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NFL players, including future HOF, provide insight into new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After firing defensive coordinator Joe Barry, many assumed the Green Bay Packers coaching search for a defensive play-caller would land on a fast-rising assistant from around the league. Instead, head coach Matt LaFleur went into the college ranks to land Jeff Hafley.

Hafley, 45 in April, spent the last four seasons as the head coach for Boston College and before that spent the 2019 season as the Ohio State Buckeyes defensive coordinator. While many NFL fans weren’t familiar with the veteran defensive mind, he is well-regarded around the league, especially with his former players.

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In an in-depth breakdown of what Hafley will bring to Green Bay, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic spoke to active and retired players about their experience learning from Hafley. Many of them including a future Hall of Famer, provided insight on what the new Packers’ defensive coordinator will bring.

Jordan Fuller, one of the top safeties available in NFL free agency this summer, played under Hafley at Ohio State. In speaking about Green Bay’s defensive play-caller, Fuller highlighted Hafley’s ability to constantly adapt and make in-game adjustments.

“I think his superpower is his mind and how he sees the game and how he understands the game. His in-game adjustments and him having us ready for certain looks that offenses would give us and stuff like that, it really felt like he gave us a winning edge.”

Jordan Fuller on Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

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Under Barry, Green Bay rarely made adjustments as the Packers’ defensive coordinator often stuck by his basic philosophies. It included keeping his cornerbacks far off the line of scrimmage, giving significant space underneath for wide receivers to attack regardless of the down-and-distance. That will not be the case with Hafley, who emphasizes the importance of playing press-man coverage and a willingness to adjust on the fly based on the opponent.

Fuller wasn’t the only player with positive reviews of Hafley. Richard Sherman, who was with Hafley with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018, praised his former coach’s football mind and his attention to detail.

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“I think ‘Haf’ is a great coach that focuses on the details. Always has a great plan and adjustments. His team will see the looks they will see on Sundays throughout the week because of the time he puts in studying and understanding offenses. He’s going to be a great fit.”

Richard Sherman on Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

While many in Wisconsin were unfamiliar with Hafley before his hiring, the consensus from around the NFL is positive. The talks of changes to the Packers’ defensive style are also generating excitement in Green Bay, though, it will be the on-field results that ultimately matter.

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