Mike McCarthy officially announced his coaching staff yesterday at a press conference. I have recently talked about how defense wins champions and what the importance tasks are on that side of the football for new GM Brian Gutekunst. Ever since it was announced a few weeks ago that the new defensive coordinator would be Mike Pettine, I wondered what type of scheme he would be running with the Packers personnel. First, his introductory press conference today was nothing short of impressive. To hear that he is fired up to be coaching this team, brings a smile to my face as I hope for a championship caliber defensive.
Let’s get to know Mike Pettine first. He enjoyed a good four-year stint at the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator from 2009-12, on Rex Ryan’s staff. During that time he utilized a 3-4 scheme that was built around blitzing and press-man coverage. It will be nice to see our corners playing press-man instead of 10 yards off the receiver at the line of scrimmage. His defenses help opposing passers to a 71 quarterback rating, a completion percentage of 52.6%, and 186.3 passing yards per game. They also held opposing offenses to the second-fewest yards per game at 294.8 and posted a 34.6% third-down efficiency mark, and holding them to an average of 20 points per game. In 2013, he joined Doug Marrone’s Buffalo Bills coaching staff. In the one year that he was there, he was able to turn them into a top 10 defense.
He will now take over a Packers defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league in points and yards allowed the last two years. Not to mention the defense has failed to crack to the top 10 in the last seven years. Clearly, he will be presiding over a defense that has not been very good.
It has been reported that his defensive schemes are complex, which is worrisome with the amount of young players the Packers have on that side of the football. During his introductory press conference yesterday, he said that his system is not overwhelming to learn. He will run a defensive scheme that is known for mixing up multiple fronts and coverages.
He even said that his defense will be playing very aggressively. Which was impressive to hear that they will finally have an aggressive and attacking defensive to compliment the offensive.
Pettine will clearly be putting an emphasis on pass defense. On passing down, we can look for Pettine to uncertainty and confusion for opposing quarterbacks by lining the cornerbacks up in one-on-one coverage and bringing the rest of the defense to the line of scrimmage. Don’t expect to see a full blitz with everyone rushing, we will see him send them every once in a while, but often times a few will rush the quarterback and the rest will drop into coverage. This will confuse the quarterback as he won’t be sure which players will be rushing and which will be dropping back. It is clearly something that Dom Capers defenses were lacking.
No matter what Pettine does, he needs to tailor the scheme to the players that are on the roster. Pettine’s defenses are extremely versatile as he can switch between a 3-4 and a 4-3. With more teams utilizing 3 wide receiver sets, defenses are in nickel and dime packages more often than not. Crucial to the success of his defense will be the play of the linebackers and how he uses Nick Perry and Clay Matthews.
Now that know that Pettine’s defense will be aggressive and there will be an emphasis on stopping the pass, it is important to note that now matter what he does, it all comes down to the players. This defense desperately needs talent and it is up to new GM Gutekunst to provide him with the talent to be successful.