Lambeau Leap of Faith

June 11, 2010 2:34 PM

Unit Grades: Offensive Coaches

Now we come to a point in which all of the players have been graded, and it is time to grade the coaching staff. This is more challenging, because one has to look at the talent the staff has to work with, their progress, and other mitigating factors to figure out how much of the credit or blame rests on the coaches.

If a player is ultra-productive, how much of the credit goes to the coach? If the guy next to him is not, how much of the blame falls on their teacher?

It is a complicated process, and ways to figure out the coach's role are listed on a case-by-case basis. Here, I analyze the Offensive Coaches.

Joe Philbin: B

2111190482_7246c949ac.jpgPhilbin cannot get an A (or an F) simply because he does not call the plays, Mike McCarthy does. For the same reason, he cannot be blamed for continuing to call plays involving five- to seven-step drops when the offensive line was surrendering 32 sacks in the first eight games.

However, had he worked more with McCarthy to develop schemes to adjust to the line's failures more quickly, the Packers may have been able to win the NFC North (something one win against the Vikings would have accomplished). So while he deserves a lot of credit for having an offense that for the second straight year was the only one in the league to generate a 4000-yard passer, two 1000-yard receivers, and a 1200-yard back, there was room for improvement.

Edgar Bennett: B-

Bennett should get some of the credit for Grant's success; after all, teams did not evaluate him as a talent since he was acquired by Ted Thompson for a very late pick. Also, Grant has improved in an area of weakness in each of the past two seasons: He had some fumble issues in 2007 that were addressed, as were his shortcomings in the passing game (especially receiving, but to some extent blocking) from 2008.

However, as there has been little development in Brandon Jackson in two years, and he was seen as enough of a talent to be widely considered a potential starter coming out of college, Bennett must shoulder some blame here. Ahman Green did very well with what little talent he has left in 2009, but that is less about Bennett than the veteran back himself.

James Campen and Jerry Fontenot: D+

Campen is receiving a lot of criticism for the deficiencies of the offensive line, and he deserves some, as does his assistant Fontenot. But the reality is he does not have much top-end talent to work with.

With veterans Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher out with injuries, the line had only one second-round pick on it, Daryn Colledge. Jason Spitz is the only other player taken in the first half of the draft, and he was arguably the team's best lineman over the entire 16-game season in 2009. T.J. Lang performed well for a rookie from a small school, as did Josh Sitton, also from a small school, for someone with a year of experience. The only major failures on this line are Colledge and Allen Barbre, and every line has failures.

Once Clifton and Tauscher returned, the line was no longer one of the worst in the league, but it still was average at best: Only one playoff team (the Philadelphia Eagles) allowed 38 sacks over the season, the pace the Packers finished the season on (19 in their last eight games); on the other hand, they did play very good pass rushes in Dallas, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh during that time.

Tom Clements: A-

Clements has produced one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 4000 yards in their first two years as a starter, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2009. That quarterback has also only thrown 22 interceptions in those two seasons, something his future Hall of Fame predecessor surpassed a few times in a single season. The only thing keeping this from being an A+ is Clements has not been able to help his pupil cut down on sacks by getting rid of the ball sooner, and that is primarily a coaching issue.

Ben McAdoo: B+

While McAdoo deserves some credit for the emergence of Jermichael Finley as a big-play tight end, as well as the youngster's mild improvement as a blocker, he has done little to get more out of Donald Lee. It is quite possible Lee is performing as well as he is capable of, but it is also likely that most NFL coaches would have developed Finley at least nearly as well as McAdoo.

What puts Ben over the top is the performance of Spencer Havner. He was a practice squad player who was converted from linebacker, and emerged as a real red zone threat last season (four of his seven catches for TDs!). A good part of this was the other weapons defenses had to contend with vs. the relative obscurity of Havner, but he still deserves credit for helping his pupil take advantage of the opportunities.

Jimmy Robinson: B+

Robinson has consistently produced one of the three best receiving units in the game, and last year was no exception. However, it is not like he doesn't have talent to work with: Donald Driver, while a late-round pick, was already a proven producer by the time Robinson took over. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson are second-round picks, and James Jones was drafted (albeit probably two rounds too early) in the third. He also has had the benefit of a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a first-round draft pick throwing to his targets.

John Rushing: B-

I am not sure what an offensive quality control coach does. If he is responsible for reducing penalties (which would be quality control), he should be fired. If he is responsible for breaking down film and finding ways to attack opposing defenses (also quality control), he should get a hefty raise...since the defensive quality control coach is very film heavy, I will lean Rushing's grade toward the positive.

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