After making the final decision to move on from former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on Friday, the Green Bay Packers have been hard at work trying to identify his replacement. Just two days after the team elected not to renew Pettine’s contract, the Packers already have interviewed three external candidates for the job, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
This trio has a wide variety of experience coaching in the NFL — one has been a defensive coordinator twice before, while another has just a single year of experience as a primary position coach. This is a sign that the Packers truly are casting a wide net in their search for a DC. However, two of the three candidates interviewed over the weekend have spent the last few years employed by the Los Angeles Rams, for whom Matt LaFleur worked as offensive coordinator in 2017, suggesting that LaFleur is interested in looking into existing relationships.
The man with the most experience in this group is 50-year-old Joe Barry, who has served as the Rams’ assistant head coach/linebackers coach for the past four seasons. Barry has a pair of past stints as a defensive coordinator, neither of which ended up going all that well; he served as the DC in Washington in 2015 and 2016, several years after a two-year stint with the Detroit Lions. That tenure ran from 2007 to 2008, which included the Lions’ 0-16 season, after which Barry was terminated.
Barry’s Lions defenses both ranked dead last in yards and points allowed in both of his seasons in charge. In Washington, the numbers were a bit better, but the team still ranked 28th in points allowed and in the bottom ten in net yards per pass attempt during both seasons.
The other current Rams assistant is secondary coach Ejiro Evero, who is widely viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks. Evero also has been with the Rams since 2017, when he took over as their safeties coach. He therefore already has some knowledge of LaFleur, and he has experience in Green Bay as well, working as a defensive quality control coach during the 2016 season.
The third candidate to interview for Pettine’s old job is Chris Harris, a former NFL safety who played eight seasons for four teams, primarily the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers. A sixth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2005, he became a day-one starter and spent most of seven years in starting lineups at both safety positions. After retiring following the 2012 season, Harris worked for the Bears as a QC coach before a four-year stint as assistant defensive backs coach for the Chargers.
Harris took a new job in 2020 as the Washington Football Team’s defensive backs coach, his first full position coach title. He would seem to be a long shot for the Packers’ DC job given his limited experience, but Washington did field an excellent defense last season, with the secondary playing a solid role in the team’s NFC East title.
Expect the Packers to interview several more candidates in the coming days.