To say the Green Bay Packers Special Team Coordinator hirings under Matt LaFleur have not worked out to this point would be a gross understatement. Under both Shawn Mennenga and most recently Maurice Drayton, this unit has been their undoing in most of the biggest moments. The fan base is clamoring for a change, and a drastic one at that. The hiring of former Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia has a large portion of the fan base celebrating and hoping this will be the moment the team turns a corner. But is the hiring of this well-known name enough? Probably not.
Rich Bisaccia is the hottest name on the market right now for a Special Teams coordinator position. A good deal of that could be the name value and recency bias. Bisaccia took over a Raiders team midseason after the public relations disaster that was Jon Gruden. Under Bisaccia, the team went 7-5 and earned a playoff berth, despite a plethora of off field issues.
The hiring of a coach as well respected around the league and loved by his players like Bisaccia is certainly a great step forward in this process, but not a solution by any means. During his tenure with the team, the Raiders averaged finishing 20th in the league in overall special teams rankings. While that sounds like a welcomed improvement to where the Packers have been finishing, that doesn’t lend itself to the belief that this is the single move that will solve all the issues in Green Bay.
Overall, a paradigm shift must occur in Green Bay and a focus must be placed on this unit. For far too long, special teams have gone completely unthought of in terms of front office and roster moves. For this hire to work, he needs help from a personnel perspective. Great football minds such as Bill Belichick and Sean Payton have often made a point to roster special team focused players. It’s time for this organization to do the same.
Look no further for a prime example of this than in this season’s Divisional Round game against San Francisco. With few options on the roster that he felt confidence in, Matt LaFleur turned to stud running back, AJ Dillion on kick return coverage. The result was Dillion fracturing his rib on the play, missing the remainder of the game.
Beyond simply this season, and even Matt LaFleur’s time as head coach, special teams had never been a strong suit of the Packers in recent memory. Even under Mike McCarthy, the Packers only had a single top 10 finish in the league for this side of the ball, and only four top 16 finishes.
There’s no question this is a breath of fresh air type hire for a team that has recently gone with the easy answer at this position. After going the cheap route as an organization, and not hiring Darren Rizzi who has elevated the New Orleans Saints Special Teams to top five in the NFL, this is a welcome move from the front office. However, it shouldn’t be seen as the solution to the Packers problem. Let’s hope Brian Gutekunst brings in guys who can help Bisaccia be successful in his time in Green Bay. Perhaps maybe a punt returner Packers fans don’t have to hold their breath and pray every time they step back to receive.
Zach has been a lifelong Packers fan since his earliest memories of Brett Favre\\\'s Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXXII. A proud shareholder of the team, he bleeds Green and Gold despite being born and raised in New Jersey. You can follow him on twitter at @RapMasterZach.