Mike McCarthy giving up his play-calling duties was the headline.
But clear during his discussion of shifting his energies yesterday was the emphasis the Packers coach wants to put on special teams.
After finishing last year ranked last in the comprehensive rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, the Packers fired special teams coach Shawn Slocum. McCarthy promoted Ron Zook into that job, but wants to have a more active hand there himself.
“I will spend a lot of time with the special teams. Special teams needs to improve,” McCarthy said, via Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com. “It’s an area definitely of concern in the past. We have to continue to develop our young players, get them ready to play and contribute as quickly as possible.
“And we [also] need to get more out of our veterans. To me, that’s the hole in our special teams. The consistency and the standard of play in our veteran players is not where it needs to be. And that will be a direct focus of mine.”
Zook made mention of having a veteran core of players buy in to the system, to set the example for the young players who typically make up the bulk of special teams units.
But the problems they had last year transcend one assistant coach, or any particular player. They had seven kicks blocked, were last in the league in kickoff returns, and their inability to cover a fake field goal or field an onside kick kept them from a trip to the Super Bowl.
“We’ll sit down and we’ll start the first page of the playbook, the huddle. Page 1, and go all the way through,” McCarthy said. “The culture, the energy, the mechanics of how you train your football team – there will be some changes. There always is anytime you’re changing a position coach and coordinator. That’s obvious. It’s important to be creative.
“It’s all about growth. It’s all about culture. It’s all about energy. And we’ll have energy and a different culture on special teams.”
And a little more oversight from the boss certainly won’t hurt.