Edgar Bennett begins his 25th NFL season in 2017, his 23rd in Green Bay and his third as offensive coordinator after four years as the Packers’ wide receivers coach and six seasons as running backs coach.
Named to his current position on Feb. 12, 2015, by Head Coach Mike McCarthy, after coaching wide receivers from 2011-14, Bennett originally became a position coach on Jan. 28, 2005, for the running backs. He was renamed to that post on Jan. 17, 2006, for McCarthy’s first season at the helm. He continues his “third” Green Bay tour after initially rejoining the club to head the player development department (2001-04) and after a tenure as one of the most productive running backs in Green Bay history (1992-96).
In Bennett’s second season as offensive coordinator in 2016, he helped guide the Packers to their eighth consecutive postseason berth (2009-16), extending the franchise record. Green Bay finished the season ranked No. 4 in the NFL in scoring (27.0 ppg) and No. 8 in total offense (368.8 ypg). Bennett also continued to emphasize the importance of ball security as Green Bay’s 17 giveaways were tied for the fifth fewest in team history and tied for the eighth fewest in the NFL last season.
In 2014, Bennett helped wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb combine for one of the best single-season performances in NFL history. Cobb and Nelson became the first duo in league annals to both record 90-plus receptions, 1,200-plus yards and 12-plus receiving touchdowns. Both set numerous career highs, with Nelson setting a franchise record for receiving yards (1,519) while finishing with the fourth-most receptions (98) in Packers history. Nelson also recorded the third-most TD receptions (13) in his career (15 in 2011, 14 in 2016) and tied for the seventh most in team history. Cobb reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career (1,287), and his career-best 91 receptions were the seventh most in team history at the time. Cobb and Nelson became the first pair of Packers players to both catch 90-plus passes in the same season.
On top of aiding Cobb and Nelson to Pro Bowl seasons, Bennett also tutored 2014 second-round draft choice Davante Adams, whose 446 yards on 38 receptions (11.7 avg.) ranked third on the team. Adams racked up 121 yards on six receptions in a Week 13 victory over New England, the best receiving-yardage total by a Packers rookie since Sterling Sharpe’s 124-yard effort vs. Detroit in 1988. In his first postseason contest (vs. Dallas), Adams registered a team-high 117 receiving yards and a TD on seven receptions (16.7 avg.). Both his receiving-yardage total and his reception total were franchise playoff records by a rookie.
In 2013, the Green Bay receiving corps accounted for 3,319 yards, the second most in a season in franchise history and an average of 207.4 per game that ranked No. 2 in the NFL. Fronted by Nelson, the group overcame its share of challenges, including injuries within its own ranks and the play of four different starting quarterbacks on the season after Rodgers missed seven games following a collarbone injury suffered in Week 9. Having fully recovered from an injury-plagued 2012, Nelson turned in a stellar season in 2013, posting team highs with 85 catches, 1,314 yards (15.5 avg.) and eight touchdowns.
Following the record-setting season turned in by the wide-receiver group during his first year as its leader in 2011, Bennett’s charges overcame injuries and lineup shuffling to have another resoundingly productive season in 2012. In the absence of Greg Jennings and Nelson, James Jones and Cobb ascended to the forefront of the team’s passing attack. Jones put it all together under Bennett’s direction in 2012, posting career highs at the time with 64 catches, 734 yards and an NFL-leading 14 TDs, becoming the first Packer to lead the league in receiving TDs since Sharpe (18) in 1994. A uniquely versatile threat, Cobb emerged as the team’s leading receiver in just his second season, catching a team-best 80 passes for 954 yards and eight TDs.
Under Bennett’s watch, the group posted one of the most productive seasons in franchise history in 2011, setting new team records and finishing first in the NFL among receiving corps in yards (3,667), yards per game (229.2) and TDs (38). The touchdown total was the second highest in league history at the time by a receiver group, and all five players at the position posted 25 or more catches for the first time in franchise annals.
On an individual level in 2011, Bennett helped guide Jennings to his second consecutive Pro Bowl berth during a season that saw the sixth-year pro on pace for several career highs before a knee injury sidelined him for the final three regular-season games. Additionally, he was instrumental in the development and emergence of Nelson, who in his fourth season posted career highs at the time in every major statistical category and was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Nelson led the team with 68 catches for 1,263 yards and an impressive 15 TDs, the third most in team history.
In what is a true testament to the intense emphasis on ball security that marked Bennett’s career as a player and now as a coach, the receiver group committed just two turnovers from 2011-14, despite a combined 971 touches on offense.
Prior to becoming wide receivers coach, Bennett oversaw the development of several key running backs in Green Bay’s stable from 2005-10.
James Starks was a sixth-round draft pick in 2010 who missed all of training camp and the first 11 games of his rookie season recovering from a hamstring injury. But when Starks was healthy, Bennett got him ready to go. Starks kick-started the team’s Super Bowl run with a franchise rookie playoff-record 123 yards in an NFC Wild Card game at Philadelphia (Jan. 9).
The rookie was particularly vital down the stretch after Ryan Grant suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1. Prior to the injury, Grant had become just the third running back in team history to eclipse 1,200 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09.
Grant rapidly progressed in 2007, his first season with the Packers, after coming to the team in a trade at the end of training camp. Grant emerged from a backfield-by-committee to become the starter at midseason, went on to rush for 956 yards (including five 100-yard performances), and then set Green Bay postseason records with 201 yards and three TDs in a playoff victory over Seattle.
In his first season as a full-time coach in 2005, Bennett saw the team start five halfbacks and feature six after season-ending injuries claimed Green and Najeh Davenport (ankle). Faced with steep adversity, Bennett took Samkon Gado, an undrafted player fresh off the practice squad, and guided him to what was at the time the second-most productive season by a rookie running back in franchise history.
Initially joining the club on April 10, 2001, as its director of player development, Bennett spent four years helping players become acclimated to their roles as Green Bay Packers, both on and off the field. Bennett’s efforts in this area were recognized in 2003 as the Packers’ player development department was named the best in the NFC.
Green Bay’s fourth-round draft selection in 1992, Bennett is the 10th-ranked rusher in Packers history. The former Florida State athlete gained 3,353 yards over his five seasons in green and gold (1992-96) and was the starting running back for the 1996 Packers team that captured the Super Bowl XXXI title. In 1995, he became only the fifth player in team annals to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (1,067) and the first since Terdell Middleton in 1978. He also continues to hold the club single-season record for receptions by a running back with 78, set in 1994. His accomplishments were honored in 2005 with his induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
After a torn Achilles’ heel suffered in the Packers’ 1997 preseason opener ended his season, a successfully rehabbed Bennett signed with Chicago as an unrestricted free agent in 1998 and led the Bears in rushing that season with 611 yards. After one more season with Chicago, Bennett retired from football in 2000.
A four-year starter at fullback for Florida State (1987, 1989-91), Bennett holds a bachelor’s degree in social science, with a primary emphasis in political science and a secondary emphasis in sociology. Previously, he was a first-team all-state back at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he played with former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who later also would be his teammate at FSU and in Green Bay. Bennett was inducted into the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bennett and his wife, Mindy, have a son, Edgar IV, and a daughter, Elyse Morgan, and live in Green Bay. In 2003, he created the Edgar Bennett Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon, an event that brings together Packers players, coaches and staff. In recent years, the event has supported Families of Children With Cancer, a foundation that gives financial and social support to local families whose children are receiving treatments for cancer or bone marrow failure. In its initial year, the Bowl-A-Thon supported the March of Dimes. In May 2006, Bennett received the Nice Guy Award at the Doug Jirschele Sports Awards Banquet in Clintonville, Wis.