Ryan Downard

Latest On Packers’ Coaching Staff

The Packers are just about done filling out Matt LaFleur’s inaugural staff. They’ve made a bunch of moves over the past couple of weeks, and made several more today. While LaFleur is keeping defensive coordinator Mike Pettine from Mike McCarthy’s staff, most of the assistants are being changed out. Pettine is staying and the team previously hired Nathaniel Hackett to coordinate the offense, and today they found their third coordinator.

Vanderbilt special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga will take the same job with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Demovsky points out, Green Bay’s special teams were some of the worst in the league last year, so Mennenga will have his work cut out for him. Mennenga was previously an assistant special teams coach with the Browns while Pettine was the head coach in Cleveland.

The team also has a new wide receivers coach, as they’re hiring Alvis Whitted, according to Demovsky. Whitted has been in the same position at Colorado State for the last seven years. Before that Whitted spent nearly a decade in the NFL as a player, with stops in Jacksonville and Oakland.

The team also announced they were keeping four of McCarthy’s other assistants, tweets Jason Wilde of ESPN. Running backs coach Ben Sirmans, defensive backs coach Jason Simmons, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, and assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard are all staying. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that both Simmons and Downard actually received promotions.

Coaching Rumors: Titans, Lions, Packers

Although at least one report indicated new Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would overhaul the majority of Tennessee’s coaching staff, that’s not necessarily the case, says Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (all Twitter links). Tight ends coach Arthur Smith, assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman, and assistant wide receivers coach Luke Steckel will join previously-reported defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend in interviewing with Vrabel during the Senior Bowl. Among the coaches who will part ways with the Titans include offensive line coach and NFL Hall of Famer Russ Grimm (who is retiring), quarterbacks coach Jason Michael, running backs coach Sylvester Croom, defensive assistant Brandon Blaney, and assistant defensive backs coach Steve Jackson.

Here’s more from the 2018 coaching carousel:

  • The Lions are expected to revamp their defensive coaching staff under new head coach Matt Patricia, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). That should come as no surprise given Patricia’s defensive background, and the current Patriots DC spoke with members of the Detroit staff last week to inform them they aren’t part of the club’s 2018 plans, per Birkett. Specifically, Lions linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and defensive backs coach Alan Williams have been fired, reports Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. The Lions, of course, have already lost a number of defensive staffers to other teams, as former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin joined the Bengals while ex-defensive line coach Kris Kocurek landed with the Dolphins.
  • The Packers will continue their staff overhaul under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine by hiring former Bowling Green safeties coach Ryan Downard, likely as a defensive quality control coach, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Downard was an assistant under Pettine in Cleveland before heading to BGSU, so there is a level of familiarity between the two. Downard’s addition does not have an effect on the status of incumbent cornerbacks coach Darren Perry, per Silverstein. Meanwhile, La Canfora (via Twitter) has clarified Jason Simmonsrole change with Green Bay, noting that he’s been moved to secondary coach.
  • The Panthers are interviewing Seahawks assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell for the same position, reports Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). If hired, Farwell would work alongside former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was recently named Carolina’s new special teams coach. Farwell, an ex-NFL ‘backer in his own right, joined the coaching ranks in 2016.
  • The Seahawks have mutually parted ways with senior defensive assistant Travis Jones, the club announced today. Jones had served as Seattle’s defensive line coach from 2013-16 before being bumped to a new role last season. He’s just the latest coach to leave the Seahawks’ staff this month, adding to a growing list that includes OC Darrell Bevell and DC Kris Richard.