Why Jim Leonhard could be option for Packers coaching job in 2024

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Many Green Bay Packers fans have hoped to see longtime Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard take a job on Matt LaFleur’s staff.

All hope of Leonhard replacing Joe Barry this offseason seemed to be gone when it was reported he was interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, the Packers may have an opportunity in 2024.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Leonhard won’t be taking the defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia, and will instead have hip surgery before taking a year away from coaching.

Leonhard turned down the Packers two years ago to stay in Wisconsin.

The timing wasn’t right then, but maybe it will be in 2024.

Green Bay appears to be sticking with Joe Barry as defensive coordinator for next season, but it is a big year for Barry. Despite taking over a defense loaded with first-round picks and free-agent additions, Barry hasn’t consistently gotten the best out of them.

Green Bay ranked 17th in total defense and 26th against the run in 2022.

Whether it be having defensive backs sit deep on third-and-short, or not having Jaire Alexander follow the opponents’ number one wide receiver, there have been some frustrating moments from Barry’s defense.

If the defense doesn’t live up to its potential in 2023, there will be serious questions asked.

And if the Packers decide to make a change next offseason, Leonhard could become available at the perfect time.

Leonhard was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. He played college football at Wisconsin before playing in the NFL for Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, and Cleveland Browns.

He became the Wisconsin defensive backs coach in 2016, then their defensive coordinator in 2017. He was their interim head coach in 2022, going 5-3.

Leonhard left Wisconsin at the end of the season. Next stop, the NFL?

If so, Leonhard could be an ideal candidate for the Packers’ defensive coordinator job a year from now.