Green Bay Packers: Chad Morton

Next OLB coach needs natural fits

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
12:00
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have yet to name a replacement for outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, who unexpectedly resigned last month.

Whomever coach Mike McCarthy hires, it will behoove him and general manager Ted Thompson to give Greene’s replacement some players who are natural fits for the position.

In his five seasons on the coaching staff, Greene often had the difficult task of trying to convert defensive ends into outside linebackers.

Take last year’s group, for example. Of the five outside linebackers on the roster for the entire season, only Clay Matthews played linebacker in college.

Although Greene made some progress with Nick Perry, the Packers’ 2012 first-round pick, it remains to be seen whether Perry will ever fully excel at outside linebacker after playing defensive end in college at USC.

Greene was keen enough to suggest that Mike Neal, a former second-round pick who played defensive end in his first three NFL seasons, should move to outside linebacker last offseason. The move worked out perhaps better than could have been expected, but the transition had to be arduous work on the part of both the player and the coach. Neal produced five sacks, including four in the final seven regular-season games, and also set career highs in tackles and interceptions.

The other two outside linebackers in Greene’s group were a pair of rookies: Nate Palmer (sixth-round pick) and Andy Mulumba (undrafted). Both played defensive end in college, Palmer at Illinois State and Mulumba at Eastern Michigan.

Even for perhaps the best outside linebacker to ever play the position (Greene’s 160 career sacks rank third overall and first among outside linebackers), it was asking a lot to turn some of those players into natural fits at the position.

Although Greene stated the desire to spend more time with his family as his reason for stepping aside, it’s worth wondering if he became frustrated by the difficult task of regularly converting defensive ends into outside linebackers.

Either way, it’s an important position for McCarthy to fill. Finding and/or developing another outside linebacker to complement Matthews will be an important part of improving upon a defensive that ranked 25th out of 32 teams last season.

It’s one of at least four openings McCarthy has on his staff this offseason. A year after he retained all 20 members of his coaching staff, McCarthy also lost quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo (who left to the become the New York Giants offensive coordinator), assistant special teams coach Chad Morton (who was not retained, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette) and assistant strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin (who left to become the strength coach at UAB, his alma mater).

Running backs Alex Van Pelt will take over for McAdoo, but the change has not yet been made public. Typically, McCarthy waits until all of his open positions are filled before he announces the changes.
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Shortly after the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the opening round of the playoffs last month, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he thought the team's window of opportunity remained open for several more years.

Apparently, some of the oddsmakers agree.

Less than 24 hours after the Seattle Seahawks finished their destruction of the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVIII, at least two different oddsmakers set the Packers as fifth on the list of favorites to win it all next season.

According to the Las Vegas Hilton, the Packers were 16/1 and behind only the Seahawks (5/1), Broncos (5/1), 49ers (6/1) and New England Patriots (7/1).

The online gambling site Bovada.LV also had the Packers at fifth with 16-to-1 odds behind the Seahawks (9/2), 49ers (15/2), Broncos (8/1) and Patriots (14/1).

“I think this window has a chance to open up and be really bright for four or five years when you can get guys signed and keep them around,” Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show just two days after the season ended. “My contract is for six more years. I expect to be playing well, at a high level, for all six of those years and then see what happens after that. Maybe we'll be able to go another three or four or who knows?”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
  • For the fifth straight year, the Packers raised ticket prices. This year, it will be by $3 for all seats.
  • Packers president Mark Murphy also vowed to change the way playoff tickets are billed to season-ticket holders. The change comes after the Packers had trouble selling out their playoff game against the 49ers.
  • And on the first day of the NFL's official offseason, we looked back at how our preseason predictions turned out.
  • Also, starting today and continuing every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. Green Bay time), we're going to be running a live Packers chat. I'll post a reminder each week but you can already submit your questions by clicking on these blue highlighted words.
Best of the rest:
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde noted that in 1995, the cheapest seat at Lambeau Field was $24. This coming season, that same seat will cost $77.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause reported that the Packers won't retain assistant special teams coach Chad Morton, leaving at least three openings on their coaching staff. Morton had assisted special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum since 2010.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne wrote that when the Packers make the playoffs, you can bank on them raising ticket prices given that they've done so each of the last five years.

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