The Green Bay Packers defense never reached its potential under former defensive coordinator Joe Barry. The Packers have talent at nearly every position, but the team needs to get more consistent production from the defense this season to match the success of the offense and take the team to a higher level of play. We’ll see if new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley can get the team there. Here are five key questions facing the Packers defense as we head into the 2024 season:

Five Key Questions the Green Bay Packers Defense Must Answer in 2024, Number Five: Will Rashan Gary Finally Make the Pro Bowl?

Rashan Gary has been elite at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks but hasn’t ever reached double digits in sacks in a season or earned Pro Bowl honors.

With the switch to a four-man front, Gary will be starting plays with his hand on the ground and will have a different starting point when it comes to rushing the passer.

He is also one more year removed from his season-ending knee injury suffered in Week 9 of 2022.

Gary should benefit from the more aggressive, attack-style defense Hafley is introducing. The Packers hope he reaches double digit sacks and a Pro Bowl berth this season.

Number Four: Can This Team Stop the Run?

Barry’s units struggled to stop the run. While he emphasized shutting down big plays, particularly deep passes, the run defense wasn’t just bad, it was near the bottom of the league, bad.

The Packers hope that the new, more aggressive approach under Hafley will occupy more blockers and allow linebackers like Quay Walker and Edgerrin Cooper to make stops. Better run support from the safety position will also hopefully upgrade the defense.

The interior defensive linemen led by Kenny Clark, T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt will also need to stop the run better in this new defense.

Five Key Questions the Green Bay Packers Defense Must Answer in 2024, Number Three:  Who Will Start at CB Opposite Jaire Alexander?

We know Jaire Alexander will start at one perimeter corner spot, but the other starting spot is up for grabs.

The two leading candidates are former first round pick, Eric Stokes and second-year man, Carrington Valentine.

Both have drawn praise from the coaching staff over the course of OTAs. Stokes finally seems to be healthy for the first time in a year and a half and needs to return to his rookie form of 2021.

Valentine put on some weight this offseason at the request of the coaching staff. He has looked strong at OTAs but needs to be more consistent this season to claim the starting job.

It’s likely both players see the field but sorting out their roles and getting consistent play at cornerback will be critical for the defense.

Number Two: How Will the Linebackers Line Up?

We know Quay Walker will start at one linebacker spot and the Packers need him to live up to potential this season. Hafley’s new defense should make better use of his skills and speed. Walker will likely be used as a blitzer more often under Hafley as well.

Most of the time, the Packers will play a 4-2-5 defense but the other starter at linebacker is up for grabs. Will Cooper win the job or veteran Isaiah McDuffie? McDuffie played for Hafley at Boston College. Cooper gives the team more speed, McDuffie has more experience.

Figuring out the linebacking assignments and getting solid play from the linebackers will be a key for the Packers defense this season.

Five Key Questions the Green Bay Packers Defense Must Answer in 2024, Number One: How Quickly Will the Players Become Comfortable in Jeff Hafley’s Defense?

Any new defensive system will take time to become second nature for the players. How quickly the players pick up the system will be critical.

Even in a more aggressive defense, the Packers need their players to think less and react more if they hope to be successful. Their assignments and keys must become second nature.

While there will certainly be a learning curve early in the season, minimizing the length of that adjustment may go a long way to determining the team’s win total this season.

More importantly, can Hafley get this unit to play to its potential for the stretch drive and hopefully the playoffs?



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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