Forget scheme, Joe Barry can't even get right guys on the field as Packers defense nosedives
For the moment, ignore the zone coverages with receivers running wide open that made Bryce Young look like Joe Montana for a half. Ignore the cornerbacks giving 10 yards of free access to Chris Godwin when he’s making every catch within 10 yards. Throw the defense’s philosophy out the window -- hopefully permanently, but set it aside for just a second.
This season, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry can’t even get the right guys on the field. Scheming up a defense can be difficult, but playing the best players is theoretically the easy part, and his defense fails to do the minimum.
When Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted Rashan Gary in 2019, he entered an outside-linebacker rotation with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Under then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and later Barry, the two Smiths played 80% of snaps or more with regularity. In fact, both Z and Preston played over 83% of snaps during that ‘19 season.
In three of the last four years, Preston Smith played 79% of snaps or more, including one under Barry. Right now, Smith has seen the field just 66% of snaps this season with Gary getting to 51%. There is the ACL-recovery excuse for Gary, but ever since he started playing the majority of plays in late October, Gary has yet to exceed 70% of snaps in a game all season.
This is the guy the Packers just gave almost $100 million in an extension. Why won’t they let him attack opposing backfields? There’s utilizing depth, and there’s misusing their best players.