New-Look Coaching Staff Aims to Land Green Bay Packers Back in Postseason
The 2009 coaching staff will look considerably different for the Green Bay Packers.
Following a tumultuous 2008 campaign, where the defense ranked near the bottom of the league, the entire defensive staff except for Assistant Head Coach/Inside Linebackers Coach Winston Moss was let go. Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Rock Gullickson was also fired and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Stock retired.
That leaves the 2009 staff with plenty of new faces, ideas and schemes.
The offensive coaching staff, which produced a high-scoring, well-balanced attack the last few years remains intact.
Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin is entering his third season at that position. In each of his first two seasons, Philbin, who started his NFL career with the Packers in 2003, has produced an offensive unit that ranked in the top eight in total yards and top five in total points, the only team in the league to accomplish this feat.
Philbin's 2008 offense produced a 4,000 yard passer in first-year starter Aaron Rodgers, a 1,200 yard rusher in Ryan Grant, and two 1,000 yard receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.
While Head Coach Mike McCarthy assumes play-calling duties, Philbin's role with the team is significant. Starting as assistant offensive line coach in 2003, and then moving to tight ends/assistant offensive line coach in 2004, Philbin has a broad range of offensive background.
Former Packers running back Edgar Bennett is back for his fifth season as running backs coach. Bennett helped tutor Grant to a 1,200 yard season, following up on his brilliant 2007 season where he burst onto the scene, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards after assuming the starting role at midseason.
Grant also rushed for a Packers postseason record of 203 yards in the Divisional Playoff game against Seattle following the 2007 season.
Another former Packer, James Campen, will return for his third season as offensive line coach. Campen oversaw the development of three fourth-year linemen, in Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, and Tony Moll. The trio has combined for 103 starts in their short time under Campen's tutelage.
Tom Clements, who worked extensively with Rodgers last year, returns for his fourth season as quarterbacks coach. Rodgers threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2008, following an MVP-type season from Brett Favre in 2007.
While the offensive coaching staff features familiar faces and continuity, the defensive side is brand new.
Dom Capers will take over the defensive coordinator duties. Capers' arrival meant the Packers would switch to the 3-4 defense, something Capers is quite familiar with. He spent 2008 as special assistant-secondary with the New England Patriots, who also run the 3-4.
Capers is entering his 24th NFL season. He served as head coach to the expansion Carolina Panthers from 1995-98, where he coached against the Packers in the 1996 NFC Championship game.
Capers took on another head-coaching job with the expansion Houston Texans from 2002-04, after serving as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1999-2000.
Former Capers player, Kevin Greene will coach the outside linebackers in his first year as an NFL coach. Greene spent 15 seasons as a linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and San Fransisco 49ers.
Greene is the all-time leader in sacks by a linebacker and figures to be a good mentor for Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, who is making the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker in the new defense.
Greene's fiery attitude should also help boost a defense that lacked passion and intensity at times in 2008.
Mike Trgovac joins the Packers from Carolina as defensive line coach. Trgovac is also familiar with the 3-4 after running it with the Panthers for the past six seasons as defensive coordinator.
During his six-year stint as coordinator, he oversaw defenses that finished in the top ten in yards and points allowed three times.
Following the retirement of Stock, Assistant Special Teams Coach Shawn Slocum was promoted to take over coordinator duties. Slocum is in his fourth season as an NFL coach.
Slocum has played a large part in the development of young special teams standouts Will Blackmon, Jason Hunter and Tramon Williams.
While the 2009 coaching staff for the Packers, features many new faces, it also features many years of NFL experience and success.
The offense will look to build on the success of previous years, while the defense looks for a return to dominance under Capers.
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