McCarthy un­veils re­vamped staff

Packer Plus - - Coaching Staff - TOM SILVERSTEIN

— When Green Bay Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy was hired in 2006, his staff in­cluded two coaches who had been co­or­di­na­tors in the NFL and none who had been a head coach.

The 14 mem­bers of his staff (not in­clud­ing strength and con­di­tion­ing and qual­ity con­trol) av­er­aged 46 years of age.

Their av­er­age years of NFL ex­pe­ri­ence was 7.4.

As he ad­dressed re­porters last week Wed­nes­day after an­nounc­ing the hir­ing of seven new coaches and the re­as­sign­ment of six al­ready on the staff, McCarthy might as well have been at the be­gin­ning of his 12year ten­ure again.

The de­gree to which McCarthy re­stocked and re­shaped his 2017 staff sug­gested he wanted to wipe the slate clean.

Only in­stead of hir­ing youngsters like Jeff Jagodzin­ski, Joe Philbin, Ben McA­doo, Edgar Ben­nett and James Cam­pen as he did orig­i­nally, McCarthy has as­sem­bled a crew wellschooled in the ways of the NFL.

This staff, 17 mem­bers strong (not in­clud­ing strength and con­di­tion­ing and qual­ity con­trol), also av­er­ages 46 years of age.

But their av­er­age years of NFL ex­pe­ri­ence is 10.2.

Both of McCarthy’s new co­or­di­na­tors, Philbin on of­fense and Mike Pet­tine on de­fense, have been NFL head coaches. His spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor, Ron Zook, was a head coach in the SEC and Big Ten.

Two of his new hires, pass game co­or­di­na­tor Jim Hostler and quar­ter­backs coach Frank Cignetti, have been NFL of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors.

Nine of the as­sis­tants have at least a decade’s time work­ing in the NFL, and only three — de­fen­sive line coach Jerry Mont­gomery (three), wide re­ceivers coach David Raih (four) and as­sis­tant of­fen­sive line coach Jeff Blasko (two) — have fewer than five.

After miss­ing the play­offs for the first time in nine years, McCarthy has taken big steps to re­move any stale air that had seeped into the build­ing. He is count­ing on fresh faces and fresh ideas to stim­u­late the en­vi­ron­ment.

“We’re sales­men each and ev­ery day to our play­ers, to do the things that are needed to do to win,” McCarthy said. “What our play­ers do for a liv­ing is not nat­u­ral. So, as many dif­fer­ent ways you can teach and make them un­der­stand and con­nect with them from a dif­fer­ent an­gle is very ben­e­fi­cial.

“It’s been ex­cit­ing, the en­ergy is over the top. We frankly waited un­til to­day to make it of­fi­cial. We’ve been busy.”

On of­fense, McCarthy isn’t scrapping his playbook.

His new hires and re­as­signed as­sis­tants all have roots in the of­fense he be­gan build­ing as an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in New Or­leans and San Francisco.

Philbin was an orig­i­nal mem­ber of McCarthy’s Pack­ers staff, serv­ing as of­fen­sive line coach (2006) and then of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor (2007-’11) un­til be- ing named Mi­ami Dol­phins head coach. Dur­ing his time in Green Bay, he worked closely with Cam­pen, who has been pro­moted from of­fen­sive line coach to run game co­or­di­na­tor/ of­fen­sive line.

Jim Hostler, who was named pass­ing game co­or­di­na­tor, has worked with Philbin the past two years in In­di­anapo­lis and got his start work­ing with McCarthy in Kansas City (’00) and worked for him in New Or­leans (’01-’02) and San Francisco (’05).

Quar­ter­backs coach Frank Cignetti spent the last two years teach­ing McCarthy’s of­fense as an as­sis­tant un­der McA­doo with the New York Gi­ants and was men­tored by McCarthy dur­ing his two years with the Saints (’01-’02).

Raih, who was pro­moted from of­fen­sive perime­ter as­sis­tant, is en­ter­ing his fifth sea­son with the Pack­ers.

In a way, McCarthy has wel­comed back some of his pupils after al­low­ing them to ex­plore the out­side world and is giv­ing them the task of strip­ping the of­fense down to its foun­da­tion and then build­ing it back up.

“We’ve taken a lit­tle bit of a back-to-ba­sics ap­proach on of­fense,” McCarthy said. “We’re go­ing back and build­ing a playbook like you would if it was your first year as a staff.”

McCarthy hired Pet­tine to in­stall the de­fense he de­vel­oped un­der Rex Ryan with the Bal­ti­more Ravens, New York Jets and Buf­falo Bills and then fur­ther de­vel­oped as head coach of the Cleve­land Browns (2014’15).

But he kept sev­eral of Dom Capers’ as­sis­tants and al­lowed Pet­tine to hire only one for­mer as­so­ci­ate, qual­ity con­trol as­sis­tant Ryan Dow­nard.

In an at­tempt to high­light cor­ner­backs coach Joe Whitt Jr.’s tal­ents, McCarthy pro­moted him to de­fen­sive pass­ing game co­or­di­na­tor. Whitt had laid out his pre­ferred de­fen­sive scheme dur­ing his in­ter­view with McCarthy for the co­or­di­na­tor po­si­tion and it turned out to be very sim­i­lar to Pet­tine’s.

McCarthy kept as­so­ci­ate head coach/lineback­ers Win­ston Moss. He pro­moted de­fen­sive front as­sis­tant Mont­gomery to de­fen­sive line coach and as­sis­tant spe­cial teams coach Ja­son Sim­mons to sec­ondary coach. Both are young as­sis­tants McCarthy didn’t want to lose.

Rather than let Pet­tine choose his run game co­or­di­na­tor, McCarthy jumped on for­mer Gi­ants de­fen­sive line coach Pa­trick Gra­ham, who came highly rec­om­mended by McA­doo. Gra­ham spent seven sea­sons in New Eng­land learn­ing de­fense from Bill Belichick and may be able to add to Pet­tine’s ex­ist­ing scheme.

“I think if you travel around with guys you’ve al­ways worked with, I think that lim­its you,” Pet­tine said. “I think this is a new set of ideas and these guys, when you build a staff, you want ex­cel­lent teach­ers, ex­cel­lent coaches, guys who have var­ied back­grounds that you can draw ideas from.”

By up­root­ing his staff and cre­at­ing a chain of com­mand in which Cam­pen, Hostler, Whitt and Gra­ham have co­or­di­na­tor ti­tles but still re­port to the of­fen­sive or de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, McCarthy is at risk of hav­ing too many whis­tles in the room.

McCarthy is still in the process of sort­ing out who will do what in the meet­ings and on the prac­tice field and which play­ers will fol­low which as­sis­tants.

But McCarthy said he wanted to give more coaches a voice.

He felt the pre­vi­ous struc­ture with one co­or­di­na­tor do­ing most of the heavy lift­ing might have sti­fled some of the younger coaches and caused them to leave. From the ’17 staff, re­ceivers coach Luke Getsy and de­fen­sive qual­ity con­trol as­sis­tant Tim McGarigle left for col­lege jobs and Mont­gomery ac­cepted a po­si­tion at Texas A&M be­fore chang­ing his mind.

What­ever the case, it doesn’t ap­pear the sys­tem will be as cen­tral­ized.

“They’re go­ing to do all my work and I’m go­ing to get home early,” Philbin joked. “As I said to our staff the other day, we’ve got a lot of knowl­edge, a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence, a lot of tal­ent in the room. It’s just like in the locker room.

“Tal­ent’s one thing, but ev­ery­body be­ing able to work to­gether, kind of pick up on each other’s strengths and weak­nesses, com­ple­ment one another, and ul­ti­mately help our play­ers reach their po­ten­tial.”

JIM MATTHEWS / USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Green Bay Pack­ers head coach Mike McCarthy has made nu­mer­ous changes to his staff.

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