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Confidence in Mike Pettine’s Ability to Recharge the Packers Defense

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Confidence in Mike Pettine’s Ability to Recharge the Packers Defense

As the team and coaching staff pack up for the five and a half week lull before the start of training camp, I can’t help to be anything but excited for the Packers defense after hearing Mike Pettine speak to the media on Wednesday.  With a focused demeanor and a jolly yet gruff personality, it is evident that Pettine is going to bring a new attitude to the Packers defense.  This is an attitude that has been desired for many years by the Packers faithful to hopefully help to get this team over the playoff hump in 2018 and bring home another Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

Three common themes come across in Pettine’s remarks to the media that make me a firm believer that he is the best leader for the defense moving forward.


No matter the workplace atmosphere, a fully functioning team must have accountability among each and every member of the team and it is clear that Pettine will bring it to the Packers defense.  After the spring program consisting of OTA’s and a mandatory minicamp, Pettine said that the players now know his philosophy moving forward in regard to being held accountable for their actions and assignments.

Not afraid to get after his players for a missed assignment or poor effort, Pettine remarked how his players know that they ultimately control his emotions on the practice field with their performance.  Lack of hustle and not knowing your job simply will not fly under his watch of the defense.

Pettine also commented how he’s not in the business of letting things slide by simply sweeping things under the rug.  The players on the Packers defense are in charge of their effort and responsibility and poor performance will be called out.

While not seeing himself as an R. Lee Ermey style drill instructor on the field, Pettine said he gets the most fired up at players in the film room.  How refreshing is that to hear?  Where some have questioned prior leadership with the Packers defensive unit, I don’t think any questions will be asked moving forward with Pettine steering the ship.


After watching him on the field and hearing him speak, it is clear that Pettine will definitely be bringing a new energy to the Packers defense.  Commenting on how the unit has progressed through the spring, he talked about how they’ve been on the rise throughout the spring program and have been trending up the entire time.  With the final days of mandatory minicamp now over, the unit as a whole finished up very well and ended on a high note heading into the break prior to training camp.

While just simple words, for now, hearing the coach talk about the renewed energy on defense should ring utter excitement in any fans ears right now.

Building the defense the right way

With the difficulty of the current collective bargaining agreement limiting on the field practice time, Pettine really gets it when it comes to how his defense needs to be built as far as preparation goes.  He mentioned that he is walking a fine line between fundamentals and scheme and the thought that goes into practice preparation is thought out to every last detail.

He commented on how he begins by the building the unit through individual group work and then coming together as a whole to work on schemes.  Individual unit time is for the fundamentals like tackling, footwork and other things.  Unit time is for installing the playbook and schemes.

Fully knowing that what has occurred so far in the spring program is just a small sample size, Pettine also mentioned that time on the practice field in shorts and helmets isn’t the best time to fully evaluate his defense.  Pettine is showing a ton of excitement for the start of training camp when the pads go on and the collisions are at full force.

Heading into the break until training camp, I’m having a hard time finding something that I don’t like about Mike Pettine and what he is going to bring to the Packers defense.  Coaches in the NFL have a tough career on their personal lives and family, but it is a dedication like no other.  Pettine said he’ll be heading to his place on a lake to spend some time on his pontoon boat with family, friends and a cigar in hand for a week but then it will be right back to the grind of preparing for training camp.  While most players can get away from it all, for the time being, many coaches will be plugging away and Pettine seems to love every minute of it.

At the end of his time with the media on Wednesday, Pettine pulled a line from Wooderson in Dazed and Confused by saying that as coaches keep getting older, the players stay the same age and this helps keep him feeling young and energized.  After being away from the field, the Packers players are helping bring Pettine a new sense of energy and he seems stoked for what lies ahead with the Packers defense.


Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CJ Bauckham's picture

Alright alright alright

Lare's picture

Well I definitely am impressed so far with Pettine. Hopefully the players buy into his scheme and we see a pretty dramatic improvement in the defense this year.

Part of the challenge will be getting the most from the players with all of them having different levels of experience in the system and the NFL.

At any rate, the thing I'm happiest about with Pettine is the fact that he isn't Capers.

White _tornado's picture

For me, talk is cheap. These guys are prompted to say everything that is being said in the media right now.

When Capers was hired, i dont remember seeing a media session where he said his D was going to be a bunch of patsies. Ever DC out there claims to have an attacking style defense.

Handsback's picture

I really don't know how much talent is on Green Bay's defense. That said, I think it's better than what they have shown the last few years and listening to Pettine....he expects them to play up to their capabilities.
That is what is exciting. I might add that roster pick-ups like Wilk and Williams, healthy King, Beigel, and Mt. Adams, and finally the newbies to fill in the gaps have my expectations at a high level.

Spock's picture

Handsback, I think you nailed the situation with your comment. There has been a real divide on commenters on this site over how talented/untalented the defensive players were because of the Capers Vs. TT philosophy. Were TT's 'draft and develop' players the problem (?), or was Caper's 'too complicated' defense that was meant for more veteran players the problem? My guess is a combination of both. I think TT and Capers were 'star crossed' in their views. My personal opinion is that the players may be better than we've seen in the Packer's defense, but that Capers didn't get the players he really wanted (i.e. some veteran FA's) and the new (theoretically simplified) defense will allow some of the younger players to show they are better than many believed. Well, that's my hope anyway, lol. I'm just as excited as most of the Packers fan base to see what Pettine can bring out of these players. I'm very optimistic and excited to see the 'new' product on the field at defense this year. Go, Pack, Go!!!!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I like the talent on D. I wonder how much of it is ready to contribute in 2018, but that is semantics. The defense is probably a bit short on proven NFL players at CB, at SS, and for depth/rotation at OLB and ILB.

I think Capers could have used more talent. I think he was cursed with CBs and OLBs who got hurt too frequently. That said, I think he compounded the problem by misusing the talent he had or overlooking talented players. I think he failed to get the players to buy into his scheme. I don't think the players understood what they were supposed to do: it is hard to buy into a system you don't understand. The scheme was too passive. I suspect that there was a synergistic effect brought about by these multiple failures.

I once or twice over the years wondered about Darren Perry and I still wonder what Winston Moss has ever done to earn the Associate HC title since I don't see much on his resume even as the LB coach. Capers inherited Moss, and I suspect Capers couldn't fire him. I doubt Pettine had the juice to bring in his own LB coach. It doesn't really look like Pettine brought in any coaching assistants other than Ryan Downard, Twill, and Wilkerson.

Branden Burke's picture

The players never really bought in to capers defense the entire time he was there. From the beginning, Charles woodson and Jenkins voiced their concerns with the defense, even calling capers out publicly. Woodson bought in for a few years and won a defensive MVP because of it, but there was always some murmurs of players not liking the system.

I think we can look more at the system than the talent of the players. Guys like Carlos Hyde and Casey Hayward both left capers system and both became pro bowl studs in new systems. Even tramon Williams had very good years outside of green bay.

A good thing for Green Bay is the odd rate of success that new defenses tend to have. History shows us that many times, defensive coordinators go to a new team and have a lot of success early on. Usually the success starts to dwindle and the coordinator is on to the next team a few years later, but historically there has been a lot of early success for new coaches on that side of the ball. The same thing happened when capers first arrived to Green Bay as well. Hopefully that trend continues for Green Bay.

The TKstinator's picture

Carlos Hyde was definitely playing out of position.

Nick Perry's picture

M. Adams and Biegel and to a lessor degree King are like adding an extra 1st, 3rd, and 4th round pick to this years draft. Biegel and Adams were so far behind last season when they finally did get on the field you may as well as call them rookies. King played injured the entire season and was finally shutdown after 9 weeks. I hurt a shoulder at the gym a few years ago and I couldn't do a thing for quite a while. Washing my hair was a challenge. I can only imagine what it must be like to try play or especially tackle with the injury King had.

This Defense is about to be infused with a 1st, three 2nd's, two 3rd, and 4th round draft choices. When you look at the picks themselves the Packers added players who are both athletic as hell and fast, something the defense always has seemed to lack. That's a hell of a lot of talent to add to the pieces the Packers already had.

TheBigCheeze's picture

...forget this "top 10 defense" goal......#1 defense in the NFL baby!!!!!!

PatrickGB's picture

Yes, but does Moss the coach buy into it?

the real russ letlow's picture

maybe we could get Jason Wilde to ask him?

Turophile's picture

Maybe we could persuade the players to act towards Moss as he does to the press. That would cause some pretty rapid change.

cheesehead1's picture

We can speculate all we want, but only time will tell, much too early to say. We haven’t even started training camp. Just would like to see Pettine ON the sidelines with the D this season to keep them on their toes.

Point Packer's picture

Why Mashed Potato didn't make this move years ago, is still beyond me. Capers should have been canned after the 2012 season. If not earlier. And yet it took this long. I have this bad feeling that this season will be underwhelming and we'll see Mashed Potato back for another year of riding Aaron Rodgers to a Divisional playoff game just to lose to __________.

Since '61's picture

If Pettine can get this defense to make stops after the offense scores so that Rodgers can build up a 2-3 score lead we'll be OK. Second is to make stops during the 4th quarter and prevent late comebacks. That alone should get us another 2-3 wins plus the usual 10 we get from Rodgers and we can earn a #1 or 2 seed and home field during the playoffs.

Accountability, attitude, better tackling and a consistent pass rush and we'll get there. Pettine will provide a sense of urgency which has been missing since the 2010 SB season. How the players respond will be the key to the defense improvement. Thanks Since '61

Tundraboy's picture

Let me be the first to say. Well said!

Since '61's picture

Thanks Tundra. Since '61

Turophile's picture

Accountability is the key word, Since '61. Capers seemed too much of a laid back nice guy, to be demanding better performance when players slipped. MM defended him for years, suggesting there was no serious accountability between Capers and himself.

Pettine is comfortable getting right in there, pushing people to be better, work harder, play smarter. He and Philbin may well be (and in my opinion, WILL be), two of the greatest difference-makers added to the team for several years, and that includes players.

Since '61's picture

Turophile I agree with your post. I never liked MM’s OC by committee approach. I expect that we will be much stronger with Philbin back as a true OC.

As for Capers, I think he was just coasting along for far too long. I think MM liked having a former HC on the staff. Now he has two. Fortunately Pettine has jumped in with both feet and is hungry to create another successful defense, as opposed to the sleepwalking Capers. Thanks, Since ‘61

Since '61's picture


4thand1's picture

The defense was dead in the water by the time they let Capers go. You can see the boost it got just by the players comments, the recharge is here just with Pettine's hiring.

LambeauPlain's picture

Accountability will be the big culture shift on the D.

It took the players committee to go to MM an tell him Randall was a cancer on the D and in the locker room and needed to go.

Where was Capers? I also recall how Capers and Moss stuck with the below average/liability AJ Hawk for years even after blown assignment after blown assignment and missed tackle after missed tackle.

Pettine will not hesitate to bench a starter if they are not playing full out, or not understanding the weekly game plan or are missing assignments.

And his KILL philosophy (Keep it Likeable and Learnable) philosophy will help too compared to Capers confusing, thick, exotic playbook..

Pettine will enforce accountablility the way Craig Counsel enforces it. One of the best players on the Brewers, Travis Shaw jogged down to first base last week assuming he’d be thrown out...but the throw was off target and Shaw would have been safe. Counsell benched him for the rest of the game.

I have a gut feeling the D is going to be almost as much fun to watch as the O this year...for a change.

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