Green Bay Packers

Why the Rich Bisaccia Hire Is So Important To the Packers

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USA TODAY Sports)

It took some time, but the Green Bay Packers have finally learned a lesson: It’s essential to invest in the coaching staff to build a solid special teams unit. After years of going cheap and failing to have a respectable group, the Packers hired Rich Bisaccia. He should be among the highest-paid special teams coordinators in the NFL.

For a team that has lacked competence for at least a decade, Bisaccia is an important first step in the right direction. With 20 years of experience as a special teams coordinator in the NFL, he led units better than the Packers for each of the last 10 years, according to Rick Gosselin’s Special Teams Rankings. Four of his units were among the top 10 in the league. The Packers didn’t have any top-10 units during that time.

  • 2012: Chargers 6th, Packers 12th
  • 2013: Cowboys 4th, Packers 20th
  • 2014: Cowboys 13th, Packers 32nd
  • 2015: Cowboys 4th, Packers 17th
  • 2016: Cowboys 11th, Packers 29th
  • 2017: Cowboys 5th, Packers 16th
  • 2018: Raiders 19th, Packers 32nd
  • 2019: Raiders 25th, Packers 26th
  • 2020: Raiders 16th, Packers 29th
  • 2021: Raiders 11th, Packers 32nd

Remember the blocked punt that allowed the San Francisco 49ers to shift momentum in the NFC Championship? Well, Bisaccia-led units haven’t had a blocked punt for five years.

There are also interpersonal and management merits to this hire. As a special teams coordinator, Bisaccia handles basically every player on the roster. He’s in contact with a larger variety of players than a position coach or an offensive or defensive coordinator. And his recent experience as an interim head coach will probably be helpful to Matt LaFleur, who lost Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy during the current hiring cycle. Bisaccia led his team to the playoffs despite several off-the-field issues, like Jon Gruden’s resignation, Henry Ruggs’ imprisonment, and Damon Arnette’s release.

“We thought we had a 10-year plan with Jon (Gruden), and then it was just blown up in the middle of the season,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis. “And I can’t give enough credit to Rich and the coaches and the players for the culture that they built to take this team forward. I mean, I am really proud of them. We started off with two wins when Rich took over, took a big dip, but then they came back fighting hard. They did a phenomenal, phenomenal job. Rich is a great man.”

Bisaccia is so well-liked among players that some didn’t like that the Raiders hired former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels over him.

“Raiders players were disappointed to hear the news after they had made a serious push for interim coach Rich Bisaccia and his staff,” wrote Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “The players themselves probably thought the curse was over after they had overcome a series of off-field incidents and won four-straight games down the stretch to make the playoffs for the first time in five years.”

Bisaccia has coached since 1983 and has been an NFL assistant for the last two decades. He’s mostly worked with special teams, but he spent one year as a running backs coach. He had a strong relationship with Jon Gruden and entered the NFL in 2002 to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers special teams coordinator. They went to win a Super Bowl in his first season, the first title in franchise history.

After six seasons in the same position, he was promoted to assistant head coach, running backs coach, and ST coordinator for the 2008 season. After one year, he relinquished the running backs role, but he worked for Tampa until 2010. Bisaccia then had a two-year stint with the San Diego Chargers before going to the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

Bisaccia established himself as one of the best special teams coaches in Dallas. The Cowboys were top five in Rick Gosselin’s Special Teams Rankings three out of five seasons.

In 2018, Bisaccia accepted the challenge to work under Gruden again. He left Dallas and went to Oakland. After the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, Bisaccia had the biggest challenge of his professional life. When Gruden resigned following accusations of personal misconduct, the Raiders elevated their special teams coordinator to interim head coach.

Now, he’s the first signal that the Packers understand their needs. A coordinator price tag shouldn’t be an obstacle for an all-in team.

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