Jim Leonhard, Others In Contention For Packers’ DC Job

The Packers are conducting an expansive search to replace Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator. Several more names joined the early wave of candidates.

Former Chiefs DC Bob Sutton interviewed for the position recently, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who adds five other new candidates emerged on Green Bay’s radar as well. This comes after news of the Packers interviewing former Seahawks DC Kris Richard, Chargers passing-game coordinator Joe Barry, Washington secondary coach Chris Harris and Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero. Richard and Sutton have since lined up positions with the Saints and Jaguars, respectively. Perhaps a sign about the direction the Packers’ search has taken.

Ten-year NFL safety-turned-Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard, former Dolphins DC Matt Burke, Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, Saints D-line coach Ryan Nielsen and Packers secondary coach Jerry Gray either have interviewed for the position or will do so by Wednesday, per Demovsky.

Leonhard, whose NFL playing career wrapped up after the 2014 season, has not coached at the NFL level. But he has been the Badgers’ DC since 2017. Three times in the past four seasons, Wisconsin has deployed a top-10 scoring defense in Division I-FBS. Although Leonhard’s nomadic career did not include a Packers stop, the 38-year-old is a Wisconsin native.

Gray served as the Titans’ DC from 2011-13, spent the next six seasons as Vikings secondary coach and signed on as Packers secondary coach last season. The former NFL cornerback has been an assistant in the league since the late 1990s. Kiffin spent 2020 with the Browns but worked with Matt LaFleur‘s brother Mike with the 49ers previously. Burke oversaw the Dolphins’ defense from 2017-18 and was with the Eagles during the past two seasons, while Nielsen has spent the past four seasons as New Orleans’ D-line coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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7 comments on “Jim Leonhard, Others In Contention For Packers’ DC Job

  1. denny816

    I know all the Badgers fans will be upset if he leaves but I think a fresh outlook and not another retread is exactly what the Packers need. Hire Leonhard!

  2. jyosuckas

    Jim Leonhard blossomed under Rex Ryan, I wonder if he implements a lot of that into his schemes

  3. HailRodgers12$

    Nothing against any of the guys on the list of potential candidates, I’m just wondering if there might be too many on it at this point. There’s a difference between being thorough and (possibly?) indecisive.

  4. Patrick N.

    Kiffin didn’t exactly have the best unit this year so it’s understandable he didn’t get the job

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