Packers CB Jaire Alexander focused on doing ‘what’s best for the team’

By: Paul Bretl 5/30/24

After a 2023 season where Jaire Alexander dealt with injuries along with a team-imposed suspension, he is attacking 2024 a bit differently. This doesn’t mean the offseason was a complete reboot for Alexander in terms of how he goes about things, but changes were made.

“It’s a little bit of both,” said Alexander. “I feel like I have so much more to put out there and display consistently, and I’m just ready to attack that.”

Injuries limited Alexander to only nine games last season, including the playoffs. He was also suspended for the Packers Week 17 game against Minnesota for going on the field the week prior during the coin toss when he wasn’t one of the elected captains.

Matt LaFleur discussed how difficult the decision to suspend Alexander was, but added that it provided a good learning opportunity for both sides. And upon Alexander’s return in Week 18, his play improved as well.

In the six games prior to the suspension, Alexander allowed 24 completions on 31 targets at almost 13.0 yards per catch with five pass breakups. However, in the three games following the suspension, two of which were playoff games, Alexander held pass-catchers to four receptions on eight targets at 6.8 yards per catch with an interception and a pass breakup.

“Man, I’m super motivated,” said Alexander about coming off last season. “I feel like every offseason is always a fresh start to do better and get better. That’s why I’m here.”

One of those changes that were made this offseason was Alexander choosing to participate in voluntary OTAs. Both Matt LaFleur and passing game coordinator Derrick Ansley have commented on how present Alexander has been, the leadership he has displayed, and the energy he’s brought to the building.

“I think that, like I said, just going into Year 7,” said Alexander, “at this point, I’m trying not to make it as much about myself and just do what’s best for the team.”

As new defenisve coordinator attempts to turn this Packers defense around, a big part of that will be helping Alexander return to his All-Pro caliber level of play. As a unit, the Packers generated only seven interceptions last season, the second-fewest in football.

Hafley’s vision-based, more man-heavy defensive approach should help put Alexander and the other Packers’ cornerbacks in better positions to make plays on the football. Hafley has also been praised by former players – including Richard Sherman – for his ability as a teacher and to build game-plans that allow the defenders to play fast and physical, another aspect that can contribute to improved play from this unit as a whole.

“I like Jeff,” said Alexander. “He’s been great since Day 1. Preaches aggression, getting after everything. He’s a cool guy.

“You see it across the board,” Alexander added, “we’ve got a bunch of athletes on the field who like to make plays and can make plays. I think this is going to work really well.”

However, also a part of that improved-play equation is the relationship aspect and keeping the lines of communication open. Following Alexander’s suspension last season, LaFleur mentioned that the communication from both parties was something that needed to improve.

During Hafley’s introductory press conference, he discussed how important the communication element was to him, and that approach has helped Alexander feel more connected to the coaching staff.

“Yeah, definitely. When I met the strength staff first, they were great. There was a mutual respect. I was willing to work with them. Then I met the coaches next. Same there. It was all good vibes from the get-go. That propelled me here as well. Talking with Matt, talking with Gutey. I’ve seen them several times this offseason before I even came back to OTAs. Just having that relationship and building that, it’s been helpful.”

Alexander has also been appreciative of having Xavier McKinney in the defensive back room. He calls McKinney his “big little bro” and adds that it’s been fun leading alongside of him, and that his presence provides “another voice who can make plays.”

When Hafley met with reporters in early May, he said the vibes are high in the cornerback room, where it’s going to be a competitive environment–and a key contributor to those vibes is Alexander’s presence within the building.

“I think the biggest thing is just understanding that although I am on an island all the time and all day,” said Alexander, “it’s the culmination of everybody being around and the culmination of the chemistry that we’re building now that’s going to matter later on in the season. You’ll see it.”