Longtime Wisconsin Badgers coach Jim Leonhard is not currently on any college or NFL coaching staff. According to reports, he does not really need to be either as Wisconsin is paying him $1 million this season NOT to coach for them. That being said, there are several coaching openings that still have not been filled on both the college and professional levels. One such position is the Green Bay Packers’ defensive backs coach position. Jerry Gray recently left the organization to join the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching staff as an assistant head coach/defense. With his role now open in Green Bay, the Packers could turn to Leonhard to fill the vacancy.
Jim Leonhard Was Offered a Role on the Packers Coaching Staff Before
As many Packers fans may remember, Joe Barry was not the Packers’ first choice for defensive coordinator. After Green Bay parted ways with Mike Pettine, they offered the defensive coordinator job to Leonhard first. However, he turned the position down to remain with the Wisconsin Badgers. It was only after that development that Barry was offered the job.
Jim Leonhard and the Packers Could Be a Perfect Match
Even though it is the same sport, coaching football in the NFL is a different beast than coaching it in college. One only needs to look at the failures of great college coaches such as Urban Meyer and Nick Saban to find success in the NFL. All this to say that there is no guarantee that Leonhard would have found immediate success as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.
Perhaps the transition to coaching in the NFL would be eased by coaching a specialty position. In this case, Leonhard, who spent 10 years as a player in the NFL as a defensive back/safety, could find some success right away. He would have the benefit of working with Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander as well as standout backs Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes.
One of the Packers’ biggest weakness this season was their safety play. As mentioned, Leonhard played safety in the NFL and could bring a decade of experience to help mentor young players at the position. Additionally, Leonhard has a good track record of getting the most out of his defensive backs/safeties while running the defense at Wisconsin.
There are really two big questions regarding Leonhard’s candidacy for the Packers coaching staff:
- Does he even want to coach this year?
- Would he want to take the lesser role on a team that once offered him the defensive coordinator job?
If Leonhard decides to coach in 2023, and if he would have no issues working under Joe Barry, he and the Packers could be a perfect match.