Jeff Hafley mentions three aspects that will be totally different in the new Packers’ defense

Jeff Hafley mentions three aspects that will be totally different in the new Packers' defense

In moving on from Joe Barry to hire Jeff Hafley this offseason, the Green Bay Packers are making the most drastic schematic change since 2009, when they went from Bob Sanders to Dom Capers.

 

 

It will be a 4-3 base defense and, even though it isn’t as significant of a change as it used to be, it still brings a new approach upfront. More than that, the secondary will be extremely different, prioritizing takeaways with a single-high structure instead of an umbrella, two-high heavy system that had avoiding big plays as the main goal.

 

 

Talking to the Packers team media, the new defensive coordinator talked about what he intends to change and do with the personnel he has. There are three impactful differences.

 

 

The passive days are over
The old defense prioritized avoiding big plays, which at times meant allowing receptions and tackling after that. That’s not how Jeff Hafley wants his players performing. Eventually, it might lead to some big plays from the opposing offense, but the new version of the Packers defense wants to make every yard difficult for the other team.

“We’re gonna attack. I told the players, I want to lead the NFL in effort and I want to lead the NFL in how hard we play, and I want to lead the NFL in taking the ball away,” Hafley said.

 

 

“I want people to see the confidence that our players are playing with in themselves and with their teammates, and showing them how much they care about each other in this team by how hard they play and how hard they run to the ball and the effort that they give.”

Number one priority
As previously mentioned, Joe Barry’s main goal as a defensive coordinator was to avoid big plays from the offense. Hafley’s is to generate turnovers and positive plays for the defense.

Taking the ball away is not a strategy, though, it’s more of a hope. Hafley has a plan in place to make that effectively happen.

 

 

“You prioritize it. And it’s not just talk, it’s every day in meetings, showing them how we’re going to do it and teaching how we’re going to do it, and then it has to show up in practice,” the DC mentioned. “And then it needs to show up in the games. That is priority number one, we have to take the ball away.”

Upfront changes
The big difference upfront is that, with a transition to 4-3, the defensive line and the edge defenders will play with their hands in the ground. But more than that, fans will see a more aggressive approach — just imagine how the San Francisco 49ers operate.

 

 

“We’re going to line up with our hand in the ground, we’re going to try to get up the field as fast as we can, be disruptive, and create a new line of scrimmage,” Hafley added. “That’s probably the biggest difference for those guys upfront now. Get their butts up in the air, let’s go forward and attack. I’m sure some of the guys are excited about doing that.”

Jeff Hafley had been in college football since 2019, first as a co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State and then as Boston College’s head coach. But he does have NFL experience, working as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, and then as a DBs coach for the Bucs (2013), Cleveland Browns (2014-2015), and San Francisco 49ers (2016-2018).

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