Mike Pettine is out and Joe Barry is in — but does that instantly make the Packers defense better?

Last year, Pettine’s led defense ranked seventh in passing yards allowed and 13th in rushing yards allowed. Pretty mediocre stats for a defense loaded with talent. The main issue was the lack of aggressive play-calling from Pettine. The Packers finished 25th in forced turnovers in 2020. So, how do the Packers right the ship with Barry in charge?

A healthy Kenny Clark is vital to success.

Clark is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He consistently demands double-teams which opens up the rest of the front-seven to make plays. Last year, he play in 13 games and only registered two sacks after notching six in each of his previous two seasons. A healthy Clark will make life for easier for everyone, particularly the new-comer Barry. With a full stable of guys who can create pressure, Barry can be aggressive and allow the defense’s playmakers to create turnovers — which were so rare last year.

Packers need Rashan Gary to become a star.

Rashan Gary has steadily improved every year and is ready to become a true gamewrecker. The 23-year-old tallied five sacks and 11 QB hits in four starts last year. It wouldn’t be a shock if he doubled those numbers and led the Packers in sacks during 2021. The 2019 first-round pick had a slow start to his career, but if he can continue taking giant leaps forward Barry’s job will be very easy.

The Packers need consistency opposite of Jaire Alexander.

Last year, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan and Josh Jackson were all too inconsistent for the defense to reach its peak. That is why the Packers used their first-round pick to select Eric Stokes. These four will be in competition all year long, which will hopefully get the best out of each individual.

Alexander, Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage have become a legitimate top three with Alexander being one of the best DB’s in the NFL. Whoever else is on the field with them with automatically draw the attention of the QB because teams will try to copy Tom Brady’s plan from the NFC Championship Game. If this group can play to their talent and force turnovers then the Packers defense can finally solidify themselves as a top group in the league.


Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.