James Campen has been hired as the team’s offensive line coach. He brings 25 years of NFL experience with him – seventeen as a coach, and eight as a player. He started with the Packers as an entry level assistant in 2004, before being promoted to offensive line coach in 2007, and he served Mike McCarthy (and new Panthers OC Ben McAdoo) in this capacity until 2018, when McCarthy was fired.
He then worked for three different teams in a three year span, all resulting in fired head coaches:
– 2019 Cleveland Browns (Freddie Kitchens)
– 2020 Los Angeles Chargers (Anthony Lynn)
– 2021 Houston Texans (David Culley)
So that’s his NFL resume. What do we make of this hire?
It feels like a bad hire to me, and it probably stems from Matt Rhule simply having a lack of interested candidates. On one hand, I like continuity, and pairing an offensive line coach with an offensive coordinator he’s previously worked with seems like a plus in that column. Perhaps we’ll see fewer delay of game penalties, wasted timeouts, free runs at the quarterback, and other self-inflicted wounds that typically lead to five win seasons.
On the other hand, Campen’s track record is mixed, to put it mildly. Sure, he’s helped develop 4th rounders David Bakhtiati and T.J. Lang into elite NFL players, but the Packers also had massive busts along the offensive line under his watch, notably first rounder Dereck Sherod and second rounder Jason Spriggs. So how does that net out for the position coach? Two 4th rounders hit, but a first and second flopped. Also, why did the magic suddenly stop once Aaron Rodgers was no longer taking snaps under center? In 2021, Houston had PFF’s #30 graded offensive line (just one spot above the Panthers), and his Chargers line of 2020 was dead last. Neither team was flush with talent upfront, but if your calling card is making chicken salad out of chicken shit, where is the salad?
And it’s hard to ignore the ominous pattern of a position coach working for an eventually fired head coach four consecutive seasons. Can Campen go for five?
It seems likely.