The Green Bay Packers are officially in the market for a new defensive coordinator. On Friday, the Packers have reportedly made the decision to part ways with Mike Pettine, their coordinator for the past three seasons. Pettine coached the 2020 season on the final year of his contract, a rarity in the NFL, and the Packers have elected not to renew his contract moving forward.
The news comes first from NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, who confirms that the Packers will not be renewing Pettine’s contract. The Packers confirmed Pettine’s departure, as well as the firing of Shawn Mennenga, in a press release late Friday afternoon.
While the Packers’ offense took a major step forward in 2020 to become the league’s best by several measurements, the defense remained a middling unit, finishing ninth in yards and 13th in points allowed but just 17th in DVOA. Once a turnover machine, the Packers finished 25th in the NFL in 2020 with just 18 takeaways.
The defense did show tangible signs of improvement over the latter part of the 2020 season following a rough start. After costing the team expected points in every one of the team’s first eight games, the defense turned in four positive performances in the second half and had only one game that was worse than negative-10 points compared to four in the first half. However, the performance in the NFC Championship Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers proved to be the last straw, as head coach Matt LaFleur has decided to make a change.
That game saw the Packers allow 31 points, their third straight NFC Championship Game allowing more than 30. Pettine’s team gave up 37 to the San Francisco 49ers a year ago, getting gashed repeatedly by Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers’ zone running game. On Sunday against the Buccaneers, it was third-and-long failures — the Bucs converted 9 of 14 third down attempts, including five conversions of seven yards or more — and an inexplicable coverage call on a de facto Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half that ended up being key reasons for his dismissal.
Now the Packers will go into the 2021 offseason looking to replace a coordinator for the second time in head coach Matt LaFleur’s tenure, both coming this offseason. LaFleur fired special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga on Wednesday, replacing him by promoting special teams assistant coach Maurice Drayton to coordinator. Pettine was originally hired by Mike McCarthy prior to the 2018 season and the Packers elected to retain him after hiring LaFleur as McCarthy’s replacement.
Green Bay may have some internal candidates, but will also likely cast a wide net as they look for Pettine’s replacement.