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Thursday Cheese Curds: Is Jim Leonhard ready for his NFL closeup?

The Badgers’ defensive coordinator is popular pick to replace Mike Pettine but is he ready to make the move?

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When speculation first began to ramp up that the Green Bay Packers would be in the market for a defensive coordinator this off-season, one name was consistently atop many fans’ wish list.

It’s a candidate that many fans in Wisconsin don’t have to look far to find and it’s a name familiar to any Wisconsin Badgers fan.

That man is Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.

The biggest question surrounding his candidacy was if he would even consider leaving Madison for the NFL. Leonhard has clearly enjoyed his time there and has even been discussed as the coach-in-waiting if or when current head coach Paul Chryst decides to retire.

The opportunity in Green Bay is obviously a special one and very well could be the only professional job Leonhard would contemplate accepting.

Should he make the jump, the potential is promising. Leonhard’s defenses have never finished outside the top five of the FBS in his four seasons leading the unit. That also happens to be an area of opportunity for the Packers.

On the flip side, there is the college-to-NFL transition that has not been easy for many high-caliber coaches. The list of great college coaches who flames out (albeit at the head coaching level) in the NFL is long and includes arguably the best of all time in Nick Saban.

The Wisconsin connection makes Leonhard intriguing to both the team and fans, but it doesn’t come without risk.

Decision time is coming for Matt LaFleur. We shall see if Leonhard is moving north or not.

Now for today’s curds.

For Jim Leonhard, would allure of Packers, NFL be enough to make him leave the ‘dream job’ he loves?—Wisconsin State Journal

Of note also is that not much would change schematically if the Packers do indeed hire Leonhard. There will be some tweaks, like the aforementioned run defense, but Leonhard is cut from the Rex Ryan cloth much like Mike Pettine was.

Packers staying on message about decision to draft Jordan Love to sit behind Aaron Rodgers—PackersNews.com (subscription required)

For all the huffing and puffing about Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay, the team for its part has kept the same position: Rodgers is their quarterback and Jordan Love will sit for as long as needed.

Green Bay Packers 2020 season awards—Packers Wire

Award season continues around the Packer-centered corner of the internet and one thing is becoming clear: keep your eyes on AJ Dillon and Rashan Gary in 2021. Big things are coming.

Green Bay Packers Foundation awards $250,000 in impact grants to organizations that support children—Packers.com

The Packers continue to do Packers things around the state, this time giving a quarter of a million dollars to organizations dedicated to helping children through the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

Suburban Illinois bridge hit by truck for 14th time since summer—UPI

Someone really should tell Mitchell Trubisky to get a sedan. His lack of accuracy is causing damage to Illinois’ infrastructure.