Late Friday evening, Green Bay Packers’ special teams coach Mike Stock retired.
This doesn’t come as a surprise. The Packers special teams were putrid this past season in nearly every aspect. Fans had been calling for Stock’s job, along with that of defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, for some time.
What does come as a surprise is the way it was handled. Let’s be honest, Stock was told he would be fired, given the option to resign, or given the option to retire. The 69-year-old took the option to retire.
He was a little subdued, but when asked if he needed to assess after the season whether he wanted to keep working in the same capacity, he said: “I have no plans other than to honor my contract.”
The Press Gazette noted that Stock expressed similar feelings.
The Packers’ special teams declined substantially this season after a good year in 2007, and Stock last week said he wanted to return next year but the decision was up to McCarthy.
We’re not suggesting a change didn’t need to be made. The Packers had all kinds of problems on special teams. The kickoff coverage until ranked 20th in the NFL in opponents’ average starting field position. The kickoff return unit ranked 22nd, despite the presence of a guy who returned two punts for a touchdown this season, in Will Blackmon. Meanwhile, kicker Mason Crosby, who should be one of the best in the NFL, blew game-winning field goals at Minnesota and Chicago that could have substantially altered the division race.
This is to say nothing of the Derrick Frost punting debacle. However, that mistake needs to be laid at the feet of Ted Thompson, who chose to sign Frost and jettison Jon Ryan just before the season started. Another Thompson blunder – cutting special teams leader Tracy White during the middle of the season in favor of practice squader Danny Lansanah – certainly didn’t help Stock’s units.
While Stock isn’t a decision maker on personnel, the organization handled his departure with little tact, which seems to be the norm of the Ted Thompson era.
Now the focus turns to Sanders, whose defense was equally atrocious this past season. Sanders’ unit ranked 20th in the league overall and 26th against the run. In addition to not being able to stop the run, the defense rarely generated any pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
An NFL source who knows McCarthy and Stock told the Press-Gazette of Stock’s retirement but didn’t know if Sanders’ fate has been determined Friday. McCarthy met with his coordinators — Sanders, Stock and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin — on Wednesday and Thursday. As of Friday evening, McCarthy had made no announcement concerning Sanders or any other assistants, but that doesn’t preclude more changes in the next few days, according to the Press Gazette.