The Green Bay Packers hit a home run in the 2019 offseason when they hired Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to replace Mike McCarthy as their new head coach.
Hiring coordinators who found success elsewhere is a very popular trend which we see arise every February when teams are on the hunt for a new HC.
In today’s NFL, as the league skews more towards the offensive side of the ball, new head coaches tend to be offensive geniuses with roots tied to the modern-day masterminds of Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay.
As much as you want to factor scheme fit and leadership into the equation, your chance of becoming a head coach often boils down to how much success your team has on your particular side of the ball.
That logic would dictate that Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is in line for a head coaching gig soon, which he most definitely is.
While Matt LaFleur calls pretty much all of the shots on offense, with six years of OC experience you’d have to think it won’t be long now before some team comes knocking on Hackett’s door.
As deserving as Hackett is, he is NOT the Packers coach I’m referring to in the title. I am instead referring to someone a bit lesser known. He is the man in charge of the big men in the trenches, offensive line coach Adam Stenavich.
Stenavich, a native of Marshfield, WI is entering his ninth year of coaching and his third as the offensive line coach of the Packers.
Prior to his time in Green Bay, Stenavich worked his way through the college ranks before taking an assistant role with the San Francisco 49ers.
Stenavich had pretty big big shoes to fill in Green Bay. He was replacing longtime offensive line coach James Campen, who guided the development for stars such as David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga and JC Tretter.
While it’s pretty much impossible to match Campen’s resumé, there’s no doubt that Stenavich has so far exceeded the expectations placed upon him.
Stenavich’s track record with the Packers speaks volumes
When you look at some of the adversity Stenavich’s unit faced last year, it’s clear to see how good of a job he’s done getting players up to NFL standard.
Injuries showed up all over the offensive line in Green Bay last year and pretty much every single time a player went down, there was someone ready to slide in, someone ready to move to a new position and the offense continued to not miss a beat.
The Packers finished last season with the highest pass block AND run block win rates in the NFL, per ESPN. Simply put, they were the best offensive line in the league.
Stenavich runs an extremely versatile unit where almost everyone can hold up in multiple positions, including Elgton Jenkins, who is Pro Bowl caliber playing guard, center or tackle.
Corey Linsley and David Bakhtiari had the best seasons of their respective careers with Stenavich at the helm last season.
So to did Billy Turner. Let walk from Miami and Denver, Turner has revitalized his career under the coaching of Stenavich and is now a fringe top-32 tackle in the league with guard versatility to boot.
It’s extremely early right now, but even through training camp and a couple of preseason games you can see the potential of rookies Josh Myers and Royce Newman already shining bright.
Stenavich has developed undrafted guys such as Lucas Patrick into regular starters. He might just be doing the same right now with Ben Braden.
Sixth-round pick Jon Runyan was thrust into action in week one of his rookie season and held up as if he were a six-year veteran.
While all these players deserve individual credit themselves for these performances and career turnarounds, at some point you have to look at the common denominator. That is Adam Stenavich.
Even if you set aside the two best players in Bakhtiari and Jenkins, when looking at the rest of the group and where they came from, Stenavich has been given a lump of clay and turned it into an embarrassment of… well not riches, but like, really capable starting linemen.
Obviously being a head coach you need to have a strong understanding of the entire workings of the team and Stenavich is actually getting that.
To the credit of Matt LaFleur, he let the offensive line coach take over play-calling duties in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s preseason matchup with the Jets.
Now, I fully understand that the offensive line is perceived to be the least attractive area of the game, and hence the mere suggestion of hiring a head coach who specializes with the big guys up front leaves many fans (and owners) turning their noses up.
But I get the sense that somewhere along the line, a team will embrace the identity that comes with hiring an O-line expert as their head coach.
As seemingly every team wants to hire the sleek, handsome west coast innovators, someone along the line is going to ‘zig’ where the rest ‘zag’.
We already got a little taste of that this season when the Lions hired former Saints tight ends coach and perpetual maniac Dan Campbell to lead their team in a shift towards a more hard-nosed, gritty culture.
I think realistically for Stenavich, it’s still a matter of if, not when. The Packers line is probably going to remain strong for a good few years and his stock will do nothing but rise, but it’s just a case of whether or not he has the traits to lead a team. That, we don’t really know yet.
Maybe if Hackett does depart, Stenavich could get the “assistant OC” title or something of that nature to further boost his resumé and give him more responsibilities.
The fact of the matter is that Stenavich is a really talented coach, and if he keeps taking career leaps at the pace he’s at right now, it won’t be long before the Packers are on the hunt for a new O-line coach as Stenavich moves on to greener pastures.