NFL Nation: Kevin Greene

Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
 

Monthly review: Green Bay Packers

February, 28, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We've come to the end of the first month without football in 2014 for the Green Bay Packers.

Free agency is still more than a week away. The NFL draft is more than two months away. Yet as usual in the NFL, plenty of business was conducted in February. On the final day of the month, it's a good time to review what we learned about the Packers over the last four weeks.

Finley not done yet?: Thoughts of tight end Jermichael Finley's demise in Green Bay may have been premature. For those who thought Finley would be cast aside just like safety Nick Collins was following his neck injury in 2011, coach Mike McCarthy said that although Finley had the same fusion surgery that Collins had, there were some differences that have left the Packers' medical staff feeling more optimistic about a return.

Cap space galore: With the salary cap likely to be at least $132 million this season, the Packers will have the sixth-most cap space to use, as of figures compiled this week.

Position changes: Every year, McCarthy and his staff seem to tweak a position or two, and this year appears to be no different. McCarthy said recently that in an effort to get cornerback Micah Hyde on the field more, he could play some safety this season. Also, outside linebacker Nick Perry may get the chance to play a new position that the Packers are developing in their defense, an elephant end spot.

No deals, no cuts: While talks with cornerback Sam Shields intensified last week at the combine and remain ongoing, the Packers did not sign any of their 17 unrestricted free agents to be. With free agency set to begin on March 11, the Packers still have plenty of work to do in order to retain some of their key players. The Packers also didn't make any salary-cap related cuts.

New coaches, new roles: McCarthy finalized his coaching staff changes, and perhaps the most noticeable change was how the linebackers will be coached. The resignation of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene last month prompted McCarthy to bring both the outside and inside linebackers together under assistant head coach Winston Moss, who previously coached inside linebackers.

More involvement: McCarthy also hinted that he will be more involved in the defense, at least in the offseason, in an effort to improve it over last season, when it ranked 25th in the NFL in yards allowed. McCarthy said he would "set the vision for the defense, [and] Dom Capers and the defensive staff will carry it out."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews hasn’t spoken to reporters since he broke his thumb for the second time in a little more than two months last December, but on Tuesday he was making the rounds on national radio and television on behalf of one of his sponsors, Campbell’s Soup.

So it was interesting to hear his take on several topics on both The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio and on SiriusXM NFL radio.

Perhaps the most interesting point was one that has been on the forefront of most people’s minds since the Packers’ defensive collapse last season: How will the defense improve?

Matthews
Matthews said on SiriusXM that it was time for the defense to catch up with Aaron Rodgers and the offense.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we need to have more playmakers and get off the field more often and put the ball back into our offense’s hands,” Matthews said. “It’s a time for guys to step up and make a name for themselves, myself included, as well as hopefully adding a few guys through the draft.

“Any time you have a top-five offense, you need to back that up with a top-five defense, and we had that in our Super Bowl year. At times we carried our offense and at times they carried us, but over the past few years it’s been a little more offense dominated.”

Matthews acknowledged that there could be significant changes in personnel coming on defense, where the entire starting defensive line -- Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji -- is headed for free agency, along with cornerback Sam Shields.

Perhaps that’s why Matthews lobbied for more defensive help through the draft.

“Obviously being defensive minded and oriented, I hope they can provide another playmaker on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “As I’ve continued to say, our offense is doing fine just finishing top five every year. Now it’s our time to start picking up the slack, so I’d like to see a player anywhere on my side of the ball be able to help this team out.”

Here’s what Matthews had to say on the two shows on:

His thumb injury: “It’s been doing well. I’ve been getting physical therapy three times a week. I’ve been able to work out with a few limitations, but from talking with the doctors there shouldn’t be any limitations once next season rolls around. It’s just been a pain because obviously you look at it, it’s just a broken thumb. But it’s such an aggravating injury for a pass-rusher, especially in the manner in which I did it twice and having to have it surgically repaired twice, it doesn’t make it for an easy offseason in recovery.”

Losing his position coach Kevin Greene: “It was hard to see him leave because not only did he play this game but excelled at it, especially at outside linebacker in a 3-4, which is exactly what I play. He’s been very instrumental in my development through these first five years, and I’m excited about these next five years for myself. But I learned a great deal from him, and it will be interesting to see the direction of the linebackers in which we go now that the inside and outside linebackers are together within one room. Hopefully that will help with our continuity of working together and playing off one another and kind of seeing where that leads us. But ultimately it’s always sad to see a coach go, especially one that’s taught me so much, that’s been there since my rookie year. I think it’s just the nature of the game.”

NFL locker-room culture in light of the Miami Dolphins situation: “It’s part of the business, in all honestly. Guys are brought up from all over the country and different races, religions and sexual orientation. But that’s what makes the NFL locker room so great -- the fact that we all play for a common goal and you’re not judged on anything else. That’s what makes the locker room so tight, is that you can bring these guys from all over and make them one. Getting all philosophical, if the world could behave more like a locker room, I think there’d be less issues and less problems.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The full scope of the changes the Green Bay Packers have planned defensively remain unclear, but coach Mike McCarthy insisted that getting smaller up front will not be part of the process.

Still, what can’t be dismissed is the distinct possibility the Packers might let go of all three of their starting defensive linemen -- Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, a combination that weighed 1,000 pounds.

[+] EnlargeJoe Webb
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsB.J. Raji is among the defensive linemen who might not return to the Packers this coming season.
All were in the final year of their contracts last season, and there has been little or no conversation about bringing any of them back.

“I’ve never been part of a conversation that you want your D-linemen to be smaller,” McCarthy said Friday at the NFL combine. “That’s not accurate.”

McCarthy revealed last week that he has plans to make changes to a defense that ranked 25th in the NFL last season. Part of that included a minor restructuring of defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ staff following the resignation of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.

But there will be adjustments in scheme and personnel that will play out over the next several months.

“We want to continue our process as far as evaluating our D-linemen,” McCarthy said. “We will be a little different on defense as far as how we utilize our defensive players, particularly our front players, because we do have a number of players who can play both the rush outside position and maybe make some plays from the inside position.

“But our evaluation as far as what we’re going to do, bringing defensive linemen into our program, if anything you always want to get bigger, stronger and faster and things like that. We’re definitely not going to be a smaller.”

In fact, ever since Capers was hired as the Packers defensive coordinator in 2009, he has made it no secret that one of the keys to his scheme has long been having big, run-stopping defensive linemen in his base 3-4. Through Week 9 of last season, the combination of Jolly (325 pounds), Pickett (338) and Raji (337) played a major part in the fact that the Packers ranked 5th in the league in rushing defense, a figure that plummeted to 25th by season’s end.

“I think we have a very solid defense coming back in terms of personnel,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Friday. “Like I said, we like to have our own guys back, and if we can find value in the free agent market to help us we’ll do that, too. We’ll do whatever, as will the 31 other teams. They’re all going to go about this the same way.”

There is reason to think the Packers might be trending smaller up front. They have added more young, quick-twitch defensive linemen like Mike Daniels (fourth-round pick in 2012) and Datone Jones (first-round pick in 2013), and McCarthy on Friday mentioned specifically getting the 285-pound Jones more involved in his second season.

“There’s a number of packages that he was a big part of, a primary part of, and frankly we really didn’t get to a lot of them just because of the way the season went with our injuries,” McCarthy said. “Getting him back in the offseason, I feel he’s one of those second-year players who take a huge jump. That will be my expectations for him.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There are alterations coming to the Green Bay Packers’ defense but nothing dramatic like a switch from the 3-4 as their base scheme.

Despite changes to the structure of defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ coaching staff that seemingly could have made it easy to transition to a 4-3 scheme, the Packers are not headed in that direction.

“Our defense is going to change some,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “You don’t ever stay the same. I’ll set the vision for the defense. Dom Capers and the defensive staff will carry it out.”

[+] EnlargeDom Capers
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsDom Capers' defense struggled at times last season amid a rash of injuries to key players.
The biggest change -- so far -- is how the linebackers will be coached. Last week, McCarthy announced that assistant head coach Winston Moss, who previously coached inside linebackers, will add outside linebackers to his duties following the resignation of Kevin Greene.

Under that coaching structure, it would have made it possible for McCarthy to integrate more 4-3 principles into the defense.

While not all of the defensive changes have been hammered out, that will not be one of them.

“The only thing that I’ve been instructed is basically the structure’s going to stay the same as far as the 3-4,” Moss said. “If anything changes there, then that has not been made available to me so I’m moving forward that we’ll be structurally the same. Obviously my approach will just naturally bring some different philosophies and different approaches from the standpoint that I like to have a sense of those guys just doing a lot of things well.”

The Packers slipped to 25th in the NFL in yards allowed last season, down from 11th in 2012, and reverted to the form of 2011, when it finished last in the league. In Capers’ first two seasons as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, his units ranked second and fifth.

Injuries to key defensive players -- most notably outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry and cornerback Casey Hayward -- prevented Capers from using some of the myriad packages and concepts in his playbook last season.

From the sound of it, McCarthy wants to get back to being more versatile on defense.

“We were not as multiple maybe this year as we’ve been in prior years really because of the stress of injuries on that unit so we want to get back to some of the things that we did very well in the past and make sure we’re carrying enough packages to utilize all of our players,” McCarthy said. “We obviously need to get better on defense, and I think these moves that we’ve made on defense will definitely put us on that path.”

McCarthy said Capers, who has run a 3-4 system his entire NFL coaching career, has previously utilized one coach to oversee both the inside and outside linebackers even though he has never done so in Green Bay. Plus, Moss will have an assistant, Scott McCurley, who was promoted from defensive quality control coach.

While the responsibilities of the inside and outside linebackers differ significantly in Capers’ scheme, the voice in front of the position meeting room will be the same.

“You know, Winston, he’s really going to be the leader of the group,” McCurley said. “I think the players have a huge amount of respect for Winston’s leadership, and what he brings to the table there, and from there, I’m there to assist him, whether it be inside guys or outside guys.”
Only the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee know why former Green Bay Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene came up short again in his bid for induction on Saturday.

Greene, who stepped away from coaching last month after a five-year stint with the Packers, probably has a good idea.

Not that he agrees with it.

But given the fact that of the NFL’s top-five career sack leaders Greene is the only one not in the Hall of Fame, he seems aware of the perception that he was a one-trick pony during his 15-year career. That’s something Greene vigorously disputed during an interview late last season.

“You know this position, there’s three phases,” Greene said at the time. “To be successful at this position, you’ve got to be able to do all three. You can’t just do one, and really suck at playing the run and suck at covering people. It just doesn’t jive at this position. If you have success at one of the areas of this position, chances are you’re doing a pretty good job in the other two as well. So it is what it is.”

Greene, who was a finalist each of the past three years, leads all NFL outside linebackers with 160 sacks, and ranks third on the list behind defensive ends Bruce Smith (200 sacks) and Reggie White (198), both of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

Chris Doleman, who is fourth on the all-time list with 150.5, also is in the Hall of Fame. Michael Strahan, who is fifth on the list with 141.5, was voted in on Saturday.

Greene made the cut from the 15 finalists down to 10, but did not make the cut to the final players to be voted on for this class.

“I can tell you first of all that I truly have a peace about what I was able to accomplish,” Greene said late last season. “I know, really, inside, how I played and the time that I put in, the film that I studied. The countless hours on the field, in the workout room -- all those things. I’ve got a peace about that. It’s not something I regret. Should I have done more? Could I have done more? No. I did everything I possibly could to try to be the best at the position in all three phases of the game. Not just one phase.”
ST. LOUIS -- For five modern-era players, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will open its doors this summer. For Kevin Greene, the former Los Angeles Rams pass-rusher, the wait continues.

The Hall of Fame announced its next class of inductees Saturday night, a class that for the 10th consecutive year does not include Greene.

That Greene didn’t make the cut again doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the competition among the 15 finalists. In the company of other talented pass-rushers with more cache such as Michael Strahan and Charles Haley; it stood to reason that Greene would have to wait yet another year.

Although Greene still stands third in league history in sacks with 160, the fact that he bounced around to three other franchises after spending his first eight seasons with the Rams has left some to wonder about his legacy.

Likewise, Greene’s pass-rushing production is Hall of Fame caliber, but many wonder if he was a bit too one-dimensional.

It still seems likely that Green’s time will come, but it doesn’t figure to get any easier in the coming years.

For Rams fans just hoping to see one of their guys get in, the odds should increase dramatically next year when quarterback Kurt Warner, receiver Isaac Bruce and tackle Orlando Pace join Greene on the ballot.
In a league that shines the spotlight on individual achievements, former Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Kevin Greene was shunned for his -- once again.

Greene on Saturday failed for the third straight year to make the cut from the final 15 to selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A veteran of 15 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Panthers, the five-time Pro Bowler remains the only player among the top four in the NFL in sacks not in the league's shrine.

No. 1 Bruce Smith (200 sacks), No. 2 Reggie White (198) and No. 4 Chris Doleman (150.5) already are in.

Greene had 160, 41.5 with Carolina (1996, 1998-1999) where he ended his career in 1999.

Some argue Greene was a one-trick pony, that he collected his sacks playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Some argue he wasn't a great all-around defensive player.

That is sort of like saying Dominique Wilkins was a great dunker, but he shouldn't be in the basketball hall of fame because he wasn't great on defense.

Or that Denver quarterback Peyton Manning throws a lot of touchdown passes and wins a lot of games, but he's not much of a runner.

Green played in six conference championship games and one Super Bowl. He helped Green Bay win a Super Bowl as an outside linebackers coach, a position from which he recently resigned to spend more time with his family.

Teams he's been around have been better because of the pressure he put on some of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.

"I guess it wouldn't be such a letdown if I knew my stats and my production didn't match up to those that are going in or have gone in," Greene told me this week as he tempered his hopes of making the Hall.

"The Hall of Fame voters, if they would look at my entire body of work, how I played, maybe they'll see fit to put me in. ... commitment, passion, study habits, workout habits ... everything I did I think I did it the right way."

Greene will make it one day. In a league where individual accomplishments are glorified, it only makes sense.
PITTSBURGH -- Dumbfounded and even discouraged are two words that describe how I felt after learning former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis had been denied entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the fourth consecutive year.

What I am missing here?

More importantly, what is he missing?

Bettis has the numbers, he has a ring, and he has the strongest of endorsements of those who should matter the most: the coaches and teammates who were around him on a regular basis and know the impact “The Bus” had on the field and in the Steelers’ locker room.

Consider what former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward told Steelers.com earlier this week: "To be that size and have quick feet was just amazing. Sometimes you found yourself as a teammate watching like a fan to see him get through a hole, side step somebody, run over somebody and then get up and do his patent ‘The Bus’ dance. That is what made him such a special running back. You don’t see many guys be able to maneuver the holes and run somebody over.”

Eh, what would Ward know?

He only played, fought and bled with Bettis for eight seasons and actually cried for the man after the Steelers fell short of the Super Bowl in 2004.

Bettis fell short of the Hall of Fame again though he did make the cut of modern-day finalists, along with former Steelers outside linebacker Kevin Greene, from 15 to 10.

That isn’t -- and shouldn’t be -- any consolation to the player who is sixth on the NFL’s career rushing list (13,662 yards) and is on a very short list of those who can be considered the best big back of all-time.

If Bettis is paying the price for the perception -- flawed as it is -- that too many Steelers are already in the Hall of Fame, that is hogwash.

It is also a disservice to Bettis as well as the Steelers’ organization.

Want to know why there are so many Steelers in the Hall of Fame? They owned the 1970s and probably didn’t get enough deserving players from the teams that won four Super Bowls from 1974-79 into the Hall of Fame.

Bettis is among the players who laid the foundation for another glorious run that linked the Steelers teams of the 1970s to the ones that won two Super Bowls and played in another from 2005-10.

True, he played on only one of those teams -- Bettis famously retired after Pittsburgh won the 2005 Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit -- but his influence on the Steelers lingered long after he had stopping pushing piles and displaying the kind of footwork that belied a man of his size.

“When I first got here it was the time the WWJD bracelets, What Would Jesus Do, came out and I would laugh when I was doing things and think, What Would Jerome Do,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Steelers.com earlier this week. “He is someone I tried to mold myself after. That is what made him so special, outside of the talent he had on the field.”

Like Bettis, Greene can only wonder what it will take for him to receive the call from the Hall of Fame.

One of the greatest pass-rushers of his generation fell short of Canton, Ohio, for the 1oth year despite leading the NFL in sacks with two different teams, including the Steelers in 1996, and earning a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.

Greene ranks third on the NFL’s all-time sacks list (160), and, like Bettis, he put up the kinds of numbers that should one day land him in the Hall of Fame.

The question with both remains when.

My quirky memory of Kevin Greene

January, 30, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The door opened to a room adjacent to the Carolina Panthers locker room. Standing there was an imposing figure with long blond hair. He ushered me in and then put one hand in the chest of the team's communications director, a not-so-subtle hint that he should wait outside.

The door was closed. Locked. The shades were pulled.

My heart raced.

I wondered if this man that eventually would sack more quarterbacks than anybody in NFL history not named Bruce Smith and Reggie White was going to zero in on me.

Instead, he sat down and apologized.

Former Carolina outside linebacker Kevin Greene is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When I thought of memories from his three seasons with the Panthers, this one stood out.

Not because he apologized. But because it showed the great passion that epitomized his career that began in 1985 with the then-Los Angeles Rams and ended in 1999 with the Panthers.

Greene laughed about that moment when we walked earlier in the week. He again apologized if he had offended me.

If you're wondering why he apologized on this day in 1996, it was over a locker room confrontation we had the day before. He didn't want to talk about his first meeting against the Pittsburgh Steelers since leaving the team in free agency, and let me know it in a loud way.

When I think of Greene, I think of loud. I think of passion. It's what made him so relentless at getting to the quarterback 160 times, which trails Smith with 200 and White with 198.

Forty-one and a half of those sacks came at Carolina. He had a league-best 14.5 in 1996, teaming with Lamar Lathon (13.5 sacks) to lead the Panthers to the NFC championship in the organization's second season.

That same passion is what led to Greene being released by Carolina following the 1996 season after a lengthy contract dispute, what led him to return in 1998 after a year with San Francisco to lead the team in sacks with 15, what led to him to be suspended for a game during the '98 season for attacking an assistant coach on the sideline.

"One of the reasons Kevin is a good player is that he is an emotional guy,'' then-Carolina coach Dom Capers said after Greene attacked assistant Kevin Steele. "But [he] hew he was wrong.''

He did. Greene was almost in tears apologizing after the game.

"I lost my composure in the heat of the moment," Greene said at the time. "It's an emotional game and I will apologize to the entire team tomorrow."

Capers knew that emotion and passion is what made Greene special and at the same time seem . . . well, out there, which may explain his brief career as a professional wrestler.

It's why in 2009, as the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, Capers made Greene his outside linebackers coach.

It may be why Greene, without warning, recently left the Packers to pursue other opportunities and focus on his two children.

That Greene did this somewhat spontaneously shouldn't come as a surprise. Emotional and passionate people often make spontaneous decisions.

They often say and do things that they later come back and apologize for.

But that same passion is why Greene had a career that makes him worthy of serious Hall of Fame consideration.

He owes nobody an apology for that.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kevin Greene fondly counts some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history among his 160 career sacks. From Joe Montana to John Elway to Dan Marino to Brett Favre to Peyton Manning, the five-time Pro Bowl selection loves sharing how he "looked them all in the eye."

[+] EnlargeKevin Greene
Vincent Laforet/AFP/Getty ImagesKevin Greene took down legendary quarterbacks and has numbers worthy of Hall induction, but he would like to be remembered for his heart and passion on the field.
But the sack Greene remembers more than any, the one that gave him the most satisfaction, came against a quarterback few would list among the all-time greats in a 16-13 loss during an 0-7 start to the Carolina Panthers' 1998 season.

Greene liked the move so much he nicknamed it "Airborne" in recognition of his time as a paratrooper in the Army reserve.

It happened in the second half of an Oct. 18 game at Tampa Bay. The Bucs were faced with second-and-9 from their own 42 when Greene, with his trademark long blond hair, leaped over running back Warrick Dunn to take down quarterback Trent Dilfer.

Let's let Greene take it from here.

"Back then they ran a slide and cut blocking scheme to the left side where the running back cuts the end pass rusher," Greene shared earlier this week. "I'm thinking if I timed this thing up right, I can jump right over Warrick Dunn and hopefully land on Trent Dilfer.

"So I got a pre-snap read that they were going to do the slide and cut. I basically when through the shadow of my offensive tackle as he down blocked and leaped over Warrick Dunn. I ended up hitting Dilfer in the ear hole."

Greene paused and laughed, almost as if he were reliving the moment that truly was spectacular.

"It was a heck of a sack," he continued. "I'm sure they would fine me about $25,000 now."

Plays such as that are why Greene is among the 15 finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will announce its 2014 class Saturday in New York City.

Of the NFL's top four in all-time sacks -- No. 1 Bruce Smith (200), No. 2 Reggie White (198), No. 3 Greene (160) and No. 4 Chris Doleman (150.5) -- Greene is the only player not in the Hall.

Some will argue Greene isn't in because he was a specialist who thrived only in playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Greene doesn't buy that. He also keeps his hopes of making the HOF tempered, having been in this position the past two years.

"I guess it wouldn't be such a letdown if I knew my stats and my production didn't match up to those that are going in or have gone in," Greene said.

There's no denying Greene made a huge impact on the game and that that impact came mostly through sacks. He had double-digit sack seasons in 10 of his 15 seasons.

He led the league in sacks twice, including 14.5 during his 1996 season at Carolina in which at 34 he became the oldest player in the league to do so.

Two years later, Greene had 15 sacks for Carolina to establish a team record that stood until Greg Hardy tied it this season. His sack total is the most by a linebacker, ahead of greats such as Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Greene had at least half a sack against 66 players.

"I know that matches up with those that have been put in before me and those that are up now," Greene said of his career numbers.

But while sacks are why Greene is in position to make the HOF, that's not what he wants to be remembered for.

"If I would have people remember me for one thing, it would be I played the game with all the heart I had," he said. "I played it with emotion and passion and amped up and as fun as I possibly could. I let it all hang out. I laid it on the line."

And he did it in an era when there were some of the greatest quarterbacks the league will ever see.

"I knew I was living in an era of quarterbacks, guys that would go on into the Hall of Fame," Greene said. "Just knowing getting to them was my job, and knowing these guys were not going to be able to block me on a consistent basis ... I loved it."

Greene benefited from great defensive coordinators, from Fritz Shurmur when he entered the league in 1985 with the Rams to Dom Capers with the Steelers and later as the head coach with the Panthers to Dick LeBeau with Pittsburgh.

He benefited from being surrounded by great players, from Rod Woodson to Greg Lloyd to Carnell Lake to Lamar Lathon to Sam Mills.

"There were a lot of brothers," Greene said. "We hunted people. We hunted together."

Greene also benefited from having an innate ability to beat blockers with his quickness and technique, and a great passion for getting to the quarterback.

He carried his passion into coaching in 2009 when Capers, the defensive coordinator at Green Bay, made him his outside linebackers coach.

Following the 2010 season, Greene was rewarded with the one thing he never achieved as a player -- a Super Bowl title.

Now, Greene is focusing his passion on his family. He announced in mid-January he was leaving the Packers to spend more time with his wife and two children, one that is a sophomore in high school and the other a freshman.

He wants to give them the kind of time he put in as a player to be a Hall of Fame candidate.

"I kind of started to realize time is slipping through my fingers," Greene said. "If I don't step away now, I'm going to regret it when they get to college that I never had an opportunity to see them more.

"Three or four years from now, I may put my hat back in the coaching arena and see if anybody will have me."

The more immediate question is will the HOF have Greene, who will be in New York for the announcement? His sack total says yes, but that may not be enough.

"I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much," Greene said. "The Hall of Fame voters, if they would look at my entire body of work, how I played, maybe they'll see fit to put me in.

"Commitment, passion, study habits, workout habits ... everything I did I think I did it the right way."
ST. LOUIS -- Although his name may not ring out in conversations of the league's greatest pass-rushers, Kevin Greene sits third in NFL history with 160 career sacks.

Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Chris Doleman, the players ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 4 have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Greene is in his 10th year of waiting for the call and is a finalist for the third straight year.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee will convene Saturday afternoon and sift through the 15 modern era finalists. The competition, as it's been for the past nine years, will be tough. Despite his strong credentials, Greene is anything but a lock for election.

Looking closer at Greene's pure production, one would think he's already been enshrined in Canton (see right).

Perhaps it works against Greene that he spent plenty of years bouncing from team to team rather than establishing his legacy with one. Players like Smith and Lawrence Taylor made their names known for dominating in one place while keeping track of Greene was a bit more difficult. Even for the purposes of this piece, it was hard to peg what team would handle the case for Greene's induction.

Many will likely remember Greene's work with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1993-1995 since that was right in the prime of his career, but Greene actually served the most years with the Rams and had his best seasons with the Los Angeles edition of the team.

Greene was originally a fifth-round choice of the Rams out of Auburn in 1985. He played for the team from 1985 to 1992 and posted a career high 16.5 sacks in 1988 and 1989. He would go on to play in Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco as well.

In looking at Greene's chances for induction, it can be difficult to see how he might breakthrough this year. Some of the game's greats such as linebacker Derrick Brooks, offensive tackle Walter Jones, running back Jerome Bettis and guard Will Shields are also up for induction. Beyond that, the competition amongst pass-rushers is tight in itself.

Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and Dallas defensive end Charles Haley are also on the ballot and it seems unlikely that more than one of that trio would land a spot. Although Greene has more sacks than both players, Strahan has the advantage of winning a Super Bowl and the season record for sacks in a season. Haley has fewer sacks than Greene and Strahan but is also one of the winningest players of all-time with five Super Bowl trophies to his name.

Beyond a lack of star power, Green is also viewed as a bit more one-dimensional than the likes of Haley and Strahan. He was never known as an elite run stopper and most of his claim to fame comes from his ability to get after the quarterback.

Ultimately, it seems unlikely Greene will get his call for Canton this year. It seems the popular Strahan is the most likely of the pass-rushers to get the nod. Greene may also have to wait behind Haley as well. Greene's impressive sack total is too good to keep him out forever but more patience may be required.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As soon as Ben McAdoo's name came up as a possible candidate for a new job, it became clear who the favorite would be to take over as the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach.

On Thursday, nine days after McAdoo left to become the New York Giants offensive coordinator, the most logical candidate to replace him has apparently done just that. CBSSports.com was the first to report that Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt, a former NFL quarterback who coached his old position for two different NFL teams and also served one season as an offensive coordinator, will coach Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers quarterbacks next season.

The Packers have not yet announced the move. An NFL source said that was expected to happen soon but perhaps not until coach Mike McCarthy fills his other two staff openings.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Alex Van Pelt
AP Photo/Scott BoehmAlex Van Pelt, who spent the past two seasons as the Packers' running backs coach, will coach the quarterbacks in 2014.
Van Pelt spent the last two years as the Packers running backs coach. Previously, he coached quarterbacks for the Buffalo Bills (2008-09) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010-11). Early in the 2009 season with the Bills, he became their offensive coordinator for the remainder of that season.

Before he came to the Packers in 2012, he had never before coached running backs.

“Obviously I've learned so much about the run game the past two years,” Van Pelt said earlier this month. “It's been a huge experience for me. It really has. I really threw myself into it. I enjoyed it. I love it.”

Now, his attention will turn back to his specialty.

Van Pelt played quarterback for the Bills from 1995-2003 and appeared in 31 games (including 11 starts). He has a long history with McCarthy, who was an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh when Van Pelt played there.

In fact, when McCarthy first became the Packers coach in 2006, he wanted to interview Van Pelt for the position of quarterbacks coach. However, Van Pelt had just taken a job at the University at Buffalo and opted to remain in that position.

Van Pelt's name surfaced as a possible offensive coordinator candidate for new Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. The Packers could have blocked that move because Van Pelt was under contract for the 2014 season, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. McAdoo had reached the end of his deal and thus was free to pursue other opportunities.

Van Pelt will become the third quarterbacks coach to work under McCarthy. The first, Tom Clements, served in that position from 2006-11 before being promoted to offensive coordinator when Joe Philbin left to become the Dolphins head coach. McAdoo, who had been tight ends coach since 2006, replaced Clements.

In Van Pelt's new job, his responsibilities will be two-fold. He will need to prepare Rodgers on a weekly basis while also developing a capable backup in order to avoid a repeat of 2013, when the Packers broke training camp without settling on a No. 2 quarterback.

The move still leaves the Packers with two openings on their coaching staff -- Van Pelt's old running backs job and outside linebackers, which opened last week when Kevin Greene resigned.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If we’re being honest here, I should admit to feeling a little afraid of Kevin Greene the first time I met him.

Those wild eyes in front of that flowing blonde hair, his hulking 6-foot-3 frame, the memories of watching what he did to opposing quarterbacks -- sacking them 160 times in his 15-year NFL playing career -- and his brief stint as a professional wrestler are more than enough to make you feel a little intimidated.

It takes a while for that to go away.

[+] EnlargeKevin Greene
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsOutside linebackers coach Kevin Greene cared about his players, often referring to them as "my kids."
It was just starting to do so in November of 2010, when Greene was halfway through his second season as the Green Bay Packers' outside linebackers coach. That’s when he cornered me in the hallway outside the locker room and wanted to discuss something that appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, my employer at the time, under my byline.

It was a story that was critical of rookie outside linebacker Frank Zombo, who in the previous game against the Minnesota Vikings had missed an open-field tackle that allowed running back Toby Gerhart to convert a third-and-12 dump-off pass into a first down.

Greene asked -- make that told -- me to follow him down the hallway, something that was highly unusual because it was an area normally restricted to reporters, and into the outside linebackers meeting room. He closed the door and opened with this:

“What you wrote about Frank Zombo was unnnnnnnnnjustified," holding the "n" for several seconds.

Over the next 15 minutes, Greene showed about 20 clips from the Vikings’ game. He conceded that the missed tackle of Gerhart was a bad play, but he wanted to make it perfectly clear that he felt Zombo was playing well.

From that film session, a story was born and appeared in the Nov. 26, 2010, edition of the Press-Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:
So Greene cued up play after play.

He showed Zombo in perfect position when dropping in coverage to defend the hook-curl area in the middle of the field.

He showed Zombo knocking one of the Vikings' guards back into the fullback, which freed up inside linebacker A.J. Hawk to tackle Adrian Peterson for a short gain.

He showed Zombo, all 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds of him, bull-rushing Vikings' left tackle Bryant McKinnie (6-8, 335) straight back into [Brett] Favre, who had to throw off balance.

"Who's kicking who's (butt)?" Greene asks rhetorically. "Seriously, straight up. He's changing the line of scrimmage on a guy who weighs 350 pounds and (went to the) Pro Bowl. This is David and Goliath. It's Zombo kicking a big man's (butt), if you ever want to see what a (butt) kicking looks like. McKinnie's job is to hit him in the lips and blow him off the ball, move him off the line of scrimmage. Not the other way around. Whose feet are going back? McKinnie's."

With each highlight Greene showed, the former star outside linebacker, who is in his second season on the Packers' coaching staff, became more excited.

At various points, he'd just yell, "Zombo!"

At one point on that afternoon, a Packers staff member opened the door to see if everything was OK.

To which Greene responded, “OK, we’re almost done.”

But there was one more play he wanted to show on the big screen.

“Watch this run,” Greene said. “They try to run a delayed screen on Zombo. Guess what? Tackle for no gain.”

Zombo would go on to start for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV before injuries derailed his career, which was revived this season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Greene cared about his players, who he often referred to as “my kids.” He had a passion for the game as a player and he carried it over to his coaching. He coached like he played, full speed ahead.

Perhaps that’s why after only five seasons on the Packers staff, he has decided to step away from coaching, the team announced on Friday, to spend more time with his family.

That hallway, that meeting room may never been the same.

Three former Rams are Hall finalists

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
11:30
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- For the second consecutive year, a trio of former Rams has landed spots as modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Greene
Defensive back Aeneas Williams, running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene made the list of 15, which was whittled from 25.

Williams, Bettis and Greene spent varying parts of their careers with the Rams. While none are exactly remembered in the big picture for their time with the team, all made valuable contributions to the organization at some point.

Probably the most familiar to Rams fans is Williams, who came to St. Louis via trade in 2001. He promptly moved to safety and served as a veteran leader of a defense that helped the Rams reach Super Bowl XXXVI. Williams still lives in St. Louis and is active in the community. He spent most of his career in relative anonymity in Arizona but was long regarded as one of the team's best cover corners. His time is probably coming in Canton, but this year might not be it.

Bettis spent just one season in St. Louis after his first two came with the team in Los Angeles. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 1996 and went on to become the sixth-most accomplished rusher in league history. Of this group, Bettis probably has the best chance to break through this season.

Greene never played a down for the St. Louis version of the Rams, but he played for the Los Angeles edition from 1985 to 1992. Greene also has local ties as he hails from nearby Granite City, Ill. Like Bettis, Greene is probably more renowned for his time with the Steelers. He finished with 160 sacks, which ranked third all-time at the time of his retirement. Much like Williams, Greene will probably have his day, but it might not happen right away.

The competition to make it to Canton this year figures to be difficult. First-ballot candidates such as Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones, Indianapolis wide receiver Marvin Harrison and Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks look to have strong cases to earn a nod this year. Giants end Michael Strahan, defensive end Charles Haley, Buffalo receiver Andre Reed and guard Will Shields are among the others with a shot to get in.

This year's crop of Rams candidates will pale in comparison to what the team figures to have in the next couple of years. Receiver Isaac Bruce, tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Kurt Warner are due for Hall of Fame eligibility for the class of 2015, followed by receiver Torry Holt in 2016.

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