All season, the Packers defense has looked lost and disinterested in playing aggressive, assignment sure football. Joe Barry is at the heart of many of the problems, calling an extremely passive scheme. He has also been unable or unwilling to adapt or take away the opposition’s offensive strengths. For many, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Barry will be fired at the end of the season. However, even after the mess that this season has been so far for the defense, could an unlikely run to the playoffs save Joe Barry?
The answer for many would be absolutely not! However, it may not be that simple. Any type of four game win streak will come with the defense locking down quality opponents, including playoff bound Miami and Minnesota. If Barry’s defense comes alive and plays assignment sure impassioned ball, it may be difficult to remove the coach that put it all together. It will require Barry to throw away his ultra-conservative approach and embrace a ‘live by the sword’ mentality.
Luckily, the biggest change that needs to happen now has already begun to show up on the field. Without his best pass rusher Rashan Gary, Barry needs to fabricate an effective pass rush with the blitz. In the two weeks before the bye, the Packers began to show more of a willingness to send extra rushers. The issue was that Barry couldn’t get away from his desire to play ultra-conservative coverage, having his corners lining up 7 to 9 yards off the receivers. His blitzes couldn’t get home because receivers were open immediately. Barry will need to break his well-set tendencies of passive coverage to take away early reads.
On the other hand, Joe Barry has routinely come off as stubborn and unwilling to look in the mirror.
It’s one thing to believe in your scheme and have confidence in your players, but second guessing and adapting throughout a game and season is literally the job of a coach. The simple fact that he ‘isn’t wired’ to do that is terrifying. It basically means he is incapable of learning from his mistakes. A coach like that has no business being a leader on the team, nor should they be the play caller.
The most likely outcome is that Joe Barry refuses to make any meaningful changes and the problems with the defense will persist through the end of 2022. In the rare chance that he does and the Packers do go on a run, it will make Matt LaFleur at least hesitate before firing his friend. Nevertheless, even a playoff appearance may not even be enough to save Barry’s job.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.