With Coach McCarthy's Staff Complete, the Packers Are Ready To Compete
The Green Bay Packers’ defensive coaching staff will see a lot of new faces this season with the overhaul Head Coach Mike McCarthy oversaw, highlighted by his hiring of Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. In contrast, the offensive coaching staff remains intact from last season as the Packers enjoyed a productive year on offense in 2008.
McCarthy’s football background started at Baker University where he played tight end, was captain of his team as a senior, and was named all-conference at his position in 1986.
He went on to become a graduate assistant and position coach (quarterbacks) at Fort Hays State University and University of Pittsburgh, respectively, before arriving in the NFL on Kansas City’s coaching staff.
There, McCarthy began to make a name for himself as a quarterbacks coach. He went on to Green Bay for his first stint with the club before moving on to New Orleans, earning an offensive coordinator job.
After New Orleans, McCarthy went to San Francisco for a year before landing in Green Bay for his second stint with the Packers, this time, as head coach.
Through his journey from graduate assistant to head coach, McCarthy worked with and tutored the likes of Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Rich Gannon, Elvis Grbac, Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, Jake Delhomme, and Aaron Rodgers.
His “quarterbacks school,” in session every March, is well renowned for helping young signal-callers and veterans alike to develop into exceptional quarterbacks.
Along with his head coaching duties for the Green Bay Packers, McCarthy also calls in the plays on offense during games. It’s a role he has become very familiar with when he was hired by defensive-minded head coaches in the past to coordinate their offenses.
Joe Philbin is Green Bay’s offensive coordinator of the last two years. He assumed that role after Jeff Jagodzinski left to be the head coach at Boston College following the 2006 season.
Philbin has orchestrated a very productive offense in 2007 and 2008, producing the fifth most points in the league both years even with a change at the quarterback position in-between those seasons.
Before coming to the Packers in 2003, Philbin built a strong reputation for himself as an offensive line coach at Iowa. Under his tutelage, players like Robert Gallery, Eric Steinbach, and Bruce Nelson enjoyed all-conference honors in the Big Ten before becoming Day One draft picks, with Gallery going No. 2 overall in 2004.
Philbin also did well to coach an offensive line for the Packers in 2006 that consisted of Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, and Tony Moll, all of whom were rookies that season and logged 38 combined starts. All three remain on the team, with Colledge and Spitz figuring to start at left guard and center, respectively.
Edgar Bennett, the team’s running backs coach, arrived in Green Bay originally as a fourth-round draft choice out of Florida State. Playing the running back spot for the Packers, he set a team-record for receptions in 1994 with 78 and eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in 1995.
Bennett became part of the Packers’ player development staff in 2001, mentoring the team’s backs, before he was named by McCarthy as the Packers’ running backs coach in 2005. Most recently, Bennett has been responsible for turning Ryan Grant into a feature back, Brandon Jackson into a serviceable third-down back, and Deshawn Wynn into a talented back-up runner.
James Campen is the Packers’ offensive line coach, a position he took over when Philbin took the coordinator job in 2007. Before that, he assisted Philbin with the offensive line, helping Mike Flanagan, Marco Rivera, and later on Chad Clifton all make the Pro Bowl.
He also assisted in the team’s transition from Flanagan to Scott Wells, and will possibly oversee another switch at center as Spitz will compete with Wells for the position this summer.
Like Bennett, Campen played for the Packers before returning to the team to coach. He was a center in the early 90s and started in games for three seasons in Green Bay before a season-ending hamstring injury essentially ended his playing career.
Jerry Fontenot, assistant offensive line coach, will be entering his fourth year with the Packers and his fourth year coaching in the NFL. He started as a summer intern with Green Bay in 2006 and stayed with the team through the year. He was promoted to assistant offensive line coach in 2007.
Fontenot actually played for McCarthy back in New Orleans when McCarthy was the offensive coordinator. Fontenot also played for the Bears and the Bengals as a part of his 16 year playing career. He played college football at Texas A&M before becoming Chicago’s third round draft choice in the 1989 draft.
Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements had plenty to boast about last season. He has been heavily involved in the development of Aaron Rodgers since the former Cal star arrived in Green Bay.
Last season, Rodgers became the only other quarterback in league history besides Kurt Warner to throw for more than 4,000 yards in his first season as a starter. Rodgers also ranked fourth in the league in both yards and touchdowns thrown; this is only a year after Brett Favre’s MVP-quality performance from 2008.
Aside from a stint as offensive coordinator in Buffalo for two years before coming to Green Bay in 2006, Clements has been a quarterbacks coach throughout his coaching career. He has coached in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans, as well as Notre Dame under Lou Holtz.
Clements also had a very prolific playing career for Notre Dame where he led his team to a National Championship in 1973. Later on in the CFL, Clements won two Grey Cup Championships, one with Ottawa and another with Winnipeg.
Like most of the offensive coaching staff, Ben McAdoo arrived on the scene in Green Bay in 2006. He followed McCarthy to Green Bay after having worked with him previously in New Orleans and San Francisco. McAdoo has helped the tight end group adapt to multiple roles in the offense.
McCarthy likes his tight ends to be versatile blockers, lining up at the traditional tight end spot as well as in the backfield.
Donald Lee has grown accustomed to lining up next to Rodgers, picking up blitzers or slipping beyond the line of scrimmage to give Rodgers the option for a dump-off pass. McAdoo was able to turn Lee from a relative obscurity into a productive contributor for the team, amassing 11 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
As wide receivers coach for the Packers since 2006, Jimmy Robinson has contributed to the early development of young receivers Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. This trio of receivers had productive rookie seasons, collecting no less than 33 receptions each.
Robinson has also helped guide veteran Donald Driver to 1,000 yard receiving seasons every year that he has been coaching for the Packers.
Robinson boasts one of the more experienced resumes among the Packers’ offensive coaches. He previously spent two years coaching for the Saints, when Joe Horn had his most productive year receiving, falling a yard shy of 1,400 yards while scoring 11 times. He also coached for six seasons with the Giants during which Amani Toomer earned five straight 1,000-yard seasons.
As a wide receiver at Georgia Tech from 1971-1974, he collected over 100 receptions and 1,600 yards through his career. He was drafted in the 15th round and went on to make 85 catches for over 1,400 yards.
John Rushing is the lone coach on the offensive side of the ball who is entering his first year with the Packers organization. He will be the team’s offensive quality control coach, though his background is as a defensive backs coach.
This is his first year coaching in the NFL, as he previously coached at Utah State, Montana State, and Boise State. He played college ball at Washington State as a defensive back, starting 46 games (a school record).
As for the defense, the unit this year will be led by defensive coordinator Dom Capers. He will implement the highly anticipated 3-4 scheme and to do so, he has hand-picked most of his defensive coaching staff.
Capers comes to Green Bay with a decorated coaching background, having head coached two expansion teams: the Panthers and the Texans. He coordinated the Dolphins’ defense in 2006 when Jason Taylor won defensive player of the year honors.
Historically speaking, Capers is best known for his coaching job in the early '90s as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator when he ran the 3-4 defense with great success. During that span from 1992-1994, no other team in the NFL allowed fewer touchdowns than the Pittsburgh defense.
The Packers got a steal with Mike Trgovac coming in to coach the defensive line. Trgovac has had six productive seasons with the Panthers as defensive coordinator. Carolina offered Trgovac an extension to continue coaching there, but he declined, preferring a lesser coaching role somewhere else so that he could spend more time with his family.
Prior to his time with the Panthers, Trgovac coached the defensive lines of the Redskins, Packers, and Eagles (where he started his NFL coaching career). As for the college ranks, he mentored young defensive lineman from Ball State, Navy, Colorado State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
Kevin Greene will be the Packers’ outside linebackers coach, having previously played the position for Capers during his time with both the Steelers and Panthers. Greene ranks third all-time in sacks with 160. He played for 15 seasons and was named to five pro bowls.
Though this is his first official year of coaching, he has been interning with teams during the summer for the past five years. Greene will coach a position he mastered during his playing days, and he promises his passion for the game will be just as strong in his coaching role as it was when he was out there playing.
Darren Perry is another former Capers disciple, having played for him when Capers was coordinating the Steelers’ defense. Perry played safety with Pittsburgh and played nine total years in the NFL including one-year stints with the Chargers and Saints to end his playing career. He will be coaching the safeties for Green Bay this coming season.
Perry has been coaching secondaries for seven seasons now, most recently with the Raiders, and also with the Steelers and Bengals before that. He has aided in the development of players such as Troy Polamalu and Nnamdi Asomugha and has worked under the likes of Dick LeBeau and Bill Cowher.
Coaching the cornerbacks in Green Bay will be Joe Whitt Jr. He was one of the few coaches leftover on defense after the major overhaul by McCarthy in the offseason. Whitt was promoted from a defensive quality control position he worked last season, his first year with the Packers and only his second year in the league, having previously worked in Atlanta.
His college coaching career consists of one year at The Citadel and four years with Louisville. Whitt was a walk-on at Auburn and later earned a scholarship, though injuries derailed a possible future playing in the NFL, so he turned to coaching. He is one of the youngest coaches on the team at 31 years old.
Winston Moss holds the title of assistant head coach as well as linebackers coach. He has been interviewed the past two offseasons for potential head coaching jobs. Though those clubs interested in him eventually passed on Moss, it says a lot that he has been considered for head coaching positions.
Before the Packers, Moss was with the Saints for six years coaching the linebackers at the same time McCarthy was there coordinating the offense. Prior to that, Moss was coaching with the Seahawks.
As a player, Moss had an 11 year career, playing for Tampa Bay, the L.A. Raiders, and Seattle. He played his college ball at the University of Miami.
Scott McCurley takes over Whitt’s old position this season as defensive quality control coach, his first official year as an NFL coach. Part of his duties on the team include breaking down film and working with the scout team. He played college football at the University of Pittsburgh and later coached at his alma mater before coming to Green Bay.
Shawn Slocum, now the Packers’ special teams coordinator, came to Green Bay as an assistant special teams coach in 2006 after 15 years of college coaching. Most of those years in college were at Texas A&M, while he also coached at USC, Ole Miss, and University of Pittsburgh, when McCarthy was there.
At Texas A&M, Slocum tutored Shane Lechler who would later earn pro bowl honors in the NFL. Along with his special teams duties, Slocum also assisted with coaching linebackers and tight ends in college and continues to assist Moss with the linebacking group in Green Bay.
Curtis Fuller, a player for the Packers as recently as the ’04 season, will take over Slocum’s old position as special teams assistant coach. He worked a similar position for the Raiders in 2007 and interned with the Packers last summer.
His only other significant coaching experience came from the school where he played safety at, TCU. There, he was an all-conference academic selection. He later became a fourth round draft choice by the Seahawks.
The Packers' coaching staff has a nice balance of coaching experience, playing experience, and leadership. It’s a little early to declare this collection of coaches as great as the staff Mike Holmgren assembled in the 1990s, but the current staff has some promise.
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