It’s December in the year of our Lord 2022, and Joe Barry is still the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.
It might go down as one of the strangest signings in Packers history. Green Bay definitely thought they had a good shot at grabbing Jim Leonard from the University of Wisconsin. When he turned down the job, it almost appears they went into panic mode. Then they decided to hire Barry.
This happened after taking too long to fire Mike Pettine and after blowing back-to-back NFC Championship games. Sure, everyone deserves a second or even third chance. But his track record didn’t exactly scream “another chance.” His stints as a defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders did not end well.
Barry’s firing after this season seems inevitable. But the delays in getting rid of underachieving coaches might be why the Green Bay Packers haven’t won a Super Bowl in the last decade and might not for another decade.
Joe Barry Should Already Be Gone
I understand it’s hard to remove the guy who runs your defense in the middle of a season. It would be next to impossible to have someone step in and expect to do a better job, especially since they would have already been working under Barry or close with him.
But the fact something wasn’t done is a huge red flag. Matt LaFleur’s decision to keep Pettine around in his first season as head coach was semi-forgivable. To stick with him another year wasn’t so wise. You could argue that the defense wasn’t the reason the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs last year. It’s probably true. What happened was players like Rasul Douglas, De’Vondre Campbell, and several other defenders had the best year of their careers.
Since then, almost everyone on the defense has regressed. Part of that is talent and hustle. The other big factor in that is coaching. It’s clear that Barry has lost the locker room. We all mocked Pettine when he put Preston Smith on Adam Thielen. Now the same crap is happening again with Barry. Jaire Alexander is not covering the best receiver most of the time. That is a decision that should cost someone a job.
Is Matt LaFleur Partly Responsible?
Before now, I have been a huge LaFleur homer. I loved that they brought in a younger head coach with offense in mind and new ideas. I still love his offense when it is working. But his decisions on staffing, especially on the defensive side, are starting to make me question things.
If someone isn’t doing their job well, you mentor them and explain to them what’s currently wrong. If that same person continues not to do their job well, they are most likely removed. Unless you work for a giant corporation. Then it’s a fourth and fifth warning. Followed by a human resources meeting. Then another warning. Finally, a termination, maybe. Then the person who is actually doing a good job gets let go due to budget cuts.
But this is the NFL. Only one team gets to win a Super Bowl every year. Only one team has had back-to-back and multiple MVP quarterbacks and only has two rings to show for it. And now it might be too late. Hoping for the best has probably cost this team another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers.
Obviously, LaFleur can’t come out and say he wants Barry out. But 20 or so missed tackles and allowing a team to run for 300 yards should result in some kind of consequences. The fact that the Packers head coach won’t even budge on questions is a bad look.
It’s a tough spot to be in. Your record is 4-8, though. There is a chance the Packers could finish last in the NFC North, behind the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. Let that sink in. Do you really think you can exacerbate the situation by changing things up during the last stretch of games? The Bears, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings all have the potential to run all over Green Bay, just like the Philadelphia Eagles did.
Just Not Green Bay’s Year
When it comes down to it, 2022 just wasn’t meant to be for the Packers. Injuries plagued them from the beginning. David Bakhtiari wasn’t around the full season. Their wide receiving corps was never healthy together. Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Sammy Watkins were injured at some point. Aaron Rodgers has been playing with a broken thumb.
Losing Rashan Gary was really the nail in the coffin. A lot of teams wouldn’t be able to recover after losing their best pass rusher. Eric Stokes is out for the year. Darnell Savage is banged up. But good coaching can help with that. And right now, the Packers have an excellent head coach, but no one on the defensive side seems to be helping him or contributing at full capacity.
That is something LaFleur will need to work on this offseason. If not, people will start looking in his direction instead of Barry’s or at general manager Brian Gutekunst’s — unless, of course, they have a top-10 pick in next year’s draft and select underwhelming players once again. Then the Packers will be in more trouble than we already know.
Mediocrity hasn’t been a problem the Packers have faced for almost three decades. There is no need to start that now.