The Green Bay Packers have finalized their coaching staff, Mike McCarthy announced on Wednesday, and it’s a very different-looking group than the 2017 version.
Coming off a disappointing 7-9 season in which the Packers missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years and were impelled to make major organizational changes – the fallout from Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone – McCarthy and team president Mark Murphy had much work to do in overhauling Green Bay’s football operation, from the front office to the field.
On the coaching staff, there are plenty of new names joining a handful of holdovers. Several assistants have different titles, some were promoted, some demoted and – despite another injury-ravaged year – the entire strength and conditioning staff returns intact. At both offensive and defensive coordinator, Green Bay now has former NFL head coaches, but there are other new coordinator jobs this year, as well.
Here is everything you need to know about the Packers’ coaching staff, including their backgrounds and how they got to their positions:
Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator: A Packers coach for nine years (2003-11) and the offensive coordinator for his last five in Green Bay, Philbin left to become the Miami Dolphins head coach (2012-15), before serving as assistant head coach/offensive line for the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons. Philbin replaces Edgar Bennett, who was released and later took the job of receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders.
Philbin was a well-liked figure and respected offensive mind in Green Bay, and during his tenure as coordinator – though he didn’t call plays, and won’t this time either – the Packers ranked in the top 10 in the league in total yards and points each season. "Joe's always been at the front of the room," McCarthy said on Wednesday. "He'll run the meetings. We're back to the same format."
James Campen , run-game coordinator/offensive line coach: Entering his 12th season as offensive line coach and 15th year overall with the team, Campen is the Packers’ longest-tenured assistant. Green Bay ranked in the top 10 in scoring in nine of those seasons and in the top 10 in total offense eight times, including three of the top four single-season yardage marks in franchise history.
The former NFL center has helped develop players like David Bakhtiari, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, and his linemen have combined for seven Pro Bowl selections over the past six years. Run-game coordinator is a new position for the Packers.
Jim Hostler, pass-game coordinator: Like Philbin, Hostler comes to Green Bay from the Colts (2015-17), and he’s bringing 28 years of coaching experience, including 18 in the NFL. The 49ers offensive coordinator in 2007, he’s coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, and worked with McCarthy when both were in San Francisco in 2005. As with Campen’s position, pass-game coordinator is a new title for Green Bay.
Frank Cignetti Jr., quarterbacks coach: He comes to Green Bay with 29 years of coaching experience – much of it working with passers, including the past two seasons as the New York Giants’ quarterbacks coach. Cignetti, like McCarthy, is a Pittsburgh native, and he replaces Alex Van Pelt, whose contract expired and is now the Cincinnati Bengals QBs coach.
David Raih, wide receivers coach: Raih (pronounced RYE) has been with the Packers for the past four seasons and spent last year as offensive perimeter coach. The former Iowa quarterback (1999-2003) was promoted to replace Luke Getsy, who left Green Bay left to become the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State.
Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach: Entering his 23rd year in coaching and seventh as an NFL tight ends coach, Angelichio returns for his third season in that role for the Packers. In Green Bay, Angelichio has worked with Jared Cook, Richard Rodgers, Martellus Bennett and others.
Ben Sirmans, running backs coach: Entering his 23rd year in coaching and seventh as an NFL assistant, Sirmans also returns for his third season as the Packers’ running backs coach. Sirmans helped Green Bay transition from Eddie Lacy and James Starks to wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery before last season, and in 2017 Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones had impressive rookie seasons.
Jeff Blasko, assistant offensive line coach: Another native of Pittsburgh, Blasko coached in high school (2002-07) and college (2008-15), before being hired as a coaching administrator for the Packers in 2016. He returns for his second season helping Campen coach the offensive line.
Mike Pettine, defensive coordinator: Pettine, who began his coaching career in 1988, was the Browns head coach from 2014-15; in his first season, Cleveland led the league in opponent passer rating and was second in interceptions. He has five years of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator – with the New York Jets (2009-12) and Buffalo Bills (2013) – with his unit finishing in the top 10 in total yards and passing yards allowed each season.
Pettine, who did not have a coaching job the last two years, runs a 3-4 defensive scheme that is similar, though somewhat more complex, to that of fired coordinator Dom Capers. "I had five clear components and characteristics that I was looking for in a defensive coordinator," McCarthy said of Pettine. "Mike really knocked it out of the park. I knew early in the process that he was the right man for the job."
Winston Moss, associate head coach/linebackers: Entering his 31st season in the NFL, 19th as an assistant and 13th in Green Bay, Moss is the Packers’ longest-tenured defensive coach and returns for his fourth year as associate head coach. The former NFL linebacker was a member of McCarthy’s original coaching staff in 2006 and brings experience and leadership, plus positional expertise, to Green Bay’s defense.
Joe Whitt Jr., pass-game coordinator: Entering his 11th season with the organization, Whitt coached the Packers’ cornerbacks for the past nine years. While the secondary has recently been viewed as one of the team’s main weaknesses, over Whitt’s coaching tenure, Green Bay ranked in the league’s top 10 in interceptions (No. 1), opponent completion percentage (No. 7) and opponent passer rating (No. 9). The top internal candidate for the defensive coordinator position, Whitt was promoted to his new position when Pettine got that job.
Patrick Graham, run-game coordinator/inside linebackers coach: A Yale graduate who spent seven seasons on the New England Patriots’ coaching staff (2009-15), Graham comes to Green Bay after serving as the defensive line coach for the Giants the past two years. Run-game coordinator is a new position for the Packers.
Jason Simmons, secondary coach: Entering his eighth year in Green Bay, Simmons served as the Packers’ assistant special teams coach for the past three seasons. The former NFL defensive back and special teams standout takes over a new, consolidated role – previously, the Packers had separate cornerbacks and safeties coaches – and will try to improve a pass defense that finished No. 22 and No. 32 the last two years. Former safeties coach Darren Perry does have an official title yet, McCarthy said Wednesday, but he will be back on Green Bay's staff.
Jerry Montgomery, defensive line coach: Entering his fourth season with the Packers after 11 at the collegiate level, Montgomery served as the defensive front assistant for the past three years, working with players like Pro Bowler Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. After initially accepting a job this offseason at Texas A&M, Montgomery returned to Green Bay with a promotion, replacing fired line coach Mike Trgovac, who joined the Raiders.
Scott McCurley, defensive assistant: Initially released with Capers and Trgovac, McCurley returns for his 13th season in Green Bay, but in a different role. Demoted from assistant linebackers coach, McCurley is now defensive assistant, a position that didn’t previously exist on McCarthy’s staff.
Ryan Downard, defensive quality control: Downard comes to Green Bay after working at Bowling Green for the past two seasons, serving as the director of football operations in 2016 and the safeties coach in 2017. From 2014-15, he was a defensive coaching assistant with the Browns, where he worked under Pettine. Downward replaces Tim McGarigle, who took a job at Northwestern.
Ron Zook, special teams coordinator: The longtime coach, whose career started in 1978 and has included numerous jobs at the college and pro level, returns for his fourth year as the Packers’ special teams coordinator. The former head coach at the University of Florida (2002-04) and Illinois (2005-11) has spent time on the staffs of the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, Green Bay ranked 14th in special teams, according to Football Outsiders.
Maurice Drayton, assistant special teams coach: Entering his third year of coaching in the NFL, Drayton comes to the Packers after serving as a special teams assistant with Indianapolis the past two seasons. Prior to joining the Colts, he was a defensive coach in college from 1999-2015.
Strength and conditioning staff
Mark Lovat, strength & conditioning coordinator: Entering his 20th year with the Packers, Lovat returns for his ninth season as strength and conditioning coordinator. Lovat was named the NFL Strength Coach of the Year in 2011 by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society.
Chris Gizzi, strength & conditioning assistant: The former Packers linebacker (2000-01) returns for his fifth season in this role.
Thadeus Jackson, strength & conditioning assistant: Jackson returns for his ninth season as a Packers assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Grant Thorne, strength & conditioning assistant: Entering his sixth year with the Packers, Thorne returns for his fourth as a strength and conditioning assistant.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.