The Packers shocked the world (except that one random guy with 91 followers on Twitter) this week by hiring Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley as their new defensive coordinator. Last week, I looked at the factor LaFleur should consider when making the hire, let’s review them and what he decided.
Blitz or Rush 4
While Hafley may not be as blitz crazy as someone like Wink Martindale, he is far more willing to send pressure than Joe Barry was. According to Ben Fennell, Hafley sent cover-0 blitzes at a near 30% rate in the red zone and was very creative with looping stunts.
Obviously, we don’t know if Hafley will be this aggressive with Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark on the line in the NFL, but he certainly showed that he’s willing to use pressure when needed.
Young or Old
I’d say Hafley counts as young even though he’s 44. He’s not younger than even me like Christian Parker would’ve been but he’s definitely not a 60-year-old stuck in his ways type coach. Looks for more adaptiveness And creativity than we’ve had with the past three coordinators.
Man or Zone
This one is a hard answer, Hafley ran more man than basically every NFL coach at Boston College, but he still ran cover 3 half the time or more. We will see more press man coverage than we have in a decade and a half, but the question I should’ve asked is whether Hafley will play more middle field closed or open.
Middle field closed is a term that cool writers show that they know the lingo, it means one high safety (in the middle of the field). Middle field open means two high safeties (no one in the middle). Joe Barry majored in middle field open coverages, as most of the league does now. Hafley played more one high safety than any other college coach over the past four years.
This means no more interchangeable safeties putting an umbrella over the offense. It means specialized safeties who can roam centerfield or step into the box and stop the run. There will probably be more big plays given up, but less soul destroying 12-play drives.
Run or Pass Focused
Here’s the only section where you could probably argue that Barry and Hafley are cut from the same cloth. Hafley started out as a defensive backs coach and will likely still devote more resources to defending the pass than the run.
In the end, it’s 2024 and that’s probably just how it’s gonna be with any coach on the market. The question will be whether Hafley is willing to devote more resources to stopping the run in obvious run situations. We do know that the box will have more guys in it by virtue of Hafley’s affinity for one high coverage. This by itself will help limit the run game over the popular Fangio scheme.
College or Pro Background
Here’s another hard answer. Obviously, Hafley has a recent college background, as he spent the last four years there, but his defensive influences are or were NFL coaches coaching NFL schemes (Saleh, Pettine, Schiano) and his scheme is not collegey at all.
There’s no tite fronts, no three high safeties, no four or five man boxes, no match quarters, and not really many simulated pressures or creepers. Hafley is coming from the college game, but he’s bringing an NFL scheme (and not even really a modern NFL scheme) with him.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.