Alex Van Pelt enters his fifth season with the Packers and returns to coaching quarterbacks, a group he led in 2014, following his role of quarterbacks/wide receivers coach in 2015. He was the team’s running backs coach in his first two years with the club (2012-13). He is entering his 20th NFL season and his 11th as an NFL assistant coach.
Van Pelt joined the Packers on February 13, 2012, as running backs coach after spending the previous two seasons (2010-11) as quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and was named quarterbacks coach by Green Bay on Feb. 7, 2014. Prior to his appointment with the Buccaneers, Van Pelt spent four seasons (2006-09) on the offensive coaching staff of the Buffalo Bills.
Last season, Van Pelt helped Aaron Rodgers get selected to his fifth career Pro Bowl after tying for No. 1 in the NFL in completions of 25-plus yards (39) and ranking No. 3 in TD/INT ratio (3.88) and INT percentage (1.40). With 572 attempts and just eight INTs, Rodgers posted his fifth season with 500-plus attempts and eight or fewer INTs, the most in NFL history. Rodgers added 30-plus passing touchdowns (31) during the regular season for the fifth time in his career, ranking second in team history behind Brett Favre’s eight.
In addition, Van Pelt led a wide-receiver group that was without veteran Jordy Nelson, who had led the Packers in 2014 with 98 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 TDs, following a season-ending knee injury sustained in the preseason. James Jones returned to Green Bay after a season with the Raiders and registered 50 receptions for a career-high 890 yards (17.8 avg.) and eight TDs (tied for the team lead). He ranked No. 5 in the NFL with 15 catches of 25-plus yards, nearly doubling his previous career high (eight, 2013), the fourth most by a Packer over the past 25 seasons, behind only Nelson and Greg Jennings. Among players with two receptions per game, Jones ranked No. 3 in the NFL with 17.8-yard receiving average and No. 7 with a first-down percentage of 78.0 (39 of 50). His average of 17.8 yards per catch was the third best by a Packer over the past 25 seasons, trailing only Nelson (18.6 in 2011) and Don Beebe (17.9 in 1996). Also, three of Van Pelt’s receivers (Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Jones) were part of an offense with four players (also TE Richard Rodgers) with 50-plus receptions for only the third time (1983, 2002) since 1940.
In his first season tutoring Green Bay’s quarterbacks in 2014, Van Pelt worked with Rodgers as he ranked No. 2 in the league in passer rating (112.2), No. 3 in TD passes (38), No. 1 in TD/INT ratio (7.60, 38/5) and No. 2 in yards per attempt (8.43). He was the only QB in the league to finish in the top three in all four of those categories in a season that culminated with him being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by The Associated Press for the second time in his career. Rodgers was also named first-team All-Pro by AP and earned his fourth career Pro Bowl selection.
Rodgers registered eight games on the season with three-plus TDs/zero INTs, tying Patriots QB Tom Brady (2007) for the single-season NFL record. Rodgers posted 13 zero-INT games, the third most in a season in league annals, and led the league with an interception percentage of 0.96, the seventh-best single-season mark in NFL history (min. 224 attempts) and the top mark in team annals.
In 2013, Van Pelt’s running backs helped the Packers rank No. 7 in the NFL in rushing (133.5 ypg), the best average by the team since 2003 and the sixth-best mark by Green Bay since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Green Bay was tied for No. 2 in the league with six 100-yard rushers on the season, its most since posting the same number in 2007. The Packers tied a franchise record in ’13 by having three different running backs record 100-yard games (Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, James Starks). Green Bay tied for the league lead with six 180-yard rushing games and ranked No. 4 in the NFL with an average of 4.65 yards per carry.
Van Pelt tutored Lacy on his way to earning a Pro Bowl selection and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award from AP. Lacy became the first Green Bay rookie RB to be named to the Pro Bowl since John Brockington in 1971 and joined Brockington as the only Green Bay rookies to win the AP’s offensive award since its inception in 1957. Lacy was also named second-team All-Pro, the only rookie player in the league to make the first or second team.
Lacy led all NFL rookies and finished No. 8 among all players with 1,178 rushing yards, the most by a Green Bay rookie in team annals. He also set franchise rookie marks for rushing TDs (11) and rushing attempts (284), and tied Brockington’s mark for the most 100-yard rushing games with four. Van Pelt also helped Starks rush for 493 yards and a career-high three TDs on 89 carries in 2013, an average of 5.54 yards per carry that ranked No. 1 in the NFL among running backs with 80-plus carries.
In his first season with Green Bay in 2012, Van Pelt’s running backs battled injuries, with five different players starting at least one game and no one starting more than five contests on the season. The Packers had a league-high five RBs rush for at least 125 yards on the season, the most by the club since 1987 (five).
Van Pelt was instrumental in the development of first-year RB DuJuan Harris, a street free agent who spent four games on the team’s practice squad before being signed to the active roster on Dec. 1. Harris appeared in the final four regular-season games with two starts, highlighted by a 14-carry, 70-yard outing in the season finale at Minnesota. He also started both playoff games, rushing for 100 yards and two TDs on 28 carries (3.6 avg.).
Prior to arriving in Green Bay, Van Pelt found great success working with young QB Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay. Under Van Pelt’s direction, Freeman threw for 7,043 yards in 2010-11, the most passing yards by a Tampa Bay quarterback over a two-year period to that point in franchise annals. That included 3,592 passing yards in 2011, then the second most in team history. Freeman also threw a TD pass in 15 consecutive games (Week 5, 2010-Week 2, 2011), the longest streak in team history.
In his first full season as a starter in 2010, Freeman showed incredible maturation and improvement under Van Pelt. He finished the year as the No. 6-ranked passer in the NFL (95.9) while throwing for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Freeman became the first quarterback under the age of 23 to lead his team to a 10-win season since Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, with five of his victories being fourth-quarter comebacks. Freeman also ranked second among NFL quarterbacks with 364 rushing yards on 68 carries (5.4 avg.).
Van Pelt entered the 2009 season as the Bills’ quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in September. He originally joined the Bills as offensive quality control coach in 2006 and worked in that capacity for two seasons before being elevated to quarterbacks coach in 2008.
In his only season as offensive coordinator, Van Pelt led an offense that featured former backup RB Fred Jackson. He rushed for a career-high 1,062 yards on 237 attempts (4.5 avg.) with two TDs in Van Pelt’s offense while also hauling in a then-career-high 46 receptions, good for second on the team, for 371 yards (8.1 avg.) and two scores. His 1,062 rushing yards ranked ninth in the AFC and his 1,433 total yards from scrimmage ranked sixth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL.
During his time as quarterbacks coach, Van Pelt assisted in the development of QB Trent Edwards. Under the direction of Van Pelt, Edwards posted a 65.5 completion percentage to rank No. 6 in the NFL in 2008 as well as No. 2 all-time in Bills history for a single season.
Van Pelt joined the Bills in 2006 after spending the winter of 2006 as the quarterbacks coach/pass coordinator for the University at Buffalo. He also volunteered with the Bills in 2005 as an offensive quality control coach after spending the 2005 NFL Europe season as the Frankfurt Galaxy’s quarterbacks coach, where he was responsible for the offensive play-calling. After his retirement from the NFL in 2003, he spent two seasons as the color analyst for the Buffalo Bills Radio Network.
Van Pelt was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft and later signed with Buffalo as a free agent in 1995. He spent his entire nine-year career (1995-2003) as a member of the Bills and played in 31 games with 11 starts while amassing 2,985 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.
A four-year starter (1989-92) at the University of Pittsburgh, Van Pelt holds school career records for most passing yards (11,267), completions (867) and attempts (1,503). He became only the fifth collegiate player to throw for 2,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. From 1990-91, Van Pelt was coached by McCarthy, who was serving as the Panthers’ graduate assistant-quarterbacks.
Born May 1, 1970, in Pittsburgh, Pa., Van Pelt lives in Green Bay with his wife, Brooke, daughters, Payton Dale and Katherine Paige, and son, Jack MacGregor.