The wait is over. The Green Bay Packers have hired Jeff Hafley as their new defensive coordinator. The move shocked the Packers fanbase after the news broke on Wednesday, and it's one few could've predicted.
Hiring Hafley is a commitment to a change of philosophy on defense. Joe Barry arrived in Green Bay with the task of bringing a Vic Fangio system with soft coverages, two deep safeties, and the intention to keep everything in front of the defense.
Hafley is the opposite. He often plays with a single-high safety, and his cornerbacks press the receivers. This is a complete shift in approach from LaFleur, and the move promises a much more aggressive defense moving forward.
The change could get the best out of cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Carrington Valentine, who could thrive when asked to press receivers in man coverage. However, the Hafley hiring could lead to some significant changes to the roster. Which players could the team move on from after the defensive coordinator decision?
Jonathan Owens is one of three free-agent safeties for the Packers this offseason. Green Bay signed Owens to compete for a starting job in Joe Barry's defense. He featured in all 17 games, starting 11, this season.
Owens had an up-and-down year. He enjoyed great moments, including a fumble-recovery touchdown in the Thanksgiving Day win over the Detroit Lions. Owens made plays all over the field that afternoon. But it came only four days after perhaps Green Bay's worst missed tackle of the year led to a 51-yard touchdown catch by Los Angeles Chargers tight end Stone Smartt.
Barry often played with two deep safeties. Hafley likes to play with a single-high safety. It places a greater emphasis on finding a player who can fit that specific role in the secondary. The Packers need to upgrade their safety room this offseason, placing Owens' future in doubt.