As the lone internal candidate that head coach Matt LaFleur has chosen to interview, current defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has a lengthy track record that should interest LaFleur in his hunt for a defensive coordinator.
Having prior experience as a DC in both Tennessee and Buffalo, Gray has experienced various levels of success across the league, and that is why he was brought in to help lead the DB’s for Green Bay. Gray was in Minnesota prior to joining their southeastern divisional rival, and the Packers have been able to reap those benefits from day one.
Jaire Alexander has continued his strong play and has gotten even better (as hard as that may be), and he has earned a stout reputation across the league as being one of the few CB’s that should not be thrown at – Tom Brady found that out twice in the NFC Championship Game. But others not named Kevin King saw great improvement this past season too.
Safety Darnell Savage turned into a ball-hawk overnight, and he showed a nice prowess for sticking his nose in the box a lot in 2020, and he made a ton of plays in the process. He worked great in tandem with Adrian Amos on the back-end, and certainly LaFleur appreciated what he saw from that area of the defense, boosting Gray’s case moving into the interview.
Former DC Mike Pettine was a disciple of the 3-4 system, and while Gray was an assistant under Pettine’s 3-4 system, it is not for sure that it would remain a 3-4 system. Earlier this offseason, LaFleur stated that he would be more interested in scheme flexibility than having a standard scheme that the defense stuck to, and that may work perfectly in what Gray brings to the table.
When he was the DC for the Titans, Gray was a 4-3 guy, utilizing those principles to roll out a 5-2 look on many occasions. However, a super interesting package, labeled the ‘Ruby package,’ was rolled out as well by Gray, which was a 3-2-6 look that saw three corners and three safeties on the field at the same time.
This adaptation of the standard dime package (which also includes six DBs, but commonly uses four CBs and two safeties) is not a super-common approach in the league currently and is not necessarily an element that Gray would use in his scheme either, but it is at least good to note that it is a part of what he has done in the past.
Gray’s work with the secondary is a great element that LaFleur certainly would be smart to keep on the staff (even if Gray does not get the DC role), but his long-standing body of work makes him a super intriguing candidate to lead the defense, even if he may not be the best guy on the interview list (hint – that spot goes to Jim Leonhard).뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23