Former Packers Pro-Bowl CB Floated as Successor to DC Joe Barry - Sport News

Former Packers Pro-Bowl CB Floated as Successor to DC Joe Barry

The Green Bay Packers appear more likely to move on from coordinator Joe Barry after a pair of poor showings from the defense over the past two weeks, and a familiar name could be a candidate to replace him.

Matt LaFleur, Packers

Peter Bukowski of The Leap floated former Packers cornerback Al Harris as a possibility to fill Barry’s role if and when head coach Matt LaFleur ever decides to fire the embattled DC, who fans and media members alike have put on the hot seat for the better part of the past two years.

“I’m not generally into wish-casting for reunions being a good idea just because they’re reunions, but I’d be up for Al Harris as the next DC in Green Bay,” Bukowski posted to X on Sunday, December 17. “You knew from his days as a player he could be a good coach someday. Mix of defensive backgrounds, too.”

Al Harris Was Elite Defensive Back for Packers in Late 2000s

Al Harris, Packers

Harris played 14 seasons in the NFL between 1998-2011, including seven years in Green Bay between 2003-09. He earned Pro-Bowl honors in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08 as well as second-team All-Pro honors in 2007.

Over the course of his career, Harris appeared in 194 games, starting 128 of those. He retired with 140 pass breakups 21 interceptions and 3 defensive touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.

Now 49 years old, Harris got his start in coaching as an intern with the Miami Dolphins in 2012 — the year following his retirement from the NFL as a player. He caught on with the Kansas City Chiefs the following season, where he spent the next two years as an assistant secondary coach, per Pro Football History.

Harris then served as the cornerbacks coach/secondary coach for the Chiefs from 2016-18 before moving to the collegiate ranks as a defensive assistant coach with Florida Atlantic for one season. He re-entered the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, where he has served as the defensive backs coach for the past four years.

After spending more than half of his life as an NFL coach and player for teams with an above-average success rate during his tenures, Harris appears primed to make the leap to a defensive coordinator position. Green Bay makes considerable sense due to the team’s apparent need for a new voice in that role and Harris’ connection to the franchise.

Packers Defense Has Struggled Mightily Against Both Run, Pass Over Past 2 Weeks

Joe Barry, Packers defensive coordinator
A couple of weeks back, it appeared Barry may have staved off calls for his job, as the Packers put together a three-game win streak and the defense broke into the top-10 in terms of points allowed for the season. However, the team’s last two losses have highlighted the problems that have long plagued Green Bay’s defense.

Two weeks ago, the New York Giants and former third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito torched the Packers to the tune of 209 rushing yards and 24 points.

“I am so sick of watching this Packers defense do the same [stuff]. It’s been years! Years!” ESPN’s Mina Kimes said during the December 12 edition of the Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny. “I understand being taken aback a little bit by the first time Tommy DeVito runs zone read. How are you still being fooled by that, or not accounting for that, deep into the football game? … Like, what are you doing?”

On Sunday, Barry and the Green Bay defense were equally embarrassed by quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though this time it was through the air. Mayfield finished the afternoon 22-of-28 passing for 381 yards, 4 touchdowns and the first perfect passer rating ever registered by a visiting QB at Lambeau Field. The Bucs beat the Packers handily by a score of 34-20.

“Barry played zone 66% of the time, according to ESPN Analytics/NFL Next Gen Stats, and Mayfield went 16-of-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns against it,” Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV posted to X Sunday night. “That was the most allowed by the Packers while playing zone since ESPN began tracking it in 2007.”

Matt LaFleur Avoids Definitive Answer on Joe Barry’s Job Security Following Loss to Bucs

Matt LaFleur, Packers
Reporters asked LaFleur following the game if he plans to consider hiring an in-season replacement for Barry. The head coach’s response was not definitive, but it wasn’t great for Barry’s career prospects either.

“Right now, we’re looking for solutions,” LaFleur said. “It is extremely disappointing to have a home game against a team that is right in the thick of it in their division when you’re holding onto one of those spots and you get manhandled in the second half of a tight ballgame.”

Guessing at Barry’s employment status at this point remains pure speculation, but it is difficult to envision the Packers DC keeping his job if he can’t drastically improve defensive production over the final three weeks of the season and play a major role in Green Bay earning a spot in the NFC playoffs. Assuming that doesn’t happen, Harris could be a name to watch over the offseason.

 

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