Yikes. While the hire can’t be categorized as a surprise, it certainly still raised eyebrows at the very least. With all hires, I’m willing to wait and give Joe Barry a shot, but the initial reaction is not great. Matt LaFleur could’ve gone in several different directions, and he chose to go the route of someone he’s familiar with and has worked with before. Fingers crossed it doesn’t backfire for the Green Bay Packers.
Has been a defensive coordinator twice. In a two-year stint with the Detroit Lions, 2007-08, his defenses were 32nd (dead last) in yards and points both seasons. And in two years with Washington, 2015-16, his defenses were 28th in yards both season, 17th in points Year 1, 19th in points Year 2.
Not exactly what you would call great numbers.
If your argument is, Look at the players on those defenses, Okay, I get that to an extent. But the rebuttal is simple: How can a guy with that track record and seemingly zero success as a defensive coordinator get another chance?
And hey, I’m all for second chances. But a third opportunity? LaFleur knows him, has worked with him in the past, sure. He’s still going to have to sell this hire to the Packers faithful because there is very little from Barry’s past that makes this appear to be the correct selection.
Think about this for a second. Barry has been with the Los Angeles Rams in multiple roles since 2017. Sean McVay had two chances to elevate Barry to defensive coordinator and didn’t on either occasion. Doesn’t that shed some light on this? McVay was comfortable having Barry as the linebackers coach and assistant head coach. But when choosing a defensive coordinator, he went with Wade Phillips and then Brandon Staley instead of Barry.
This isn’t a spot where whoever was hired needs to come in and build or rebuild. There are studs on this defense at every level. In this case, Barry needs to build ON to what is already there for this defense in Green Bay. The talent is evident. They didn’t need a savior. But Barry is the answer? I don’t know.
Some have pointed to LaFleur and that when he was hired as head coach, it wasn’t the glamor pick or the no-brainer selection at the time. And I’ll admit, LaFleur has turned out to be brilliant and better than damn near everyone expected through two seasons. Here’s the main difference: LaFleur had never been a head coach in the NFL before he got the gig for the Packers. There was no track record, nothing to look at it in his past to compare it to. We have four years of Barry being a downright dreadful defensive coordinator to look at and draw conclusions from now that he’s been hired for a third time to run a defense.
It’s just hard to convince anyone right now that there wasn’t a better candidate. The writing on the wall indicates it was a hire based on familiarity and friendship and not substance or results. And that is perhaps the most worrisome part of all of this.
But again, I’m willing to give the guy a shot.
I never thought the Packers would hire someone that had me briefly think, “What’s Mike Pettine up to?” Yet here we are. I’m exaggerating, maybe, slightly. Now that we know who the hire is, I would’ve almost preferred Green Bay went with a first-timer. Hopefully, the masses, including myself, are wrong about this.
**What’s Dom Capers doing these days?**
Expectations shouldn’t be lofty with this hire, and if they are, they should be only because of the players on this defense. That may sound harsh, and it is meant to be. The hope is Barry comes in and is more aggressive than Pettine and Capers were, puts players in the best spot to succeed, and maximizes the potential of those who have high ceilings (Jaire Alexander, Kenny Clark, Darnell Savage, etc.).
I don’t think Packers fans are asking for the world here. They see how good the defense can be and want someone who can make it come to fruition. Fingers crossed that guy is Barry.