This off-season has been a busy one for Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy made big news by firing longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers and replacing him with former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine. He also jettisoned former Packers running back and longtime assistant Edgar Bennett, who served as the offensive coordinator, and presumably will replace him with former Miami Dolphins and former Packers assistant Joe Philbin. But the changes don’t stop with Pettine and Philbin. It appears that McCarthy will be making some switches at some of his position coaches as well. Mike McCarthy is adding new faces to the Green Bay Packers coaching staff.
Mike McCarthy is Adding New Faces to the Green Bay Packers Coaching Staff
Although the Packers haven’t made any official announcements in regards to the new additions to their coaching staff, news has been leaking out the past couple of weeks to who is coming to Green Bay to fill out McCarthy’s coaching staff. Besides Pettine and Philbin, here are the other names that have been reported on to becoming Packer assistants.
Maurice Drayton, Assistant Special Teams Coordinator
Drayton comes over from the Indianapolis Colts where he was the assistant special teams coordinator, the position he is being hired for with the Packers. Drayton spent two seasons with the Colts, working under former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. Prior to coming to Indianapolis, Drayton worked in the coaching ranks, spending time at The Citadel, Southern Mississippi, and South Carolina State. Drayton will be taking over for Jason Simmons, who was special teams coordinator Ron Zook’s assistant this past season. Simmons might be reassigned to a different position on the Packer coaching staff, possibly taking over for Joe Whitt Jr. at cornerbacks coach, who is being promoted to defensive passing game coordinator.
Patrick Graham, Coaching Position to Be Determined
Graham is a veteran NFL coach, most recently being the defensive line coach for the New York Giants under former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo. Before coaching the Giants defensive line for one season, Graham was on the New England Patriots coaching staff from 2009-1015. During his time in New England working for Bill Belichick, Graham spent time coaching the defensive line as well as the linebackers. What position Graham will coach is still up in the air. The Packers have a defensive line coach opening after the firing of Mike Trgovac, so Graham could end up there. But speculation has Graham replacing Winston Moss, who has been a longtime assistant for McCarthy. With being overlooked for the defensive coordinator position, it is most likely that Moss will move on.
Scott McCurley, Coaching Position to Be Determined
In one of the most curious moves this off-season by the Packers, it appears they will be bringing McCurley back. McCurley, who was the assistant linebackers coach last season for the Packers, was let go right after the season by McCarthy and the Packers. It is highly doubtful that McCurley will be brought back to coach the linebackers again, but he might fill a defensive quality assistant position. Although considered a demotion, McCurley could replace Tim McGarigle, who was the defensive quality assistant last season, but left the Packers to take a position with his alma mater Northwestern.
Ryan Downard, Coaching Position to Be Determined
Downard is the most recently-reported assistant to join the Packers staff. Downard spent last season as the safeties coach for Bowling Green University. Prior to joining Bowling Green in 2016, he spent two years working on Pettine’s staff in Cleveland. What he will be doing for the Packers is still up in the air. With McCurley possibly working as a defensive quality assistant, the Packers might have to create a title for Downard. Downard must have shown something during his time with Pettine in Cleveland to have him reunite with the Packers new defensive coordinator.
Jim Hostler, Wide Receivers Coach
Hostler will take over for former Packers wide receivers coach Luke Getsy, who was hired to be the offensive coordinator for Mississippi State. Like Drayton, Hostler comes over from the Colts, where he was the tight ends coach. In 2015, Hostler was the Colts wide receivers coach before being moved to tight ends. This will be the seventh NFL team that Hostler has worked for; he served as wide receivers coach for three of those teams. Hostler has a connection with McCarthy, serving as the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach when McCarthy was the 49ers offensive coordinator. Hostler replaced McCarthy when he was hired as the Packers head coach but only lasted one season as the offensive coordinator, a position he hasn’t held since he was fired.
Frank Cignetti Jr., Quarterbacks Coach
Cignetti spent last season as the Giants quarterbacks coach, working with McAdoo. Cignetti will take over for Alex Van Pelt, last season’s quarterbacks coach for the Packers. Van Pelt chose to leave, with recently being hired by the Cincinnati Bengals for the same position. Cignetti has been an offensive coordinator at the college and NFL level. Although the collegiate programs that Cignetti has been a part of have had success, the same can’t be said for his time in the professional coaching ranks. The last time Cignetti has been a part of an NFL team that had a winning season was back in 2000-2001 with the New Orleans Saints. During his time with the 49ers (2007), the then St. Louis Rams (2012-2015) and the Giants (2017), none of those teams had winning records. Although he won’t be asked to improve quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, he will be asked to try to get something out of backup quarterback Brett Hundley, who suffered through a miserable campaign trying to replace an injured Rodgers this past season for the Packers.
McCarthy might not be done making changes. There is a good chance that Moss won’t return, and safeties coach Darren Perry’s status is up in limbo. Perry interviewed for the Packers defensive coordinator position this off-season, but like Moss, he was passed over. He might feel that his time with the Packers has expired and will look for greener pastures somewhere else.
For McCarthy, he is bringing in coaches with experience. Pettine and Philbin are former NFL coaches, and Cignetti and Hostler have both been NFL coaches, despite not having much success. Although McCarthy has gained a lot of power with the Packers new football structure, he will face a lot of scrutiny next season. It won’t be just expected for the Packers to get back to the playoffs, but the expectation will be for the Packers to go far. McCarthy better surround himself with the right people, or it will be his last season as the Packers head coach.
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