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Packers hire Boston College HC Jeff Hafley as next defensive coordinator

Hafley led the Eagles to being bowl eligible in three of his four seasons in Boston.

SMU (14) Vs. Boston College (23) At Fenway Park (2023 Fenway Bowl) Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have made a surprise hiring for their defensive coordinator vacancy, as they’ve named Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley to be Joe Barry’s successor. Hafley’s name had not previously been reported to be linked to any defensive coordinator opening in the NFL this offseason.

At Boston College, Hafley’s Eagles went 22-26 — including 12-22 in ACC play. Over his four years at the helm, the team was bowl-eligible in three seasons. According to ESPN’s SP+ metric, Boston College finished the 2023 season ranked 77th in the FBS on the defensive side of the ball.

Before joining the college ranks as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator in 2019, Hafley had spent the previous six season as a full-time on-field assistant in the NFL. He spent time at three stops as a defensive backs coach: Tampa Bay (2013), Cleveland (2014-2015) and San Francisco (2016-2018).

In Cleveland, Hafley spent time with then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who would later hire him to coach in San Francisco. As the leader of the defensive backs room with the Browns, Hafley’s two assistant defensive backs coaches were Bobby Babich — who the Packers also interviewed for their defensive coordinator opening before Babich took the Buffalo Bills’ vacancy — and Aaron Glenn — who is currently receiving NFL head coaching opportunities. Ryan Downard, the Packers’ current defensive backs coach, was also a defensive assistant for the Browns during Hafley’s time in Cleveland.

Despite being originally hired by Chip Kelly’s 49ers, Hafley was retained by Shanahan when the later was named the team’s new head coach in 2017. There, Hafley coached with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s brother, Mike LaFleur, who was San Francisco’s passing game specialist and wide receivers coach. Packers offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich was also the assistant offensive line coach of the team. On the defensive end, Hafley took marching orders from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, now the head coach of the New York Jets, and worked with two defensive quality control coaches in DeMeco Ryans, now the Houston Texans’ head coach, and Bobby Slowik, now the Texans’ offensive coordinator.

According to Pete Thamel, a college football reporter for ESPN, this is what a source told him on Hafley’s jump to the NFL:

He wants to go coach football again in a league that is all about football. College coaching has become fundraising, NIL and recruiting your own team and transfers. There’s no time to coach football anymore.

At the moment, the Packers have not made an official statement on the hiring, but general manager Brian Gutekunst is expected to make his end-of-the-season press conference on Thursday. Clearly, he’s going to be asked about the hire.