Seven takeaways from Adam Stenavich and Rich Bisaccia, including looking to 49ers for help with Jordan Love

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY − The Green Bay Packers are welcoming players back into the fold this week, with preparations underway to begin OTAs on Monday.

All three coordinators met with the media Tuesday ahead of the offseason program.

Here are seven things that stood out from offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich and special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia. 

The Packers studying multiple teams, including the 49ers, for help with Jordan Love 

The Packers are at the helm of arguably the biggest quarterback transition in the league, going from an entrenched 15-year starter and four-time MVP in Aaron Rodgers, to a first time starter in Jordan Love. 

In a copycat league, the Packers are studying how other clubs have eased the transition for young quarterbacks. Following this year’s NFL draft, Packers coach Matt LaFleur specifically mentioned the San Francisco 49ers finding ways to win after moving from Trey Lance to Jimmy Garoppolo and then Brock Purdy. The 49ers made it all the way to the NFC championship game under the rookie Purdy, a seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft. 

“You're just trying to study all these other teams and maybe take bits and pieces and what fits within your philosophy and make it your own,” LaFleur said. 

On Tuesday, Stenavich expounded, saying the Packers have watched multiple teams around the league who have been in a “similar” situation with a young quarterback, but the 49ers' handling of Purdy serves as inspiration. 

“Brock came in and had a lot of success last year,” Stenavich said. “Anytime you have a young quarterback come in, you're looking at ‘OK, what are the schemes? What are the different route concepts? What are the different things that you can do to kind of simplify things, make reads a little easier, whatever it may be to just put him in an advantage or put him in a comfortable place?’ 

“Usually the simplest things are the best things. Sometimes you can get in trouble as a coach trying to overcomplicate stuff. But if you can keep it simple, allow the players to play fast, that’s the biggest thing.” 

Tight ends Tucker Kraft (85) and Luke Musgrave (88) walk to the Don Huston Center.

Two rookie tight ends can lead to more ‘12’ personnel 

The Packers drafted two tight ends in the top three rounds of this year's draft, signaling a new era in the unit. During rookie minicamp, it wasn’t odd to see both Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft either split wide, on opposite ends of the line of scrimmage, or stacked hip-to-hip with one standing and the other in a three-point stance. 

“It’s huge, when you can play these guys in the box and then be vertical threats,” Stenavich said, “when you can split them out and get them isolated on linebackers and safeties, and win one-on-one matchups, that’s gonna be a very important thing for our offense.”

Musgrave and Kraft will have a steep learning curve, but the possibilities available in LaFleur’s offense with two true pass-catching tight ends are exciting the Packers. 

“Sometimes, you get into ‘12’ personnel (two tight ends), they put their base defense, whether that's four D-linemen and three linebackers, or five across and two linebackers, in the game, you can kind of dumb down the defense if you will, as far as you get less looks, you can kind of forget what's going on,” Stenavich said. 

“When you get all those guys on the field as linebackers, you can split out the tight ends and get one-on-one matchups with tight ends or receivers. So, there's a lot of different things you can do in the pass game as far as creating matchups.” 

Competition is open along the offensive line 

The Packers loaded up on offensive linemen in last year's draft and locked down Elgton Jenkins' contract before the season was out. As such, competition is heavy, specifically along the right side. 

“We got a lot of competition on the right side: right guard, right tackle and center,” Stenavich said. “So we’re gonna go out there and kind of put these guys at different spots.” 

Second-year player Zach Tom, who proved his versatility as a rookie, will be getting a shot at each position. 

“Zach’s gonna compete a lot at right guard and right tackle, and possibly some at center,” Stenavich said. “Getting those best five out there that gel the best, are the most physical, that’s what I’m looking for.”

Packers are prepared for growing pains at kicker 

Green Bay drafted kicker Anders Carlson in the sixth round of this year’s draft, essentially signaling a new day at what had been Mason Crosby's position for 15 years.

Carlson, who suffered a torn ACL and a shoulder injury during his time at Auburn, finished with a 72% make-rate in his five-year college career. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who helped Anders' brother Daniel turn around his NFL career while with the Las Vegas Raiders, is focused on Carlson’s potential over statistics. 

“I look at really the make-up of the person,” Bisaccia said. “I think he's a strong mental makeup person. I think he did his best regardless of the circumstance. He’s been in a lot of big games. He’s kicked in a lot of different situations in the SEC, he’s kicked in many bowl games. So I love his body structure and the power that he has and the ability to get stronger; and the ability to self correct, I think is a little bit of family trait that we’re seeing right now.” 

Bisaccia, who recruited Daniel Carlson to Auburn when Anders was a young teenager, said the younger Carlson looked like a “Great Dane puppy” at the time. Carlson has kept his long frame, at 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, which is notably tall for a kicker. It means “the angle you approach the ball has gotta be precise,” Bisaccia said. 

Those sort of tweaks, as well as returning to form following the ACL injury (on his plant-leg), are growing pains the Packers are prepared for, Bisaccia said. 

“I think with all players in the National Football League, they’re gonna ride the rollercoaster at times, regardless of the position. It just happens that the kicker is out there by himself,” Bisaccia said. “I think we're all prepared organizationally, if Anders can perform like we think he can and can improve, I think we’re prepared organizationally, as well with majority of the other draft picks, to weather the storm to some degree.” 

What does Anders Carlson’s drafting mean for Mason Crosby? 

With the addition of Carlson, the door seemed all but shut on Crosby. General manager Brian Gutekunst has refused to publicly confirm that and, on Tuesday, Bisaccia echoed his general manager. 

“We’re still in conversation,” Bisaccia said of Crosby’s future with the Packers. “I think Brian’s spoken that the door’s not closed and (Crosby’s) not on anybody’s team yet. I learned a lot from Mason. I learned a lot about tempo, I learned a lot about rhythm, I learned a lot about ball strike … I still think there’s play in Mason, so we’ll see what the future holds. I know he’s excited for what’s next for him in my conversations with him.”

Possibilities exist at punt returner 

The Packers found a diamond in the rough with Keisean Nixon handling kick returns in 2022. The free agent, who re-signed with the club this offseason, finished his first year as a returner leading the league in every major category on kick and punt returns (among those with enough returns to be considered eligible). 

Still, the art of returning punts is vastly different than that of returning kickoffs. It’s the latter where Nixon has really shined, so the opportunity for a new face to take over punt returns is there. Rookie Jayden Reed handled that job while at Michigan State, averaging 13.4 yards per return over his four-year career. He’ll get a shot at the job now in Green Bay but, like Carlson, might require some growing pains. 

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“It's a kicking ball,” Bisaccia explained Tuesday. “I know that sounds funny, but there’s a new ball that goes into the game for those guys and when they get hold of that slicker ball as a return guy, you see some muffs or fumbles from some young guys early until they get used to there being a new ball in there.

“But (Jayden’s) got tremendous speed, we think he has really good vision and balance. So we're excited to see what he can do as we get going here.”

The long-snapper competition continues 

In what has become tradition in the Packers offseason camp of late, the competition at long-snapper is open yet again. The Packers elected to waive second-year snapper Jack Coco, after bringing in veteran Matt Orzech and signing tryout player Broughton Hatcher. 

Orzech comes to the Packers as a four-year player, spending the past two seasons with the Las Angeles Rams, and winning the Super Bowl in 2021.  

“I think we have a good competition going right now. We're excited about going to get Matt,” Bisaccia said. “He’s played a lot of football. He’s a 6-4 body that can really move his feet, he’s athletic. And we brought in a young guy, in BR, that we think has some good size as well, that had a good rookie camp with us, so we’re excited about the competition we have going.” 

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