Matt LaFleur has finalized his third Green Bay Packers coaching staff, announcing Monday night promotions for four of his returning assistants along with the hiring of four new faces for the 2021 NFL season.
The Packers rewarded two of their top 2020 position coaches with title promotions, elevating Jerry Gray to defensive backs/passing game coordinator and Adam Stenavich to offensive line/run game coordinator. They also promoted Rayna Stewart (previously special teams quality control coach) to assistant special teams coach and Connor Lewis (offensive quality control in 2020) to special teams assistant/game management specialist.
The Packers also hired former New York Jets coach John Dunn as a senior analyst, Justin Hood as a defensive quality control coach and both Ryan Mahaffey and Tim Zetts as offensive quality control coaches.
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Dunn Bailed on UConn to Take Jets Job
In Dunn, the Packers are gaining a four-year NFL assistant who has spent the past two years leading and developing the Jets’ tight end room. He was also a football assistant (2016) and offensive assistant (2017) for the Chicago Bears, giving him some ties to the NFC North.
But one of the more headline-worthy moments of Dunn’s coaching career traces back to his yearlong gap between NFL coaching gigs, when he was serving as UConn’s offensive coordinator.
Dunn moved back to the college ranks for the 2018 season after leaving Chicago and proved to be such an asset as UConn’s offensive coordinator that head coach Randy Edsall took money out of his own pocket to give Dunn a raise in the offseason. Dunn added $150,000 in pay and the title of associate head coach … but still walked away less than a month later to reunite with Adam Gase on the Jets’ staff.
Hard to blame Dunn for taking his shot at getting back to the NFL level, but UConn might still be a little bitter about the whole ordeal.
No More Major Shakeups for Packers
Monday’s moves added fresh talent to some of the Packers’ lower-rung coaching positions, but they also confirmed neither of their newly-hired coordinators would be making any significant changes to their roster of assistants for 2021.
Green Bay had previously replaced defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with Joe Barry and special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga with Maurice Drayton, possibly opening the door for either of them to make changes to their supporting cast. Gray seemed safe considering the Packers had considered him a candidate to be defensive coordinator, but it hardly would have been strange to see Barry trade in at least one of his guys.
Instead, the biggest changes will be the increased responsibilities for two of their more proven assistants. Gray will now help Barry with the Packers’ passing defense in a dynamic that would seem designed to fix some of the defensive miscues that burned the team in their season-ending loss to Tampa Bay.
Gray had spent six years working with defensive backs on Mike Zimmer’s staff in Minnesota prior to his arrival in Green Bay last offseason. His guidance also helped top Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander reach an All-Pro level in 2020; though, the regressions of Kevin King and Chandon Sullivan are something of a sore spot.
No such issues exist for Stenavich, whose leadership helped the Packers finish as the top pass-blocking offensive line in the league last season. LaFleur’s decision to give him more control over the run game makes sense when you consider his guys are chiefly responsible for clearing the lanes that Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon flooded throughout in 2020. The curious part will be seeing how Stenavich adjusts based on which rushing tools come and go before the 2021 season arrives.