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Defense Coordinator Mike Pettine is Sticking Around Another Season – As He Well Should

While the Packers defensive strategy under Mike Pettine to stop the pass first seemed to work well at times, the run game dominant San Francisco 49ers exposed the flaws in this strategy — not once, but twice this season. Understandably, some fans are concerned with Pettine’s role in the future of the Packers.

First of all, without a doubt, he deserves another season to flesh out his program under new head coach Matt LaFleur. Also, let’s not forget the team made it to the playoffs as a #2 seed and ended up in the NFC Championship. The Vikings were not able to exploit the Packers’ run defense weakness because of the rest of the defense doing its job. The defense also saved a few games when Rodgers was not giving 100%. In the end, the Packers’ defense was ranked 12th in the league in opponent points per game.

On Wednesday, prior to the announcement below, Matt LaFleur did not give a clear answer about Pettine’s return(per NFL.com):

Yeah, we’re still working through everything right now. Just trying to evaluate everything. Like you said, I think our defense did a lot of great things. Obviously the last game was really disappointing in terms of our performance. It just wasn’t good enough, especially when you get to a championship game like that. You know what’s at stake. Just all across the board, it wasn’t just the defense, our offense and special teams weren’t up to par as well.

The following quote is from ESPN:

They definitely out-coached us. I just didn’t feel like we played with the same urgency, the same tenacity, the same toughness. We didn’t set the edge the same as we had been earlier this season. It’s disappointing because it’s not like we didn’t know what they were going to try to do. We knew exactly what they were going to try to do. We knew they were going to run the football … and for them to be able to do that was extremely disappointing, and I just didn’t think we played with the same effort as what I had seen earlier in the season.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky confirmed yesterday that he certainly will be returning next season. It also seems obvious at this point that Pettine is still LaFleur’s guy and this decision is not being forced on him.

Let’s also remember that Matt LaFleur, a damn fine coach so far, was also out-coached by Kyle Shanahan and crew. Shanahan was always one step ahead and seemed to intuitively know what the Packers’ next move was.

I am very satisfied with LaFleur’s first season, as are most fans, but the reality is that the hot new coach in the NFL right now is Shanahan. Of course, he’s had more time to get his team acclimated to his program.

No Excuses

One thing is certain next season for the Packers’ defense: it’s put up or shut up for Mike Pettine. This past offseason, he was given a few choice players to strengthen the defense corps with players like Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos signed for top dollar. As you may recall, Pettine was originally hired under previous coach Mike McCarthy’s final season and was kept on board by LaFleur when he took the reins.

Make us proud, Mike. Or else.

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Jason Parker

Was on the Allen Lazard hype-train before all the cool kids were doing it

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21 Comments

  1. Stiggy January 23, 2020

    Michael Lombardi former gm and podcaster gave a very scathing assessment of matt lafleur yesterday. While lombardi’s word isnt gospel he made some points that seem true.

    Lafleur was hired because mark Murphy could control him due to his inexperience. He mentioned lafleur is God awful st the game within the game..ie adjustments ..and people like Kyle Shanahan will continue to expose it.

    Cant say he seemed thet far off. Lafleur seems to he doing a tremendous job with the culture…but x and o wise…he is not anything resembling mcvay.

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 23, 2020

      I heard that Stigg…maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong. But in a bottom line business, LeFleur is 14-4 in his first season going to the NFCCG. Did he get outcoached by his mentor, absolutely. Bit i don’t think that’s abnormal, and i sure as hell don’t think anyone thought LeFleur and the Packers were going to take the 49ers to school.
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      My impression…Lombardi is looking to get his name out there because he wants another executive job, but that’s just my opinion. I think to say what he did about a 1st year coach with his record, is bush league and Lombardi can eat a dick.

      Reply
      1. Stiggy January 23, 2020

        Well I agree that many media folks are sensationalist his hot takes haven’t been completely awful…ie his MVP mitch stuff..m and he certainly has a lot of credibility compared to the skip Bayless of the world.
        *******
        The worst part of his soliloquy was the fact he made up some bullshit how he wanted to hire Kyle Shanahan over mike pettine…I found that disingenuous.

        ****
        But I will say given the packers fast starts on offense and their tendency to fade as games went on its worth noting that adjustments on both sides of the ball appear to be an issue.

        *****
        Im not after lafleur by any stretch of the imagination in merely pointing out I agree he needs to improve his xs and os..as frankly outside of jones..there was nothing dynamic about this offense…no free runners schemed open..or any of that kind of stuff. Talent plays a part in that but watch the niners.. they have players wide open all over and they arent exactly world beaters (outside kittle) in skill positions.

        Reply
    2. Jason Parker January 23, 2020

      I mentioned something like that before:

      https://totalpackers.com/2019/02/aaron-rodgers-matt-lafleur/

      “There is also speculation that LaFleur is just a puppet coach for the front office to have more direct control.”

      Still hope it isn’t true though.

      Reply
      1. PF4L January 23, 2020

        If that is true…..then that’s the 28th reason why Murphy should be fired.

        Reply
        1. PF4L January 23, 2020

          BTW….All those weekly meetings Murphy preached about to open up the lines of communication, rarely happen according to LeFleur when asked about it by a reporter in the last couple days.

          Reply
  2. PF4L January 23, 2020

    Although he played well…I don’t think anyone will tell you that Amos was worth the 14 million (front loaded) he was given this season. But in retrospect, Rashan Gary was given 10 million, so at least Amos played and truth be told, was probably a bit better than average.
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    Two post game statements were troubling, but, in a way, also positive.
    First Zadarius kind of threw Pettine under the bus by saying that Pettine didn’t make any adjustments to stop the 9er run game. Then, it’s clear that LeFleur thought the players didn’t give full effort. Those are fairly negative, but the reason they can be viewed as positive, is the fact that it addresses one of the big reasons we are where we are, years of not having to be accountable. So, when these things are brought out, especially by the star player and a head coach, it shines a light on accountability, fair or not and i’m cool with that.
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    As far as Pettine .Although most of the defensive stats are close to what they’ve been. The mere fact that defensive scoring dropped over 5 points a game earns him the benefit of the doubt, at least for now.

    Reply
  3. Howard January 23, 2020

    I’m not 100% sold on Pettine or a 3-4/ hybrid defense, but when I heard LaFleur’s comment I never once thought he was going to fire Pettine. You also had to listen to the next question and comment. Rightfully so a reporter asked LaFleur if he had met with Murphy yet. LaFleur said soon.
    I think the Pettine question caught LaFleur off guard and it shouldn’t have. I think in the future LaFleur will not have a season closing press conference until after evaluations of players and staff, and a final meeting with the president and GM. It was probably a rookie head coaching mistake that won’t be repeated.
    All I think LaFleur was saying is I have not met with my bosses to go over my evaluations of players and coaches, so until I do so I’m sure as shit not going to tell the press something before I tell my boss(s) something about a specific player or coach.
    LaFleur has seen and worked under head coaches that use both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. I don’t think LaFleur is sold on the 3-4 defense ran by Pettine. I think Pettine will be required to make some changes. With that will also come some additional draft picks and free agents for the defense, AGAIN!

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 23, 2020

      That’s what i’ve been talking about. It’s the worst thing about how this game went down…….now, everyone is once again focused on fixing the defense. Fuck, for how many years, how many first round picks, how many winning lottery tickets are spent on defense…..before the offense gets some attention?
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      If they draft a another defensive player in the first round, i’ll be needing some bail money.

      Reply
      1. Howard January 23, 2020

        Capers during the 2010 season said he loves seeing big asses on the defensive line. If the Packers are going to improve the run defense they need some bigger asses on the defensive line. Lowery had some good games, but he was on the ground a lot this season. Keke is young and hasn’t built up strength, Adams looked like he actually lost bulk, and Lancaster has a bigger upper body than lower body. If Lancaster could run on his hands you might have an unmovable D-lineman.
        One of the mistakes I think Gutekunst made was not picking up Mike Pennel when he had a chance. Maybe Pennel still had some substance, or character issues? I think the Packers brought in Pennel for a workout? I believe Pennel could have helped the run defense. At least Pennel gets to play in the Super Bowl.
        The good thing is I don’t think you get immediate help on the defensive line with a late first round pick. I think the Packers bring in a big veteran body(s) for the defensive line without using a pick and maybe keeping the cost reasonable. You would get players with experience and NFL developed strength. I also think you have to get a fast ILB. I don’t think that would be a late first round pick either. However, a good, fast, veteran ILB may cost some big free agent dollars.
        I do think the Packers should focus on offense in the draft. In addition I believe the Packers are going to need to pay for at least a veteran #2 receiver.

        Reply
        1. PF4L January 23, 2020

          When you say they need to pay for a #2. That means in more ways than one, from previous bad decisions. I don’t know what happened to MVS, but it seems ESB might be there last chance from that trio of picks. Although the fact they put him on IR when they did isn’t confidence building. Maybe he can still be that possession guy idk. It makes me wish they never turned Ty Montgomery into a running back, that guy had a catch rate out of this world.

          Reply
      2. Skinny January 23, 2020

        Good luck at ILB. There just isn’t a lot of guys out there anymore that can play both the run and pass and that goes on down into the college game as well. They probably are better off bringing back Martinez if the price is right.

        Reply
  4. Mitch Anthony January 23, 2020

    A couple topic threads ago I went off a little on Mike Pettine. My take was that he was being mentioned in some circles as a HC possibility and I thought the combination of both SF debacles made the answer to that issue a resounding no. I’m cooling down some.

    Okay, the statistical metrics aren’t really much different from the previous year but what we observed in the quality of play was better, most times. The defense did pass the eye test, even though they under-performed in the final game. Like PF4L stated, he’s earned the benefit of doubt, for now. I’m sorta there too.

    Here’s my grief. Does this ending of the year become the reason we need to expend yet more draft capital and free agent dollars on more defense? The defense was geared to stop the passing attack and we were exposed by good running teams. So now do we need more puzzle pieces to fix this defense that has been a decade long fix? Is this the excuse for Pettine’s retention? He just needs more of the right personnel.

    It is frustration, that’s all. Being worn down and skeptical at years of wasted and bad picks to cover up for the previous years wasted and bad picks in the defense. I’m not reassured we are out of the woods yet in that regard with picks like Burks and Gary. Now Burks was a solid ST contribution but damn it, he was supposed to be this hybrid guy that could be plugged in the middle. This guy ate up two mid round picks for his selection. I see that as an extra potential contributor gone. I want Gary to succeed and when the day comes I have eat any negative comments I’ve made about him I’ll gladly do it. He may see the field a good bit more next year as maybe Kyler Fackrell is not retained in free agency so if that happens we may see his development move toward his supposed potential. I hope so. For a first rounder picked at #12 I really hope that in his second season he continues to,…develop. Too soon to anoint him as the second year break out player front-runner? Josh Jackson, I won’t even go here.

    Okay, I see this devolving into more of a screed about drafting and player selection and that can be saved for another thread. Looking forward to the – who to keep, who walks, who might get picked conversations.

    Reply
  5. Deepsky January 23, 2020

    Listening to a Wisconsin Sports Radio station over the internet, one of the Packer reporters said that they had talked with the offensive line coach of a team that faced Pettine regularly before his stint with the Packers and that coach said that while Pettine’s defenses are great against the pass and coached to get up field, they are not coached very well to get off run blocks because its simply not a priority. Note that there is no 350 nose tackle in this offense.

    So, going back to Rob’s article, the 49ers may be uniquely trouble for the Packers. Most of the teams the Packers would face in the playoffs got there because of their quarterback and passing.

    Reply
    1. Deepsky January 23, 2020

      And to add to this…..the Sports Radio guys said the answer was to give Rodgers more weapons, there’s not enough years left in Rodgers to bring in a new defensive coordinator and restructure the defense.

      Reply
      1. PF4L January 23, 2020

        Deep is right….one of the first things i thought of was as far as firing Pettine was….and start over again? I think that may have been the trump card that kept him here…possibly.

        Reply
  6. DrKnow January 23, 2020

    As he well should ???? Why’s he on notice then ???? You look at the talent on this D and the #s don’t add up . The amount of production we got from the OLBs and we are our ranked were ? The 9ers game KS moved the TE to one side Pettine over shifted exposing the weak side of our D. He stood up DL and they ran right at him. Not 1 game but 2 ! The reason some players did so well is cause talent will show up. The reason our D was only average is cause of Pettine…This ORG. Is broke….

    Reply
  7. Howard January 23, 2020

    The talk is about the poor run defense from the Packers, in part because of last game. We should not forget the Packers defense in the regular season was tied for second worst (31st) in giving up 40+ yard pass plays. In addition the Packers defense in the regular season was tied for tenth worst (22nd) in giving up 20+ yard pass plays. It was more than just the Packers run defense that was a problem. Pettine would be gone if the Packers defense did not perform very well in the red zone, and take aways in the regular season. In the playoffs the defense was not so good in the RZ, or takeaways!

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 23, 2020

      Most everyone’s comments have validity. But think about this for a moment….

      Has anyone….seen a 13-3 team, 2nd seed, talked about in such negative terms? In my life i don’t recall any team with that kind of record taking the hits this team is taking. I’m not saying it’s not true, deserved, or whatever. I’m just saying it’s incredibly negative, something usually not associated with that kind of winning percentage. LaFleur’s first year is incredible, but he seems to be defending himself against criticism 90% of the time.
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      Just a thought i had.

      Reply
      1. Howard January 24, 2020

        I hope I don’t come off to critical. I have been more positive this year than in several of the last years. Some have been critical of the close/ugly wins, I think close games and learning to win close games is a step every rebuilding team must go through. The 2019 Packers with LaFleur at the helm took the process to a new level, 13-3.
        I think the close games with inconsistent play on all sides of the ball that resulted in several close/ugly wins, and three really bad loses fuels the criticism. Some will also say teams that play close games will have the law of averages come back to bite them. I believe LaFleur will motivate the team to improve from this years performance. I have a very good feeling LaFleur will improve his performance and that of his staff. I also believe Gutekunst and LaFleur will work together to procure the players needed.
        I know you see this, but all those critical of LaFleur need to remember that Shanahan has been a head coach for a couple of more years than LaFleur, and an offensive play caller for several more years than LaFleur. No doubt in my mind LaFleur will only improve, and improve the team. There is one concern I do have, but that will have to be later, and LaFleur has already said he is going to be digging into the problem.

        Reply
        1. PF4L January 24, 2020

          I “try” not to look at it as being too critical, or too positive. I like looking at and commenting as to what i see as reality in my eyes. If it’s critical, or positive…so be it.
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          This season was a bit different where as the last couple of seasons i was kind of indifferent and just viewed it as entertainment….until….moves were made, and then they finally were.
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          But this season with a new coach, new offense, free agents, it….got my attention. I expected anywhere from 6-10 to 8-8. When they were winning the games i would have bet they lose at the beginning, i rode it out for as long as it went on.
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          I call it the honeymoon season with LeFleur. I could have been very critical, even with the win streak and i was at times, but more about some of Gutes moves. At first my view was the defense stepped up a bit as far as scoring D. The offense did enough to win….barely. And sprinkle some good luck in and you have a 13-3 season. Then it dawned on me…there is something here…..Teams just don’t go 13-3 because of luck. There is something here, but the draft picks can’t regress, and Gute has to find talent…..more than he has found in his first 2 seasons. Especially the draft, where you don’t have to give the player a winning lottery ticket right away, he has to earn it for his 2nd contract.

          Reply

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