GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – Seasoned defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, one of the few assistant coaches Matt LaFleur has taken over from the previous Green Bay Packers coaching staff, will be out after three years on the team and two years under LaFleur, the team announced on Friday .
The move comes despite Pettine bringing the Packers back into the top 10 in overall defense. In the 2020 season, they finished ninth.
The 54-year-old Pettine never signed a contract renewal offered to him after last season, meaning he was in the final year of his contract, a source told ESPN earlier in the week, making it a cleaner breakup. Most coordinators and position coaches always have two years on their contracts with the Packers, but Pettine has chosen to go into the final year of his contract and see how things play out.
“We would like to thank Mike for his dedication to the Packers over the past three seasons. He has been an important part of our success,” LaFleur said in a statement. “As the first-time head coach, he was also an invaluable resource for us during our time together.”
This means that the Packers will have two new coordinators for the next season. Earlier this week, they fired special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga and will promote assistant Maurice Drayton to replace him.
After LaFleur publicly criticized a defensive game call following the January 24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who scored a 39-yard touchdown pass by a second in the first half of the NFC championship game, the move seemed inevitable.
LaFleur never specifically said whether Pettine – who calls the defensive games – made the call alone or in consultation with LaFleur.
“It was man reporting – definitely not the reputation for the situation, and you can’t do that against a good football team and you expect to win,” LaFleur said after the game, calling it one of several games that made all the difference in the game .
“You just can’t do that stuff. I blame ourselves as coaches for getting our boys into this situation. It’s inexcusable. It shouldn’t have happened. So we have to look at it, reflect on ourselves and try to figure out how can’t happen again. “
Pettine, who was hired by former coach Mike McCarthy in 2018, is the third consecutive defensive coordinator to be fired or fired by the Packers without a change of head coach. This includes McCarthy’s first two defense coordinators, Bob Sanders and Dom Capers.
Prior to being hired by McCarthy, Pettine was no longer coaching after serving two years as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2014-15.
His status was challenged shortly after the 2019 season when the Packers’ defense allowed 285 yards in the NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but ultimately LaFleur decided to keep him for another season.
The Packers have at least one possible internal replacement – defense coach Jerry Gray. The longtime assistant coach came to the Packers last season and was defensive coordinator twice – for the Buffalo Bills (2001-05) and Tennessee Titans (2011-13). This was his 24th season as an NFL assistant coach after an active career with four Pro Bowls.
The Packers on Friday also made Mennenga’s sacking official after two seasons.