Matt LaFleur Is Hurting His Reputation By Making Excuses For Joe Barry

Following a miserable performance on Monday night that put Green Bay’s defense in the firing line, the Green Bay Packers’ difficulties persisted.Taking advantage of their weaknesses, Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers destroyed the Packers with 381 passing yards and four touchdowns. Never before has a quarterback visiting Lambeau Field completed with a perfect passing rating like Mayfield did.

The season Patrick Mahomes threw 50 TDs, he had a .363 EPA/play.

Today, Baker was more productive than THAT

— December 18, 2023, Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski)


When playing less explosive attacks, a troubling trend appears, even if Joe Barry’s defensive methods demonstrate resiliency against great opponents like the Detroit Lions and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers’ defense has been lacking since the beginning of the previous campaign, giving up career-best performances to quarterbacks like Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, Bailey Zappe, Taylor Heinicke, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett, Tommy DeVito, and now Mayfield.

A troubling pattern has emerged in Matt LaFleur’s post-loss press conferences. The defense often seems incapable of stopping opposing offenses and inevitably takes center stage. But LaFleur consistently adopts a commendable stance, deflecting blame towards himself and expressing accountability for the team’s shortcomings. While the willingness of a coach to assume responsibility is appreciated, this recurrent narrative has inadvertently become a shield for Barry’s underachievements.

Can’t wait for the post-game presser.

— Felipe Reis Aceti (@Aceti_Felipe) December 17, 2023

LaFleur’s confidence in Barry has paid off with a number of noteworthy accomplishments. With him in charge of defense, the Packers have secured the top NFC seed. Two years previously, in the divisional round, Barry’s team also held the San Francisco 49ers to only six points, and the previous season, Green Bay was just one win away from the postseason. However, recent defensive outings by the Packers have sparked worries. They highlight a trend in which Green Bay’s defense has a lot more low points than high points. While opponents’ errors have contributed to some of the team’s success, the Packers have always had trouble establishing defensive dominance.

I get to watch a ton of 49ers games since my brother is a 9ers fan.

It’s astonishing to me how you see a different kind of sport when watching both defenses.

It comes down to the players on the field. Coaching and mindset are a big part of it too.

— Felipe Reis Aceti (@Aceti_Felipe) December 17, 2023

Green Bay’s pass defense has displayed vulnerability, particularly when facing medium-to-long situations on third and fourth down, where opponents consistently exploit their lapses. The Packers’ success often hinges on

the pass rush obtaining a sack or the opposition offense committing penalties.

However, there are moments like the one in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons, when Desmond Ridder scored on a third-and-15 deep in his own territory, or the game against the Los Angeles Chargers, when Justin Herbert made quick work of it and reached the red zone after only two throw looks. Green Bay’s defense was unable to stop Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who was uncovered across the middle, from getting a completion, which put the Kansas City Chiefs in a third-and-18 situation. Mayfield gained 24 yards against Barry’s defense on a second-and-long play.

2nd & 29 turned into 3rd & 5.

— Felipe Reis Aceti (@Aceti_Felipe) December 17, 2023

Green Bay’s defense has failed to meet expectations despite boasting a front seven with four first-rounders, Eric Stokes’ return, and the potential impact of a healthy Jaire Alexander. The team possesses the individual talent to be a top-10 defensive unit, but they have collectively underachieved. The struggles become more glaring

in contrast to defenses that have performed better yet seem to have less talent, such the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Las Vegas Raiders. The problem has been made worse by the Packers’ losses to each of those clubs.

Given Barry’s unsettling history from prior coaching positions, LaFleur’s insistence on keeping Barry as the defensive coordinator has raised concerns. In2008, Barry called the defensive plays for the legendary Detroit Lions, who finished 0-16. Furthermore, according to DVOA measurements, his tenures as defensive coordinator in Detroit and Washington were tainted by persistently low defensive efficiency rankings.

Joe Barry’s track record as DC (DVOA):

2007 Lions – 30th
2008 Lions – 31st
2015 Washington – 21st
2016 Washington – 25th
2021 Packers – 22nd
2022 Packers – 20th
2023 Packers (14 weeks) – 28th

— Wendell Ferreira (@wendellfp) December 12, 2023

Barry’s passive strategies are exposed by opposing offenses, which result in substantial advantages both via the air and on the ground. Although Barry’s defensive scheme has a strong emphasis on bending rather than breaking, opponents have consistently been successful in getting past players at all levels of the field. Barry’s readiness to give up running yards hasn’t resulted in the resilience that was expected; Green Bay’s defense keeps breaking down. Whether it’s aerial chunk yards or ground assaults, Barry’s defensive strategies haven’t worked as expected.

As head coach, Matt LaFleur runs the danger of making Joe Barry a target if he keeps offering defense-related reasons. A head coach’s duties go beyond leading the squad on the field; they also include hiring coordinators strategically and managing them skillfully. LaFleur’s apparent unwillingness to deal with the obvious problems in the defensive coaching staff points to a willingness to put up with mediocrity that might plague the club for years. All over the league, head coaches make big adjustments to strengthen their clubs. In the end, LaFleur’s inability to comply amounts to a responsible abdication.

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