Expect to see a very different Green Bay Packers defense in 2024.
Matt LaFleur surprisingly hired Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley, a move that came out of nowhere. There were no reports of the Packers' interest in Hafley, but LaFleur has found his new defensive coordinator.
Nobody saw it coming, and the hire leaves Packers fans wondering what to expect.
So, who is Hafley? What system will he bring to Green Bay, and what is his connection with LaFleur?
What is Jeff Hafley's connection to Packers head coach Matt LaFleur?
LaFleur and Hafley have never worked together, but ESPN's Pete Thamel noted they are "longtime" friends.
And Hafley's resume is filled with LaFleur connections. He was the San Francisco 49ers' defensive backs coach from 2016 to 2018. During that time, he worked under head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, two close friends of LaFleur's.
Hafley also spent two seasons working for Mike Pettine in Cleveland. Pettine was LaFleur's defensive coordinator when he arrived in Green Bay.
What scheme will Jeff Hafley bring to Packers defense?
Green Bay's defense will be more aggressive under Hafley. He provided some insight into his scheme as a guest on Next Up with Adam Breneman earlier this week.
"We've been more middle-closed defense with a safety in the middle of the field than most people in college football," said Hafley. "I've done a lot with the middle closed, with four down linemen. Very similar to what we did in San Francisco and Ohio State, and a lot of people are doing in the NFL."
It could mean a shift to a 4-3 defense, which the Packers have the personnel for. Green Bay will likely play a lot more press-man, which we rarely saw under Joe Barry. Again, this is something Packers cornerbacks Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Carrington Valentine are perfect for.
It will be interesting to see how Hafley adapts his scheme from the college game to the NFL, but he is the complete opposite of Barry. Forget about the soft zone coverages on third-and-short. Expect more blitzes, single-high safeties, and aggression.
What others are saying about Jeff Hafley
The key takeaway is we can expect a more aggressive Packers defense in 2024.
"Heck of a football coach," said ESPN's Dan Orlovsky. "Packers defense will be much more aggressive."
Mitch Wolfe of BC Eagle Insider shed some light on Hafley's scheme: "He loves single-high/middle field closed coverages. Pretty aggressive with blitzing. Mostly a 4-3/Even front guy but has some more diverse stuff in his bag."
Will things work out for the Packers' new-look defense? Who knows? But we're going to see a different approach, and one that has a chance to get the best out of the current defensive roster.