Continuing Acme Packing Company’s site-wide project breaking down the Green Bay Packers’ roster and predicting the team’s 53-man roster, our attention turns to the specialists, where Green Bay is going with the power of tried and true veterans to get a handle on the unmitigated disaster that was the 2021 season. That said, both wily vets will be reliant on a young long snapper on his third team. Will it work? Can new coordinator Rich Bisaccia turn this around?
Will we see some improvement out of this unit?
Steven Wirtel, Mason Crosby, Pat O’Donnell
While Mason Crosby is coming off of his worst year since 2012, it’s worth keeping in mind just how random field goal percentage numbers are from year to year. Given how inconsistent the blocking and long snapping was last year, Crosby is likely due a mulligan on his 73.5% mark. Crosby’s leg isn’t what it used to be on kickoffs, and he is entering his age 38 season, meaning the writing is on the wall for his storied career, but his leg strength is still acceptable for a modern NFL kicker, and he was still good for a crucial 54-yarder last season. That said, a repeat performance will see Mason sailing to off to the East to join the other storied kickers of yore in retirement.
Pat O’Donnell, who has the second longest neck in Bears’ team history, is a rock solid punter, averaging 45.1 yards per punt in his career, while playing mostly in terrible weather. He’s also an accomplished holder, and hasn’t had a punt blocked since 2019. He should be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Finally, the wild card of the bunch, Steven Wirtel was originally signed by the Lions as a UDFA in 2020 before moving to the Rams for a bit. He joined the Packer practice squad at the beginning of the 2021 season and received the bump to the active roster in November, replacing Hunter Bradley.
Wirtel was a decorated long snapper in college for Iowa State and comes from something of a burgeoning snapping family (his brother John snapped for Kansas), but his first extended action in Green Bay saw some inconsistency in timing and location. Cory Bojorquez was a notoriously bad holder and it’s sometimes difficult to assign blame in the exchange, but we like Wirtel’s chances for a bounce back due to his pedigree, and Rich Bisaccia’s tutelage.
Jack Coco, Gabe Brkic
While the Brkic/Coco duo have the perfect cold weather names, we think incumbency will carry the day. Brkic was a pedestrian 76.9% over his last two seasons at Oklahoma, and absent some incredible improvement during camp, it’s unlikely he’ll push out Mason Crosby. Should Wirtel struggle, we suspect they’ll keep Coco on speed dial, but Wirtel will get first crack.
Read our roster preview for the specialists here.