Matt LaFleur establishes top-3 for defensive coordinator opening


The Packers might be zeroing in on a replacement for Mike Pettine.

The most important hire of Matt LaFleur’s short Packers coaching career is upon us, as Green Bay fans are expecting a much better defensive product than Pettine regularly had on the field the last few seasons. This isn’t to say Pettine’s defense ranked low by the numbers, but in both NFC Championship defeats, he was exposed by the San Francisco 49ers and later the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

LaFleur allowed Pettine to stay on board at the end of last season, despite getting destroyed in the ground game by San Francisco. That came back to bite the Packers just a few weeks ago, especially at the end of the first half when Pettine was ill-prepared for a Tom Brady deep heave to extend the Bucs lead.

Green Bay is bringing back three potential choices for second interviews

Jim Leonhard, Ejiro Evero and Joe Barry have reportedly made it to the final three. Leonhard is rather local, and would be a popular choice with fans. The Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator is a quick riser in the college ranks, and could be ready for his NFL close-up as well.

Evero and Barry both play a critical role on the Los Angeles Rams defensive staff. Barry has the most experience of this group at 50 years old, and is an assistant head coach and in charge of the linebackers. Evero, meanwhile, coaches the Rams defensive backs.

Either would be a popular selection in coaching circles, proving LaFleur has done his homework. With just a few seasons of Aaron Rodgers remaining in Green Bay, LaFleur has to get this hire right. It seems as though he’s well aware of that fact.

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