The Green Bay Packers brought in Mike Pettine as their defensive coordinator a little over a week ago with hopes he can fix the struggling defense. Pettine has success in the past as a coordinator, as is evidenced by his teams consistently ranking in the top 10 in terms of yards allowed. Pettine runs the 3-4, which probably went into the decision-making process for the Packers managerial stuff. The team is currently largely built on a 3-4 style roster, so the team will need to listen to what Pettine needs to make this defense successful. Today, we’re going to evaluate Pettine’s past and his fit with the Packers.
Pettine’s Pass Defense
Pettine got lucky and had Darrelle Revis in his prime during his time with the New York Jets. He was able to have Revis shut down the opposing team’s number one receiver for 90% of their routes, and he would be one of the top corners in the NFL. The Packers don’t currently have a player of Revis’s caliber on the roster or anyone close to it. However, during Pettine’s lone season with the Buffalo Bills, he had several solid corners and an All-Pro safety in Jairus Byrd. The Packers have a strong safety duo in Morgan Burnett and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, as long as Burnett is resigned, and they have corners that need time to develop into strong players. Cornerback is a key position the Packers need to address via free agency or the draft in order to help Pettine continue his coordinator success.
Pettine’s Run Defense
Pettine’s run defenses were consistently strong during his five years as a coordinator. Three of his five seasons saw his defenses rank in the top 10. However, despite a couple of down seasons, the Packers have built a strong run defense foundation, which will make his focusing on the pass defense easier. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan are all exceptional run defenders that operate right in the heart of the defense. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are solid run defenders in their own right as they both rank in the top 20 per Pro Football Focus. Pettine has a strong track record coordinating strong defenses when given the proper personnel, so, unlike the pass defense which lacks major playmakers, the run defense is set up to be successful under Pettine.
Pettine flamed out as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, which lead to him being without a head coaching job in the past couple seasons. However, prior to those seasons, he had five successful seasons as a defensive coordinator for two different teams. His team’s strength was always in the passing game. Hopefully, for he and Packers fans, GM Brian Gutekunst and the personnel department bring in a solid group of talent to bolster the pass defense that has been near the bottom of the league for several seasons. With Aaron Rodgers, back under center and Head Coach Mike McCarthy focused on the offense, the defense will live and die with Mike Pettine.