Green Bay’s Scheme Change Will Unlock Some Long Awaited Aggression

Your Weekly Packers News Update

We’ve sorted through dozens of articles about the Packers’ latest news, game results, rosters, rumors and other info that’s important to the team and to you. Check it out! 


By Luke Sims

Green Bay’s Scheme Change Will Unlock Some Long Awaited Aggression

The Green Bay Packers fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry in the offseason and hired Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley. His new scheme will open many possibilities for Green Bay’s defense.

Hafley has a long history of coaching stout defenses in the NFL and college. In his scheme, the Packers will go from a 3-4 defensive front to a 4-3. That means outside linebackers like Rashan Gary and Preston Smith will go from stand-up guys to rushing with their hands in the dirt.

This change will also benefit some of Green Bay’s interior players. Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden were versatile players in college and can play every position along the defensive line.

Za’Darius Smith would often rush from the interior. That allowed the Packers to have their best five rushers on the field, with Preston Smith and Gary on the outside and Kenny Clark manning another interior spot.

The Packers could create a similar situation next year. Lukas Van Ness and Gary have experience in college playing as a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Having solid pass rushers like Devonte Wyatt and Clark hold down the interior and Van Ness and Gary on the outside should stymie opposing offenses.

Additionally, with the switch to the 4-3, it’ll be easier for Hafley to blitz his linebackers in unique ways. Quay Walker and Edgerrin Cooper were fast playmakers in college who excelled at blitzing from the middle. Cooper and Walker will have ample opportunity to flash their elite blitzing ability in Hafley’s system.

His defense will be much more aggressive than his predecessor’s.

“We’re going to attack,” said Hafley in a sit-down with Larry McCarren. “I told the players that I want to lead the NFL in effort, and I want to lead the NFL in how hard we play, and I want to lead the NFL in taking the ball away.

“I want people to see the confidence that our players are playing within themselves and their teammates. And showing how much they care about each other and this team by how hard they play and how hard they run to the ball and the effort that they give.”

That means we will see more unique combinations of pressure. The Packers want to take the ball away more, and the new defensive line setup allows them to do that.

“We prioritize it,” Hafley said regarding generating more takeaways. “And it’s not just talk, it’s every day in meetings, showing them how we are going to do it and teaching them how we are going to do it. And then it has to show up in practice and then it has to show up in the game. That is priority No. 1, we have to take the ball away.”

The additions of Xavier McKinney and multiple draft picks in the secondary will help the defensive line. Coverage sacks are challenging to track, but they often cause a ton of pressure. If the QB can’t find an open receiver, it makes him hold the ball longer than he’d like. The longer the QB has the ball in his hands, the more likely that Green Bay’s defensive front can get home for the sack and possibly force a turnover.

That aggression may lead to more big plays, but it will also lead to more turnovers, and the Packers have added more playmakers and are putting them in positions to succeed.

Having Gary and Van Ness in their more natural positions and setting up Wyatt and Clark with premier pass-rushing opportunities gives Green Bay’s defensive line an advantage over last season. In addition, having two linebackers who excel at blitzing and a coordinator not afraid to dial them up will be a lot of fun for Packers fans — but not so much for opposing offenses.