Wisconsin Badgers football fans woke up to some unpleasant news Tuesday morning, as Rob Demovsky reported that Badger’s defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard is set to interview with the Green Bay Packers in the coming days.
Big couple days of interviews set in the Packers’ search for a new defensive coordinator: https://t.co/KgV645RcaG pic.twitter.com/yD6uY43Fi2— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) February 2, 2021
Each off-season Leonhard’s name has popped up across college football and in NFL circles for defensive coordinator openings, as he has become one of the top young coordinators at the college level.
Given his extensive ties to the NFL after playing in the league for 10 seasons, the primary question has been would he leave his alma mater for a collegiate head coaching position or an NFL defensive coordinator position, or stick it out in Madison long-term?
While it is still very much in the air, his name in the candidate pool will definitely heighten anxiety levels for Wisconsin fans. If he chooses to leave, heading North two and half hours might be an ideal landing spot for his young family who has put down roots in the Madison area.
The Green Bay Packers appear to have many other candidates coming in as well, including some of their top current staffers, but this is a definitely a situation to monitor considering how impactful Leonhard has been for Wisconsin’s defense since joining Paul Chryst in 2016.
QB coach update
While speaking with the Badgers newest football commit, 2022 quarterback Myles Burkett, over the weekend for Bucky’s 5th Podcast, he hinted at a potential new development in the quarterback coach search.
With former quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr off to Colorado State to become their offensive coordinator, many assumed that Paul Chryst would look to find his replacement as quickly as possible for spring practice. Names such as former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien have surfaced as potential candidates, but Chryst also mentioned to Burkett that there is a possibility that the head man himself might take over the quarterbacks coach role.
Chryst shouldering that load could make sense given his knowledge of the position after playing it in college, and the fact that he rose up in the college ranks due to his abilities as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Add in that the quarterback position is the most impactful spot on the roster, and Chryst was undoubtedly going to be paying a close eye to the group anyways.
We have seen coach Chryst spend spring practice working closely with groups in the past, such as in 2018 and 2019 when he worked individually with Jonathan Taylor in practice at times on pass catching and protections out of the backfield. After starting seven games last season, maybe Graham Mertz and the other quarterbacks get some more focused attention with how important this off-season will likely be for their development heading into next season.
Burkett mentioned that the staff was not yet sure which direction they would choose — whether to hire a full-time staff member for that position or have Paul Chryst assume that responsibility — but regardless it is a noteworthy development that could free up an extra assistant to help elsewhere possibly.