Is Mike Pettine the Problem?

Many people were happy when new head coach Matt LaFleur announced he would retain defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. 2018 was Pettine’s first year in Green Bay, and despite a lack of experience and ability, he got a lot out of a defense that many believed was barren of talent. Fast forward a year later, and with five games remaining, the Packers’ defense has taken a noticeable step back. And so I ask, is Pettine the problem?

In 2018, Pettine’s group finished 18th overall in total defense, 22nd in defending the run and 12th in defending the pass. During the offseason, the front office didn’t sit on their hands like they usually do. General manager Brian Gutekunst knew Aaron Rodgers needed help. So, Gutekunst added two of the top edge rushers in the free-agent class in Za’Darius and Preston Smith. He also helped shore up the secondary with safety Adrian Amos who was undervalued around the league.

And yet, Gutekunst wasn’t quite done. In April, he spent not one, but two first-round draft picks on the defense. In one offseason, it appeared Green Bay’s defense had been completely transformed, however, the results aren’t there.

In total defense, run defense, and pass defense, the 2019 team’s rankings are worse than the previous year. The total defense has dropped 10 spots, run defense four, and pass defense 11. It’s hard to defend Pettine when the personnel excuse is no longer valid.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad this season. The current defense is much improved in scoring defense, getting after the quarterback, and forcing turnovers. Each of these is extremely important and has helped get this team to an 8-3 record. It can also paint a very misleading picture of how well they are actually doing.

At times this season, the offense has been able to lean on the defense, but Pettine’s group is by no means the Packers’ calling card. Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco was an all too familiar feeling of Green Bay being dominated by a good team in the postseason. While the offense was struggling, the defense had no answer as they gave up 37 points.

So while sacks and turnovers are great, good teams don’t allow much of either. This is something that has caught up to the 2019 defense. If the Packers suffer an early exit in the playoffs, it may be time to find a new defensive coordinator sooner rather than later.


Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.



21 thoughts on “Is Mike Pettine the Problem?

  1. Ironically, I don’t think the defense is the problem. When your offense cannot get first downs, sustain drives or score for that matter, the defense will eventually bend and break. If our offense can improve, so will the defense.

    With that said, there’s always room for improvement and adjustments.

  2. The defense consistently has the same issues that they seem unable to correct (miscommunication in the defensive backfield, same old ineffective schemes, inability to stop the run). To me, that would indicate Pettine is the problem.

  3. This article is forgetting a few important things… last season they started with Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike Daniels on the roster. Losing Daniels is a very important part of why the defense took a step back again the run. That and the fact that they drafted the wrong position with their first defensive selection. Rather than draft an edge rusher to back up the Smiths, they could have drafted a defensive lineman (Christian Wilkins / Dexter Lawrence) or an ILB (trading up for Devin Bush).

    Pettine may not be getting everything he can out of this group, but there are reasons aside from him that they took a step back. Assuming they upgrade both of those spots in the draft, I’d expect them to improve a lot next season.

    1. The problem would still be the same with Daniels that’s why he is t starting In Detroit. They got rid of him at the right time. They need to let Kiki play more because the real problem on Defense is Lancaster and Lowry. After that inside linebacker is weak.

      1. I didn’t mean that Daniels would still have been dominant if he stayed, I just meant that they lost his previous production and never replaced it. And yes, I agree about Lowry and Lancaster. I posted on another article that even though Martinez can’t cover and gets blocked out of plays a lot, at least he can tackle. Those two don’t seem to ever impact the game in any major way. ILB and RT I think are their top needs going in to next season. After that I think DL and WR.

  4. The problem is Greenbay has invested so much Draft capital and money into the defense and it has not helped. Too many busts or under performers.. The offense has been ignored or helped by late draft picks. Jenkins and Sternberger(drafted too early) they have done nothing to help the offense too get playmakers.

    1. Jenkins is the only Guard in the NFL with over 500 snaps and not a single sack or pressure allowed….. he was under drafted. Rashan Gary was overdrafted.

      1. Absolutely the packers again turned their backs on tbe weak ass ILBs they have and again with the guys who run with cement shoes on your seeing the results.BG ignored that spot again

        1. Rather see Burks get a try then Blake at this point. Blake is trash. Should have picked up Zach Brown. For the long playoff football stretch. Brown and Burks would be better than the garbage we have now

          1. Burks hasnt shown nothing was a big time reach in the 3rd round and to this day cant even do enough to start over the garbage that is there now.Agree brown would of been better than what they have their now.
            You surprised our great GM couldnt even part with a draft pick to upgrade the wr position which is just as lame as our ILB group

            1. What they should have done was keep burks at safety where he played in college. The packers always fool with players and ask them to do other positions and they ruin them. They should have allowed him to play at safety last season and let jones play at inside just to get a look. Now it’s obviously not a good idea because they signed Amos and drafted savage

            2. Omg absolutely spot on never seen a team as bad as GB constantly playing playerz in a different position than what be played in college.
              You don’t see many other teams if any draft a DB n then play said DB at LB.Then they fail and are considered a bust cause the dude couldnt switch positions.
              You need a LB draft a fricking LB its not rocket science not draft a S and then say hell with it your now our LB.
              To be honest i dont think burks would of been good anywhere he played

          2. Burks ain’t gonna do shit and he is t better than martinez because if he was he would have been inserted back to the line after injury. Burks is a special team and back up at best.

      2. You can’t say that about Gary. He still hasn’t been given the opportunity to play a lot. It takes repetition and gaining experience to get better.

    2. What are you talking about, they definitely got a steal in Jenkins. The issue is we havent had a stud ILB in years and I mean years. Next year we without a doubt have to get a stud in the middle whether on the line or a LB. Somebody has to bring the ruckus. Martinez ain’t it, switch back to a 4-3, get another dlinemen that’s gonna bring the pain and that defense will improve.

      1. I totally agree this 3-4 defense isn’t working it has Dom Capers written all over it again!!!!

  5. So lets see its pettines fault his ILBs are walking corpses couldnt cover my 85 year old grandma in tbe middle of the field .You kidding me the packers LBs are without doubt the worst in football our so called stud DBs have regressed also.I know its pettines responsibility but damn this pathetic group of ILBs have been a issue for years now

  6. The problem with the inside backers is the problem along with the two nobodies Lancaster and Lowry are also weak. They need to let Kiki play…. or start Adams Clark and Kiki to see if they can eat up space so the linebackers can attack
    The packers need to move king down the depth chart and start Jackson now. He is just being wasted and they seem to have seen enough of king.
    They should sign Ramon foster who is a inside backer and a free agent. He started in Pittsburgh and I bet he’s better than what else got.

  7. If the packers drop Pettine. They should go grab mike Singletary to fix that defense. Not only will he fix the defense but his presence and input will make the team tough. Which is needed overall

Comments are closed.