Boston School, Ohio State Draft Possibilities Rave About Hafley.

Boston School, Ohio State Draft Possibilities Rave About Hafley

Boston College, Ohio State Draft Prospects Rave About Hafley.

Multiple NFL Draft prospects spoke on the impact that new Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley had on them in college.

Green Bay Packers

INDIANAPOLIS — If the reviews of some of Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley’s former players are any indication, Matt LaFleur should feel assured that his players in Green Bay will respond well to Hafley’s coaching.

With Hafley serving as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator in 2019 and Boston College’s head coach from 2020 through 2023, a few of Hafley’s former players were at the NFL Scouting Combine this week.

For Boston College cornerback Elijah Jones, playing under Hafley for three years provided Jones with “the utmost confidence” and an adjusted perspective when trying to improve his play.

“I love Coach Haf, man,” Jones said at the Combine. “Great football mind. Biggest thing I think he helped my game was just how I learned about football. That it’s not just going out there and playing the game, it’s more about understanding your opponent, understand how you’re going to attack, and he was just a great teacher.”

One of the key aspects of Hafley’s teaching style seems to be the way he simplifies concepts for players. Many of his former players, including Richard Sherman, have praised his ability to make playing defense easier to understand.

Coach’s teaching method.

Ohio State safety Josh Proctor is included in that group of Hafley pupils that benefited from the coach’s teaching method.

“He just made it easy,” Proctor said. “He helped us just play fast. It wasn’t too much thinking. We were able to be ourselves and put us in the right spot so we was able to go play.”

Proctor’s comment tracks right along with what Hafley said in his introductory press conference in Green Bay on Feb. 22.

“We try and make it simple for the players,” he said, “so they can play fast, so they don’t have to think, so they can be confident and not be afraid to make mistakes, so I can get them the information – we can get them the information – that they need, so they can go out there and be fearless and play with their hair on fire and run and hit and cover and get off blocks and tackle.”

Hafley only coached at Ohio State during Proctor’s sophomore season, but the safety latched on to Hafley’s coaching style and the two quickly formed a strong relationship.

“He brings excitement to the game”

“I love Coach Hafley. That was one of my favorites,” Proctor said. ” (In) 2019, he was actually one of the first guys to give me a chance, so me and him have been close ever since. … I just love the way he coaches and the way he brings excitement to the game”

Hafley bringing excitement to the Green Bay defense would require the revival of a group that has consistently underwhelmed over the past decade. In 2023, the Packers allowed the 22nd most yards per game (345.4) and forced the 10th-fewest turnovers (18).

After spending four years as a head coach, however, Hafley seems to be equipped with the proper leadership skills needed to turn the unit around. One of the biggest things he learned while at Boston College was to be open to input from all avenues.

“I’ve been a head coach now and I think that’s helped me and I think that will help me be a better assistant,” Hafley said. “I think it will help me be a better coordinator because I’m more open to ideas now cause I don’t care whose idea it is. If it’s the best idea and it’s going to help us win games, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

There was a lot to say.

According to Jones, Hafley let his assistants at Boston College have plenty of say and freedom.

“As a head coach, especially as a DB guy, defensive guy, he could’ve just manhandled and micro-managed the defense, but he let his (assistant) coaches coach,” Jones said.

Hafley’s approach to coaching seemed to have more to do with LaFleur’s decision to hiring him than a specific scheme. Though he’ll run a 4-3 scheme, Hafley’s playbook will likely be a mosaic formed by his work in many different NFL and college schemes.

But the most important thing that he’ll bring to Green Bay is his leadership and teaching style which both earned the stamp of approval from some of his former players.

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