While a Divisional Round loss by the foot of one of the league’s worst kickers and a Favre-esque interception still stings for Green Bay Packers fans, there was a bit of good news to ease that pain. On Wednesday morning, the Packers announced they fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
Any kind of change within the Packers organization should be celebrated, as they are historically slow to action in nearly every regard. That is why many were worried that a relatively strong end of the season would result in head coach Matt LaFleur keeping around his friend for another year. However, with the writing on the wall that keeping Barry could end up being LaFleur’s demise in Green Bay, he and the Packers organization have decided to part ways (pop the champagne).
Green Bay Packers Fire Joe Barry
It has been three long years with Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. This is the longest defensive coordinator job he has held, after he had two failed attempts of two years each with the Detroit Lions and the then-Washington Redskins. However, this stop didn’t last longer due to success. Again, it was due to Green Bay’s inability to enact change and Matt LaFleur’s inability to address conflict.
In the three years with Barry leading the Packer defense, 10th, 16th and 13th in scoring defense. They ranked 28th, 28th and 24th in yards per rushing attempt. The defense also ranked 24th, 7th and 28th in allowed third down conversion rate. For a defensive unit that has so much invested into it, this isn’t good enough.
Of course, saying a defense has “X number of first-round picks” is an ignorant and lazy take, since there are such things as bad draft picks, which the Packers have plenty of. Regardless, there is talent on the defensive side of the football, but there isn’t much discipline or results to show for it. That is the reason why many Packers fans are celebrating this move of naming a new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator.
Possible Replacements as Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator
So, with that being said, who should be the new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator in order to replace Joe Barry? Here are a few possible candidates, including the individual who was offered the job before Barry last time!
Yes, the Wisconsin boy comes home! Not only would this be a feel-good story, it would be a move the Packers were already interested in making. That’s right, Jim Leonhard was offered the Packers defensive coordinator job, but he declined it, forcing the Packers to move onto their backup plan very quickly in order to quiet the headlines of being denied. Of course, Barry was the backup plan (makes more sense now, huh?).
Leonhard opted to return to Wisconsin. You could see why, as everything seemed destined for him to eventually become the head coach, which would be his dream job. With that falling through, and Leonhard expressing interest in keeping his young family in Wisconsin in the past, it makes sense to bring in a young, energetic defensive coordinator to ignite a spark in this group. He’s aggressive and incredibly intelligent. There’s no doubt this would be a fan-favorite move.
Another coach with experience in a Rex Ryan system, like Leonhard above, is the defensive mad scientist Wink Martindale. There’s a chance Wink doesn’t mesh well with Matt LaFleur, but with MLF not having input in the defense anyways, it could become a co-head coach type of situation.
Wink Martindale will bring pressure from all over and give opposing quarterbacks nightmares leading up to the game. The issue is that he needs strong man cornerbacks to run his scheme. He has Jaire Alexander, but Wink would need to have some input in the upcoming draft for this partnership to work out.
The Packers have liked drafting defensive players from Georgia, though they haven’t really lived up to expectations under Barry. A move Green Bay could explore is naming Glenn Schumann as the new defensive coordinator.
Schumann is currently the defensive coordinator at Georgia. This was his first year solely in this role, but he was co-DC and inside linebackers coach for several seasons before this. Obviously, he has had plenty of success there. He would be one of the youngest defensive coordinators in the NFL, if he makes that leap, at only 33 years old. He is a fascinating guy who appears to be one of the better young minds in the game right now.
Ron Rivera was recently fired as Washington’s head coach. He has looked a bit lost over the past couple of years. However, if he still wishes to coach in the NFL, it will likely take a coordinator position. There is no doubt that Rivera knows football, and reverting back solely concentrating on the defense could be exactly what he needs. Adding a true leader that has credibility to this coaching staff would also be huge.
This pairing likely seemed a bit more exciting prior to the Packers stomping the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, but bringing Al Harris back to Lambeau would be something most fans would embrace. Since his playing career, Harris worked under Andy Reid and Bob Sutton in Kansas City before working with Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn in Dallas.
He has had plenty of success with the Cowboys’ secondary, with playmakers truly maximizing their value and getting turnovers all over. With the Packers’ secondary being a weakness of the team, a former defensive back, like Harris or Leonhard, makes sense.