While experience alone isn’t everything, oftentimes, it does give a player an advantage over those who just haven’t spent the same amount of time on the football field. However, when it comes to the Green Bay Packers and their special teams unit, experience may not mean as much this season.
I won’t go into great detail because we all know the story quite well at this point, but the Packers’ special teams unit from 2021 was abysmal. The blocking was poor, and there were questionable snaps, bad holds, along with missed kicks. Both of the kick and punt return units struggled, as did the coverage teams–not to mention that there was also a shanked punt or two.
The end result was a special teams group that ranked as the worst in football in Rick Gosselin’s annual rankings. Although the 2021 crew may have been the worst of them all, the special teams play in Green Bay has consistently ranked in the bottom third of the NFL for a decade-plus.
So for that reason alone, players having special teams experience — at least on the Packers — doesn’t really carry a ton of weight. Leading the team in tackles, playing the most snaps, or having the highest PFF grade doesn’t quite have the same shine when you’re the “best” on the worst unit in football.
On top of that, the Packers brought in a new coordinator in Rich Bisaccia, to help turn things around. So there is going to be a different scheme, drills, and coaching techniques that will be brand new to just about everyone–which, again, puts less of an emphasis on special teams experience as it levels the playing field a bit.
We’ve already seen a decent amount of turnover on special teams, with the top-3 players in snaps last season — Oren Burks, Henry Black, and Isaac Yiadom — all no longer on the Packers. On top of that, Tyler Lancaster, who ranked ninth in snaps, and Corey Bojorquez, who finished 10th, are gone as well.
Other players in the top-10 in special teams snaps from a season ago, according to PFF, include Ty Summers, Tyler Davis, Shemar Jean-Charles, Isaiah McDuffie, and TJ Slaton.
In previous years, I imagine having that experience that these players do would give each of them a leg up when it comes to playing time and making the roster. However, for the two reasons just discussed — the poor play and Bisaccia now at the helm — I don’t see that being the case as the Packers are starting from scratch to a degree, and trying to find which players will best be able to help this 2022 team under Bisaccia.
And keep in mind, that several of these final roster spots are going to be determined by special teams play more so than any offensive or defensive contributions..