The Green Bay Packers have continued to reshape their defensive coaching staff over the last few days. New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, along with head coach Matt LaFleur, have seemingly decided not only on which assistant coaches on that side of the football will return and which will not, but also on what type of base alignment they will run for the 2024 season.
The latest new hire for the Packers’ staff is Anthony Campanile, who will replace Kirk Olivadotti as linebackers coach. Campanile, who had been the Miami Dolphins’ linebackers coach for the past four seasons, was drawing some defensive coordinator interviews of his own this offseason, and according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, former Dolphins DC Vic Fangio was hoping to bring him along to his new job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Instead, Campanile will come to Green Bay, taking the titles of both linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator.
A former college safety and linebacker himself, Campanile played and later coached at Rutgers. This helps identify a connection between him and Hafley; although the two did not overlap in New Jersey, Greg Schiano was Campanile’s head coach as a player and served as Hafley’s boss both at Rutgers and later with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Additionally, Campanile and Hafley also both coached at Boston College, but at different times: Campanile was there from 2016 to 2018, while Hafley was that program’s head coach from 2020 to 2023.
Interestingly, former Packers DC Joe Barry just filled Campanile’s former post in Miami. Barry also received the run game coordinator title in addition to taking over as the Dolphins’ linebackers coach.
In conjunction with Campanile’s hiring, Silverstein further provides a report on clarity with some of the assistant coaches’ titles, which helps reflect an overall scheme change on defense. Specifically, he notes that Jason Rebrovich, formerly the Packers’ outside linebackers coach, will be the new defensive line coach. This — along with Campanile’s title as simply “linebackers” coach, rather than noting inside or outside linebackers — is a clear indication that the defense will move to a 4-3 base under Hafley in 2024.
On Monday, news also broke that Green Bay is reportedly hiring Vince Oghobaase to the defensive staff. Oghobaase was Hafley’s defensive line coach at Boston College, but with Rebrovich now reportedly taking over primary responsibility for the defensive line, he will take on the assistant DL coach title, most likely with a focus on interior linemen. Oghobaase has held that title in the NFL before, when he worked with Hafley on the San Francisco 49ers’ staff from 2016 to 2017.
Meanwhile, Campanile will need his room restocked a bit before practices begin in May. The Packers do still have their top three linebackers under contract for 2024 — Quay Walker, De’Vondre Campbell, and Isaiah McDuffie — but there is little to no depth behind them. Additionally, Campbell’s play in 2023 was not up to his previous standard in Green Bay and he dealt with numerous injuries, making him a potential candidate for a salary cap-related release this spring.
The major distinctions between 3-4 and 4-3 defenses are less significant in today’s NFL than in decades past, largely due to teams using nickel personnel on the majority of their defensive snaps. Whether the edge rushers align with their hands in the dirt or in a two-point stance, the formation still largely consists of two interior linemen, two edge rushers, two off-ball linebackers, and five defensive backs. Still, the switch is notable, and the likes of Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, and Lukas Van Ness will likely be referred to as defensive ends now instead of outside linebackers.