The Green Bay Packers closed the season with three consecutive losses and finished 7-9, the team’s first losing seasons since a 6-10 campaign in 2008. That also happened to be the last time Mike McCarthy’s club missed the playoffs as well. Not having star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a big chunk of the year certainly hurt. But the team also struggled once again on defense, a unit that has been under a lot of criticism for too many years.

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After nine seasons with the club, coordinator Don Capers was relieved of his duties.

That opened the door for the hiring of Mike Pettine, who was last seen serving as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach. Prior to that, he had stints as the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets (2009-12) and Buffalo Bills (2013). So what can the defensive specialist do for this newest employer?

Positives and negatives

The cupboard is not bare when it comes to talent on this side of the ball.

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The team has a pair of rising inside linebackers in Blake Martinez (team-high 142 tackles) and Jake Ryan (79 tackles), as well as impressive free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (79 tackles, three interceptions) and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels. However, outside linebacker Clay Matthews and his 80 career sacks will be entering his 10th NFL season in 2018. He led the team with 8.5 sacks, while bookend Nick Perry finished with seven quarterback traps despite missing a few games.

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Green Bay Packers

But 37 sacks in 16 games wasn’t enough to prevent the Green Bay Packers from giving up 40 offensive touchdowns – 30 of those through the air.

The injury bug continued the secondary, most notably the cornerback position. Former general manager Ted Thompson spent a number of first- and second-round draft picks over the years to address this area and it remains a concern – mostly due to health. Now it will be up to new GM Brian Gutekunst to add some additional talent to Pettine’s unit.

Personnel questions

So what will Pettine have to work with this offseason and summer?

During his career, he has implemented both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, and the Green Bay Packers obviously utilized the former for many years. But what about bringing back versatile safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Davon House? Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents in March, as is 33-year-old outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Pettine certainly has some talent to work with but reviving the league’s 22nd-ranked defense is going to be a tall order.

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