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Cheese Curds, 2/3: Packers’ DC candidate pool offers youth, varied backgrounds

From college DC to NFL assistant head coach to one year of position coaching experience, the Packers have cast a wide net among the younger coaches they are interviewing to replace Mike Pettine.

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New Orleans Saints v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

If there’s one common thread among many of the individuals the Green Bay Packers are interviewing this week for their open defensive coordinator job, it is youth. Yes, the Packers are talking to two coaches in their 50s (Jerry Gray and Joe Barry) and one who just turned 70 (Bob Sutton), but the rest are under 45 years old, with several yet to turn 40.

Jim Leonhard is one of the youngest candidates at just 38 years old, joined by Chris Harris. Chris Kiffin is 39, Ejiro Evero is 40, and Ryan Nielsen is 41. This suggests that the Packers are indeed looking for an up-and-coming candidate with creative ideas rather than someone with a lot of past NFL coordinator experience.

What is fascinating, however, is the variety of schemes and backgrounds that these individuals bring to the table. Leonhard is of course the Wisconsin Badgers’ defensive coordinator. Nielsen is set to hold the title of assistant head coach for the Saints in 2021. The other young coaches have been around the NFL for a while, but Harris has just one year as an NFL position coach. As for scheme, there is an almost even mix of 3-4 and 4-3 backgrounds in the mix for the job.

Finally, the group of younger coaches is nearly split on their positional areas of focus. Kiffin, Burke, and Nielsen focus on the defensive line, while the other three (plus Gray) coach defensive backs.

It will be fascinating to see what qualities the Packers are really looking for, and we will probably only find that out after they officially announce the hire. Thankfully, there is a lot of coaching talent in this pool, even if a prominent older coordinator isn’t being considered.

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