Reports: Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy considering changes

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Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been the play-caller for his team since becoming head coach.. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports photograph

As of 5 p.m. this afternoon, this was what Ian Rapoport of was tweeting – but still no direct confirmation from Packers officials:

As of 4 p.m. this afternoon, this was what Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press Gazette was tweeting:

According to @WDUZ, per a tweet this afternoon, the Green Bay Packers are about to launch a whole new regime, with significant coaching and coordinator position changes reportedly on the horizon. Those changes, if the @WDUZ report is true, would involve the promotion of wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett to offensive coordinator and current offensive coordinator Tom Clements to Associate Head coach. But even more significant in this report is that Clements would be given play-calling duties – a task that had been exclusively held by head coach Mike McCarthy. Other reports have indicated that McCarthy hasn’t finalized anything yet, but is considering changes that could include some form of change in the play-calling duties.  

Though none of this information, as of 3:p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, had been confirmed, but if it pans out, in my opinion this could be the biggest sea change within the Packers organization in some time.

If any kind of change comes about that involves these guys, there’s nobody more deserving of these promotions than Bennett and Clements.

Both have been instrumental in drawing up offensive plans for one of the top offenses and best receiving corps in all of football.

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Bennett, who started with the organization  in 2001 when he was hired as the director of player development in 2001, jumped in as running backs coach for six seasons before being named wide receivers coach in 2011.

He has served in that capacity since then. Under Bennett, the Packers receivers have been prolific. In this pass-happy league, Bennett has coached a toughness and brought from his running backs days, a resilience and focus.

With Aaron Rodgers delivering the ball, this unit of pass-catchers has thrived – and hung onto the ball when it comes their way. Here is what I wrote about Bennett in a post here on Lombardiave a couple of months ago …

"Edgar Bennett has become one of the Green Bay Packers‘ greatest coaching assets and the reason why this team’s passing game continues to fly high season after season. Bennett, who spent several years as the team’s running backs coach before taking over as the team’s receivers coach, is one who doesn’t search out the glory, but goes about his business without much credit for what he has brought to this franchise … much like how he carried himself as a player back in the 1990s. It wasn’t so long ago that the talk about wide receivers in Green Bay – despite the fact that they have had Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks – were the drops that seemed to occur at all the wrong times. Not so much anymore. Green Bay Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph In a recent mailbag answer to a question, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky included this nugget: According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Packers’ drop percentage is on pace to be the lowest that it has been in coach Mike McCarthy’s nine seasons. That’s pretty remarkable – a statistic that could be attributed directly to the fact that the Packers have one of the most sure-handed receiving corps in years, but should probably be attributed to the coaching philosophy of Edgar Bennett. Compare that to 2012, Bennett’s second year as wide receivers coach when the team had a drop rate of 6.8 percent – tied for second-worst in the NFL. But even more significantly, take a look at the drop rates between 2009-12, as compiled by Pro Football Focus … During that time span, it was James Jones and Donald Driver who were the team’s worst offenders. Out of 139 catchable passes, Jones dropped 20 between 2009-12; Driver dropped 22 passes of the 179 catchable passes thrown his way. In 2012, the team’s worst offender was Jermichael Finley, who dropped six balls in 89 targets – and who can forget that playoff game at Lambeau against the New York Giants when Finley had the butterfingers? In 2013, it was Bennett whose attention to detail helped turn things around. Here is how he explained it in an article during early 2013: “It’s always about what you emphasize, and that’s looking the ball in so we don’t have that occasional, take your eye off the ball worrying about where you’re going to advance the ball to. I think it’s just more about focus and being fundamentally sound as far as looking the ball in.” In the end, any way you slice it, the Packers have been steady and committed to fundamentals when catching the football – a pretty important fact when you look at the Packers’ offensive strategy and the importance of catching the football. No doubt their success in hanging onto the football is a huge reason they sit at 9-3 at this point in the season. It’s also pretty clear that Edgar Bennett’s coaching influence has had a huge impact … and the reason he’s become one of, if not the greatest coaching asset on Mike McCarthy’s staff."

In the end, it was a bad game at Buffalo that helped skew the statistics a bit.

That game did more than just keep the Packers from home field advantage in the playoffs, but it was also one of the worst games for a usually steady group. By the end of the season, the Packers ranked 13th among all teams in drops, registering 24 in 531 attempts.

But eight of those drops came in a single game – an anomaly you might find from time to time even from the best.

That all said, if this pans out it would be a great opportunity for Bennett, a guy who seems steady as a rock and a coach the players respect; one they for which they will run through the proverbial wall.

Bennett is part of the reason this could be the most significant coaching move in years for the Packers.

The other part is Tom Clements …

Next: Tom Clements, the new play-caller