After a season in which their pass defense was shredded yet again, the Packers are counting less on an infusion of new players to shore up their defense than on a new coordinator and a new scheme. Longtime Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is out. His replacement is Mike Pettine, who’s been out of football for two years but previously had success as a defensive coordinator for the Jets and Bills before a two-year run as head coach of the Browns. The Jets’ defenses that Pettine commanded from 2009 to 2012 ranked third, fifth, fifth and 17th in defensive fantasy scoring, and the Buffalo defense that Pettine oversaw in 2013 ranked seventh. Green Bay may not be brimming with defensive talent, but the front three of Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark and Muhammad Wilkerson (who played for Pettine on the Jets) has the potential to be excellent.
Green Bay ranked 23rd against the pass last season, 30th in opponent completion percentage (67.8 percent) and 31st in opponent passer rating (102.0). The Packers still appear to be perilously thin at the cornerback position, and they’re not much better off at safety. Their two best pass rushers, OLBs Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, have had trouble staying healthy in recent years.
The personnel isn’t great, but Pettine has an impressive track record as a defensive architect. This could be a sleeper defense. The Green Bay defense will be available in the final round of almost every draft, yet it has the potential for major improvement.