New Packers defensive coordinator draws high praise


MOBILE — Elijah Jones is admittedly biased.

He is absolutely convinced the Green Bay Packers made the correct call when they hired his former head coach at Boston College, Jeff Hafley, as the team’s new defensive coordinator.

Jones played four seasons for Hafley and has nothing but the utmost respect for him.

“Haf is a great guy,’’ Jones said after a practice Thursday at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. “He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever been around and one of the most intense guys as well. But he keeps a level head.’’

Jones, a defensive back who has performed well this week before a horde of NFL officials, said one of Hafley’s strongest attributes is his ability to motivate and draw the best out of each player’s abilities.

Jones noted how Hafley’s motivation skills were on fully display when the Eagles played heavily-favored and nationally-ranked Florida State last Sept 9.

While the Eagles didn’t prevail, they gave the powerful Seminoles all they could handle in a 31-29 loss.

“Before we played Florida State this year, he (Hafley) said, ‘I don’t care who we play. We’re going to go out and attack this game like it’s our last game,’’ Jones said.

“We know that going out there and playing a team like that would be hard, but we didn’t care. We just went out there and attacked and attacked and attacked.

“Haf had us ready to play.’

Jones then added, “Haf likes to dominate, show that we’re an intense defense, that we’re an intense offense and show that we don’t back down from anybody, that we have a chip on our shoulders.’’

Hafley posted a 22-26 record during his tenure at Boston College. The Eagles, who were 7-6 this season, were bowl eligible in three of those fur seasons.

The 6-foot-4, 184-pound Jones played a prominent role for the Eagles last season as a fifth-year senior. He had five interceptions and nine pass deflections in 11 games before leaving the team for an undisclosed, non-injury reason.

Asked at the Senior Bowl about his late-season departure, Jones said, “I had to go for personal reasons. It was just something personal.’’

Jones politely declined to further elaborate on the situation.

Jones has performed well at the Senior Bowl, reading routs well and consistently blanketing receivers.

Projected as a late-run draft selection, Jones has drawn interest from several team, one being the Packers.

Jones wouldn’t mind reuniting not only with Hafley but a pair of Boston College teammates who play for the Packers.

“Yeah, I spoke to them,’’ Jones said of the Packers, who are expected to draft multiple defensive backs. “I spoke to them here (at the Senior Bowl) and I spoke to them at the Hula Bowl.

“I have two teammates on the Packers now: (running back) AJ Dillon and (linebacker) Isaiah McDuffie. I was with them at BC. It’s great to have a comfortable circle of friends like them.

“I don’t have a preferred destination, but I feel like (Green Bay) would be a good fit for me.’’