Green Bay Packers
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Packers add Philbin, Pettine as coordinators
The Green Bay Packers officially hired Joe Philbin as their offensive coordinator and Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator.
Philbin was the Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach and offensive line coach the past two seasons, but he spent nine seasons with the Packers from 2003 through 2011, filling a variety of roles. He was Green Bay's offensive coordinator from 2007 through 2011 before becoming the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Philbin was fired by the Dolphins four games into the 2015 season following a 1-3 start.
It was with the Packers that Philbin had the most success. He called the plays and was the offensive coordinator for the team when it won Super Bowl XLV.
Now he is reunited with Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy, hoping they can reinvigorate a Packers offense that struggled in 2017.
The Packers ranked among the league's top 10 in both points and offensive yardage all five years Philbin was their offensive coordinator, and they led the NFL in yardage and were third in points in his final season in Green Bay.
In 2017, the Packers ranked 26th in offensive yardage and 21st in scoring, although the absence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers for much of the season undoubtedly had an impact on Green Bay's offensive production.
Pettine takes over on other side of the ball after the team fired Dom Capers on Jan. 1. The Packers finished 22nd in the NFL in total defense.
Pettine was the Cleveland Browns' head coach for two years before he was fired after compiling a 10-22 record. He previously worked under Rex Ryan with stops that included the Baltimore Ravens in several defensive roles, and New York Jets and Buffalo Bills as defensive coordinator.
During the 2017 season, Pettine worked as a consultant for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Packers were not done making changes on Wednesday after finishing the season with a 7-9 mark and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They also promoted Jerry Montgomery to defensive line coach and David Raih to wide receivers coach after the pair was on staff previously as positional assistants.
The team then announced its entire staff under McCarthy, including James Campen (offense run game coordinator/offensive line), Jim Hostler (offense pass game coordinator), Patrick Graham (defense run game coordinator/inside linebackers), Joe Whitt Jr. (defense pass game coordinator), Frank Cignetti Jr. (quarterbacks), Ryan Downard (defensive quality control), Maurice Drayton (assistant special teams), Scott McCurley (defensive assistant) and Jason Simmons (secondary).
The Packers promoted Brian Gutekunst to the general manager position and named Russ Ball as executive vice president/director of football operations, the team announced Monday.
The Packers did not divulge contract information, but NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Gutekunst's deal is for five years.
Gutekunst has been with the Packers for 19 years and was promoted to director of player personnel on March 21, 2016. The 44-year-old will take over the role from Ted Thompson, who will remain as senior advisor to football operations with the Packers.
"First, I'd like to thank my mentor, Ted Thompson, for his friendship, and I am happy that we will continue to have the chance to work together," Gutekunst said. "I want to thank (former general manager) Ron Wolf for giving me my first opportunity with the Packers, and of course (president, chief executive officer) Mark Murphy for the faith and trust he has placed in me moving forward. ... I look forward to getting to work with the rest of our talented personnel department and using every avenue available to build the Packers into a championship team again."
Murphy said on Monday that Gutekunst was deserving of the promotion.
"We could not be more excited to elevate Brian to the position of general manager," Murphy said. "He has earned this opportunity throughout his 19 years with the Packers, proving to not only be a skilled talent evaluator, but a trusted and collaborative leader.
"His time under the direction of former Packers general managers Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson will undoubtedly serve him well as we work toward our next Super Bowl championship. I am confident that he is the man that will help get us there."
Ball, who is entering his 30th season in the NFL and 11th in Green Bay, will continue to manage the Packers' salary cap and serve as the chief contract negotiator while overseeing several areas in football operations.
"Since joining the Packers in 2008, Russ has proven to be invaluable," Murphy said. "His salary-cap management and negotiating abilities are well known, but he has also provided tremendous leadership throughout football operations and served as a valuable liaison between the football and business sides of the organization.
"His diverse skills will remain important to our success moving forward, and I look forward to working with him even more closely in his new role."
During Thompson's time as general manager, the Packers reached the playoffs nine times in 13 seasons and won Super Bowl XLV. Green Bay reached the postseason every year from 2009-16 one season shy of the NFL record before having that string snapped after this year's 7-9 campaign.
From a Super Bowl favorite to a playoff observer. That's what happened to the Green Bay Packers in 2017.
Green Bay entered the season with the best odds of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Instead, the Packers' hopes for greatness were derailed by Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone that cost the standout quarterback more than half of the season.
The Packers began the year 4-1 with Rodgers. But under primarily the direction of No. 2 quarterback Brett Hundley, Green Bay lost seven of its final 10 games and finished 7-9 overall, third in the NFC North.
The Packers had their eight-year playoff streak snapped. And Green Bay will now select 14th in April's draft, their highest draft position since picking ninth in 2009.
Even with Rodgers, though, Super Bowl chatter seemed like delusions of grandeur as the season unfolded.
Green Bay's defense bordered on awful again. And at the end of the year, the Packers fired long-time coordinator Dom Capers.
The offense lacked the explosion of many recent Packers teams and needs some new blood. And head coach Mike McCarthy had arguably the poorest of his 12 seasons coaching the Packers.
In all, it was one of the Packers' most disappointing years in some time.
"Our ultimate goal was to win a championship," safety Morgan Burnett said. "That's what we're about here in Green Bay, is winning a championship. And we fell short of that by not making the playoffs. But I'm pretty sure every guy is going to respond very well come next season."
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Truthfully, very little.
Perhaps the No. 1 thing the Packers could hang their hat on was they went 4-1 before Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6. Green Bay looked like a viable Super Bowl candidate before the injury to Rodgers.
When the Packers' two-time MVP quarterback went down, though, the roster was exposed for its dearth of playmakers and young talent. The offense could no longer carry a suspect defense and Green Bay's free-fall began.
WHAT WENT WRONG: You name it.
The defense was sieve-like again, finishing 22nd in total defense (348.9) and 26th in scoring defense (24.0). Opposing quarterbacks had a 102.0 passer rating against Green Bay this year, the highest figure in franchise history. And opposing quarterbacks completed 67.8 percent of their passes, which is also the worst in franchise history.
When the year ended, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley were all fired.
In the 10 games Green Bay played without Rodgers, it averaged just 15.9 points per game. No. 2 quarterback Brett Hundley never figured it out and finished the year with nine touchdown passes, 12 interceptions and a 70.6 passer rating.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Jordy Nelson averaged 93.3 receptions, 1,363 yards and 12 touchdowns in the past three seasons in which he was healthy. This year, Nelson fell off the planet with 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns. Nelson averaged 14.6 yards per catch in the last three seasons he's played. This year, that figure fell to 9.1. In Nelson's final nine games, he caught 28 passes for just 192 yards - a feeble average of 6.86 yards per reception. Nelson also didn't have a touchdown reception after Week 5.
Nelson often fell immediately to the ground after a reception, almost as if his intent was to not get hurt. Nelson enters the final year of his contract in 2018 and is scheduled to make $10.25 million in salary and bonuses. Now, the Packers will have to determine if Nelson's demise was due to age, injury or the loss of quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone.
"I mean, Jordy's the ultimate pro, he's the ultimate teammate," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's the same guy every day. I understand what numbers say, but it's about opportunities and being in rhythm."
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER: Rookie running back Jamaal Williams did little during training camp and wasn't even a lock to be the top backup to preferred starter Ty Montgomery. But after Montgomery suffered broken ribs and a wrist injury, Williams stepped up. Williams led the Packers with 556 rushing yards and finished fourth in receptions (25) and receiving yards (262). Williams also had six total touchdowns, and he will be tough to unseat as Green Bay's No. 1 running back in 2018.
ASSISTANT COACH ON THE RISE: Packers offensive line coach James Campen was dealt a lousy hand this year. Green Bay's offensive line was decimated by injury and the No. 1 unit played less than one full game together. Somehow, though, the unit more than held its own. Campen, a former center in New Orleans and Green Bay, just finished his 14th season as a Packers' coach. At 53 years old, Campen may not be heavily pursued by other teams, but his stock should be extremely high in Green Bay.