New Special Teams Coach looks to clean up the unit.

One of the biggest tasks for the new Green Bay Packers coaching staff is to turn around the special teams unit. That job now belongs to Shawn Mennenga. New Head Coach Matt LaFleur hired Mennega to replace former specials teams coordinator Ron Zook.

The Packers special teams unit ranked near the bottom of the league last year. Former Head Coach Mike McCarthy kept Ron Zook on staff longer than he should have. The special teams unit was horrendous throughout Zook’s tenure leading the unit.

The special teams unit is a good indicator of the depth that your team has. The Packers have not had quality depth in years. To get more playing time, some younger players need to make an impression on special teams.

Shawn Mennenga was a special teams assistant from 2011-2017 for the Cleveland Browns. His tenure crossed over when current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the Browns Head Coach. During his tenure as the assistant to the unit in Cleveland, the Browns special teams were considered good.

Meanwhile, in Green Bay, a slew of injuries led to a constant shuffling of personnel. Not to mention, penalties plagued the unit throughout 2018. Besides that, the Packers special teams unit has had its share of dumb moments. Early in the 2018 season, Ty Montgomery had a disastrous kick return, with over 2 minutes remaining in the game and the Packers trailing by 2 points to the Rams. Montgomery received the ball a few yards in the end zone, instead of taking a knee, he instead ran it out of the end zone and fumbled the football with the Rams recovering. All he had to do was take a knee and give the ball to Aaron Rodgers with an opportunity.

Plus, Packer nation has tried to forget about Brandon Bostick in Seattle a few years ago. All he had to do was block and let the ball go over his head and let the guy with the best hands on the team catch. Instead, he tries to catch it, and we all know what happens next. To say that the Packers specials teams have been a disappointment is an understatement.

It is now up to Shawn Mennenga to turn the unit around and make it a strength. His biggest thing is going to be cutting down the penalties. In Monday’s press conference, Mennenga stated, “We’re going to beat them over the head with what the rules are”. The Packers had 26 special teams penalties in 2018, clearly the most in franchise history this decade.

In his press conference, Mennenga also said, “We’re going to play fast, play physical and be relentless, but also play intelligent with good judgment”.

One change that new Head Coach Matt LaFleur has already made to the special teams unit is he is dedicating 3 coaches to the unit. Previously, the Packers had a special teams coordinator and assistant coach handling the unit.

The new Packers regime has clearly made improving the special teams unit a priority. If all that happens is limiting the penalties than it would still be a success. The Packers need more than that to be successful in 2019. A good kick off or punt return can flip the field position and change the game. It is now up to Shawn Mennenga to get the unit to play fast, relentless, generate turnovers and set Aaron Rodgers up with good field position. Mennenga sounds like a man who is eager to make his mark and return the Packers special teams to a strength of the team.

Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag

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