The Green Bay Packers didn’t take lengthy to seek out the following chief of their secondary.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein, the Packers are hiring former Minnesota assistant Jerry Gray to be their new secondary coach after he spent the previous six years in the identical position for the Vikings. He will substitute Jason Simmons, who departed final Friday to take the identical job with the Carolina Panthers on new coach Matt Rhule’s first NFL teaching employees.
Gray has been teaching within the NFL for greater than twenty years and hung out as a defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills (2001-05) and Tennessee Titans (2011-13). He has additionally hung out teaching defensive backs for the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks.
Beyond his teaching resume, Gray was additionally a star participant throughout his nine-year profession and made 4 consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986-89 whereas taking part in for the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted him within the first spherical of the 1985 NFL Draft. He performed his last two seasons with the Houston Oilers (1992) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993) earlier than retiring, later being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013 for his standout profession with Texas.
The Packers completed the 2019 season ranked 18th in passing yards allowed per try (34.1) and gave up 40 or extra yards on a second-worst 15 passing performs.
Gray Fills Crucial Role for Packers
While assistant hires can generally fly underneath the radar, Gray could have a direct affect on shaping the way forward for the Packers’ protection with a few of their youngest and most proficient gamers residing within the secondary, together with cornerbacks Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Josh Jackson together with security Darnell Savage Jr.
The growth of Alexander, specifically, can be essential with expectations charting a fair steeper climb for him in his third 12 months within the league. He completed the 2019 season with two interceptions after tallying one in his rookie 12 months and upped his handed defended from 11 to 17, including a compelled fumble and fumble restoration as effectively.
Savage, too, figures to be an unlimited a part of the Packers’ future after incomes All-Rookie distinction in his debut 12 months. Despite lacking two video games with an damage, the previous first-round choose recorded 55 tackles and picked off two passes through the common season as a complement to Adrian Amos.
Gray contributed enormously to the general success of the Vikings go protection throughout his time on Mike Zimmer’s teaching employees and helped them obtain a top-10 DVOA in every of the previous 5 seasons, in accordance with Football Outsiders. Minnesota additionally completed tied for third with the Packers with 17 complete interceptions through the 2019 season.
At the identical time, struggles within the Vikings secondary appeared like an every-week incidence. They allowed a sixth-worst completion share (65.6) and continuously noticed a few of their greater names — together with Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes — burned on explosive performs, which is one thing the Packers themselves skilled all through their decrease moments in 2019.