Passing game struggles point to ineffective WR coach Raih

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Bob McGinn

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By BOB McGINN

Aaron Rodgers has sounded like a broken record much of the season regarding the inefficiency of the passing game. Now at least one concrete reason has come to light.

Sources with inside knowledge of the Green Bay Packers have described David Raih, the team’s first-year coach of the wide receivers, as the weak link of the staff and a contributing factor why the pass offense really hasn’t meshed all season.

Entrusted by coach Mike McCarthy with the vital responsibility of bringing rookies J’Mon Moore (fourth round), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth) and
Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth), along with free agent Jake Kumerow, up to what had been the exacting standards of the Packers’ offense, Raih has fallen well short.

“They’ve got three young guys and they’re getting taught by a guy that doesn’t understand the offense,” said one source. “Guys have been bitching about it since August. The quarterback thinks he’s a complete fraud. Rodgers pretty much tells him he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Five weeks ago, after the 27-24 defeat in Seattle, Rodgers stepped to the podium and said, “Yeah, there wasn’t a lot of guys open on third down. We’ve got to get back to getting open on our routes and being in the right space at the right time and figuring out what those best concepts are for our guys.”

Three weeks ago, after the 20-17 loss to Arizona, Rodgers said, “I just think it’s the same things that we unfortunately say every week. I hate to repeat myself, but it’s applicable. We’re just not on the same page consistently. We’re not executing the right way. It’s the same stuff. It’s poor throws. Not on the same page with receivers, wrong depth, protection.”

When asked three or four times about missing throws Sunday in Chicago, Rodgers referred to the same imprecision on route-running while acknowledging some of his own failings.

Said Rodgers: “Just not being on the same page with the guys we’re throwing to … there’s missed throws for sure, but some of the ones you probably think are missed throws maybe we’re just not on the same page … I’ve love to give you a longer answer than that but it (details) is really the issue.”

The Packers could have the greatest coach in history tutoring their wide receivers and they still couldn’t have flagged down the exorbitant number of blatant overthrows and underthrows by Rodgers in 2018. More than anyone or anything, Rodgers should be blamed for his 61.8% completion mark that ranks 28th in the NFL.

At the same time, the fact that young, impressionable wide receivers are being coached by someone like Raih has exacerbated the disconnect and undoubtedly been eating at Rodgers for months.

“David Raih is a fraud,” a member of the Packers’ scouting or coaching staffs in 2017 said. “He’s the next hot one that Mike’s developing. He’s not a coach.”

Luke Getsy, the wide receivers coach in 2016 and ’17, departed after last season to become offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Mississippi State. In mid-January, McCarthy promoted Raih to replace him.

One source said Getsy was a much more effective coach of wide receivers than Raih.

As far back as training camp, the young wide receivers have been going to veteran Davante Adams for answers to some of their questions regarding technique, route concepts and how to get in sync with Rodgers, one source said.

Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown and Kumerow have flashed the talent to be successful wide receivers. Even this late in the season, however, their chemistry with Rodgers would seem to be minimal. And Moore can’t even get on the field.

“I’ve been 10 years (coaching),” Raih told reporters in January. “I’ve been around these receivers for four years … Luke’s done a great job … I’ll bring a ton of energy.”

A native of Edina, Minn., Raih (pronounced RYE) walked on at Iowa and served as a backup quarterback from 1999-’02. He attempted one pass in his career. After suffering a career-ending shoulder injury, he served as a student assistant coach in 2003.

Following three years in medical sales, Raih talked his way onto coach Rick Neuheisel’s staff at UCLA as a two-year intern helping with quarterbacks (2008) and tight ends (2009). He worked without pay for the first six weeks.

He returned to Iowa in 2010 for a three-year stint as a grad assistant before going on to be director of high-school relations at Texas Tech in 2013. He had just been promoted as Red Raiders’ outside receivers coach when McCarthy phoned in February 2014 to set up an interview for a quality-control job.

Getsy got that position but McCarthy was high on Raih as well and hired him as coaching administrator for 2014-’15. He served as assistant offensive line coach in 2016 and offensive perimeter coach in 2017 before becoming a full-fledged position coach for the first time, college or pro, in January.

Raih had at least one misdemeanor conviction for driving while impaired (Minnesota, August 2005) when the Packers hired him.

“We’ll be better for that,” McCarthy said of Getsy and Raih in February 2016. “They’ve gained the respect of the players.”

Jim Hostler, a wide receivers coach for nine years in an 18-year career as an NFL assistant for six teams, was the obvious choice to coach wide receivers in Green Bay. Instead, Hostler probably has had less impact as pass game coordinator on a top-heavy offensive staff that until 2 1/2 weeks ago included the play-calling McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and run game coordinator/offensive line coach James Campen.

In training camp, Hostler spent some time with the wide receivers but Raih clearly was in charge of the position.

Hostler was cut from the same cloth as Jimmy Robinson, another career wide receivers coach who was hired by McCarthy to that post on his original staff in 2006. Greg Jennings saluted Robinson for helping develop him into an all-rookie team receiver in ‘06.

After five seasons Robinson left to become assistant head coach and wide receivers coach in Dallas. Edgar Bennett, the running backs coach, shifted to wide receivers from 2011-’14.

When Bennett was promoted to offensive coordinator, McCarthy took the unusual step of assigning Alex Van Pelt the dual responsibility of quarterbacks and wide receivers. Then the wide receivers went to Getsy for two seasons and now Raih for one.

“It’s a huge problem,” an NFL general manager said Friday about the number of bad assistant coaches in pro football. “The quality of coaching staffs has gone down the last 10 years. It’s absolutely abysmal. You’re better off taking a college coach.”

In McCarthy’s 13 years two of his assistants went on to become head coaches: Philbin in Miami, Ben McAdoo with the New York Giants.

Some of the finest assistants in Green Bay over the last 50-plus years have coached wide receivers. The list includes Bob Schnelker (1966-’71), Lew Carpenter (1975-’85), Tom Coughlin (1986-’87), Jon Gruden (1993-’94), Gil Haskell (1995-’97), Charlie Baggett (1999) and Ray Sherman (2000-’04).

In October, the 38-year-old Raih was asked by reporters about conflict in his area of responsibility.

“If the quarterback, if the coach, if anyone expresses any sort of communication, whether it’s good communication, whether it’s viewed as anger, like, to me, I, I, I love that, because we know the situation,” replied Raih. “It’s just straight-forward, direct communication, which allows everybody to know what’s expected. And so, I actually really like that and appreciate it.”

In November, Raih told reporters he had spoken to his father at 5:45 a.m. that day.

“I’ve been in football for probably 25 years, 24 or 25 years, and it’s been a tough couple of weeks, right?” said Raih. “But I’ve never been around more men that I’m learning from or even just peers. You talk about character and integrity and doing things the right way. Just trust me that it can definitely be the opposite of that.

“So for me, I’m so thankful that I’m learning directly from Jim Hostler in the pass game, and ‘Hoss’ is good. And then Coach Philbin, who was my offensive line coach when I was in college, which is crazy, but it’s pretty hard to find a better man, a better football coach than Coach Philbin. And then everybody else. It’s a lot of good men.”

Last week, Raih got into his teaching methodology.

“We’ve simplified the releases and the techniques, if anything,” he told reporters. “Just with the philosophy that if you do everything you do nothing. But, if you do a couple things really well, then you’re going to be effective.

“And like to me, just the way, it’s the same … Reggie White’s hump move, Lew Alcindor’s hook shot, the bottom line is, you couldn’t stop it, right? Even though you knew it was coming.

“And that’s honestly what we’re trying to work on every single day. We’ve simplified it. We’ve got a couple things we do. We just pound them over and over.”

Raih added: “The main thing is really just getting used to professional football – how we operate all day long in this building, detailing our alignments, our assignments, our technique. Creating consistency which ultimately just builds trust.”

Finally, Raih was asked why he wears different gear on game days than the other assistant coaches.

“I don’t know if you guys have noticed but I literally wear the same thing every day,” he told reporters. “I’ve got like a couple changes of clothes, and these guys do a great job of keeping them clean.

“But I do that, No. 1, because it’s easy, OK? No. 2, I went to like a military high school (St. Thomas Academy, St. Paul, Minn.) with all my brothers and got used to wearing a uniform.

“But really the reason I do it is, like, I told the guys at one point, the way we operate in this room is, it’s not based off the wins or losses or the results. Purely, the environment should never change if we’re at New England, if we’re out there at practice.

“So my, the way I present myself to them, it never changes. So I don’t care what game we’re in, I’m going to show up and look exactly the same. Because we’ve been doing it in training camp and all that.

“I might be kind of crazy, which is probably true, but that’s why I do it.”


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Cheesedog

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Whole staff needs to be gone. No trace of MM needs to be left IMHO
This guy doesn't even have the pedigree or experience to coach at DII ... How the heck did MM decide he'd be a good NFL assistant?
 

rpiotr01

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Well, that's certainly one side of the problem. Buuuuut.... I can show you open receivers. I'm just saying. Third down or whatever, I can show you open receivers. And Dave Raih don't wear a uniform.

Eh what a hot mess. Burn the whole staff with fire and start over. I don't even want MM's leftover cheerios sitting in the coffee room - throw them away too.
 

TW

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Same old crap. Coaches suck. We need to get rid of the lot of them? All of them! We also need to see Murphy and Gutie gone. Move Ball, where he's good at juggling the books. The new President should hire the GM, who hires the HC, who hires the assistant coaches with the GM's approval.

We need a regimented chain of command, and at each level, their authority should be implanted in the minds of every damned player on the roster. There can be no "sacred cows," or players "above reproach." Each should be accountable for their own play on the field, and actions off the field. Failure to meet that obligation? Show 'em the door!

Once they get those things straightened out they can make a decision as to who stays and goes on the roster. But, until all the front office crap is resolved, they should sit tight on personnel matters.
 
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Wow. This just continues to prove what a lot of us have been saying. Disfunction in the organization and bad assistant coaches developing players. Along with a Diva QB. :)

We may be waiting a while until this gets fixed since Murphy is in charge. coffee(
 

GBP4EVER

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MM instead of hiring best coaches hired friends or hired guys who had little to no experince coaching in NFL thus part of reason we are not very good when you have guys who should not have jobs as coaches you can't coach players up.
 

HowardK4

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Well, that's certainly one side of the problem. Buuuuut.... I can show you open receivers. I'm just saying. Third down or whatever, I can show you open receivers. And Dave Raih don't wear a uniform.

Eh what a hot mess. Burn the whole staff with fire and start over. I don't even want MM's leftover cheerios sitting in the coffee room - throw them away too.
Nobody is saying Aaron hasn't overlooked open receivers to go deep at times . . . but consistently getting the receivers open has been a challenge the last few seasons.
 

TW

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Coaching jobs are dealt just like high level corporate jobs. It's a "good old boy" rotation of friends hiring friends, or latching on to a guy on his way up because you can help him rise, and when you get canned, catch on with him on a job so you can rise again. If you look through the entire McCarthy regime, you'll see his people are really "his people," because they've worked together at other places, and at different levels.

It's developed into a total mishmosh of buddies helping other buddies make big bucks.

Somebody told me, years ago, you break that cycle by bringing in guys who haven't been in the NFL. Not true. You then end up with a mix of guys from the college ranks, and from the pro ranks, who bond together themselves, and start their own little clique.

Bummer, ain't it?
 
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