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Packers Finally Paying Attention To Special Teams

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Packers Finally Paying Attention To Special Teams

Good stuff from Pete Dougherty on the Packers finally finding religion when it comes to fixing their special teams woes.

From the very first practice of training camp, it was readily apparent that McCarthy was going to follow through on  the promise he made at the Scouting Combine this past spring when he said that special teams was going to be "the most improved area of our football team." (And yes, we hear you in the back. Yes you, the one who just muttered "hard for it to get any worse")

Every practice contains an extra 10-15 minutes of special teams work and there are myriad new special teams drills that Shawn Slocum apparently designed over the course of the offseason. One such drill can be viewed below:

You'll notice a quick glimpse when the shot pans to the right of a couple of officials that were there, presiding over each rep. Officiating individual drills is unusual, but it's exactly what the Packers need. From Dougherty:

The hope is that officiating even during individual drills ingrains better blocking habits. The Packers won’t know until they play a good sample of games whether it’s helped much, if at all, but there’s an old saying in coaching that “you get what you emphasize.” No one can say the Packers’ coaches haven’t emphasized avoiding penalties on special teams.

I saw three flags thrown the whole time they were doing this particular drill, an encouraging sign.

Now, as Pete suggests, whether any of this will translate to better special teams play on Sunday's is anyone's guess. My hunch is that, when it comes to the punting unit, a competent punter (and yes, both Bryan and Masthay are, without question, already leagues better than what Kapinos was doing for the past year-and-a-half) will magically improve a lot of the woes of the punt coverage unit.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

brewers_rule's picture

Point of order, Your Honor: if they were TRULY interested in fixing special teams, why didn't Ted get off his ass and make a Desmond Howard-like move to get Ted Ginn Jr. on the cheap? And how's McCrappy's efforts in "fixing" the OL gone the last few years. I truly want to believe in these guys but until they start fixing the leaks they created, I'll remain leery of true success.

packeraaron's picture

Allow me to respond to Council: Ginn is not the player his highlight reel would suggest. Blackmon, when and if healthy, can do anything Ginn can do when it comes to returning punts. As for the Oline - I contend this is the year you will see it "all come together". And no, I have nothing more to offer you than a simple hunch. ;)

Madman's picture

The correct word is "counsel;"

and a point is "moot," not mute.

Sorry occupational hazard.

packeraaron's picture

Yeah, yeah, yeah... ;)

PackersRS's picture

Where's Aaron, the hater? I mean, okay, you blasted Rodgers for not being in a groove. But since then, it has been all but praise. Listening to you in the podcast you linked, it seemed like the team is amazing.

I'm not questioning your authenticity here, as your reputation precedes you, but do you think there's some bias in here, just by getting excited in TC, or do you think this is legit, that this team, indeed, has few flaws, and that from what you've seen, it can dominate every sunday?

packeraaron's picture

I really can't win RS. If I sing the teams praises, I'm a biased homer. If I point out a flaw, I'm a hater. It's fine, I just find it interesting.

And you're forgetting my agreement with McGinn about Clay Matthews not showing much in camp before he got hurt. Again, I was bombarded with "why are you saying Matthews' sucks?" which wasn't even remotely close to what I said.

As to your last point - yes. I do think this team is, on paper, one of the best the Packers have assembled in quite some time. And I am excited about it. When they start playing games and there's a lot on tape I can pour over, trust me, I'm sure I'll have plenty to bitch about. ;)

CSS's picture

There you go again, such a waffler. Homer to Hater....Homer to Hater, can't you just pick one! (...couldn't resist) :)

PackersRS's picture

Lol at the Favre reference.

PackersRS's picture

I wasn't complaining about you praising the team... Was just an observation. ;)

David's picture

First of all, when Aaron tweeted that Rodgers didn't look sharp, it was because, well, he didn't look sharp. He wasn't "blasting" him as you said.
Second, why does he criticize players/coaches sometimes, and praise them at other times? Its called being objective. Aaron doesn't have any agendas or biases. As opinionated as Aaron is, he is also objective; which is what I like/respect most about him.

packeraaron's picture

Thanks man.

FITZCORE1252's picture

"Aaron doesn’t have any agendas or biases."

You know this how? Just sayin'.


packeraaron's picture

I hear what you're saying here Fitz, but David has been reading this site pretty much since we first started. I like to think my body of work speaks for itself - I call people out who I think need to be called out and praise people when I think they deserve it. After four years, David (and hopefully a few others) know they can trust I'm coming at things with as open a mind as possible. I readily admit to being a fan, and always want the team to do well. But you're right - there's no way of knowing if I am on Brett Favre's payroll, sent here to destroy the Packers...

PackersRS's picture

Read what I said. Read the tone in which I said it.

Last time I checked, Aaron was human. Subejct to external and internal influences in his judgement.

I raised the possibility that being near the team, and all the talk about XLV or Die running around might have affected his tone, as he's usually more of a "down-to-earth" kind of guy.

I know that he got some flak for "criticizing" Rodgers. I wasn't one giving him. Blasting was just the first word that came to mind.

PackersRS's picture

And, BTW, I feel a little offended by that.

If I thought that Aaron, or Corey and Brian, wasn't honest in his reports, that he had an agenda, I wouldn't come here.

packeraaron's picture

"Read the tone" - rofl

Ryeguy812's picture

Am I the only one having Forrest Gump visions when it comes to Sam Shields on kick returns. All the speed in the world, can't catch. So We'll have two guys back, the other guy will catch the kickoff and then hand it to Shields and says "Run Sam! Run!"
TD every time

Ron LC's picture

I look at the roster for the year and the only thig different is the Draftees and Undrafted FA's. Hence, am I correct in assuming then, that all the problems with the ST's are coaching related? If so, why wasn't that corrected along with the pad levels in previous years?

Let's be honest the whole strategy for success in 2010 is based on improvement of the returning veterans and the success of 3 or 4 rookies filling a spot like CM3 did last year. Once agin the whole responsibility lies with the coaches.

If it soesn't work, what's next?

CJ in Guatemala's picture

We had 2 terrible punters for two straight years, if the new competing pair are as good as advertised (at least better than Frost and Kapinos) that right there will be a much needed improvement.

DAWG's picture

A Little Humor

I met a fairy today that granted me one wish, :I want to live forever :I said.
;Sorry: said the fairy, I'm not allow to grant wishes like that!
Fine, I said, I want to die after the Vikings wing a Super Bowl

FITZCORE1252's picture

A Pedophile a Priest and a Rapist walk into a bar... then another guy walks in...

DAWG's picture

A Little Humor

I met a fairy today that granted me one wish, :I want to live forever :I said.
;Sorry: said the fairy, I'm not allowed to grant wishes like that!
Fine, I said, I want to die after the Vikings win a Super Bowl,
You crafty bustard, said the fairy!

kcnyc's picture

Special teams play has cost them games in the past few seasons. It's hard to think of one that ST won for the Packers.

I like to say that "Yards is yards" no matter if you get them before the offense gets on the field or if you give up yards before your defense is on the field. The team is THAT much closer to the goal line.

CJ in Guatemala's picture

I think every time they made a BIG play, it was flagged back.
So this type of drills are exactly what we need, just like those tackling drills when training camp started lol, we all know how bad tackling was in general last year.

Ruppert's picture

Like Tampa last year, when we go up 28-17 with 12 minutes to go in the 4th, then promptly give up an 83 yard, momentum-destroying Kickoff Return.

I don't care if it's coaching, personnel, or prayer that does it, they gotta get better special teams production this year. Throw top-notch kick/punt coverage, even above average returns and above average punting, it could make this team extremely difficult to beat. It's just crazy because we sucked in all 3 aspects last year (returns, coverage, and punting). Tighten it up, guys.

Ron LC's picture

And we really sucked in game changing FG's. Old "push it left" Crosby better get much better under pressure.

bomdad's picture

I can think of a few games where special teams kept them in it, namely philly in 07 and vikings in 08. So its not all gloom and doom. Final piece to the puzzle, yes, but the picture is pretty clear already. Extra focus to this aspect on a team with a 400o yd passer, 2x1000 yd wrs, a potential 1000 yd te, and the #2 defense, I think NOW is time for addressing the third and most easily addressible aspect.

Anonymous's picture

The Packers cannot possibly emphasize, however, the degree to which they will continue to receive phantom, biased flags on a regular basis on Special Teams.

pat fermanich's picture

super comment. rye guy 812

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