After sniffing another Super Bowl and falling short once again, Matt LaFleur made some necessary changes to his coaching staff. With so many talented players on the defense, it seemed new leadership and communication are needed on that side of the ball. New Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday, providing Packer Nation insight into the Packers’ new defense and who the man himself is.
Barry was brought in to replace Mike Pettine after Pettine’s contract expired. Barry spent four years as a defensive coordinator in Detroit and Washington and was most recently assistant head coach and linebackers coach with the LA Rams.
Packer Nation wasn’t sure what to think about Barry, whose previous stints as DC were unspectacular and who had been passed over as a coordinator in LA multiple times. But LaFleur is familiar with Barry from his own time in LA and via his friendship with Sean McVay. After 14 hours of interview, Barry was hired in Green Bay. Yesterday, Barry provided context into himself and the future of the Packers’ defense, and his first impression was solid.
Barry answered questions about his previous stints with poise and wisdom. Barry, the DC of the 0-16 Detroit Lions, said this Tuesday on his past experiences:
“I’m really proud of my scars. I really am. I think in life, you’re hardened by tough experiences. When true growth takes place, I think it’s when things are really, really hard. I would hope the 36-, 37-year-old Joe Barry is a lot different than the 50-year-old Joe Barry. But I’m just as excited as heck.”
While discussing his experience, Barry mentioned the Packers’ base defense will remain a 3-4, though nickel defense will be a priority. Barry has experience in various base defensive systems “I was a 4-3 guy for a long time. I was a Tampa-2 guy for a long time … now I’m a 3-4 guy cuz I was in Wade Phillips 3-4 system,” mentioned Barry, who feels most comfortable with Brandon Stately’s 3-4 defense from the past season.
More important than base scheme, according to Barry, is his guys getting off of blocks, tackling, and taking the ball away. Importantly, he stresses ‘effort.’
These statements, along with Barry keeping Pettine’s position coaches intact, show that LaFleur and Barry think the biggest changes needed with the defense are philosophical. Pettine’s defense was lambasted for playing soft, with not enough physicality and playing far off of the ball. Barry’s statements show he wants to play aggressive, fundamentally sound football.
Is this enough to turn the Packers’ defense around? Only time will tell, but Barry’s philosophy should make Packers fans happy.
Barry is excited to be in Green Bay and even tried his hand at ice fishing to get into the Wisconsin spirit. His answers were direct and insightful. Barry has a wealth of experience in different systems and seems willing to learn from his previous mistakes. Green Bay could be his redemption story.
We won’t know how Barry’s philosophies translate to actual on-field performance for a few months, and the team has a few positions on defense in need of change, but if he can get the Packers tackling better and playing more physically, it’ll be an upgrade for sure.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.