Temper excitement for Joe Barry until new Packers DC proves himself

Riding the wave of excitement has gotten Green Bay fans in trouble in the past with their defensive coordinators, most recently with the hiring of Mike Pettine. But the addition of Joe Barry as the next Packers DC certainly has its benefits.

His four years of leading defensive units for both the Detroit Lions and then-Washington Redskins, while providing less-than-stellar numbers, certainly helped boost his case in the nine-man interview pool for head coach Matt LaFleur. Having been a coach on the defensive side of the ball for over 25 years across both the NCAA and NFL, Barry’s experience stood out for LaFleur, as did his commitment to making sure to tailor his scheme to the current roster breakdown.

But before we dance in the streets and celebrate moving on from Pettine, facing the facts of how defenses under Barry have fared in the past is important.

As the DC for the Lions in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the Detroit defense was horrid, producing a last-place, 32nd-ranked finish both years. 

In ‘07, the Lions produced a respectable 7-9 season under HC Rod Marinelli, taking 3rd in the NFC North. But the ‘08 season is the infamous 0-16 season where everyone used Detroit as their punching bag, and Barry’s defense suffered immensely, seeing an increase of 63 points scored overall and around a five-point increase per game.

When Barry earned his second shot at leading a defense, it came in Washington for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. While 17th and 19th-ranked performances are not great, those are a big-time step up from his time with the Lions.

Washington produced two 8+ win seasons during Berry’s tenure leading their defense, with the best season happening in ‘15, producing a unit that was top-13 in third-down conversion (37.7%) and red zone TD percentage (55.1%). 

At the end of the day, LaFleur’s confidence in what Barry brings to the table is what should make GB fans comfortable – even if his record shows that his defenses have been average or below. LaFleur understands the importance of getting it right on that side of the ball, and even though he was unable to get his first choice Jim Leonhard, Barry’s NFL experience needs to be treated as a clean slate (while keeping his past in your mind).

Just because the team moved on from Pettine does not mean things are all going to be sunshine and rainbows overnight – Barry needs to prove himself before he gets his roses.

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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