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Will a dedicated receivers coach help Packers recover from 'huge step back'?

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Promoting Luke Getsy to serve as the team’s wide receivers coach won’t solve all of the problems the Green Bay Packers had on offense last season.

But it’s a start.

Head coach Mike McCarthy was very clear on several topics Thursday, when he introduced the new or promoted coaches on his staff: He was thoroughly disappointed with the Packers’ offensive performance in 2015; the way he structured his offensive coaching staff did not work out as he’d hoped; and he has been a huge fan of Getsy, who just this week turned 32, since he first interviewed him for an entry-level position two years ago.

Among the by-products of McCarthy’s decision last offseason to relinquish the offensive play-calling duties was that, for the first time in McCarthy’s 10-year tenure as Packers coach, the team did not have a dedicated wide receivers coach. Instead, with McCarthy promoting previous receivers coach Edgar Bennett to offensive coordinator after Tom Clements took over play-calling, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt added the wide receivers to his job description.

Although there wasn’t any evidence that the receivers got substandard coaching because Van Pelt was overseeing two positions, the unit was a disappointment in the wake of Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson’s season-ending knee injury in August. The remaining receivers struggled to get open against opposing defenses, a major factor in the Packers finishing 23rd in total offense, tied for 25th in passing offense and 15th in scoring.

“Offensively we took a huge step back, there’s no question about that,” McCarthy acknowledged Thursday. Asked if the team needed a full-time receivers coach, McCarthy said he hopes returning to the previous structure pays off.

“We had a plan last year. It wasn’t executed, obviously, to the level we look to achieve,” McCarthy said. “The interactions between position groups has been a staple of how we operate the last four or five years. I think more has been made of it, frankly, as an excuse. With that, the excuses are over. We’ve changed and adjusted the job responsibilities back more to what we’ve done in the past. My outlook is hopefully it’ll be a much better process.”

McCarthy said the Packers’ top two veteran receivers -- Nelson and Randall Cobb -- went to bat for Getsy, who spent the past two seasons as the team’s offensive quality control coach. Cobb has openly said he was disappointed with his performance last season, but it’ll be the team’s trio of third-year receivers -- Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis -- who’ll most need to develop under Getsy. Improvement from Adams, whose impact was limited in the wake of Nelson’s injury, will be particularly vital.

“Last year is last year. I know a lot of guys want to take another step and get back to maybe where they were or where they’ve been,” Getsy said. “My job is just to help each and every single one of those guys get to their peak.”

Getsy, who played quarterback collegiately at Pittsburgh and Akron, went into coaching after a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2007. After working as a graduate assistant at Akron, he was the offensive coordinator at West Virginia Wesleyan College, then spent a year as a grad assistant at Pitt before working as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Getsy’s only year coaching wide receivers was at Western Michigan in 2013, before McCarthy hired him. Last season, Getsy spent most of his time in the quarterback room with Clements, Van Pelt and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who spoke highly of him throughout the season.

The receivers and quarterbacks met together during last season with Van Pelt overseeing both positions, and Getsy indicated that practice will continue in some form this season.

“I’m sure that [having a wide receivers coach] will help. That’s one of the things that I look forward to -- being able to be with each and every individual more maybe than they had last year,” Getsy said. “This offense and the way this thing runs, it’s through the quarterback. Them being in that room is a good experience, I think, for them. We’re going to build on that. We’re not going to run away from that. We’re just going to have a little bit different setup, and I’m going to be able to be there for each individual a little bit more.”