Jerry Gray Has Been a Great Addition for the Packers Secondary

Matt LaFleur may have found the perfect fit to coach the Packers secondary.

It’s still early, however, it’s not hard to see why Matt LaFleur hired Jerry Gray to coach the Green Bay Packers secondary. Coach Gray has checked all the boxes so far during his short tenure, and the players are responding. It might be too soon to say for certain, but it definitely feels like LaFleur picked the right guy to get this secondary to perform at a high level.

Initially, the Gray hire raised some eyebrows. He had no ties to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and previously coached the Minnesota Vikings secondary for the last six years. According to sources, Pettine had very little input in the decision to bring in Gray, which is somewhat odd. Nevertheless, LaFleur made clear he was looking to add a new perspective to a defense that had just surrendered 285 yards on the ground in the NFC championship game. 

Gray is entering his 23rd season in the NFL. His track record is proven, having been around many great secondaries in Minnesota, Tennessee, Washington, and Buffalo. Gray is even credited with tutoring the likes of All-Pro safeties Harrison Smith, Earl Thomas, and Sean Taylor. Hopefully, Green Bay’s 2019 first-round safety Darnell Savage is next in line.

Besides mentoring great safeties, defenses associated with Gray have performed quite well over the years. In the last six seasons, the Vikings have finished in the top five in scoring defense, total defense, and passing defense with the help of Gray. 

The Packers are hoping Gray will continue to bestow his wisdom upon their young group of defensive backs to build a better defense. While Green Bay’s secondary was solid under the respectable Jason Simmons, LaFleur believed something was lacking and decided to go with a more experienced candidate in Gray.

According to Green Bay’s top corner Jaire Alexander, Gray’s knowledge is already rubbing off on him and others.

“Coach Gray has a great deal of knowledge,” Alexander said via Zoom. “I mean, it’s endless. I could listen to coach Gray talk the whole time about ball because there’s things he’s opened my eyes up to that I’ve never even realized or noticed. Just my mental approach is night and day from last year. So, he’s been a great deal of help.”

Fellow corner, Chandon Sullivan offered similar sentiments.

“He’s just opened up our eyes,” Sullivan said of Gray. “He’s allowing us to slow the game down with our minds.

With help from Gray, Alexander and company have a chance to be one of the top secondaries in the league this season. As a group, they played at a high level in spots last season but need more consistency.

From what he’s seen in practice, Gray hopes the Packers secondary can have a “breakout” season. Those are strong words from a coach who has been around some great secondaries over the past two decades.

In the coming months, we will see how Gray’s leadership has prepared the defensive backs for a strong performance in 2020.

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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12 points

Comments (10)

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Lphill's picture

August 28, 2020 at 04:35 pm

Maybe the future defensive coordinator?

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HankScorpio's picture

August 29, 2020 at 07:27 am

I think that's doubtful. He's been a DC before and got peter-principaled back to secondary coach. He's 58 now.

But he brings a wealth of NFL experience with good defenses as both player and coach. That's a valuable thing to get out of any position coach. Hopefully all the happy talk is not just preseason fluff and he turns an impressive resume into an impressive contribution when things are real.

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arthurl's picture

August 28, 2020 at 04:56 pm

Interesting thought; he could be. I’m hearing lot of good stuff about play of Jackson which is great news. This is a young secondary grouping so Gray can really mold and develop these guys. I’m looking for big things from these talented players.

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Stroh's picture

August 29, 2020 at 10:02 am

Last year they also told us how great Monty Adams was doing. I would Temper your enthusiasm a bit. Jackson's deficiencies didn't just disappear! He's still can't change directions well enough and lacks makeup speed.

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Demon's picture

August 28, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Instead of telling us that Gray will be better or tell us Gray "opened our eyes". Why not tell us what the guy didnt do last year? Why not tell us what Gray is doing better? The last thing we need is another fluff piece.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 28, 2020 at 06:09 pm

You really think a player is going to talk bad about a previous coach? That's not a great idea in the NFL. It's not that big of a league to be bad mouthing coaches. Suppose of them gets traded or signs with Carolina in FA in a year or two and has to play for Simmons again. A bit uncomfortable.

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Demon's picture

August 28, 2020 at 06:25 pm

Ok I get that. Then why even ask the players their opinion if all you are going to get is a bunch of BS?

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Pro-LifeMatters's picture

August 29, 2020 at 09:14 pm

Imho, I don't think it would be a wise career move for members of the Packers secondary to throw former coach Simmons under the bus by exposing what he didn't do last year, as opposed to what coach Gray is doing differently this year.

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Stroh's picture

August 28, 2020 at 07:26 pm

I like Gray alot, but he's inheriting a DB group that performed at a high level last year, despite its pretty extreme youth. The secondary was already going to outstanding this year whether its coached by Gray or someone else. Maybe he'll make it better than what it would have w/ last years DB coach but that is impossible to know.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad he's out DB coach now, but the secondary was going to one of the best in the NFL this year almost no matter who is coaching them. The talent in the DB room and leadership by Amos would have almost guaranteed that no matter who was coaching them.

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mnbadger's picture

August 29, 2020 at 08:40 am

I've been a huge fan of this hire since day one. For the last six years, the queens dbs as a whole showed tighter coverage and better tackling than ours. Yes, X Rhodes sucked last year but that was at least 50% mental. GPG

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