Cory's Corner: Special Teams Must Focus On Little Things

There's no time to panic, but this unit needs to fine tune the fundamentals. 

Green Bay’s special teams are nothing special. 

That is nothing new. 

That’s been the case for a while now. Last year, the Packers were ranked 29th by former Dallas Morning News writer and current Sports Illustrated writer Rick Gosselin, who compiles special teams rankings. Green Bay was ranked 26th in 2019, 32nd in 2018 and 16th in 2017.

That unit has consistently been a glaring problem and gave the Bears life and a halftime lead before the Packers roared back to a 45-30 win on Sunday night. 

From blown coverages to penalties to muffed punts, special teams is the area that could keep the Packers from reaching the Super Bowl. The defense has gotten exponentially better from last year and the offense is doing a great job of picking their spots to beat the defense. 

So when Packers coach Matt LaFleur was asked after the game if he would fire special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton, he gave a quick answer. “Absolutely not,” LaFleur said, who is now 6-0 vs. Chicago. “We’ve got to continue to work, we’ve got to look at the tape, we’ve got to get things corrected. I’ll be the first to tell you, are there some things we have to clean up as coaches? No doubt about it. But we have to execute better as well.”

On the surface, that may seem crazy. The Packers may have just played their worst special teams game ever. It was that bad. But even with a new coordinator, I don’t think a lot is going to change. 

This is Drayton’s first season as special teams coordinator after being an assistant special teams coach for three years. Shawn Mennenga was the coordinator from 2019-2020, Ron Zook took the post from 2015-2018 and Shawn Slocum had a six-year run from 2009-2014. Every single one of those guys was run out of town.

Drayton was grasping at straws when he put Randall Cobb in the game vs. the Rams to return a punt. Amari Rodgers, the 2021 third round pick, hasn’t done much as a kickoff and punt returner this year. If it wasn’t for Chicago getting flagged, his muffed punt would’ve counted. 

The Packers are in a Bermuda Triangle of inexperience and injury right now. They are relying on guys that are green behind the ears and with only a few weeks left in the season, everyone is also dinged up. 

A new special teams coordinator isn’t going to change that. A new coordinator would walk into a rough situation and likely pull his hair out because he knows that the reliable, dynamic playmakers that this team does have will not be put to chance on special teams. 

Drayton just has to keep focusing on the little things. If a kickoff is about to go out of bounds, don’t field it. Getting the ball at your own 40, is a nice gift and it’s something that a hot Aaron Rodgers would absolutely love. 

The majority of pros don’t like practicing the fundamentals because it’s like going back to high school or college. But when you’re playing as poorly as this unit has, Drayton really has no choice but to dial it back and get everyone to understand the bigger picture. 

If they cannot understand the little things, it’s going to quickly turn into a big problem. 

-------------------

Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

7 points

Comments (66)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Roadrunner23's picture

December 14, 2021 at 06:56 am

The Packers have needed a dynamic return man since Desmond Howard left, why they don’t prioritize that is a mystery?
The Bears traded a late round draft choice to obtain the guy that torched the Packers for 2 long TD’s Sunday night.
I like Amari Rodgers but he’s not ready and Malik Taylor as a KR, really? That’s the best you can find, seriously?
Time to end this curse and pay more attention to special teams and the return game!
ND

12 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:48 am

Our kick returner took himself out with a baffling decision. Taylor is just the guy thrust into it as a replacement. Honestly though, we need a punt returner more. Amari is losing what confidence he had. If he’s ever to bounce back, we need to get him out of there as much for him as to stop the carnage.

4 points
5
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 14, 2021 at 06:12 pm

Here's a little thing--replace him, now. Summers and Burks should have been moved after last season. Absolute cowardice in their display of attempted tackling.

1 points
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jurp's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:19 am

Cory, Amari Rodgers is not a "green behind the ears" punt returner: he had 68 returns for Clemson during his college career and presumably many more during practice. As other commenters here have said, he now appears "broken", his confidence shot. Why is his confidence shot? Because he hasn't been successful in GB. Why? Because Mo can't field a competent punt return unit. Drayton refuses to acknowledge that Rodgers needs to be removed as returner for his own sake. I feel sorry for Amari - it must be terrible to go out there, afraid to screw up, then screw up, then go out there AGAIN, afraid to screw up.

What's the answer here? Lazard returned 21 punts for Iowa State, more than any other WR not named Rodgers. Let's give him a try, with orders to fair-catch everything. Alternatively, if Tyler Ervin is still interested, bring him back as a returner. Poach someone - ANYONE -from another team's PS. Perhaps Drayton and/or MLF have requested either of my last two suggestions; if Drayton hasn't, and is fine with the status quo, then he needs to go, and ASAP.

All of the other teams in the league seemed to have figured this special teams thing out; they're all pretty much in the same end-of-season injury situation as we are, so why is this such an issue in GB? COACHING.

16 points
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dobber's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:32 am

"Alternatively, if Tyler Ervin is still interested, bring him back as a returner."

Makes too much sense to not try. He can catch the ball and he immediately deflates an argument against other street free agents who won't integrate beyond a return role in a short time: he knows the offense, the WR room is beat up, and he can offer some snaps split wide or in a gadget role.

...and it doesn't expose a key player to special teams injury.

8 points
8
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wildbill's picture

December 14, 2021 at 03:10 pm

Not against it but Erving is just an injury waiting to happen as he has never played a full season in his career. An upgrade-yup, sure he’s gonna be available come playoffs- not so sure

1 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 15, 2021 at 05:42 am

I am for it. Ervin doesn't have to last a full season. I'd be happy with several games of not ****ing up. I don't care about dynamism - that would be nice but it is not necessary.

1 points
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relleum61's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:31 am

The scheme of the defense did not match the talent last year and Pettine was gone. Ditto Mennenga on the special teams. MLF hit on a coordinator in Barry who could match scheme with talent. Not true with Drayton. Barry has prior experience. Not true with Drayton. Hopefully MLF will pick up an experienced coordinator at the end of the year from one of the many staffs who will be out of work after the end of the season. Hopefully management will open the checkbook this time around. MLF had one of the top coordinators on board before he hired Mennenga, but management only offered a "low ball" offer. Special teams have been a mess the entire time.

6 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:16 pm

Right. Sure...(13-3 dude) Do not conflate the personal disagreement between Lafleur and Pettine as failure of Pettine's scheme, or his effectiveness as a DC. This is still Pettine's scheme this defensive staff is running. To Barry's credit, he has stepped back and has let his veteran coaches on the defensive side put their defensive personnel on the field. It also helps a great deal that this is a veteran unit who knows their role in the scheme. Lafleur owns the failure on ST, and his personal problem's with Pettine came close to sinking this defense very early this season. It is to Lafleur's credit that he understood and put his ego away with the adjustments inside the coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball. Now what he does with ST may determine the fate of this team for the rest of this season.

-1 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:35 am

I wish there was an easy quick fix. Unfortunately I really don't see one.

Starting with the kickers. Bojo blast has been great. Sure he has a bad one every now and then, but he has been very, very good since he has came to GB. He has improved as a holder as well. Crosby has had his struggles this year. I still question if some of his pulling kicks is related to so much pressure coming off the right side early this year. He nailed all of his kicks in this last game. Maybe a step in the right direction.

Onto the Returners. Unless we sign someone Rodgers is the guy. Although he muffed the one, he came back and made a play on the next one. Taylor cost them about 35 yards of field position on the one play. I thought Rodgers started to be more aggressive on the PR. Getting up hill more this past game.

I wouldn't be surprised if we would perhaps see Scott being activated this week. Just to bring someone fresh to the special teams.

Its time to start figuring out the problems before it costs us a game. If this was against a better team then the Bears, we easily could have lost that game.

5 points
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Minniman's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:22 pm

I like that you are distinguishing between positions and teams within Special Teams RC - as always, well considered posts and thoughts.

I agree that goal kicking is getting better across the board - in part mainly due to the increasing synergy of the primary 3 (snapper, holder, kicker) ..... and in my opinion, minorly due to protection.

Fielding Kickoff and Punt Returns - Am I being too pernickety in observing that I think that defenders are getting way too close to our receivers and spooking them?

Defending Kickoff Returns - Mason needs to be able to consistently drill kickoff returns through the end zone or be able to get enough hang time to allow the defenders to get there en masse.......... Does GB need to rethink the composition of the return defenders to achieve this?

Defending Punt Returns - As Above...... Is BoJo out-kicking his coverage or is the coverage too slow or not elusive enough (allowing themselves to be easily pancaked and blocked) to be effective? They don't seem to be controlling their lanes.

Closing thoughts: I posted this the other day but it rings true, the Packers Defensive philosophy is contain first, big play second. It's too fraught to do this on short fields. As such, the Packers need to commit more "starters" to the ST down the stretch to shore up the field kicking game or they will lose [again, actually RC]. Opponents have been attacking their ST since the start of the season. This is only going to amplify in the playoffs..... it's now as proven a favorable matchup as #17 on a LB. it's that bad!

2 points
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Guam's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:10 am

The author suggests a coaching change wouldn't help. I'm not so sure.

How does Malik Taylor not know the rule that says if the kickoff goes out of bounds, the Packers get it at the forty? That has nothing to do with fundamentals and everything to do with coaching and preparation. Malik Taylor should have been nowhere near that ball much less trying to make a play on it.

How do the Packer coverage teams get burned for multiple long returns in one game? Again, coaching and preparation insure lane discipline and a coverage umbrella. Everyone shouldn't just run down the field as fast as they can and close on the ball carrier. That is just asking to get burned.

As for the return teams, just find somebody that can (fair)catch the damn ball.

I think a coaching change is very much in order.

14 points
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Minniman's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Good questions Guam.

Ty Montgomery and Brandon Bostick were also given strict instructions on what their role was......

3 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Too late in the season. The Packers will as they did with Barry, put their staff to 'help Drayton' with the ST game plan. At this level, this is a coaching issue. Not a talent issue, nor a scheme issue. For some reason, the bulk of the players on special teams are not taking to Drayton's teaching or coaching. Short of Lafleur himself taking over ST, there is not much more the coaching staff can do, except hope that the players will do their damn jobs. (Frankly, the breakdown in ST play is league wide, another example of what loss of training camp time does to football teams over the season)

0 points
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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:11 am

On Amari’s muff that was called back, it looked to me like right before the ball got there, he turned his hands perpendicular to the ground…like he was trying to high-point the ball. It just looked very strange. I cannot believe he is being taught to catch it that way.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:24 am

When an area of responsibility is flawed in every facet and attempts to tinker have failed, one looks around and, unless others can’t make a similar operation function acceptably, one realizes that, while many components maybe flawed, the problem starts at the top.

In this case, ST adequacy is not a reality that is unobtainable. Most teams do it. Our ST incompetence spans every aspect of the unit, from personnel choices, handling of changing our LS, to having to learn basic coverage (admitted) to blocking failings resulting from schemes that seemed visibly flawed and notably a typical in the league, to return decisions and blocking.

No aspect of our STs have been adequate. Even the punt unit has had blocking issues. The one bright spot, Bojo is a straight forward swap by the FO. Compared to last year (very poor) we have got worse.

In these circumstances, to retain Drayton is utterly indefensible and suggests an inability to truly self scout or face up to unpleasant decisions. That is not a recipe for winning if the function at issue is not capable of being rendered completely irrelevant. That can’t be done under the rules of football.

The first step is to remove the incompetent, then one worries about finding better. In the interim the support personnel can’t do much worse. There are former ST coaches who have been better than Drayton out there. Get one and pay them for what Is left of the season; there’s no cap hit from coaches.

Just get rid of Drayton. That alone may improve decision making, then look to find experience. Yes, it is that bad. We’ve been bad almost year, sometimes other teams haven’t been able to exploit it and we’ve looked OK, but no better, but that won’t cut it in the one and done phase.

We have a month or so before that. Fixing it needs to start now. This is when Murphy needs to take LaFleur aside and make the decision for him. That is what he is involved in football operations for: to step in when someone must help one of his direct reports see that a current course is suicidal. If LaFleur can’t see it or face it, then Murphy must do that for him. Gute isn’t in charge of coaches: Murphy saw to that. Now he must see to this.

7 points
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x24's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:31 am

I don't disagree with what you are suggesting, sometimes just a cold reset can motivate improvement. That said- it seems a bit late in the race to change horses... Who might you suggest to replace Drayton?

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:01 am

Part of my thrust is that, at times, if a leader is truly incompetent, simply removing him or her may bring some improvement.

There are a number of long term STCs who have retired recently. Greg MacMahon (Saints/LSU) who just announced he’s retiring would be an example. Brad Seely (Steelers/Texans) retired this summer. Both would bring much needed experience.

Throw enough money at them for 3 months as an interim if they only want that. A chance to be a Super Bowl winner, richer and, if they did want it, to earn a berth next year. We aren’t looking for great at this point. Decent is the objective.

3 points
3
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gpt999's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:10 am

I wholeheartedly agree with you Coldworld! Keeping Drayton reinforces the idea that MLF and GB management are in denial over a huge weakness! How can you be all in when you allow such incompetence to continue? What message does this send to the rest of your players, fans and the league? It certainly can't be about money re: Murphy? Coaches salaries are not part of the cap. And I can't believe that paying a competent coach an extra $100-200K is going to bankrupt the Packers? This would fall under the slogan "penny-wise, pound foolish" which I am sure Murphy would see immediately.

I think the real roadblock to releasing Drayton is MLF. He promoted him, and this would be a big loss of face on his reputation. However, head coaches need to value performance over their hearts/loyalty. Would Belicheck keep Drayton? Certainly not!

Given that so many areas are poor here, a back to basics approach certainly couldn't hurt? If players balk at relearning fundamentals, give them a good, hard kick in the rear and bench them (Malik Taylor at the top of this list)! A little "old school" might be needed if egos get in the way. My guess is that replacing some of these guys with starting offensive/defensive players would show the Amari Rodgers'/Malik Talyors' how top flight players should perform in any role? We can only hope...

4 points
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flackcatcher's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:37 pm

Murphy's out of the football side of the house. The Executive Committee made that clear in 2019 when they put out the memo over Murphy's name announcing he was 'stepping back from on the field' decisions. That is clearly on the public record now. Still, your point about this being a failure of the entire organization on the football side of 1265 is clear. I go further, and say that goes all the back to the Ted Thompson era. That Mike McCarthy did not seem to think Special Teams was critical lasted all the way from the day of his hiring, to the day he was fired. Matt Lafleur seems to have the same attitude as McCarthy did when he was hired three years ago. This, like all things on the field lands on the lap of the GM. And I see no change from Brian Gutekunist on the importance of Special Teams.... (And are we sure that Mo Drayton and Ron Zook aren't the same guy :-)

0 points
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2
Johnblood27's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:33 am

Green behind the ears? WTF? Green implies not seasoned, OK, the other metaphor you mixed with green is WET behind the ears implying newborn and therefore inexperienced. You are no Norm Crosby (not a relative of Mason for those youngsters out there).

Please don't try to be funny, your takes are funny enough without attempted humor.

"it’s going to quickly turn into a big problem."

Guess what Cory? It is ALREADY a big problem and MLF has a dumpster burning on his front porch which is threatening to consume the 1265 Lombardi football team's season in flames if he continues to fiddle while it burns.

IT
IS
TIME!

11 points
13
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marpag1's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:59 am

"Green behind the ears?"

Cory has an amusing tendency to write without considering the meaning of words. And actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that he is mixing his clichés, which is twice as big a problem as mixing metaphors. At this point, I don't think it's possible for Cory to improve, but hey, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, let's not beat a dead horse in the mouth.

1 points
5
4
jurp's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:04 pm

Mixing metaphorical cliches? Malaproping his metaphors? Whichever, I wouldn't call it "amusing"...

3 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 14, 2021 at 04:13 pm

Harsh, marpag1. I believe in Cory. Remember, when god opens a window, he makes lemonade.

4 points
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CoryJennerjohn's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:52 am

That's fair JohnBlood27. I meant this is Amari Rodgers' first season as a punt returner in the NFL. So he is still pretty green. I think it's all mental right now. Basically the best answer would be preparation and repetition.

Take care.

4 points
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Johnblood27's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:32 pm

I have always been a big norm crosby fan, I appreciate little word twists, I was entertained.

tell the truth, did you mean to mix it up or was it an honest mistake?

1 points
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CoryJennerjohn's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:47 pm

Thanks. That was on purpose.

0 points
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1
Brockrice99's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:35 am

Honestly if I can go a game without the opposing team getting the ball past the 35 yard line on a kickoff, I will call that a win. But honestly at this point Special Teams is so far down, it is impossible to repair this atrocity that we have witnessed for the past 13 weeks of football. Fire Drayton.

7 points
7
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Turophile's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:56 am

There is never a good time for panic...........but if there was this would be the time with ST play. It has been truly awful for years and years.

I doubt there is much the Packers can do about ST this year. However, next year I'd find another kicker to go into camp with Crosby (and PS him if Crosby wins). I would spend draft capital as high as a 4th (Packers have 2x 4th round picks) for a good return man, maybe I'd even go as high as a third. Drayton would no longer be the Packers ST coach in 2022 - it is the only coaching position I'd really look to change and coaching IS a performance based job.

Finally I'd spend a late pick on a good ST ace (ST play is key, anything else you get from them is gravy).

A decent RS + a new ST coach, + Bojorquez at punter, + a new kicker, or still Crosby with a credible alternative behind him on the PS, + at least one guy drafted purely for his good ST play. That should go some way to improve this appallingly bad unit.

What I don't want to see is starters who shouldn't be on ST, being put in there.

An old coaching maxim that should be remembered in training camp and preseason next year - "You get what you emphasise".

6 points
6
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Tedlyflyfisher's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Turophile, we actually have a 2nd kicker on the PS last time I checked. I agree, major changes are needed!

2 points
2
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Minniman's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:51 pm

On the topic of kicking - Mason Crosby has been a great Packer.

Up until the week 4 Pittsburgh game he was beyond reproach - remember, he won the SF game with a 50+ yarder walk-off win that no-one thought would miss (on the back of 23 consecutive successful kicks).

So between then and now GB have managed to disrupt and erode the confidence of a very consistent kicker.

Admittedly I'm no longer super sure on his range (not being able to consistently hit kickoffs dead), but his confidence implosion has been profound.

Hopefully he continues to kick himself into a bit more confidence (both personal and with the team around him).

3 points
3
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GP1's picture

December 15, 2021 at 12:12 am

Crosby has been a great servant of the club but age has caught him.
Next season is the time to move on.

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:53 am

I believe we’ve seen this movie before — with Darius Shepherd. Darius and Amari were both competent punt returners in college, but for whatever reason their confidence took a hiatus. —and based on the many comments, we all see the same thing.
If Amari remains as the returner (heaven forbid), he needs to shed the lookalike Welding Helmet i.e., face shield. He’s had two punts bounce off of that Darth Vader mask he s wearing.

7 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:08 am

So, what level of coaching incompetence would get you fired by the Packers HC?

4 points
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gpt999's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:21 am

It obviously must be a pretty high level! I just can't believe that such a successful coach as LaFleur can allow such an obvious weakness to continue week after week? And I don't believe in the fairytale that you can't replace a ST coach during the season! Given how bad the fundamentals are here, even a high school coach could improve this situation.

4 points
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dekan51's picture

December 14, 2021 at 11:27 am

"....a high school coach could improve this situation."

Please. Why do so many people think firing someone will make everything better? Esp midseason! I wonder how many 'fire now' people want the Bucks HC fired during last season!!!! MLF has a winning percentage of .80. I trust him over people like me. Now, I would be very surprised to not see a change in the off season, but not now. Just like last season when we all knew there was going to be a DC coaching change.

4 points
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jurp's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:06 pm

Ask Mike Pettine.

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:37 am

I have been advised by good teachers, friends, family and coworkers on how to do the right thing. I have read stuff in books and the internet and seen it on TV. Yet, for some reason, I have done stupid things. One could blame my mistakes on the people around me…OR you could blame it on me!
A coach can only do so much. At a certain point it’s all on the player.

4 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:36 pm

Agree with you PatrickGB. The coaching staff certainly did not advise the (any) kick returner(s) to attempt to return the ball when it’s one inch from bouncing out of bounds— Geesh!!

1 points
2
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fordguy's picture

December 14, 2021 at 03:16 pm

Possibly, but it's situational football that the coaches should have drilled into the players head. It's why coaches take the blame and say they weren't prepared. At some point the coach has to be held accountable.

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:19 pm

One guy alone may well be despite the best efforts of coaches. Multiple examples over multiple weeks gives the lie to that theory. It’s not really plausible to blame this on so many people and exonerate their coach.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

December 14, 2021 at 06:22 pm

Players, not Plays as the cliche' goes round the Maypole. Get better players in the sp teams spots when it gets close to crunch time in the Playoffs, or another series of faux pas will lead to the inevitable one and done....

0 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:05 pm

Completely agree with players not plays.

0 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 15, 2021 at 06:16 am

In your case, I blame you.
In GB's case, I blame the coaches.

All kidding aside, your friends and teachers no longer have any control over you, so you no longer have to take their teachings to heart. The exception would be your employer, if you have one. Doing stupid things is something that the employer can make a point of emphasis and demand accountability.

Also to be fair, there has been some shifting in the snap count numbers for special teams, at least for the blocking types. And also for long snappers! So, now I've come full circle on the issue of accountability since losing one's job is the ultimate penalty!

3 points
3
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stockholder's picture

December 14, 2021 at 04:57 pm

I agree with MF. Keep him. Injuries changed everything. St. Browns concussion. And Taylor went out. Sure the week off, changes your focus. But Lowrey ended up on ST. How slow can we go? And as far as Amari goes. This guy was hand picked by Gutey. Did anyone else see the ball hit his face mask besides me? I don't blame Amari. If your told your No good. You start hearing ghosts. Your skills turn into doubts. It's obvious he's not getting the coaching he needs. And there are bigger priorities with MVS, Lazard, and Cobb now. But if were to make the teams biggest weakness, turned back in the right direction. The current "STAFF" must do it.

-2 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Yep—agree—said the same thing earlier in this post.

1 points
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jurp's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:08 pm

Exactly what did St. Brown conclude? Oh - and "Boo!"

2 points
4
2
LeotisHarris's picture

December 14, 2021 at 04:20 pm

All I see here is an epic addition to Volume 3 of stockholder spoken-random-word-poetry. Damn you, dobber!

5 points
5
0
HarryHodag's picture

December 14, 2021 at 10:57 am

Packers special teams, overall, have been anything but special ever since the turn of this century.

It has rarely been a priority. There have been some good SP'ers...until recently Mason Crosby and others. Until he gets over-coached and screwed up, Bojorquez has a chance to be special.

A writer pointed out Ted Thompson put zero priority on special teams. He wanted players to play in the system and didn't draft for people to help ST. Mike McCarthy's teams were many years dragged down by STs. Gute has followed the trend, though he has made a couple of good finds. It boils down to scheme and executing. Coaches would always scream 'stay in your lanes' so the returner can't be given an opening. I saw a bunch of players converging on the returner Sunday. The returner saw a wide open lane along the sideline and good-bye Charlie.

Kickoffs out of bounds are penalized, but punts are not. My theory has been pick a side and punt the ball as far as you can to land out of bounds. Kickoffs should always go out of the end zone if possible.

In Lombardi's time, Donnie Anderson(halfback) punted an average of 40 yards and his kicks went straight up. There rarely was a return because the punt team was there.

I don't care if they lead the league, all you need is AVERAGE st play. The Packers are far from that, of course.

I suspect not much will change until the off season. Matt LF needs to find a new coach and system. The current system just might keep the Packers out of the Super Bowl.

12 points
12
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Starrbrite's picture

December 14, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Harry—you’ve articulated my sentiments exactly —thank you!!

3 points
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splitpea1's picture

December 14, 2021 at 11:53 am

Maybe it's time to introduce some accountability to the individual players on ST for boneheaded plays in the way of internal fines via a kangaroo court. Fielding a punt inside the 10-yard line, kickoff out of bounds, etc. = four-digit fine. Could be a stupid idea, I don't know (hopefully the players would like to hold each other accountable, that's the prerequisite) , but it could translate into less unforced errors once this unit is out on the field. In the end, all the fines are collected and given to a worthy charity in the name of the team; think how much the Packers could have collected if they had started something like this earlier.

3 points
4
1
jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 14, 2021 at 11:40 am

They need to simply drastically.

Punt returns - Fair catch or let it go.
Kickoff returns - pick it up off the ground if it can't go out of bounds or into the end zone or let it go.
Punts - don't kick it to the returner.
Kickoffs - kick it into the end zone.

These guys need to earn back the privilege of doing anything other than avoiding mistakes.

0 points
4
4
Alberta_Packer's picture

December 14, 2021 at 01:21 pm

Well the good news is that the probability of better ST performance(s) is higher for the next game(s) - because how much worse could it be after the Bears game? Like HarryH. - I would be thrilled with average.

Highly unlikely that MLF will jettison Drayton at this point in the season. The team is still 10-3 with generally awful ST play - so MLF may not want to interrupt team flow with a sudden coaching change. More likely that Drayton will be assigned more study hall time with MLF.

Certainly not all of the ST woes are due to Drayton. There is a significant talent void on STs - especially kick and punt returners. Meanwhile Crosby has been showing signs of decline. Nor do I expect MLF to upgrade STs with starters for the home stretch.

So in summary - "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear."

7 points
7
0
LeotisHarris's picture

December 14, 2021 at 04:23 pm

What if the sow is green behind the ears?

2 points
2
0
Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:20 pm

Quinine?

3 points
3
0
Johnblood27's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:43 pm

Ivermectin

2 points
3
1
Packerfactor's picture

December 14, 2021 at 02:25 pm

SORRY Cory , but the not so Special Teams coach needs to go. I mean seriously, just Google, "how to cover a kick and punt return" and you'd know more then the guy coaching SP now does. The Bears still suck, and so does GBs special teams just to put it in perspective.

4 points
4
0
4thand1's picture

December 14, 2021 at 05:00 pm

I didn't see one expert say Amari Rodgers was a bad pick when the Packers drafted him. There were 2 punt returns for TDs last weekend , the 1st 2 this year. 13 games in x's 32 teams. This STs unit has only one way to go.............up, it can't get worse...............GULP. We've seen this story before, over and over with certain players. He's a rookie I'll cut him some slack for now. When it comes to all 3 phases, I'll take ST's being the weak point if I have to. MVS let a ball go through his hands a vet, Crosby kicked a ball out of bounds and short kick offs, a vet, we wanted Cobb a few games ago, ball bounced off of his chest, a vet.

3 points
3
0
stockholder's picture

December 14, 2021 at 05:43 pm

With two openings on the PS. And a couple of players hurt. ======= Elijah Holyfield RB/KR Bengals /// Jacoby Stevens S/LB Eagles /// Dazz Newsome WR/PR Bears

3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:24 pm

Those are all PS players, so we can’t sign them to ours. We would have to add them to our active roster. I’m not necessarily opposed to that, but who do we cut?

1 points
1
0
Johnblood27's picture

December 14, 2021 at 07:46 pm

Amari Rodgers
Burks
Summers
yah-dum
black
scott

1 points
1
0
Leatherhead's picture

December 14, 2021 at 08:36 pm

It seems like everyone sees this as a problem that can be solved by changing people. I think there’s just confusion about the goals/expectations of the special teams. The returner should not return punts, period. One job: Don’t turn it over. Catch it or let it bounce but don’t turn it over. Kicks that have to be returned must not turn it over.

Punt out of bounds. Enough already.

Kickoffs should either be as far as you can kick it or a squib.

There will still be screwups, but at least you’ve reduced the opportunities for your special teams to cost you a game.

2 points
2
0
Johnblood27's picture

December 15, 2021 at 07:11 am

I believe that the suggestions for changing the coordinator indicate that a much more clear focus on the strategies of the st is needed. that goes beyond simply changing a person.

the calls for individual players to be replaced are really calls for competent performance by the players that are placed into specific situations, ie returners on punts with specific prioritized goals - position yourself appropriately, stop catching the ball inside the 10 yd line, catch the ball cleanly, know where your blocking is situated, etc.
ko returns - know the rules concerning ko location and direction, catch the ball cleanly when warranted, know your blocking and move yourself towards areas of team strength, hold onto the ball, etc
similar simple understanding of the role for gunners, umbrella coverage on returns and specific player roles within the scheme, edge blockers and priorities for pick ups on overloads, ko and punt return blocking, know your man and get him-every time! know and play within the rules for blocking on st.

I think you are getting the message, there are a lot of details to get right. Having a new leader emphasizing those technique and knowledge items might replace the need to bring in a plethora of new bodies to attempt to play st.

a better returner would certainly help, but better adherence to the scheme with proper technique would also be a big step forward.

Then there are the specialists. snappers need to do their job correctly 99.9% of the time. The punter is not the only candidate to be the holder. If a lefty just cant fit into the mechanics then get a RIGHTY! Jordan love comes to mind... Kickoffs MUST go into the end zone unless strategically called for to be in the field of play.

It truly is not that hard, and given the time allowed fior this particular group tio have come to terms with everything needed to be successful there are no excuses, just facilitation of the problem if not fixing it - IM LOOKING AT YOU MLF!!!

0 points
0
0
Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 14, 2021 at 09:40 pm

"Cory's Corner: Special Teams Must Focus On Little Things"

Focus on the Little Things???

The team needs to take care of the big things first: when you kick off, at least keep it in bounds and not let them start on the forty yard line; also tackle the opposing running when we kick off or punt the ball; when we line up to kick a field goal, at least give Crosby one second to kick the ball before they rush through from the side or middle.

Those are just some of the big things that need to be addressed. After that I agree, that we could then turn our attention and address the little things.

3 points
3
0
Packerfansupreme's picture

December 15, 2021 at 08:31 am

I think Gute needs to change his draft approach. Put more emphasis on special teams in his criteria. Also no more promoting in house coaching for special teams unit.Clearly didnt solve anything

1 points
1
0
gpt999's picture

December 16, 2021 at 01:02 pm

Same excuses, week after week after week... We have to work on these things, and the list of things seem to be endless. If MLF will not make a coaching change here, how about he HELP and ENABLE more in this area? Let Hackett run more of the offense. Its clear that the STs need more attention and attitude change. Who better to give it than the top dog - MLF?

0 points
0
0