From the moment that he appeared on screen during a live-streamed press conference, there was no mistaking new Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton’s approach to his job. A former special teams player himself, Drayton presented a confident, no-nonsense demeanor that he backed up with his comments.
A former special teams player himself at The Citadel, Drayton’s military background came through with his relatively brief but straight-to-the-point answers to the media’s questions. He also made it clear that players will know what he thinks and what they need to do to improve, thanks to his nickname for the special teams meeting room: the “Truth Room.”
Drayton mentioned that name when asked about punter JK Scott and long snapper Hunter Bradley, each of whom went through some struggles a year ago. “they both know that they have to be more consistent in the things that we need to do to be successful,” Drayton said of the two players, who will enter their fourth NFL seasons in 2021. “They have a prescription for what they need to do ... they’re getting better and they will be better. And they understand that their backs are against the wall.”
That hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach should work well on special teams, units that are mostly populated with players on the fringes of the roster. But it will be married to a detailed teaching approach influenced by Drayton’s experience in as a teacher: “My background is in education and I believe that teachers are good coaches.”
That experience in education has Drayton focused on how to teach his players what to do, not just what he’s teaching. While the what is of course critical, with technique and fundamentals being the core tenets of what he plans to instill in his players, Drayton noted that he will take an individualized approach to his charges.
“Learners learn many different ways, and we teach to the learner, not to the group.” That certainly sounds like someone who is a teacher, first and foremost. And perhaps that is the critical piece that the Packers need after plenty of recent failures in football’s so-called third phase. In fact, Drayton complimented the schemes put into place by former coordinators Ron Zook and Shawn Mennenga, suggesting that it was instead technique and execution that were the problem. That’s where the teaching piece can perhaps be most effective, and Drayton is ready for the challenge, saying “We feel like we have an arsenal of things we’ve discovered to help these young men out.”
The 44-year-old brings plenty of personal experience from his own playing days to this role as well. After all, he played special teams back at The Citadel; “I’m small in stature by nature, and that’s how I was able to get on the field,” he said. He has taken a circuitous route to work for one of the sport’s most storied franchises as well, with stops across multiple levels of college football plus the NFL, the Arena leagues, the CFL, and even Finland.
Perhaps after those experiences, one might feel like they have arrived after getting a coordinator job in Green Bay. Drayton acknowledged the history and prestige that the franchise carries, but refuses to let the fact that he and his players are Packers make them complacent: “We cannot be mesmerized by it — It’s time to roll up our sleeves and put the work in.”
Based on his first impression in front of the public, putting in the work should not be an issue.