Green Bay Packers: Mike Pettine Appears to be on the Hot Seat

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

Once again the Green Bay Packers have a number of decisions to make this offseason and one could be on the future of defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine.

This time a year ago, the Green Bay Packers had missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season and some major changes had already began taking place. Over the course of the offseason, we saw plenty of turnover when it came to both the roster and the coaching staff, however, one coach that was retained was defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

In fact, it was made quite clear to Matt LaFleur by Mark Murphy and Company that they wanted him to stay. And I can understand why. Although the defense still had issues in 2018, I think much of that was chalked up to the personnel that Pettine had to work with. Also, with a young defense having that continuity is key.

So in order to remedy these defensive issues, GM Brian Gutekunst went to work as he overhauled the edge-rusher and safety positions, two of the weakest position groups on this team at that time. As we all know, Gutey would go on to sign free agents Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos. While also selecting Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage in the first round of the draft.

Through training camp and the preseason, it was evident that the new offseason additions were going to make a big impact in 2019 – although I wouldn’t have guessed that it would be as significant as it was – and after they shut down Chicago in Week 1, Aaron Rodgers exclaimed, “we have a defense.”

Unfortunately, as the season unfolded from there it appeared that their dominant performance in Chicago may have been due to the Bears’ ineptitude on offense rather than the Packer defense being that good.

Of course, it’s not like everything was all bad, there were a lot of huge stops and turnovers this season that played a big role in their 13-3 season. But on the flip side, there was plenty of inconsistency and poor plays as well.

So this begs the question, given the money and draft capital spent on the defensive side of the ball, did they improve enough under Mike Pettine or should he be on the hot-seat?

If we take a look at some stats from 2018 and 2019, there were a lot of similarities. In terms of passing yards, Green Bay allowed an average of 232.6 this year, compared to 234.5 in 2018. They gave up 120.1 rushing yards per game in 2019 to 119.9 in 2018. And they actually allowed more plays of 20 yards and 40 yards this year than in 2018.

However, they did improve in some key areas. The first being red zone defense as they gave up a touchdown on just 53.7 percent of their opponents red zone visits, while in 2018 that percentage was 60.7. They also had 25 takeaways this year, to just 15 in 2018. This helped contribute to the 19.6 points per game they allowed this season, which was nearly 5.5 points less than last year.

Another metric that we can look at is DVOA, which takes into account the opponent as well as the situation. For example, what was the result of the play against the Kansas City offense on 3rd and four? And by this measurement, Green Bay improved from being ranked 29th in 2018, all the way up to 15th this season. That is thanks in large part due to how they finished the season, otherwise they had been near the bottom third of the league.

Given the infusion of talent, they should have improved in most areas. But was that due to Pettine or the players brought in? I tend to believe the latter. And what could be a lasting image of Mike Pettine in Green Bay was Raheem Mostert totaling 220 yards on the ground with Jimmy Garoppolo attempting only eight passes as there was almost an unwillingness from Pettine to sellout and stop the run even though we all knew it was coming. Not to mention that any adjustments he did make, really had little or no effect.

Sure we can point out that the Green Bay Packers need more speed at ILB and Kenny Clark needs more reliable help along side of him, but it’s not as if this defense is void of talent. With the likes of Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Jaire Alexander, this defense shouldn’t be exposed like they were a number of times this season.

It’s also worth pointing out that Pettine is not LaFleur’s guy. LaFleur was asked to keep him on board and he obliged. But that absolutely plays a role in all of this.

Which Free Agents should Stay & which should Go?. dark. Next

The offseason has just begun for the Green Bay Packers but if they are going to go in a different direction at defensive coordinator, it’s likely that a decision on Pettine’s future will be made much sooner than later, so that they can find his replacement.