GREEN BAY – Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur officially introduced his 2019 coaching staff inside the Lambeau Field media auditorium on Monday.
LaFleur’s inaugural staff of 24 includes 10 returning coaches from 2018 and former assistant Luke Getsy, who is back as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach after a season spent as the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State.
Here are five things learned during Monday’s media availability with LaFleur and the Packers’ coaches.
1. The Packers plan on running the ball in 2019.
Running backs coach Ben Sirmans could hardly contain his excitement in discussing how his position group could factor into the Packers’ offensive plans for next season.
While the coaching staff is only in the preliminary stages of developing the 2019 playbook, conversations and research have Sirmans encouraged about the expanded roles Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are set to assume in LaFleur’s offense.
For starters, with LaFleur as offensive play-caller last season, Tennessee had one of the highest run percentages in the NFL behind Derrick Henry (215 carries) and Dion Lewis (155 carries, 59 receptions).
A year earlier in Jacksonville, new Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett had similar success on the ground with rookie first-round pick Leonard Fournette (268 carries) and veteran Chris Ivory (112 carries).
“That leads you to think we’re going to be running the football when you start looking at those things,” Sirmans said. “I’m excited about that because I feel good about the guys we have up front and the guys we have in the backfield, and I think it’ll just help the passing game and everything else flow a lot better.”
Jacksonville led the NFL in rushing in 2017 while Tennessee finished seventh this past season. Comparatively, no team carried the ball less than Green Bay in 2018 (333 attempts) despite the Packers finishing second in average yards per attempt (5.0).
As a tandem, Jones and Williams combined for 254 carries for 1,192 yards (4.7 avg.) and 11 touchdowns. That production left Sirmans eager to return to Green Bay to finish what he started.
“Definitely, especially now where we’re in a situation where we’re in an offense that’s going to run the ball more than what we have done before,” said Sirmans, who’s entering his fourth season with the Packers. “Now it gives those guys an opportunity to showcase their skill sets a little bit with more opportunities.
“I’m just glad I’ll be a part of that and part of continuing to develop those guys because there’s still room for development and improvement with both of them.”
2. It was Mark Lovat’s idea to promote Chris Gizzi to strength and conditioning coordinator.
LaFleur announced Monday the Packers will retain all four of their strength and conditioning coaches, though there will be big change at the top for 2019 with Lovat and Gizzi switching responsibilities.
Gizzi, 43, has spent the past five seasons as an assistant to Lovat, who has been with the Packers’ strength and conditioning staff since 1999 and served as coordinator since 2009.
“I think this kind of speaks to the kind of person that Mark Lovat is,” LaFleur said. “I hadn’t really thought about that until he brought it up to me. He’s a selfless individual. He suggested that. And then that’s when I really started to think about it. I talked to him, I talked to ‘Giz,’ and that was just something that we thought going forward that was going to make an impact within our organization.”
3. Luke Butkus’ uncle gave his blessing for his nephew to come to Green Bay.
Butkus knew what was coming before the question was even asked.
How does his uncle and Bears’ Hall of Fame linebacker, Dick Butkus, feel about his nephew landing a job as an assistant offensive line coach with the rival Green Bay Packers?
“He was excited for me,” said Butkus with a smile. “He was excited for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this, being back in the NFL. I think that’s first and foremost. When it comes to that, we make sure we take care of our family. It will be interesting when we play in Chicago and how that will be, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s just an exciting time.”
Regardless of rivalries, football is a fundamental part of the Butkus family. Luke’s father, Ron, played for three different colleges and had a brief stint with the Chicago Cardinals.
A native of Steger, Ill., Luke played center and followed in his uncle’s footsteps at the University of Illinois before playing two seasons in NFL Europe in 2003-04. Most recently, he served as the offensive line coach on Lovie Smith’s staff at Illinois.
Jokingly, Butkus said he already has plans to outfit his family in Packers apparel – at least for two games each season.
“I’m very proud of my family name and what everyone’s accomplished – not just my uncle, but my other uncles, my other aunts, my brothers, my sister,” Butkus said. “So yeah, a blessing, just like any one of you would say about your family. It just happens to be a family member that’s pretty good at football.”
4. Getsy is ready to get to work with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ quarterbacks.
After using a wide range of unique training tactics to get the most out of the Packers’ receiving corps a couple years back, Getsy will now get the chance at doing the same with Rodgers and the Packers’ QBs.
Getsy originally came to Green Bay as a quality control coach in 2014 before he was promoted to receivers coach in 2016. A former quarterback at Akron, Getsy assisted Alex Van Pelt in Green Bay’s quarterback room during his first two seasons.
Past experience in Green Bay isn’t the only thing that sold LaFleur on hiring Getsy, though. After interviewing Getsy and then talking to several individuals familiar with his work, LaFleur became convinced Getsy was the right man for the job.
In returning to the place he cut his teeth as an NFL coach, Getsy is excited to work with Rodgers again, while also becoming acquainted with DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle.
“I had two years in the quarterback room my first stint here, so I was able to develop a relationship there, a professional relationship where there’s mutual respect for each other, and so that helps coming into this thing,” Getsy said.
“I see (this) as an opportunity to help each one of those guys play at the highest level they can. That’s Aaron, that’s DeShone, that’s Tim, and whoever else might come into that room. That’s my job so I’m going to deliver the message and hold those guys accountable to it and then hopefully help them to the highest level of play.”
5. Adam Stenavich’s family is excited he’s coming home.
Stenavich had a lot of happy family and friends back home after word started to spread that the Marshfield, Wis., native had been hired as the Packers’ new offensive line coach.
A starting left tackle for two-plus seasons at Michigan, Stenavich was a member of the Packers’ practice squad in 2006 and 2007 before returning to Ann Arbor in 2012 as a graduate assistant.
“When I got the interview, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed or anything (if I didn’t get it),” he said. “When I got the job, everyone was pretty fired up. I got calls, texts and everything from all the people back in Marshfield and all over the state I know. It’s a pretty cool deal.”