According to CoachingSearch.com, two positions were filled today on the Packers coaching staff. Ron Zook will come in as a Special Teams Assistant, and Sam Gash is the new Running Backs coach. Former Running Backs coach Alex Van Pelt was moved to Quarterbacks coach, replacing the departed Ben McAdoo.
Zook last coached in the pros in 2001 as the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. He left for the head coaching job at the University of Florida for three years, then coached at Illinois. After inheriting a sub-par Illini squad in 2005, Zook peaked in 2007, taking his team to the Rose Bowl (and losing badly). Since 2011, Zook has not coached at the college or pro level.
Randall Cobb will work with Ron Zook on Special Teams
This begs the question - why hire Zook? He had a solid recruiting class in 2005 / 2006, but he can't exactly recruit talent for national signing day. The Packers coaching staff doesn't need someone who failed at a college level for eight out of ten years, then avoided coaching for a while. Granted, the special teams coverage hasn't been stellar the past few years, but was there really nobody else out there with recent NFL Special Teams experience? Even if the Packers were grooming a replacement for Dom Capers, there are plenty of candidates with recent, successful experience.
Gash was the running backs coach for the Detroit Lions from 2008 through 2012. The team had its best rushing years in 2010 and 2012, when it finished 23rd in rushing both years. You read that correctly - every year Gash was the running backs coach, the Lions finished in the bottom 10 in rushing. This year, with him gone, they finished 17th. It's not completely Gash's fault, as many other factors come into play, but the correlation cannot be ignored.
Eddie Lacy finished in the top 10 in rushing last season thanks to his tough-nosed running style and unsuspectingly light feet. He also missed essentially two full games. This means he has every opportunity to be a top five rusher next year. Any decline in performance (barring injury or awful line play) will point back to Gash as the culprit.
We can only hope that these hires are addressed by Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson, answering why two coaches with unsuccessful pasts were brought into a Packers coaching staff that has been consistently competitive.