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How the Packers’ special teams personnel has changed under Rich Bisaccia

There were drastic differences between the 2021 and 2022 teams

Green Bay Packers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The hiring of special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia in 2022 seems to be on pace to be one of head coach Matt LaFleur’s best moves during his tenure in Green Bay. After the Packers struggled in the third phase of football with a league-worst 32nd-ranked DVOA in 2021, Green Bay rose up all the way to 17th in the NFL in special teams DVOA in Bisaccia’s first year at the helm — and that’s including the half-season of Amari Rodgers getting return looks over First-Team All-Pro Keisean Nixon and the Packers struggling on kickoffs with a post-surgery Mason Crosby.

Bisaccia’s impact hasn’t only been felt on special teams, but also on the roster construction of the Packers. Not only did Bisaccia bring in players like Nixon and Dallin Leavitt to hit the ground running on his side of the ball, but Bisaccia also deployed drastically different players on special teams than Maurice Drayton did back in 2021. In an effort to show that, let’s take a look at the positional snap counts between the Packers’ last two seasons.

‘22 vs ‘21 Special Teams Snaps

Pos 22 Count 22 Rate 21 Count 21 Rate Change
Pos 22 Count 22 Rate 21 Count 21 Rate Change
SAF 886 2.1 379 0.9 136.50%
EDGE 451 1.1 243 0.6 87.76%
TE 617 1.4 487 1.1 28.17%
CB 716 1.7 731 1.7 -0.91%
DL 447 1.0 497 1.1 -9.01%
OL 292 0.7 382 0.9 -22.67%
ILB 624 1.5 923 2.1 -31.60%
RB 143 0.3 214 0.5 -32.40%
WR 137 0.3 443 1.0 -68.71%

If you thought the Packers were playing more safeties on special teams last season, you weren’t imagining things. No position gained more snaps in that unit than the safeties, who went from the seventh-most-played position in 2021 (over 433 snaps) to the most-played position in 2022 (over 428 snaps.) It wasn’t uncommon for Green Bay to roster six safeties in 2022, as seventh-round rookie Tariq Carpenter and Leavitt contributed as end-of-roster players. The team made an effort to re-sign Leavitt and Rudy Ford in free agency while adding former San Francisco 49ers special teams ace Tarvarius Moore this offseason, so the emphasis on the position should continue.

The positions that safety seems to have displaced were receiver, running back and inside linebacker. Receiver took the biggest playing time hit under Bisaccia, as the position lost 69 percent of its snaps when compared to Drayton’s 2021 season as special teams coordinator. Gone are the days of receivers playing punt gunner, as the unit’s limited 2022 snaps were heavily inflated by the number of times receivers were asked to return punts and kicks before Nixon’s emergence. What a concept: Playing defenders who can run and tackle in the open field over receivers on kickoff and punt teams.

The final unit I want to touch on is the edge rushers, which saw the only significant increase in playing time under Bisaccia outside of safety. Those edge defenders, including starting pass-rushers like Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, got more reps on the kick block and punt block teams under the new special teams coordinator.

Tight end saw a modest 28 percent increase, which occurred due to the position’s presence on the field goal/extra point protection unit. No longer were backup offensive linemen or defensive linemen like Tyler Lancaster playing the wings, as tight ends like Tyler Davis and Marcedes Lewis replaced them.

The Packers’ changes on special teams seem logical and like something that should continue into 2023. Despite the fact that Green Bay already has plenty of safeties on the roster already, they’re still bringing in potential athletic UDFAs at the position for visits — like Minnesota’s Jordan Howden. Don’t pay much mind to a “special teams contributor” label for receivers in this draft cycle, though, as it appears that the Packers have turned a page there.