Potential changes coming to Packers coaching staff in 2023

There are potential changes coming to the Green Bay Packers coaching staff, and no, it’s not the move that I’m guessing many have been hoping for—Joe Barry is here to stay.

However, defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, along with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, could be heading elsewhere.

According to Mike Garafolo, the Falcons are working on a deal with Gray to join their defensive staff under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. Although this is a lateral move for Gray, the Packers cannot block it because he is no longer under contract.

Gray joined the Packers in 2020, and the secondary immediately found success. Jaire Alexander was named an All-Pro, and several other players had one of their best seasons. In 2021, newcomers Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes benefitted from Gray’s tutelage.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the defense, mistakes littered the secondary this past season, specifically communication breakdowns. These breakdowns were persistent for much of the season, or at least up until the last few games, and led to a number of big plays by the offense. In general, this group seemed out of position way too often, which contributed to their low interception totals through much of the year.

As I wrote in season, whether it be from Barry to Gray, or Gray to the players, there was a disconnect as the same issues were oftentimes prevalent from week to week. The overall defensive performance was a failure from top to bottom. At the end of the day, Barry is the one in charge, however, it’s up to the players to execute their responsibilities correctly. Gray, along with the other positional coaches on this side of the ball, were at fault as well. With a talented group that very much underperformed, perhaps a change is best for both the Packers and Gray.

Bisaccia, meanwhile, will be having a second interview with the Indianapolis Colts for their head coaching position, as reported by Tom Pelissero. Prior to joining the Packers, Bisaccia was the Raiders interim head coach in 2021, and took Las Vegas to the playoffs.

In Bisaccia’s first season as special teams coordinator, the Packers saw a major turnaround on special teams, jumping 10 spots in Rick Gosselin’s annual rankings, going from being ranked 32nd to 22nd—a far cry from the unit we saw in 2021.

Along with hiring Bisaccia, Brian Gutekunst also took a different approach this past offseason, signing special teams-specific players to the roster, including Dallin Leavitt, Rudy Ford, Eric Wilson, and Keisean Nixon. This is not something that Gutey had done previously, where the emphasis was on offensive or defensive contributions, with special teams being a bit of an afterthought.

Where we would really see Bisaccia’s fingerprint on this special teams unit was in the development of several young players. By season’s end, Tyler Davis, Tariq Carpenter, and Isaiah McDuffie were not only mainstays but also some of the Packers’ better players on special teams. Bisaccia was also a part of a culture shift, specifically, how the organization viewed that phase of the game, with a much greater emphasis being placed on special teams after nearly a decade of being one of the worst units in football.

Without question, losing Bisaccia would be a big setback for the Packers, and in an area where it feels like they are finally getting things right.