Pettine, Mennenga won't be back after Packers' playoff loss

·3 min read

Green Bay defensive co-ordinator Mike Pettine won't return to the team next season and special teams co-ordinator Shawn Mennenga has been fired after the Packers' second straight NFC championship game loss last Sunday.

The Packers said in an announcement late Friday afternoon that Pettine would not be back next season. ESPN reported that Pettine's contract expired at the end of this season. The team also announced Mennenga had been dismissed.

Both departures were first reported by NFL Network.

Pettine had been the Packers’ defensive co-ordinator for three seasons — taking over one year before coach Matt LaFleur’s arrival. Mennenga had been special teams co-ordinator for each of LaFleur’s two seasons as head coach.

The moves come after the Packers gave up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Scotty Miller with 1 second left in the first half of a 31-26 NFC championship game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It was man coverage, definitely not the right call for the situation,” LaFleur said after the game. “You can’t do stuff like that against a good football team and expect to win.”

LaFleur had chosen to keep Pettine after the Packers gave up 285 yards rushing in a 37-20 NFC championship game loss at San Francisco last season, continuing their struggles to slow down the run.

The Packers gave up 56 more points during the 2020 regular season than in 2019, but they improved in most other defensive areas.

They allowed 334 yards per game and 5.49 yards per play this season after giving up 352.6 yards per game and 5.65 yards per play in 2019. They allowed 112.8 yards rushing per game and 4.55 yards per carry in 2020 after giving up 120.1 yards rushing per game and 4.67 yards per carry last season.

Green Bay ranked ninth in total defence and tied for 13th in run defence in 2020 after finishing 18th in total defence and 23rd in run defence a year earlier.

The Packers intercepted three of Brady's passes and allowed only three points in the last 28 1/2 minutes of the NFC championship game, but that was after they had allowed Brady and the Bucs to score 28 points in the first 31 1/2 minutes.

“We want to thank Mike for his commitment to the Packers for the last three seasons,” LaFleur said Friday in a statement. “He was an important part of our success. As a first-time head coach, he was also an invaluable resource for us during our time together. We wish Mike, Megan, and the rest of their family the best moving forward.”

Pettine was a head coach with the Cleveland Browns in 2014-15.

Mennenga took over as the Packers’ special teams co-ordinator in 2019 after filling the same role at Vanderbilt in 2018. He was a special teams assistant with the Browns from 2011-17.

Green Bay dealt with a number of special teams breakdowns this season while playing much of the year without returner Tyler Ervin, who appeared in just eight games before going on injured reserve.

The Packers allowed Jacksonville’s Keelan Cole to score on a franchise-record 91-yard punt return and allowed Philadelphia’s Jalen Reagor to score on a 73-yard punt return. They gave up a blocked punt against Houston. Darrius Shepherd fumbled a kickoff return to set up a field goal in an overtime loss at Indianapolis. Tavon Austin fumbled a punt return at Chicago. A botched snap foiled an extra-point attempt in a playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

“We appreciate Shawn for all that he has given to the organization and his contributions to our success over the past two seasons,” LaFleur said. “We wish all the best to him, Christie, and the rest of their family in the future.”

___

Follow Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Steve Megargee, The Associated Press