Familiar names added to Pro Bowl roster

A couple of familiar names for fans of the Badgers and Packers were added to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.

Former Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert earned his first career trip for the Cleveland Browns after piling up 144 tackles, tied for the most in the NFL, while Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams was selected for his first Pro Bowl following a season in which he finished second in the league with 10 touchdowns.

Schobert, named a first alternate last month, replaces Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was lost for the season after a scary spine injury. A fourth-round pick in 2016, Schobert is the first former Wisconsin linebacker to make the Pro Bowl since Deral Teteak went in 1952.

Adams, meanwhile, managed to make his first Pro Bowl despite playing most of the season with a backup quarterback. The former second-round pick accounted for 74 catches, 885 yards and the 10 touchdowns. He earned a massive 4-year, $58 million contract extension in late December for his efforts. Adams takes the spot of Atlanta’s Julio Jones, who dropped out due to injury.

The game will be played Jan. 28 in Orlando.

Report: Packers hire Cignetti as quarterbacks coach

The Green Bay Packers have hired Frank Cignetti as  their new quarterbacks coach, according to a report by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein.

Cignetti was the New York Giants quarterbacks coach last season and has over nine years of coaching experience in the NFL. He has also spent a number of years at the college ranks as a quarterbacks coach and an offensive coordinator.

Cignetti is just the latest hire the Packers organization has made over the past few days, joining  new GM Brian Gutekunst, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and  defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Report: Eliot Wolf on the move to Cleveland

According to a report by Green Bay Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky, Eliot Wolf has picked the Browns over the Packers and Raiders, and will re-join GM John Dorsey in Cleveland.

Wolf, the son of Packers former GM Ron Wolf, is expected to join the Browns organization as the assistant GM.

He was one of three in-house candidates up for the open GM position with the Packers, but the team ultimately chose Brain Gutekunst for the position.

This to some could be considered a lateral move, since there was some speculation that the Packers wanted to use Wolf as part of a three-person tandem between Russ Ball, Gutekunst, and himself.

Wolf was the Director of Football Operations for the Packers and was with the organization since 2004.

Report: Packers hire new defensive coordinator

The Green Bay Packers are set to hire former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine as the team’s new defensive coordinator, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Pettine’s most recent coaching job in the NFL was as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2014-15. Prior to that he was the defensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2013 and for the New York Jets from 2009-12. His stops in Buffalo and New York were both with Rex Ryan as head coach.

His time as a defensive coordinator has been impressive. In the five seasons he has spent has a defensive coordinator his units have finished no worse than 10th in total defense in the NFL. That 10th ranked defense was his lone season in Buffalo. While in New York his defenses were no worse than eighth, including a first ranked defense in 2009.

As head coach in Cleveland, Pettine finished with an overall record of 10-22 in two seasons. He did go 7-9 in his first year on the job, however the Browns fell to 3-13 in season two. After a 7-4 start as a head coach, Pettine went 3-18 over his last 21 games.

Pettine spent the 2017 season as a defensive consultant with the Seattle Seahawks.

Packers make it official, name Brian Gutekunst as their new general manager

It’s official.

The Green Bay Packers announced Monday morning that Brian Gutekunst will be their new general manager, replacing Ted Thompson, who will move into a new role with the organization after 13 years.

“We could not be more excited to elevate Brian to the position of general manager,” said Mark Murphy, the team’s President and CEO. “He has earned this opportunity throughout his 19 years with the Packers, proving to not only be a skilled talent evaluator, but a trusted and collaborative leader. His time under the direction of former Packers general managers Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson will undoubtedly serve him well as we work toward our next Super Bowl championship. I am confident that he is the man that will help get us there.”

Gutekunst spent his first 13 years with the organization as a scout, four more as director of college scouting and the last two as the director of player personnel.

“First, I’d like to thank my mentor, Ted Thompson, for his friendship, and I am happy that we will continue to have the chance to work together,” Gutekunst said in a press release. “I want to thank Ron Wolf for giving me my first opportunity with the Packers, and of course Mark Murphy for the faith and trust he has placed in me moving forward.

“I look forward to getting to work with the rest of our talented personnel department and using every avenue available to build the Packers into a championship team again.”   

In addition to Gutekunst’s promotion, the team announced Russ Ball had been elevated to executive vice president/director of football operations. Previously, Thompson had held all three titles.

Also, as opposed to how it was set up the last 27 years, Gutekunst, Ball and head coach Mike McCarthy will all report to Murphy directly. In the past, only Thompson reported to him.

“The process of identifying our next general manager gave us the opportunity to analyze our entire football operation,” Murphy said. “While we have enjoyed a lot of success, we need to improve. With that in mind, the head coach, general manager and executive vice president/director of football operations will report to me moving forward. While I understand this is a departure from the Packers’ current structure, it will serve to increase the breadth and frequency of communication and collaboration. Ultimately, it will make the Packers better.”

A press conference to introduce Gutekunst has been set for 1 p.m. on Monday.

Report: Packers set to hire Brian Gutekunst as GM

The Green Bay Packers have their new general manager.

As first reported by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the team will hire Brian Gutekunst, on what ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted was a 5-year deal.

Gutekunst just finished his 19th season with the Packers and his second as the franchise’s Director of Player Personnel. He started his career as a scout, spending 13 years out on the road evaluating talent before becoming the director of college scouting for four seasons in 2012.

The 44-year-old Gutekunst beat out several internal candidates for the job, including Director of Football Operations Eliot Wolf and Vice President of Football Administration Russ Ball. He replaces Ted Thompson, who moved into a new role with the organization after 13 years as GM.

Report: Packers set to bring back former assistant

Mike McCarthy is getting the band back together — sort of.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky is reporting the Green Bay Packers are expected to bring Joe Philbin in as their new offensive coordinator. If the name sounds familiar, it should, as Philbin was a member of former coach Mike Sherman’s staff for three years, before serving as McCarthy’s offensive line coach in 2006 and as offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has spoken glowingly of Philbin’s time in Green Bay, which came to an end when he was hired as the Miami Dolphins head coach in 2012. He spent four seasons there before being let go and ending up with the Indianapolis Colts as their offensive line coach and assistant head coach the last two seasons.

In Philbin’s final year in Green Bay, the offense was nearly unstoppable. They led the league in scoring at 35 points per game, were third in total offense and Rodgers threw a career-high 45 touchdowns and earned his first NFL MVP award.

The move follows the news from Friday night that Indianapolis tight ends coach Jim Hostler had been hired as Green Bay’s wide receivers coach.

The Packers still need to find a new quarterbacks coach, and it’s possible they look to an old assistant as well for that job in the form of Ben McAdoo, who was fired as the New York Giants head coach during the season. McAdoo was Green Bay’s tight ends coach from 2006 to 2011 and the quarterbacks coach for two seasons after that.

Report: Packers have their new WRs coach

The Green Bay Packers have their new wide receivers coach.

According to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News, the team is expected to hire Indianapolis Colts tight ends coach Jim Hostler.

A Pennsylvania native, just like Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Hostler spent the last two years coaching the tight ends with the Colts, though most of his career has been spent tutoring the wide receivers. That includes with the Colts in 2015 and the Baltimore Ravens for six seasons.

Hostler was on the same staff as McCarthy in 2005 with the San Francisco 49ers and for two years with the New Orleans Saints. He replaces Luke Getsy, who left after the season to be the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State.

Packers: David Bakhtiari named second-team All-Pro

He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, but David Bakhtiari is once again an All-Pro.

The Associated Press released its All-Pro teams on Friday and the Green Bay Packers left tackle was a second-team pick. It’s the second straight year that he’s earned that distinction. Bakhtiari received 10 votes, 14 fewer than Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth — the first-team selection.

Bakhtiari started a career-low 12 games this season due to injury, but when healthy, he stonewalled nearly ever rusher he came up against. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any left tackle in the NFL.

According to Packers.com, wide receiver Jeff Janis earned two votes for his work on special teams.

McCarthy: Reboot designed to get the Packers back on top

If you thought all the moves in recent days by the Green Bay Packers felt like they were looking to start from scratch, you wouldn’t be too far off.

Speaking at his end of the season press conference Thursday morning, coach Mike McCarthy made clear what his decision to part ways with his offensive and defensive coordinator, along with four other assistant coaches, was about.

“We need to reboot, cleanse, however you want to word it,” McCarthy said. “We did not play to the standard of the Green Bay Packers. It’s my responsibility to make sure we get better and get back to that.”

For the first time since 2008, Green Bay missed the playoffs and finished with a losing record. While McCarthy has made changes in the past, including firing special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum after a disastrous 2014 NFC title game, the sheer number of changes are eye-opening.

McCarthy, who just finished his 12th year, told reporters the moves were not the result of any one game or event, but it’s difficult not to see a correlation between quarterback Aaron Rodgers going down early in the season and the team’s shortcomings being exposed without him.

“It’s not black and white,” McCarthy said. “This wasn’t done after Aaron’s injury. It wasn’t done after the last game. You have to evaluate all the time.”

But McCarthy had to evaluate the big picture earlier than ever and found that the status quo wouldn’t get it done.

“When you say you have a standard at the Green Bay Packers, it stops right there. The standard at the Green Bay Packers is to win world championships,” he said. “Now, are we doing enough to win a world championship? Or are we doing everything we need to do to win a championship? That question needs to be answered. It needs to answered throughout football operations.

“I know what I’m in control of. I’m in control of making sure we’re doing everything we can — everything we can — to win the championship. That’s what this process is.”

The timeline for that process isn’t clear, but McCarthy is diving right in. He said that current assistants Darren Perry, Joe Whitt and Winston Moss would have a chance to interview for the defensive coordinator opening, and he also didn’t rule out bringing back former offensive assistants like Ben McAdoo and Joe Philbin, both of whom left Green Bay earlier in McCarthy’s tenure to be head coaches.

A potential hiccup is the uncertainty as to who the next general manager will be — or even if that person will want McCarthy as his coach. Though President/CEO Mark Murphy said Tuesday that McCarthy was their guy, he also said the new GM would have the power to hire and fire coaches.

“I”m very comfortable where I am in my career,” said McCarthy, who did sign a one-year extension that has him under contract through 2019. “I’m more focused on the fit of the GM. And frankly, fit is a two-way street. It has to fit together.”

Finding the right fits — both in the coaching staff and with the general manager — is McCarthy’s goal as he looks to get Green Bay back to where he believes they belong.

“This is my professional responsibility,” McCarthy said of making changes. “It’s in my job description and I have to do what I feel gives the Green Bay Packers the best opportunity to win — to win it all in 2018. That’s why I’m standing here answering these questions.”