GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers are giving Joe Barry a third chance as an NFL defensive coordinator.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur announced Monday he was making Barry defensive coordinator and Maurice Drayton special teams coordinator. LaFleur already had indicated during a Zoom session with reporters last week he was promoting Drayton to special teams coordinator.
Barry has nearly two decades of experience as an NFL assistant coach. He previously worked as a defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions (2007-2008) and Washington (2015-16).
He spent the past four seasons on the Los Angeles Rams’ staff, where he was an assistant head coach/linebackers coach. New Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill had said on Jan. 27 that Barry would be joining the Chargers’ staff under new head coach Brandon Staley, the former Rams defensive coordinator.
Barry now is heading to Green Bay instead.
The Packers were seeking a new defensive coordinator after announcing at the end of the season that Mike Pettine wouldn’t be back in 2021. Pettine had been the Packers’ defensive coordinator each of the past three seasons, preceding LaFleur’s arrival in Green Bay by a year.
“I think if you look at the great defenses around the league, there’s a certain mentality that comes with that,” LaFleur said last week while discussing how he wanted his defense to improve.
“And it’s not necessarily what you’re calling, but how you’re playing every call. I do think that there’s some areas where we can continue to educate our players and be great in those situations so that if it’s a third down and short, that you’re not playing way off. You don’t want to give up any freebies. You want to make people earn every inch out there on grass.”
During Barry’s four years on their staff, the Rams had 192 sacks to rank second among all NFL teams. Their 104 takeaways during that stretch tied for second in the league.
The Lions ranked 32nd in the league in total defense and scoring defense in both 2007 and 2008. Washington was 28th in total defense in 2015 and 2016. Washington ranked 17th in scoring defense in 2015 and 19th in 2016.
Green Bay ranked ninth in total defense and tied for 13th in run defense in 2020 after finishing 18th in total defense and 23rd in run defense a year earlier. But the Packers’ defense struggled when they lost in the NFC championship game each of the past two seasons.
They gave up 285 yards rushing in a 37-20 loss at San Francisco last season. The Packers lost 31-26 to Tampa Bay in this year’s NFC championship game and gave up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Scotty Miller with 1 second left until halftime.
LaFleur blamed that touchdown on “a flat-out miscommunication and ultimately, any time something like that occurs, that 100% falls squarely on my shoulders.”
“Going to two straight NFC championship games, we couldn’t have done it without Mike Pettine,” LaFleur said last week. “(I) just felt like it was one of those deals where, again, it’s always a tough decision. But just needed some new leadership on that side of the ball, so that’s just the direction that we decided to go.”
Drayton has been an assistant special teams coach with the Packers for the past three seasons. He replaces Shawn Mennenga, who was fired at the end of the season.