Packers fire Zook

WR coach David Raih also released

Mike Clemens
January 10, 2019 - 1:26 pm

© Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Green Bay, WI - New Packers head coach Matt LaFleur's first decision was to fire special teams coordinator Ron Zook.

Special teams went from bad to worse in 2018 for the Packers. 

There was the 44 yard punt return by the Bears Tarik Cohen as the Packers trailed 21-14 midway through the 4th quarter that seem to put a dagger in a comeback for Green Bay.

VIDEO: https://www.chicagobears.com/video/cohen-returns-punt-44-yards

Or how about the 99 yard touchdown scored by the Jets Andre Roberts against the Packers that put New York up 21-7? Fortunately Aaron Rodgers came back to win the game in overtime. 

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/LEEHuJyXohU

Perhaps the most egregious mistake by Zook in 2018 was the Rams game when he apparently did not clearly get into returner Ty Montgomery's face and remind him, insist, order him to take a knee on a kickoff return against the Rams with 2 minutes left to play, and let Aaron Rodgers lead the team down the field to victory.

After the loss Mike McCarthy indicated there was a policy to not return a kick in that situation - but Zook did not communicate that to Montgomery before he decided to try to be a hero for his team. Instead, Montgomery had the ball stripped on his return, the Rams recovered, and the game was over. Montgomery was traded to the Ravens a day later. Zook would be fired at the end of the season. 

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/sywjXr1dRCs

Ron Zook, 64, came to Green Bay as a former head coach at Illinois. He'd been doing some work for CBS Sports as a football analyst and later working at a bank in Florida, when his former colleague Mike McCarthy called.

The Packers had struggled on special teams under Shawn Slocum, so in 2014 Zook was hired as his assistant. They then slipped to dead last in the NFL, and Slocum was fired, replaced by Zook, who had worked with McCarthy at the Saints for two seasons, 2000 to 2001.

"Ron's a dynamic guy," an NFL special teams coach told the Milwaukee Journal - Sentinal. "Full of piss and vinegar. He was so ambitious before. He was always looking for that next job. Now he'll probably do a better job coaching special teams."

Zook seemed resigned to the fact that after numerous injuries, youth, and mistakes in 2018, his 4 seasons were over in Green Bay after McCarthy was fired December 2. 

"I told my wife this is the first time ever I've been on a staff that got fired. The only other time I've been fired, it was only me. There's an old saying - there's two kinds of coaches - those who have been fired, and those who are gonna get fired."

LaFleur also fired Packers wide receivers coach David Raih. Under McCarthy he seemed to be on a fast track to someday become an offensive coordinator, going from offensive line assistant, to perimeter coordinator, to wide receivers coach in four seasons. Raih (prounounced Rye) lead the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Big Ten Conference Title in 2002 as their quarterback.