Why Shawn Mennenga is the Packers’ hope for the special teams unit

Yesterday Rob Demovsky (ESPN) reported that the Green Bay Packers will hire Shawn Mennenga as their special teams coordinator as one of the last coaching position to be filled.

He will replace Ron Zook, who coached the special teams from 2015-18. Mennenga has some ties to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine: He was a special teams assistent in Cleveland (2011-17), when Pettine was the head coach of the Browns in 2014-15. He also knows Kyle Shanahan, a long-time friend of head coach Matt LaFleur, as he was the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2014.

The Packers are in a desperate need of an improved special teams unit, as they finished dead last in special teams last season, according to Rick Gosselin’s special teams rankings (footballmaven.io). They also allowed the most points on special teams (12) and had the single most giveaways in the NFL with 5.

The Packers don’t need a flashing punt or kick returner, although it would be nice to have and helpful for every offense. What they really need is reliable special teams play with a decent coverage unit and that doesn’t turn the ball over when it could be in Rodgers’ hands instead. That might have also been Gutekunst’s thoughts when he released Ty Montgomery in week 8 after a stupid fumble that probably cost the Packers the game against the Rams (2:05 left and trailing by 2)

The Packers need a new start with the special teams and they think they can get it with Mennenga. Mennenga joined the Browns (his first NFL team) in 2011 as an assistant special teams coach with Chris Tabor as his coordinator. In his second season, Kicker Phil Dawson (best FG% in the AFC) and returner Joshua Cribbs were selected to the Pro Bowl. A year later kicker Billy Cundiff set a franchise record with 62 touchbacks on kickoffs. 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) and in his last season with the Browns, punter Britton Colquitt set a team net punting average record with 40.3. (vuocommodores.com).

The Packers’ special teams will be Mennenga’s first coordinator job in the NFL.

Max Sachs is an international Packers fan from Germany. As a part of the Packers Germany, he tries to convince everyone around him to cheer for the greatest franchise on earth - or to start with, for American football in general. You can find him on Twitter @KaesekopfDE (the german translation for cheesehead).
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