The Joe Barry Question

The Packers have had a fair share of defensive coordinators over the past decade, all moved on from to the delight of the fans at the time. It’s starting to become a disappointing trend with a defense that has invested a lot of draft capital into itself, a trend that some fans are calling to continue with Packers DC Joe Barry. 

The current state of the defense, although injured, has been underperforming for a long time. The best recent example is week two vs the Atlanta Falcons. The packers let up 25 points to a genuinely bad falcons offense. In total, the Packers defense is 19th in points allowed per game through the first four games.

This defense can not stop the run. In the Joe Barry era the Packers have let up 4.8 yards per carry and over 125 rush yards per game. Is it a problem with the scheme? I wouldn’t think so. Four defensive lineman and 6-2 formations are common for the defense, but it doesn’t matter when the players fail their individual assignments. Most likely the positional coaches mismanaging, and not having the right people in the right places.

The scheme gets limited when the safety room lacks quality and the corners lack health, not to mention the general lack of contain men on the line. Really, the Packers are limited to nickel sets. When you start collapsing that box, the backend of the defense starts to look like Darnell Savage and Carrington Valentine, which is not a position you want to be in, in the NFL.

The Packers lack a defensive identity. There is too much talent on that side of the ball to get the bare minimum out of. A modern NFL defense has to choose between a ‘bend, don’t break’ approach or something that is more aggressive and dictates terms, like ball hawking or heavy hitting. The packers seem to be choosing bending but not breaking, but often finds themselves in position to break too often. The talent on defense is too high not to commit to loftier goals.

There have been key injuries and pitch counts for the defense this season which is important to take into account. Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rashan Gary, De’vondre Campbell have all missed time. These are big names to account for, although they have not been impactful enough to give full grace to Joe Barry.

The offense and special teams has been hurting the defense through these first half of the season, which gives some more grace to the Barry defense.

Packers fans have been calling for Barry’s job due to the continued mediocrity. The defense has been merely fine. Fine is not bad enough for the coordinator to get fired midseason, particularly because the offense and special teams has struggled, hurting the defense through the first half of the season. However when there is that much talent, “fine” is not good. 

Only two games over 20 points allowed in the last 10 games does sound good, but if you look a bit more into those games the strength of the opponents and conditions of the game gives important context. All of the defensive statistics point towards slightly above average, with the exception of run defense. But simply watching the team, the defense isn’t scary enough.

If the packers are going to fire him now, they would have done it during the offseason (which I would have agreed with). I think the Packers defense cannot take the next step without a full remodel of the defenses coaching structure, as well as a few new faces in the personnel itself.
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