As the final seconds ticked away on the game clock, all Packers could do was stand by and watch the 49ers end their season-again.
It was as much disappointing as much as it was frustrating, seeing the Packers fall short yet again the playoffs, again at the hands of their rivals to the West.
As soon as the game ended, armchair GMs began proposing their ideas about what needs to happen in order to make the Packers a Super Bowl contender again, instead of just a one and done in the playoffs as they have been three out of the past five seasons.
The most common clamor has been “Fire Dom Capers.”
Calling for the removal of Capers is warranted. Statistically, the Packers defense has deteriorated in the five seasons Capers has been in charge. But if Capers were to be replaced, the question becomes by who?
The list of potential candidates is both unimpressive and underwhelming, so odds are Capers is staying put.
While everyone is quick to jump on Capers for his coaching, there is another coach on the Packers staff who deserves equal-if not more-criticism than Capers.
Since being named Special Teams Coordinator in 2009, Shawn Slocum and his Special Teams have done little to separate themselves from being just another group in the NFL.
2013 was no different.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the unofficial ranker of NFL Special Teams, Green Bay finished 20th in the league in Special Teams this past season.
Some “highlights” of the Packers’ Special Teams this past season include:
- Worst opponent starting position in the league (25.6 yard line)
- 30th ranked kick return average in the NFL (20.3 yds)
- 21st in net punting average (39.0 yds)
- 28th in punts inside the 20 (22)
The 20th rank for the Special Teams ended four consecutive seasons of improvement for them, although they have never finished in the Top 10 under Slocum:
- 2009: 31st
- 2010: 29th
- 2011: 13th (tied)
- 2012: 12th
- 2013: 20th
Granted, not all was bad for the Special Teams in 2013. Mason Crosby finished the season with an 89.7% FG success rate, by far the best in his career. Micah Hyde was a find as a punt returner, finishing 7th in punt return average (11.3 YPR), helping the Packers earn the best opponent net punt average in the NFL (35.6 yds). But beyond that, it was a lot of underwhelming for the Special Teams, as has been far too often the case under Slocum’s tutelage.
Finding someone to blame for the Packers 8-8-1 season has been a common occurrence since their season came to another abrupt end. While most everyone is quick to jump on Dom Capers and his apparent inability to make the defense a Top 5 defense, perhaps more focus should be placed on Shawn Slocum and his Special Teams consistently finishing as an average to below average group.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.