Joe Barry is not worried about how the Packers’ defenses have looked, but Week 3 might change his tune.
In Week 1, the Green Bay Packers’ defense looked horrible as Saints quarterback Jameis Winston threw five touchdown passes on just 20 attempts and with just 148 yards. In the first half of Week 2 against the Detroit Lions, as the Packers trailed 17-14 at halftime, the unit wasn’t much better.
After that Week 1 performance, a 38-3 loss to New Orleans, first-year Packers’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry said “you never have to worry about me-Promise.”
Barry replaced Mike Pettine, whose contract expired after last year’s NFC Championship Game loss. Pettine didn’t seem likely to return, especially after a key defensive failure just before halftime against the Buccaneers. Those kinds of defensive shortcomings have become common in Green Bay’s playoff exits.
Via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had a conversation with Barry just before halftime against the Lions about either playing coverage or bringing pressure. The idea was to get the ball back for the offense, with the second-half kickoff coming their way.
“Because when we were doing our four-man rushes and playing man coverages behind it, we weren’t getting to the quarterback,” LaFleur said. Barry understood.
“Of course, I was furious. … We settled down and held them to a long field goal, but still we didn’t get the ball back for our offense. I was upset. Matt was upset, too. He has every right to be as the head coach.”
Packers: Lack of urgency may doom Joe Barry as DC
The Packers shut the Lions out in the second half last Monday night, in what became a 35-17 win. Per ESPN Stats and Info Barry ratcheted up the pressure scheme, blitzing on all five of Jared Goff’s dropbacks in the third quarter. Overall, Green Bay blitzed 41 percent of the time against Detroit compared to 16.7 percent against New Orleans.
Through two weeks, the Packers rank last in the league in sacks (one) and sack percentage (1.6 per dropback). ESPN’s pass rush win rate is a little kinder (39.6 percent, 21st in the league), and their blitz rate (per dropback) is sixth-highest in the league through Week 2 (36.5 percent).
The Packers have a road game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night. Barry spent the last four seasons as linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Rams. So he should be plenty familiar with Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which has literally been the most motion-heavy in the league over the last two-plus seasons.
From Dom Capers to Pettine to now two games of Barry, the Packers can’t seem to get their defensive coordinator hire quite right. If Barry isn’t worried today, by late Sunday night he will be if the 49ers run roughshod over his unit as they have in the past.