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5 things to know about new Packers defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley

Former Boston College head coach has ties to Green Bay’s coaching staff

Jeff Hafley
Jeff Hafley

GREEN BAY – The Packers have tabbed Jeff Hafley as their new defensive coordinator. Here are five things to know about him:

  1. Hafley served as the head coach at Boston College the past four seasons.

The Eagles were bowl-eligible during three of Hafley's four years at the helm, earning a 23-14 win over No. 24-ranked SMU in the Fenway Bowl last month. Boston College's seven-win season also included a narrow 31-29 loss to third-ranked Florida State, which then finished undefeated at 13-0 during the regular season.

This past year, the Eagles' defense ranked in the top 30 nationally in passing yards allowed (26th, 197.2 per game) and completion percentage (29th, 58.1).

In 2022, Hafley and the Eagles picked up the program's first win over a ranked opponent since 2018 and first over an AP-ranked opponent since 2014 when BC upset No. 16 NC State on the road. The season was highlighted by current Baltimore receiver Zay Flowers setting single-season and career program records in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Flowers became the fourth All-American under Hafley as he earned recognition from the Associated Press. He also led the Eagles' seven-player All-ACC contingent as a first-team selection.

In 2021, Hafley's BC defense ranked third nationally in passing yards allowed (173.5 per game). The Eagles were also top 30 nationally in six other defensive categories: total defense, red zone defense, first downs allowed, third down percentage, team passing efficiency, and defensive touchdowns. Hafley's disciplined squad led the ACC in fewest penalties and fewest penalty yards. 

  1. He served alongside Packers offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco.

Hafley first arrived in Santa Clara, Calif., as a defensive backs coach on Chip Kelly's staff but was retained after Shanahan was hired as head coach in 2017. Hafley's final two seasons with the 49ers coincided with Stenavich's stint as San Francisco's assistant offensive line coach

On Shanahan's staff, Hafley also worked under San Francisco defensive coordinator and current New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, one of Matt LaFleur's best friends dating back to his earliest coaching days.

In 2019, Stenavich left to become Green Bay's offensive line coach while Hafley was hired as co-defensive coordinator/DBs coach at Ohio State.

Hafley's pathway to San Francisco came after working on Mike Pettine's staff for two seasons in Cleveland, where Shanahan served as offensive coordinator in 2014. During that time, Hafley also served on the same Browns defensive coaching staff with current Packers safeties coach Ryan Downard. That Cleveland defense in '14 led the NFL in opponent passer rating (74.1) and opponent completion percentage (57.1), while ranking second in INTs (21).

  1. Hafley coached current Packers inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie at Boston College.

Hafley only coached McDuffie for one season, but the Buffalo, N.Y., native punched his ticket to the NFL with a stellar 2020 campaign.

Prior to being drafted by the Packers in the sixth round in 2021, McDuffie led Boston College and ranked fifth in the nation with 107 tackles to earn All-ACC second-team honors for the first time in his career. McDuffie's season was highlighted by a career-best 16-tackle outing against second-ranked Notre Dame.

Hafley has one other tie to the current Packers' locker room, as his lone season at Ohio State coincided with Packers center Josh Myers' second-team All-Big Ten season in 2019. During that year, Hafley led a dramatic turnaround for Ohio State's defense as the Buckeyes won the 2019 Big Ten Championship and qualified for the College Football Playoff.

Hafley's year as Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator in '19 saw the Buckeyes rank among the nation's best in yards per play (first), total defense (second), scoring defense (third), sacks (third), rushing defense (seventh), passing yards allowed (second) and red-zone defense (first). The defensive backs Hafley worked with intercepted 15 passes to rank ninth in the country and allowed just 25 pass plays of 20-plus yards.

  1. He got his coaching start in the college ranks.

Hafley began his coaching career at Worcester Polytech in 2001 as a running backs coach. From there he spent stints as a defensive assistant at Albany (2002-05), Pitt (2006-10) and Rutgers (2011), coaching mostly defensive backs, before he broke into the NFL as a secondary/safeties coach with Tampa Bay in 2012.

Hafley's first year at Pitt helping with DBs coincided with Hall of Fame cornerback Darrelle Revis' final collegiate season in 2006.

In his one season at Rutgers, Hafley coached future Patriots draft picks Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan in the Scarlet Knights' secondary, which ranked ninth nationally in passing defense.

  1. For all the coaching he's done with defensive backs, he was actually a wide receiver as a collegiate player.

A native of Montvale, N.J., Hafley went from Pascack Hills High School in Bergen County to playing four seasons at wide receiver for Siena College (1997-2000) in Colonie, N.Y., graduating with honors and a degree in history.

He then earned his master's degree while coaching at Albany.