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Alex Van Pelt Failing His Receivers

Jeff Janis

During the offseason, Mike McCarthy made the much ballyhoed and now belly-ached move of giving up the play-calling duties to Tom Clements. To not bother putting a fine point on it, this was presumably because MM had his head in his ass down the stretch of the NFC Championship Game. It is also assumed that if he didn’t have the burden of calling plays, he could actually be aware when his special teams coach decides to call a FG block left when leading 16-0 against a desperate and known to be aggressive coaching staff.

With the Packer offense wallowing in the bottom half of the league for most the season, the idea of MM reversing this decision has been beaten to death and is a non-starter at this point. It is too late in the season to make that big of a change now.

A less talked about move was the one that promoted Edgar Bennett to offensive coordinator and removed him from the position as coach of the receivers. In fact, to fill that void, the Packers made the unorthodox move of giving that responsibility AND the quarterbacks’ coach position to the same guy- Alex Van Pelt.

This was somewhat unfortunate as by every empirical measure Bennett was a smashing success right where he was. The Packers not only had two Pro Bowl receivers on their roster, but Davante Adams clearly played better in the latter portion of the season last year, showing marked progression in the right direction. He was getting it.

The motivation or intent behind the move was sensible. No doubt that McCarthy and his assistants are well aware that the MM coaching tree has hardly sprouted a bud ever since winning the Super Bowl after 2010. While three executives under Ted Thompson have moved on to run their own teams, only the ill-fated Joe Philbin has gotten a head-coaching gig out of his time under McCarthy.

In fact, former quarterback’s coach, Ben McAdoo, accepted an OC job with the New York Giants to give himself a better track towards a top gig. Considering all that, it made perfect sense for McCarthy to reward one of his top assistants while also blocking other teams from offering an OC job first.

Of course, Bennett might be OC in Green Bay, but he isn’t calling the plays. So, in the end, you have an exceptional running back or receivers coach who isn’t quite a full OC. Meanwhile, you have a former quarterback trying to coach both the quarterbacks and the receivers.

The results seem to speak for themselves. The Packers shockingly have the 23rd ranked passing attack and neither Van Pelt or McCarthy are going to step up and blame the quarterback, which kind of narrows it down in regards to who is at fault.

Sure, injuries are the primary culprit. Van Pelt and McCarthy, I’m sure, would both be quick to point that out. Okay, but Jeff Janis has NOT been injured, and he hasn’t learned the playbook yet? Despite what McCarthy is selling, football is not a game of geniuses. It is a simple game with plenty of the intellectually challenged doing exceedingly well at it. So, either Janis is as sharp as a loaf of bread, or he has a really poor teacher.

Also, injuries have nothing to do with receivers lining up and not knowing where to run their routes or how to. They also have nothing to do with effort and motivation. Adams appears to have regressed while Janis STILL doesn’t know what he’s doing out there, allegedly.

One would assume, perhaps falsely, that having the same coach in charge of the quarterbacks and receivers, having everyone in the same room, should make it easier for everyone to get on the same page. Well, that obviously hasn’t been happening.

So, with all this being considered, let me be the first to suggest that Alex Van Pelt is NOT a good receiver’s coach. Rather, in actuality, he has been completely inept at it so far.

Now, since Edgar Bennett was rightly promoted, there is nothing the Packers can do now to get him back into that position. Where that leaves the Packers is needing to replace Van Pelt as receiver’s coach, and the sooner the better. It is most likely that McCarthy would not make such a move until after the season is over. Of course, that means the Packers have to continue to live with the results until then.

I would suggest bringing in a former Packer receiver to assume the position immediately. Fortunately for the Packers, there is someone who has played in this system and with Aaron Rodgers, someone who knows the offense, and someone who was incredibly successful in it. That person also happens to have recently retired and therefore may be totally available. Yeah, I’m thinking of Donald Driver.


Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.



  1. dennis December 8, 2015

    I agree 100% but as usual nothing will happen until we go one and done in the postseason. The never fix the problem until it is too late is the way they operate,

  2. xlvordie December 8, 2015

    How could it possibly be to late to switch edgar back to WR’s or include them as his responsibility? What’s the worst that could happen? They already look like shit. Could they possibly be worse?
    I don’t understand how someone who’s never played the position can be a WR coach anyway. I know edgar didn’t play Wr Either but he Obviously had a good understanding of it.

  3. MMK December 8, 2015

    I’m guessing the Packers believe (maybe rightfully so) that it is hard to take any meaningful measurement of the offense without Jordy on the field. You raise a lot of good points in regards to the apparent lack of preparation, which obviously isn’t his fault. But in the same way the team would look completely different without Aaron Rodgers on the field, I think every blemish in the receiving corps becomes far more apparent when you don’t have a major threat on the field to absorb so much focus from the defense. Put another way, I think they will wait to re-examine a lot until Nelson is back on the field. Van Pelt might look like a really shitty QB coach too if Tolzien was hurling the ball around. Luckily, he and the rest of the Packers staff have always had Rodgers to cover up other deficiencies. Although I suppose the opposite could be argued this year…

  4. pastordad December 8, 2015

    Excellent idea,

  5. jtmax December 8, 2015

    It seems like Packers organization have gone top heavy. Lots of chiefs but few Indians. Donald driver would be interesting addition but Jordy Nelson is hanging around with nothing to do and he can definitely help Adams and Janis run routes. James Jones has the best hands the last 3 years and he can help mentor Davante with dropolitis. Nelson and Jones are both quiet guys. That’s the problem. They need to step up and help the younger guys out.

  6. Deepsky December 8, 2015

    The problem I see with Van Pelt as receivers coach, is suddenly, after years of Rodgers and Van Pelt working together, Rodgers work habits and perfectionist attitude he puts on himself is being required of the receivers. These guys aren’t used to this kind of pressure and its causing them to fail.

    1. Fritz fm WI December 8, 2015

      maybe they should hire Jerry Rice as a consultant to the coaches on how to motivate them to cultivate a work ethic that would fill the bill for AR?

  7. Big B December 8, 2015

    I was thinking the same thing about the new WR coach and wondered how much Bennett had to do with the group being so good last year vs. this year. Thanks for brining it up!

  8. Phatgzus December 8, 2015

    More like the receivers failing Alex Van Pelt. James Jones started off solid thanks to A-Rod being on but now we’re seeing why no one wanted him. Rodgers said Adams was a Pro Bowl Calibre receiver, he did not say he was Pro Bowl ready, big difference-receivers (outside of 1st-rounders) generally take a few years to develop; with the pressure to account for 15-15 along with injuries, Adams has not developed as quickly as hoped. Randall Cobb has failed to get open at times and seems to be in his own head trying to justify his contract, resulting in a career high in drops. Ty Montgomery got hurt in a major way just as he was starting to catch on a bit. Abbrederis has tale t, good hands and routes but is slim, fragile, and to that point has all of maybe 2 dozen NFL practices under his belt. Janis has the speed, ht, jump measurables but came from D3 where he could burn much worse players on simple routes, thus he didn’t have to develop his technique much, nor learn complicated route trees or read defenses for option routes, add to that he appears to have the brain power of a drunken chimp. Jordy Nelson was Aaron Rodgers’ safety blanket, he was an All Pro deep threat that extended the field and took an extra man out of the box and lessened the load on the other receivers, namely Cobb. Jordy Nelson is THAT integral to the team’s success, simple as that. You don’t lose one of the 50 best players in the league and keep on chugging like a frat boy freight train goin off the rails.

  9. V December 9, 2015

    A vertical speed/ deep threat guy running routes would go a long way to solving all of these issues.

    Play Janis more

  10. icebowl December 9, 2015

    Excellent piece.
    I’m all for bringing back The Don…