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Packers spend Friday evaluating defensive coaching staff

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Packers spend Friday evaluating defensive coaching staff

-- The last time anyone saw Mike Pettine, it was up in the coach's booth during a 31-0 loss at Lambeau Field to the Detroit Lions.

For the Packers, it was the first time they were held scoreless in a game against the Lions since 1973, and the first time in Green Bay since 1970. Between those years, the Lions shutout the Packers three times.

Now, Pettine will be around for the foreseeable future to help make sure history doesn't repeat itself.

Officially announced by the team on Friday, Pettine will remain as the team's defensive coordinator for the 2019 season and potentially beyond. He'll get another opportunity to work with a young defense who battled injuries and constant personnel swaps throughout the season, leading to an 18th-ranked finish in total yards allowed per game.

There was speculation that new head coach Matt LaFleur would part ways with Pettine and build his own coaching staff, however, he confirmed on a radio show on Friday -- before the official announcement -- that both are committed to working together.

"Yeah, we're gonna go with Mike," LaFleur told Mad Dog Sports Radio on Sirius XM on Friday. "I had the chance to sit down with him yesterday and really go through a lot of different things. I think we share a common vision and I'm really excited to see this defense take off in year two of his system. That continuity, for the players to be able to perform in year two, it definitely is going to improve."

This was essentially an expected move considering how highly perceived Pettine was by players and team brass alike. LaFleur also noted that Pettine's previous head-coaching experience could be vital to him in his first year at the helm.

Now, players will have an opportunity to mesh with Pettine and have a sense of familiarity as opposed to having three different coordinators in three seasons.

One of Pettine's staff members, alternatively, wasn't so lucky.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday evening that the contract of passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. had been terminated, ending an 11-year run in which he served as the team's defensive quality control coach (2008) and cornerbacks coach (2009-2017).

Whitt was another well-respected member of the Packers' coaching staff and played a key role in the development of several of some of the league's top cornerbacks over the course of the last decade. He had interviewed for the team's vacant defensive coordinator position last year before Pettine was hired.

The decision to relieve Whitt of his duties may not have been LaFleur's decision, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted. It's possible that the Packers are doing away with most of Mike McCarthy's staff.

This may not be the end of the staff shake-up on the defensive side of the ball either. Several other members of the defensive staff have ties to McCarthy, including secondary coach Jason Simmons and defensive assistant Scott McCurley. Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is believed to remain on the job.

As the team's cornerbacks coach for nine seasons, the Packers' secondary accounted for 176 interceptions and ranked ninth in the league in opponent passer rating.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (54) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm a bit surprised on Whitt. But, I guess this tells me Pettine wanted to move on. And, I want to give LaFleur and Pettine the benefit of the doubt to do things their way.

Bure9620's picture

Surprised as well, this had to be a Pettine move, complacency??

jeremyjjbrown's picture

They where bottoms in interceptions and a former 1st round draft pick got traded away. Those are not signs of a good performance.

If not for Jaire, imagine how bad it could have been.

I guess if I think on it and remember Sam Shields was 9 years ago now it make more sense.

Rak47's picture

Randall and Rollins didn't do so well either although a lot of that can be pinned on Capers old outdated scheme. Whitt was handed boogers and duct tape to work with for the most part over the past few years with Hayward and Hyde being the exceptions.

HankScorpio's picture

4 years ago, it was pretty easy to make the case that Whitt was a very good coach. But time marches on and the last 4 years have not been kind to his resume. The people (MM & DC) that saw his successes are gone now.

I would have been fine keeping him but I'm fine with letting him go, too. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.

Coach JV's picture

With our crappy turnover ratio, I think this is wise. We haven't had a true ball-hawk develop in a while. New blood is needed in the coaching ranks of the secondary...

Hey wait... interview me... I coach the secondary!

But seriously though, Witt was okay, but he no longer had the Collins' or Woodson's to cover for him. It is time.

Chris Vachio's picture

Not to be rude or anything, but wouldn't the offensive staff be more responsible for the team not getting shut out as opposed to the defensive coordinator?

4thand10's picture

Very valid point. The Offense was not necessarily a clock eater.. 3 and out a lot. The defense covered for them many times.

The TKstinator's picture


Bart_Starred's picture

I was puzzled by the same thing. Why would the defense be responsible for the offense getting shutout multiple times? Anyway, glad to see Pettine will be coming back as I think he deserves another year and having some continuity can’t hurt either.

Packer Fan's picture

I am glad Whit is gone. He is part of the MM era and Pettine needs to bring his own guys in. Far as I am concern, keep Montgomery and jettison the rest. Get a fresh start.

CAG123's picture

That’s one thing a Dom Capers defense could do was create some TOs but couldn’t stop the pass to save his ass now we got Pettine who could probably scheme my grandpa free but we couldn’t stop the run or hold teams below 25 points consistently. I hope we can get all 4 up to scratch next year.

PatrickGB's picture

I liked Witt’s pressers. But his players did not produce.

TXCHEESE's picture

I think it’s possible Whitt was given the title last year to placate him after losing out on the DC job. It may have been Pettine agreed to a one year audition, and didn’t like what he saw. IMO there were far too many times in recent years, receivers and tight ends were left running wide open in the Packers’ secondary. It could be, Whitt was a great teacher of fundamentals, but not X’s and O’s. Hopefully he lands on his feet somewhere.

Since '61's picture

Continue the house cleaning. Let’s get players and coaches who produce results. Pettine probably wants his own guys in there. Thanks, Since ‘61

Guitar dan's picture

I don't think it is a knock on Whitt's ability as a coach, he was excellent for many years and he helped to develop guys like Shields, Hayward and Williams.

I will miss his press conferences which were always interesting and entertaining.

This is his chance to move on and hopefully up as a coach and he will be remembered as an excellent and devoted Packers DB's coach from a bygone era.

But in the NFL coaching staffs need to have the same vision and work as one unit, just like the players do.

I have a feeling this was a Pettine move and that's OK.

Good Luck Joe!


bigGuy's picture

I’ve never been a big fan of how are dbs played, but he has been well respected. You never know about these things. Whitt may have felt a bit of a grudge about being overlooked last year and felt a change was necessary for his career and asked out. Or maybe they weren’t in total agreement on how things should be done and Pettine has someone else he wants in that position. One will never know

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

I wonder if Pettine prefers to have more traditional position coaches below him, instead of coaches with embellished titles such as “passing game coordinator.” Especially if it lead to less effectiveness at coaching the individual positions, and to some overlap with his role as the defensive coordinator.

HankScorpio's picture

That's sort of a thing I've been kicking around in my head. The Packers have been bloating their coaching staff for years. I wonder if they have had too many cooks in the kitchen.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Chuck Pagano is now the DC of the Bears. Talk about a step DOWN from Vic Fangio. Looking forward to once again being able to say "The Bears Still Suck!".

Stu M's picture

Da Bears do still suck. "Doink"

Marc Blaskowski's picture

Double doink!

mrtundra's picture

I do not see any drop off, as far as the Bears defense goes, with Pagano coming in as DC. They will still be a tough unit to crack and will be in ARod's shirt next season if GB doesn't acquire some stout OLine men to stop them.

Jonathan Spader's picture

It's not just Fangio although he's a big part of it. Bears had unbelievable health in 2018 I doubt 2019 will be as kind. Time will tell.

Packers0808's picture

Wnitt was a very good and long tenured coach who was well respected as he should have been! He earned it!

canadapacker's picture

One has to look at not only last year but also the other years that Whitt has been involved with the defensive scheme - one can only blame so much on Capers. The screw ups and missed assignments by the defensive backfield - not as much last year but absolutely horribly the year before means that the job was not getting done. Dont forget a lot of draft capital was spent on the defensive backfield over the last few years.

A Pickled Packer's picture

Surprised Whit wasn't tossed when Capers got the ax. He was a crony most likely as was Moss. Glad to see the establishment is draining the swamp.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Whitt is mildly surprising. Campen came in with Sherman and was retained by McCarthy. I'd like to keep Campen.

Holecrap's picture

Pettine has to blame someone for his piss poor pass defense, He blamed HA HA and got rid of him. Petting better get some players on d or his ass is going to be gone next year.

Jonathan Spader's picture

If HaHa was so great why is he a FA? What a stupid comment. If you're going to try to throw a name out there it could at least be Randall who played well in 2018.

CAG123's picture

Pass defense finished 12....and they were top 10 most of the season getting as high as 4th at one point. Also it’s not up to the DC to get players that’s the GM and HC job. Pettine did what he could with about 2-4 pro bowl level players, some JAGS and some guys off the street.

Minniman's picture

True, Pettine over-achieved with what he inherited and coached through the attrition of his first season.

Channeling my inner Taryn here, it remains to be seen how he does with more talent and another season or 2 to shape the D.

marpag1's picture

For reasons that were never really clear to me, everyone always seemed to think that Joe Whitt was an exceptional coach and worthy of being promoted. And this seems to be true even outside of the Green Bay organization. As for me, I just kind of let it slide, because I don't feel that any of us really have a clue how well people coach on the practice field or in the meeting room.

BUT. Would you say that you have been satisfied with the Packers passing defense that was 'coordinated' by Joe Whitt? And running through the list of recent defensive backs -- Quinten Rollins, HHCD, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Davon House, Marwin Evans and a host of others -- or when you consider the 'miraculous improvement' of Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward and Damarius Randall as soon as they left Green Bay ..... does this seem like a record of great success?

Apparently, if you are a defensive back and you want to be great, get drafted by GB, suck for a few years, and then leave. ALL-PRO CITY, baby! (This is not terribly indicative of great coaching).

If Pettine wanted Whitt to be retained, he would have been retained. He wasn't.

fthisJack's picture

I thought Hyde and Hayward played well in GB. it was a mistake by TT not resigning them. otherwise, their secondary has sucked since 2015.

jww061356's picture

I say let the housecleaning continue. The guys have had plently of time to make their mark. Time for a shake-up. Wouldn't mind seeing them keep Campen and Montgomery.

Nick Perry's picture

When Pettine came in he didn't change even one coaching assistant on the defensive side of the ball IIRC. I don't know about you guys but I always thought that was strange as hell.

I've always thought Whitt was a pretty good coach but over the last several years the Packers CB's just weren't getting it done. I'm thinking how much Charles Woodson being in the Packers secondary helped the careers of Williams, Shields, and even Hayward his rookie year. Since Wood left so did the interceptions and coverage abilities of ANY Packers CB. It sure seems at least much of Whitt's success was when Woodson was a Packer.

2018 was really the first year I had some hope moving forward for this defense. To be critical of a DC who lost his entire starting defensive line, CB, S, and multiple depth players on that side of the ball in his first year is wrong.

Coach JV's picture

I don't think MM gave Pettine the opportunity to replace the assistants. I have a sneaky suspicion that guys like Moss and Whitt and a few others are personal friends of MM and Pettine was hired to rule the herd.

I hope LeFleur gives Pettine the chance to bring in his own guys and we can be rid of the MM era coaches that either didn't help, or flat out suck.

As I stated in an above post, Whitt lost Collins and Woodson (and Shields to a lesser extent). After that, he was exposed. And - as you eluded to - I honestly believe that Woodson did more to develop Shields than Whitt did.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"When Pettine came in he didn't change even one coaching assistant on the defensive side of the ball IIRC. I don't know about you guys but I always thought that was strange as hell."

Why? MM hired the assistants. Pettine did not. MM wasn't firing anyone for anything short of catastrophic malfeasance.

HankScorpio's picture

Knowing what we know now, it is obvious that Winston Moss was forced Pettine by MM. Philbin made the call to axe Moss really quick. I think we can say the same about Joe Whitt since he's gone pretty quickly after ML came aboard.

Darren Perry and Mike Trgovac were not forced on MP. Jerry Montgomery was promoted to take Trgovac's position and reportedly will continue this year.

croatpackfan's picture

I have another angle on Joe Wjhitt's destiny with Packers. I believe he become distraction because he wants DC job, and Mike Pettine was very aware of that. I believe Packers will find adequate replacement...

Now, I believe, also, that we should keep Joe Whitt in our memory as one of better Packers position coaches.

All told, I think the time is right for that "divorce", as it was time for Mike McCarthy and Packers to end their relationship ...

Likewise, I do not believe that dismissal by Joe Whitt was carried out without knowledge and agreement with Matt LaFleur and Mike Pettine. That would simply be ridiculous and a statement of disrespect to HC and DC.

sonomaca's picture

There’s a pattern with Whitt: players not performing mostly because they were playing out of position. This was true for Casey Hayward, Randall, Hyde, Rollins, Josh Jones, and possibly Josh Jackson.

Hayward should have been at outside corner, Randall, Hyde, Rollins, and Jackson at safety, and Jones at inside linebacker.

Was this his fault or TT’s? Until this year, I would have said Ted, but we now see the same thing with Josh Jackson.

stockholder's picture

Ok Whitt is gone. Why hasn't Jim hostler and Philbin announced Yet? They have interviewed Nathaniel Haskett and Todd Monken. Seriously. Philbin a OL coach for the Vikings? Shocking!

croatpackfan's picture

"Philbin a OL coach for the Vikings? Shocking!"

OC for Vikings is Kevin Stefanski (interim OC last season!)

Bure9620's picture

Maybe he can coach them to not block, the anti zone blocking scheme.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I thought that was the regular zone blocking scheme?

Donster's picture

Pettine has the right to hire his assistants as he sees fit. Though Whitt is a respected coach in the league, his success in GB was marginal at best. His players out of position often, and couldn't tackle to save their ass. Not aggressive either. Of course we will never know, but Pettine and Whitt may have not got along, or see how to do things much differently. I wish coach Whitt success in the future. Except against the Packers of course.

egbertsouse's picture

I am glad to see Whitt gone. He may be a great guy but his results are terrible. Don’t give him the opportunity to screw up Alexander.

I hope they do the same with the LB coaches.

Demon's picture

I just dont understand the love for Witt or any of MM's staff. Which defense have you guys been watcing? Our D has sucked for years!

I'm glad that Pettine was retained. Let him get his own guys in there and jettison the rest of incumbant coaches.

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

D Line has been good, especially given the injuries.

Lphill's picture

I think they will allow Pettine to have his say in building the defensive staff , probably bring in guys he is comfortable with which is a good thing .

mrtundra's picture

Just heard they let Campen go, too. House cleaning at 1265.

HankScorpio's picture

I may be in the minority among Cheesehead TVers but that would make me happy.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

The proof is in the pudding.

Whitt was so overrated by some pundits I've always been amazed.

More of our top draft picks were invested at the DB position than any other.

Guys like Hayward & Hyde flourished after leaving him.

Whitt won't be missed.

Now, can anyone get Kevin Queen to toughen up & play? Or is he just made of glass?

CAG123's picture

No they flourished after leaving Dom Capers. Whitt made guys like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields into pro bowl level players. It was MM and DC that didn’t realize that Hayward was more of a zone guy than press and Hyde should have been a safety all along that has nothing to do with Whitt.

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