If Joe Barry gets fired, is the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator job even appealing?
When Matt LaFleur underwent a search for his first true defensive-coordinator hire back in the winter of 2021, the job brought as much cache as a job like that could offer. The Green Bay Packers came within a shirt tug of the Super Bowl, had the MVP of the league, and one of the bright young head coaches in the NFL. They boasted ascending stars like Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage to go with trusted veterans Adrian Amos and Za’Darius Smith.
Two years later, there’s less talent, far less certainty over the future of the quarterback, and a much more precarious position in the league standings. That raises an essential question for the team and for fans: If LaFleur does fire his hand-picked Mike Pettine successor this winter, is that still job desirable?
Before even considering the talent on the Packers’ defensive roster, the situation in Green Bay lacks security. Pettine lasted a year under LaFleur and Joe Barry would presumably be fired after two seasons, at least in this hypothetical. Aaron Rodgers avoids criticism like Teflon from a large portion of the fan base and media, which means the spotlight will be on the defensive coordinator. They will get blamed, much like Barry has this season, for problems that may have nothing to do with the DC.
There’s no easier scapegoat for #TheNarrative than a defense for a star quarterback’s shortcomings, especially Rodgers who has truly been on the wrong end of a slew of infamously bad defensive performances in big games. We know that side of the ball has let him down over and over.
Speaking of Rodgers, is he going to be the quarterback in a year? In two years? And if he’s not or if he’s declining, how much rope does that give LaFleur after what has been a mostly disastrous season by his standards? Would another eight- or nine-loss season put LaFleur’s job on the line, thus putting whoever he hires on the front lines of the firing squad there with him?
What’s more, the identity of the quarterback and the level at which he produces will cap the ceiling of the team. Coaches tend to want to go places they see the upside to win consistently. That’s the best thing for their professional careers; it’s the rational approach to picking a new job.