Despite a late-season turnaround, the Green Bay Packers have decided to make changes on the defensive side of the ball. On Wednesday, the Packers parted ways with defensive coordinator Joe Barry, per CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones.
Jones reports that other members of the Packers defensive staff are able to look for other jobs, but may not be allowed to make a lateral move to another team.
“We want to thank Joe for his commitment and contributions to our success the past three seasons,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said in a statement. “These decisions are extremely difficult and Joe is one of the best men I’ve had the opportunity to work with in this league.”
Barry spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Packers. The Packers were tied in having the No. 17 defense in yards allowed per game (335.1), and the No. 10 scoring defense in points allowed per game (20.6). Green Bay noticeably turned things around at the end of the regular season. From Weeks 1-14, the Packers ranked No. 31 in opponent rushing yards per game (141.8), but from Weeks 15-18, they ranked No. 4 (84.3). From Weeks 17-18, the Packers allowed the fewest points per game (9.5) and yards per game (201.5) in the NFL.
The Packers defense carried that momentum into the postseason, forcing two turnovers from the Dallas Cowboys in what was the Cowboys’ first home loss of the season. The Packers’ 2023 campaign was ended at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers this past weekend.
In November, LaFleur said he was “absolutely not” planning to fire Barry midseason. Apparently, he wanted to wait until after the season.
Who could replace Barry and take advantage of this attractive job featuring young stars? Let’s take a look.
Martindale is out after two seasons with the New York Giants, and should be one of the hottest defensive coordinator candidates out on the market. His Giants were tied for the league lead in forced turnovers this season with Martindale’s old team, the Baltimore Ravens (31), and in turnover differential (+12).
Apart from being a respected defensive mind with plenty of experience, Martindale made his name coaching linebackers in the NFL. Imagine what he could do with guys like Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Quay Walker and De’Vondre Campbell.
Bring him home! The Packers legendary cornerback is now a coach in the league, having worked as the defensive backs coach for the Cowboys over the last four seasons. He helped Trevon Diggs become one of the most feared defensive backs in the league, and under his watch in 2023, DaRon Bland led the NFL in interceptions with nine. Harris, who was a two-time Pro Bowler and is already in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, began his coaching career as an intern with the Miami Dolphins, and served as a defensive assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs for six seasons.
Evero is seen as one of the top up-and-coming defensive minds in the NFL, and served as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2022, and Carolina Panthers in 2023 after coming over from the Los Angeles Rams, where he worked in the secondary. Keep in mind that Evero was actually a defensive quality control coach for the Packers back in 2016.
The Panthers defense finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the NFL despite numerous injuries. Evero to the Packers is only possible if he is not offered a head coaching job. He’s interviewing with the Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
Frazier is another candidate interviewing for a couple of head coaching jobs this cycle, but he took the 2023 season off from coaching. Previously, Frazier served as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills for six years, and was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2011-13. Frazier also spent two days speaking with the Packers last offseason, so if LaFleur is looking for someone to be the “head coach” of the defensive side of the ball, Frazier could be an option.