16 am

Kind of the opposite formulation for me: I couldn't run a sub 4.5-40 before I tore my Mennenga in college.

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The TKstinator's picture

February 01, 2019 at 07:41 am

Just avoid spinal Mennenga if at all possible.

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GreenInMo's picture

January 31, 2019 at 02:55 pm

This'll be horrible for my first ever post, but...
I'm so very proud of the upper management for giving all of these sub-.500 coaches the opportunity to keep the Packers in the middle of the 'pack'.
We are sure to be doing away with the 'hurry up and wait' predictable offense of the past and move into the 'here's the top 20 plays that winning teams used last year' offense that defenses will already have figured out.
Hopefully the decent draft picks that are chosen will not be of the 'measurables with potential' variety but of the proven ability kind. (see 3 wasted WR picks)
Coming from Vandy to GB should come as no shock when looking at the ST side of the ball.
Begging for an 8-8 year in 2019, but feeling a mite bit pessimistic.

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The TKstinator's picture

February 01, 2019 at 07:42 am

How do you know how much those 3 WR drank last season?

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BoHunter's picture

February 01, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Pump the brakes boys, any ST Coach other than Zook will be an upgrade.
Cheers,
Bo

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Ualitore's picture

September 23, 2020 at 04:36 am

He's a very good coach, with a great experience.

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