During the Green Bay Packers’ 4-1 November revival, one of the standard features of the season’s first portion seemed to fade away. That was the weekly hand-wringing and outrage over defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who largely took the brunt of the blame for a defense that was decidedly inept when it came to stopping the run. Even coach Matt LaFleur, at times, seemed frustrated with Barry.
But when the Packers stepped to the fore after Halloween and won four of five games, the “Fire Joe Barry” brigade was hushed. It was not, really, that Barry had done anything miraculous to turn things around on his side of the ball. It was just that the offense clicked in such a way that the defense’s deficiencies were masked.
The loss to the Giants on Monday night, though, has brought back the calls for Barry’s job. The Packers were mistake-prone in all three facets, no doubt, but it was, in the end, the defense’s inability to corral the Giants in the final minute and prevent a field goal that won the game for New York that decided things.
At the Packers newsletter, “The Leap,” Joe Barry is again under fire, and writer Jason Hirschhorn noted, “Though multiple parties bear responsibility for their performances on Monday, defensive coordinator Joe Barry earned the largest piece of the blame pie. His unit largely got a pass from head coach Matt LaFleur and the media after holding opponents under 21 points in seven of their first 12 games. However, the low scoring belied systemic problems that have characterized the defense under Barry’s watch for multiple seasons.”
Matt LaFleur Was Not Happy With Packers Defense
Matt LaFleur certainly appeared to pin some blame on Joe Barry’s defense on Monday night. The team’s inability to corral the running game of the Giants was a major issue, as New York racked up 209 rushing yards, the fourth time this season the Packers have yielded 200 rushing yards to an opponent.
The Packers have given up 1,844 yards on the ground this season, 31st in the NFL.
What was most frustrating against the Giants for LaFleur—and for any Packers fan watching the game—was the number of times quarterback Tommy DeVito was able to scamper out of a collapsing pocket into open field in front of him. The Packers got good pressure on DeVito, but had zero sacks and seemingly zero ability to tackle him.
DeVito had 71 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
“Certainly, we were running by him left and right,” LaFleur said in his postgame presser. “Couldn’t get him—he ended up with zero sacks I believe. That had 69 coming into this game. Give credit to them. They obviously outcoached us, outplayed us, but we had, I felt like, a lot of times, we had fly-bys, right by the quarterback. We didn’t, for whatever reason, just missed the quarterback.”
The fire Joe Barry agenda is so back
— Danielle (@toepacktoe) December 12, 2023
— Jordan Love Fan (@JordanLoveIsQB1) December 13, 2023
I have been saying for a while now that Joe Barry has been doing better, but I still wanted the #Packers to fire him.
This is why.
He did better for a while, but at his core, this is who he is.
It's time for an ascending young coach, not a failed retread.
— Bruce Irons (@BruceIronsNFL) December 12, 2023
Firing Joe Barry Key to Reaching Potential?
That was just one aspect of what went wrong for the Packers, though, on the defensive side of the ball Monday. And with three years as the coordinator under his belt, the continued conservatism and lack of imagination from Joe Barry is likely limiting how good this team can be. It’s up to Matt LaFleur to recognize that.
That was one assertion from Hirschhorn, who advocated a change at defensive coordinator.
“The defense has not and probably will not play up to the potential of its personnel without a coordinator change. Barry has nearly spent three seasons running the unit, none of them successful. The Packers finished 12th overall in defensive DVOA in 2021 (though notably 26th against the rush) and regressed to 25th overall last year. They entered Monday ranked 19th and will slide back after their performance in New York,” he wrote.
“The Packers possess too much talent on that side of the ball to justify those results.”