Unexpected Move by Packers Leaves Fans Astonished: New Defensive Coordinator Hire Shocks Supporters

The Green Bay Packers have hired Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley as their new defensive coordinator, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel. The move comes a little over a week after the Packers fired Joe Barry, who served as Matt LaFleur’s right-hand man for three seasons.

Hafley makes the challenging leap from college football to the NFL. The 44-year-old spent four years at Boston College, leading the Eagles to bowl eligibility thrice. His combined record was 22-26. Boston College went 7-6 in 2023, concluding with a Fenway Bowl victory over No. 22 SMU.

“He wants to go coach football again in a league that is all about football,” one source told ESPN. “College coaching has become fundraising, NIL and recruiting your own team and transfers. There’s no time to coach football anymore.”

Hafley made his bones as a defensive assistant at WPI, Albany, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers in the 2000s. He made the NFL leap in 2012, serving as the Buccaneers’ assistant DB coach. He went on to serve stints as DB coach for the Browns and Niners. In 2019, Hafley spent the season as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator and DB coach. He landed the Boston College gig shortly after.

Now he is moving back to the NFL, where he can cut out the noise of college recruitment and focus on football. The Packers went 9-8 last season, earning the No. 7 seed in the NFC Wild Card. Green Bay then dispatched the No. 2 seed Dallas Cowboys in the first round, 48-32, before falling to the No. 1 seed San Francisco 49ers, 24-21, in the divisional round.

The Packers are an ascendant team. Jordan Love blossomed over the second half of the season, coming into his own as the orchestrator of Matt LaFleur’s endlessly creative offense. On defense, however, the Packers frequently struggled to execute. Joe Barry was a focal point of fans’ ire all season. The Packers finished the regular season 17th in yards allowed per game, but 28th against the run.

Youth was a persistent theme behind Green Bay’s defensive struggles last season, in addition to Barry’s inability to tailor his approach to a specific matchup. Hafley inherits a young group ready to be molded.

This is a bold swing from the Packers. It’s not often that an aspiring contender goes with a relative unknown in such a major role. Hafley made a strong name for himself in college, but he is fairly unexperienced as a coordinator. He has zero experience in that role at the NFL level.

That said, sometimes a bold swing is what it takes to elevate your team from good to great. Hafley is a “longtime friend” of Matt LaFleur, per ESPN, and he has long admired the Packers. So, it would appear the working relationship is strong out of the gate. Now, we see how Hafley’s scheme translates to the highest level of defensive coaching.

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