We look at the new hires in Green Bay and Carolina
The biggest news of the past few days was the Chicago Bears hiring Matt Nagy, but I’m going to wait until they officially announce their coordinators before giving a full grade in the same way we did for the Oakland Raiders.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue a spectacularly unpopular series grading the other minor moves. Previously we looked at coordinator moves in BAL, CIN, and MIA
Green Bay Packers
Out: OC Edgar Bennett, DC Dom Capers
In: OC Joe Philbin, DC Mike Pettine
On offense, Joe Philbin returns home to Green Bay, where he had been an assistant/OC for 8 seasons prior to his hiring in Miami. Ever since Philbin left town, the Packers have been shuffling around their offensive staff, parting ways with OC Tom Clements and now Edgar Bennett and Alex Van Pelt.
Reuniting with Philbin appears to be a strong move on their part to recapture some of that old magic and chemistry. Aaron Rodgers credited Philbin with some of his development, and he’s always been lauded for his character and calm demeanor in the past. Quite simply, this type of role (as an assistant or “offensive coordinator” in name only) suits him quite well, and much better than as a head coach. He should be a positive influence in the locker room and on the field as well. The Packers have lived dangerously with allowing Rodgers to take a lot of hits; as the 34-year-old QB ages, they need to cut down on that. Philbin, with his background as an OL coach, should help to some degree. I’d grade this move a solid B+/A-.
Meanwhile, the move on defense is even more important considering Mike McCarthy is still the big dog in charge on offense. The Packers finally fired DC Dom Capers after nine season on the job.
For the initial part of that run, Capers did a strong job in reshaping the Packers’ defense and elevating them into the top half of the rankings despite a scheme change. It also felt like they had stability and a succession plan in place with LB coach/assistant head coach in Winston Moss.
Over the last few years, it’s been diminishing returns, with a sagging pass rush and some real struggles in pass defense. I wouldn’t treat the veteran Capers as a punchline, but it’s fair to say his message and scheme got stale. A change was needed.
Mike Pettine, a rare outside hire, should bring that type of change and infusion of fresh blood and fresh ideas. Like Philbin, his resume as a head coach was spotty, but his history as a defensive coordinator stacks up with the best in the league. He did a great job with Rex Ryan with the New York Jets, and then proved he could do it alone in Buffalo afterwards.
You may be concerned that Pettine’s been out of the league for two seasons and mark that against him, but there’s no reason to be too concerned. Wade Phillips and Jim Schwartz recently sat out full seasons looking for jobs before returning with fire and fury. Pettine should do the same. grade: A.
Out: OC Mike Shula, QB coach Ken Dorsey
In: OC Norv Turner (allegedly)
What a difference a few years make. Mike Shula and Ken Dorsey received a lot of credit after Cam Newton‘s MVP year. Dorsey, the frail former Miami (Fla.) QB, appeared to be a rising star in the coaching ranks who would undoubtedly rise up to an OC job in a matter of time. Instead, both of them are out the door.
It’s hard to blame Ron Rivera and the Panthers for that. At 28, Cam Newton should be entering his prime as a passer. Instead, his QB rating has stalled at 75.8 and 80.7 over the last two years. You’re simply not going to win big in this league like that, especially as Newton ages out of physical dominance.
With that concern in mind, the team has apparently brought in the veteran Norv Turner. The decorated 65-year-old has as strong of a resume as an offensive coordinator can — although most of that came in the 90s and 00s. More recently, he had mixed results with Cleveland and Minnesota. It’s fair to wonder if “the game has passed him by.”
Clearly Rivera (like most NFL coaches) respects Norv Turner more than fans do. He has some reason for that, after working for him in San Diego and seeing him up close. That said, I always expected Norv Turner to resurface in a different type of situation than this. More specifically: with an inexperienced head coach (like a Steve Wilks type) who wanted a trusted old hand to take the reins of his offense and develop a young QB. Instead, Turner will be joining a veteran coach and a veteran QB with many of the pieces for the offense already in place. There’s the potential for butting heads here and perhaps a quick flameout. Turner essentially bailed on the Vikings when he felt Pat Shurmur’s breath on his back, and I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a short term marriage as well. His chemistry with Cam Newton will be more important than his mutual respect with Rivera.
That said, I still respect Turner’s resume and his system more than most people on Reddit, so I’ll give this grade a solid B. It’s helped by the fact that I’d prefer Turner to Mike Shula, who I considered a bottom 10 coordinator. If Turner turns out to be a middle-of-the-road coordinator, at least that’s an improvement.