Packers Hall of Famer Johnnie Gray on Clubhouse Live: "I like the aggressive play" of Green Bay's defense

View Comments

Packers Hall of Famer Johnnie Gray was Monday's guest on Clubhouse Live, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s weekly football show. 

The show can be seen live at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill in downtown Appleton or on any of our USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Facebook pages or websites, including It can also be seen on our YouTube channel.

Here are select and edited answers from the interview:

REPLAY:  Watch Clubhouse Live with Packers Hall of Famer Johnnie Gray

Q: What's your take on what you've seen so far from the 6-1 Packers? They haven't fully clicked yet, but are you feeling good about where this team is headed?

Gray: I do. It's a struggle. Just like any other NFL team with the pandemic situation and with injuries, you've got to find a way to get depth. When I went to training camp - it was nice this year to be able to get to training camp and see eyes-on how each player is progressing in camp and what they were working on and (what) their strengths and their weaknesses were. So it was good to get some insight that way. And I'm sitting there going, "Man, this team's got some depth." Because you never know when injuries are going to happen, when they're going to occur. Is the depth going to be there to take care of them? ... Yeah, so I like it. They're finding a way. 

Former Green Bay Packers safety and Packers Hall of Famer Johnnie Gray was Monday's guest in downtown Appleton.

Q: What concerns you the most about this team?

Gray: It was the injuries. Because I looked at practice, and ... I liked the depth that they have - they can get in there and play anytime. But then all of a sudden, the next thing you know, the backup guy's getting hurt. And now they're pulling guys off the practice squad. And now when you start pulling guys off the street, and you get them out there to play - so now, the only thing I'm worried about is the pandemic.

Q: You're a former safety and a defensive guy. What are your initial impressions on what first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry has brought to that side of the ball? Any noticeable changes you've seen under his watch from what we saw from former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine?

Gray: Mike put a lot of pressure on you. He wanted to give different looks. I think what Joe has done is he has looked at the talent, he looked at the lack of productivity from players on last year's team, and he has come up with a defense that has allowed these guys to play.

Q: When you look at the defense, especially as some of those injured guys eventually return to the field, are you confident in saying it can lead the Packers to a Super Bowl championship this season? 

Gray: I am confident in saying that. I like the aggressive play. And I've got to believe you all believe in it because you watch them fly around to the football. You see Kenny Clark out there busting his butt. And then you see Rashan Gary playing to the talent that we thought he could play at - the reason why he was drafted where he was. And then you see all these guys like De'Vondre Campbell and (Whitney) Mercilus. And you hear in the locker room - I think Jaire (Alexander) started it - "Man, we've got dogs on this team." And I heard somebody make a comment about Mercilus and say, "Man, that guy's a dog." That means he's hungry. That means he wants to get out there and kick that guy's butt across the line of scrimmage and go make the play. Not recklessly, but within the scheme of the defense. And we're starting to see less mistakes on that defensive line.

Remember that first game (against the Saints) where it was a highway for anybody running down the middle of the field? My bad knees could have ran 20 yards on the play. But now, you don't see that. We saw a little bit (Sunday against Washington) with (quarterback Taylor) Heinicke running out, and that obviously can't happen this week on Thursday (against Arizona). But yeah, I think they're coming along. 

Contact Brett Christopherson at (920) 993-7117 or Follow him on Twitter at @PCBrettC.

View Comments