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Rich Bisaccia will 'look in every nook and cranny' to improve Packers' special teams

Green Bay’s new coordinator has proven track record in NFL

Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia
Packers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia

GREEN BAY – Rich Bisaccia doesn't need to be told the size of his task.

He's watched all the film, he's seen all of the Packers' recent struggles on special teams, and Green Bay's new coordinator is keeping his approach both as simple and as comprehensive as he can.

"We're going to look in every nook and cranny to see what we can do to make ourselves better," Bisaccia said Tuesday in his first meeting with the Green Bay media since being hired by Head Coach Matt LaFleur to turn around the Packers' special teams. "There's not one specific thing."

The blocked field goal and blocked punt for a touchdown that led to the playoff loss to the 49ers last January have cast a shadow all offseason, but those untimely breakdowns were the culmination of season-long struggles that kept the Packers from getting in sync on special teams throughout 2021.

Going back a year prior, the punt and kickoff coverage units were major sore spots, leading to a coordinator change then. A productive return game also has yet to be established under LaFleur. The overall results in the game's third phase haven't reached the proper standard for some time here.

What Bisaccia brings that the Packers' previous coordinators didn't is extensive experience in this very role at the pro level. He's coordinated special teams in the NFL for 20 years now, with four different teams prior to his arrival in Green Bay. He coached in various roles, including special teams, in the college ranks for two decades before that.

His track record of success stands out, too. In his 20 years in the NFL, Bisaccia's units have finished in the top 10 in longtime football analyst Rick Gosselin's annual special teams rankings eight times, and he just missed that with the Raiders this past season, coming in 11th.

So where does he start in Green Bay? Bisaccia explained his foundation is the punt team, specifically finding the six primary protection/coverage players to anchor that unit. Those are the guys who then can branch out as core players on the other units, and the rest gets filled in from there.

"We're going to try to put a unit together that cares about each other, that knows what to do, competes with relentless effort and improves every day," Bisaccia said.

"We have a one-play mentality. We don't get three downs to get it right. We have one play to make a difference, and they have to understand the significance and the criticalness of that particular play, and I think if we can get that across, we'll play better."

He also mentioned finding the right people, and personnel changes have been underway since his hiring.

Shortly after free agency began, the Packers signed Raiders reserve cornerback and special-teams regular Keisean Nixon, who spent the past three years with Bisaccia. Nixon is a fast, physical player with "a great mentality" of hard-nosed toughness in Bisaccia's eyes.

Even before that, the Packers signed veteran punter Pat O'Donnell from the Bears and declined to re-sign Corey Bojorquez, whose performance fell off as last season wore on and whose inconsistency as a holder on placekicks was an ongoing issue.

Bisaccia noted he wanted O'Donnell as his punter when he first got the Raiders job four years ago, but it didn't work out. He sees the ninth-year veteran as a solid, reliable piece to make things work.

"He's been a proven player, not only in the league but in this division," Bisaccia said. "He's played real well in bad weather, he's played outside his entire career, he's a tremendous athlete.

"Wonderful holder and his job at holder is to make everybody right. He's got to make the snapper right, he's got to make the kicker right, and he's done that for a long time."

That kicker of course is veteran Mason Crosby, whom Bisaccia actually coached at the Senior Bowl back in January of 2007 when Crosby was entering the draft.

The Packers have two other kickers on the current roster – JJ Molson and Dominik Eberle, who worked with Bisaccia with the Raiders as well – but General Manager Brian Gutekunst has indicated he wants a tested commodity on a contending team, which means Crosby remains the kicker for now despite a rough 2021 statistically.

"The one good thing I know about Crosby is that he's come back from a down year to play really well," Bisaccia said, referring to Crosby's 2012-13 seasons. "So I'm excited about being around him."

He's excited about a brand new challenge, too. After a successful stint as the Raiders' interim head coach earned a playoff spot last year, but not the full-time head job, Bisaccia said he was re-energized by his conversations with LaFleur. He also appreciates the opportunity to coach with a historic franchise and reunite with defensive coordinator Joe Barry, a coaching colleague at two previous NFL stops with the Buccaneers and Chargers.

LaFleur has called Bisaccia a "fiery guy" and wants his special teams to embody that personality. For the Packers' units that haven't been able to shake their struggles, it's as good a place to start as any.

"I appreciate all the kind words from Coach LaFleur," Bisaccia said. "I can't wait to get up in the morning and coach football. That's just what I've done for so long. It's a way of life for me, as well as it is for the other coaches here.

"As far as special teams go, I kind of live in a one-play-mentality world myself."

Green Bay Packers assistant coaches met with local media members in the Lambeau Field media auditorium on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

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