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Booming Bisaccia Shows His Tough-Love Style

He was angry. He was excited. He was hands-on coaching. New special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was in his element at Green Bay Packers OTAs on Tuesday.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – During a special teams period at the start of Tuesday’s organized team activity, Green Bay Packers rookie long snapper Jack Coco sent his snap zooming over the head of punter Pat O’Donnell.

New special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was furious.

When the punt team broke the huddle for the next play, it wasn’t to Bisaccia’s liking. So, he made them do it again. When the punt team once again didn’t break the huddle as one, Bisaccia again screamed at them to do it again.

Welcome to life with Bisaccia, the 62-years-young man charged with bringing to life a Packers special teams that has been dead for years. When coach Matt LaFleur called Bisaccia a “fiery dude,” he wasn’t kidding.

“That’s him,” cornerback Keisean Nixon, who was a key member of Bisaccia’s special teams with the Raiders, said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s going to be himself. It’s going to be 100 percent authentic. You’re either going to like it or not. He’s not going to change his ways for nobody.”

Rich Bisaccia (Photo by Evan Siegle/Courtesy Green Bay Packers)

Rich Bisaccia (Photo by Evan Siegle/Courtesy Green Bay Packers)

It’s not all fire and brimstone from Bisaccia, who as interim coach guided the Raiders to the playoffs last season. During another lengthy special teams period, he hopped and skipped his way to an enthusiastic congratulations for a rep well done by outside linebacker La’Darius Hamilton. Moments later, he yelled, “Good job 4-9” to tight end Dominique Dafney.

After the period, as the players jogged off the field and to their position groups, Bisaccia repeatedly said, “Good work.”

Those moments encapsulate what LaFleur said about Bisaccia earlier in the offseason: “He loves them tough, no doubt about it. He gets after them pretty good, but he also puts his arm around them, as well.”

Having inherited a mess, Bisaccia has a lot to get done, so you’ll have to forgive him for his lack of patience with Coco, who wasn’t the snapper on punts at Georgia Tech and is learning on the job.

Over the last eight seasons, the Packers finished last in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings three times. Going back even further, over the last 16 years – dating to Mike McCarthy’s debut season in 2006 – the Packers finished 32nd four times, 31st once and 29th three times. That’s eight seasons in or near the league’s basement. Their only top-10 finish came in 2007, a seventh-place mark under Mike Stock.

During that same span, Green Bay’s special teams under its myriad of coordinators finished ahead of Bisaccia’s units just once. Usually, it hasn’t been close, with Bisaccia’s units finishing, on average, 11.5 spots better than Green Bay.

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So, Bisaccia’s tough-love approach is appreciated, even if not in the moment by those at the receiving end of his venom.

“People describe me in a lot of ways,” Bisaccia said last week. “You haven’t talked to my kids yet. Yeah, I guess that’s good. I don’t know. When they get on the field, they’ve got a jersey number on. They’re accountable to the guy next to them, they’re accountable to their job. When they come into my office, then they’ve got a name. Now we can talk about football, we can talk about anything you want to talk about.

“But when they get on the field, they have a job to do, and they’re accountable to the guy next to them, in front of them, behind them and so on, and in our one-play mentality. You can look around and there’s a lot of plays that devastate your game, and there’s a lot of plays that propel your offense or your defense in a game. I think once we can all understand the one-play mentality, what we’re trying to get across to them, how they can affect the game positively and negatively, I think maybe we’ll start to accomplish something here.”

Packers OTAs: Sure Things, Big Mysteries

Aaron Rodgers and the Quarterbacks

Jones, Dillon and the Running Backs

Allen Lazard and the Receivers

Robert Tonyan and the Tight Ends

Injured Knees and the Offensive Line

Kenny Clark and the Defensive Line

Gary, Smith and the Outside Linebackers

Campbell, Walker and the Inside Linebackers

Three Lockdown Cornerbacks

Amos, Savage and the Safeties