GREEN BAY – New Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans has gotten to know Eddie Lacy over the phone a little bit already.
Now he wants to get to know him on film, before and after.
In meeting with the Green Bay media for the first time on Thursday, Sirmans said he plans to study Lacy’s game tape from his first two seasons – when Lacy topped 1,100 yards each year and rushed for 20 TDs – and compare it to 2015, when struggles with his weight contributed to a significant falloff in Lacy’s production.
Sirmans hasn’t gotten to that task yet, but he certainly will within the next two months before the players return for offseason workouts, well aware of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s edict that Lacy be in better shape in 2016.
“I haven’t had a chance to really focus and see the difference between Eddie when he was lighter to where he’s at right now and to study those things,” Sirmans said. “Those are some of the things I want to do, so when he comes back and we sit down and we start talking and developing a plan to help him to continue to get better, I have a great idea of what he needs to do.”
McCarthy said his understanding is Lacy’s conditioning is “improving as we speak.” The situations are different, but it’s likely Sirmans’ success last year in getting such a big rookie season out of the Rams’ Todd Gurley, who recovered impressively from reconstructive knee surgery, played a role in his hiring. Gurley won the Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year award last season, two years after Lacy won the Associated Press version of the same award.
“I get the sense he’s ready to get after it,” Sirmans said of his conversations thus far with Lacy.
Lacy will be at the top, but how the rest of Sirmans’ running back depth chart will look in a few months is unclear, with James Starks and John Kuhn pending free agents.
The offense’s other new coach, Brian Angelichio, has similar uncertainty at tight end, with Andrew Quarless also a pending free agent. If Quarless or another veteran isn’t signed, Angelichio’s most experienced charge will be third-year pro Richard Rodgers.
Angelichio, who has coached the position the last four years in Cleveland and Tampa Bay, said he won’t look at his job any differently if all his tight ends are young, including a potential draft pick. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Nobody is going to wait for you in this league.”
His job will be to speed up the learning curve on the mental side with the position’s multiple responsibilities – run blocking, pass protection, route running and adjustments, etc.
“I think once they get over the mental part, then they’re able to play faster and you’re able to see their skill set,” he said. “You have to find out how they learn, because they all learn differently. Some guys are visual guys, some guys are rep guys, some guys can see it on the board, some guys have to write it down.
“That’s why you’re a coach. Coaching is teaching. Your job is to find out how they learn best.”
New receivers coach Luke Getsy, promoted from offensive quality control, will have plenty of young guys to teach as well, but it was veterans Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb who voiced a desire for Getsy to be their position coach.
He believes as he works with established stars like Nelson and Cobb, they’ll make him a better coach for the entire group.
“It’s very flattering, obviously,” Getsy said of Nelson’s and Cobb’s support. “I’m excited that they’re excited about what’s about to happen. One thing about those two guys is they’re so hungry, and they work so hard and want to be the best. To me, that’s all they’re saying right there is they want to learn.”
Getsy came to the Packers two years ago along with David Raih, the pair having interviewed on back-to-back days, and McCarthy hired them for low-totem-pole jobs with a vision they would soon take on more responsibility.
A kindred spirit of sorts with Getsy, Raih has experienced a rather remarkable rise, sharing the story of how eight years ago, while working as a sales rep in the medical world, it took him two months to convince UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel to hire him for no pay. After six weeks of working for free, he started getting paid as an intern, though less than $1,000 a month in high-priced Los Angeles.
Now he’s Green Bay’s assistant offensive line coach after two years as a coaching administrator, just as excited and focused on his job as he’s always been.
“I haven’t even spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I’m just trying to keep my foot on the gas,” Raih said of his coaching journey. “It goes fast. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone, and I’m just going to try to keep the pedal down.”