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Packers’ Coaching Shakeup: It’s Not a Youth Movement

Yes, we reported on how the Green Bay Packers replaced aging defensive coordinator Dom Capers with Mike Pettine – a man 16 years younger than the Packers fixture.

Outside of that obvious and overdue move, however, I’m not seeing an infusion of youth, energy, or new ideas that I’d hoped for.

Joe Philbin, at 56, is returning to Green Bay to replace 48-year-old Edgar Bennett. Not only is this a move toward an older coach, it’s also bringing back an old crony of head coach Mike McCarthy. Philbin was on Big Mike’s coaching staff from 2006 through 2011, so don’t expect a lot of fresh ideas here.

Frank Cignetti, Jr., at 52, replaces the 47-year-old Alex Van Pelt as quarterbacks coach. The fifth quarterbacks coach since Aaron Rodgers’ arrival. He was preceded by Darrell Bevell (2005), Tom Clements (2006-11), Ben McAdoo (2012-13), and Van Pelt (2014-17). I assume Aaron was consulted and approved this change.

Patrick Graham, though he has 15 years of coaching experience, is a youngster at age 38. Strangely, other than being a defensive coach, his precise role has yet to be announced.

Two of the youngest Green Bay coaches also departed, though quietly, at season’s end. Receivers coach Luke Getsy, 34, returned to college coaching after only two years. Defensive quality control coach Tim McGarigle, only 33, did the same after only a year in Green Bay.

Current coaches said to be on the fence are Darren Perry, 49, and Winston Moss, 52.

In sum, in just two weeks, coaches who’ve separated from Big Mike’s staff include those who are 48, 47, 34, and 33. Instead of developing and holding on to a team of experienced coaches, McCarthy has used a revolving-door approach. There can’t be a lot of loyalty or sense of security felt by the coaching staff toward the head man at this point.

Youth Is Being Served Elsewhere

The Chicago Bears have replaced 62-year-old John Fox with 39-year-old Matt Nagy. Since Fox had become ineffective, the Packers should anticipate a tougher Windy City opponent in the coming years.

In Detroit, 62-year-old Jim Caldwell will most likely be replaced by Matt Patricia, the highly regarded 43-year-old defensive coordinator of the Patriots. It is theorized that Detroit is waiting until the end of the Patriots’ postseason to close the deal. If this happens, Detroit also should be a more difficult adversary going forward.

In 2018, the Packers will play the Rams in Los Angeles. Their coach of one year is 31-year-old Sean McVay – all he’s done is take a 4-12 team and turned it into an 11-5 playoff team.

Jon Gruden, the new coach of the Raiders at reportedly $100 million over 10 years, has hired 15 men to his coaching staff – I count eight who are under 45 years old. Defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is an interesting choice – at age 36, he went straight from Alabama’s recent national championship win to Gruden’s NFL coaching staff.

Gruden, who is 54, was but 28 when Mike Holmgren made him an offensive assistant for the Packers in 1992. After only three years he moved up to being the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. Three years after that he was named head coach of the Raiders. As a head coach Gruden went 38-26 in four years in Oakland, and 57-55 in seven years with the Buccaneers. He’s been a highly-paid television broadcaster for the last nine years.

Going into the 2017 season, 11 of the league’s coaches were under 50.

The trend toward younger, more enthusiastic, more creative – and more successful – NFL coaches is happening in many NFL venues, though not in Green Bay.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Kato January 22, 2018

    Just because they are new and young means nothing. Patricia doesn’t make the lions a more formidable opponent, the guy hasn’t even coached an NFL game yet. Josh McDaniels flopped big time in Denver, anyone remember? Ditto for Raheem Morris in Tampa. Didn’t Denver win a super bowl with Gary Kubiak as head coach and Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator? Who the fuck cares about age, as long as they can coach and put players in the best position to succeed as possible

    1. Kato January 22, 2018

      Besides, I don’t necessarily see the point in bringing in a young guy at offensive coordinator. In Green Bay he won’t be calling the plays. As far as I know, the offensive coordinator’s main job there is game planning and breaking down film of the packers next opponent. Besides, I think Aaron Rodgers really seemed to like Philbin and several players attended his sons funeral. Besides, most of the young offensive minds aren’t taking lateral jobs as the offensive coordinator, with no playcalling responsibilities. They are taking head coaching jobs

  2. Howard January 22, 2018

    Age and experience helps. I think the ability to adjust formations, schemes, and game plans not only each game but during each series, quarter, and half of each game makes for the best coaches.

    I know from experience :-) that with age it gets harder to accept and adjust to change. The problem with youth is you may bring new ideas, formations, schemes, etc., but in the NFL, teams will dissect your tendencies, new or old, and will make you adjust or fall behind, rather than being the trend setter.

    Experience or age lends to having the been there done that before knowledge. However, sometimes you get that young coach that is forged by fire, survives, and is a good coach immediately, and then becomes a great coach over time.

    I still believe Lombardi hit it on the head when he said:

    “Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling.” I would add, and having good to very good QB play, based on current NFL rules that assist the passing game.

  3. Cheese January 22, 2018

    The Rams coach is only 31, and was hired at 30? Dang..

  4. CZ Stevens January 24, 2018

    all i care about hiring is someone who has consistently been well above average, young or old…yo avoid a below average defense

  5. Lawrence kolcz January 27, 2018

    As far as I’m concerned the main coaching change did not happen, the head coach should have been the first to go. His entire offensive game plan is hey Aaron throw the ball. Great coaches change game plans when things aren’t working, MM just tells Aaron keep throwing the ball. Where’s Wolf and Holmgren, we should have given Mike downtown Green Bay to keep him here, we would have been step for step with the Patriots. With MM the head coach we are nothing more then a division winner, and we can’t even do that. What a waste of one of the best QBs in the game