In his first remarks as the Packers defensive coordinator, Joe Barry didn’t dive deep on his scheme. He didn’t give an in-depth explanation of his philosophy. He didn’t list his bona fides.
What he did say, though, came through loud and clear.
“I promise you the guys will tackle,” he said. “I promise you guys will get off blocks. I promise you we’ll do whatever we can to take the ball away and get it back to number 12.”
Barry earned the Packers job after a grueling interview process — an intense 14 hours of Zoom meetings and phone calls with Matt LaFleur. He acknowledged that his existing relationship with LaFleur played a role, but believed his experience as an NFL coordinator and position coach made the ultimate difference.
Barry has worked in a variety of schemes connected to some of the brightest defensive minds in the NFL today. He cut his teeth as a coach under Monte Kiffin, working to implement the legendary Tampa 2, then worked in a variation of Wade Phillips’ scheme before finally landing in the Brandon Staley version of Vic Fangio’s scheme.
Starting from a 3-4 base, Barry says he’ll implement his own version of the Staley scheme, but encouraged his audience not to get too hung up on the scheme itself.
“Defensive football, bottom line, is about guys killing blocks and getting off blocks. It’s about tackling, it’s about playing not just with effort, but with relentless effort.”
One thing about Barry’s scheme is immediately clear: he’s going to lean heavily on linebackers and defensive backs. The former stems from his background as a linebackers coach, the latter from the increasingly sub-heavy NFL.
“Maybe 12 to 15 snaps out of that game, you’re in base defense, whether you’re 4-3 or 3-4,” he said. “But the rest of the time you’re in personnel groups where you have a bunch of DBs on the field.”
No matter what his philosophy, though, Barry does have to overcome some significant stigma. His previous opportunities as defensive coordinator have not gone well, no matter what personnel limitations he might have had. Barry didn’t shy away from that fact, but says he hopes that he’s grown since then.
“I’m really proud of my scars. I really am. I think you’re hardened in life by tough experiences. You can learn a lot by having success and by being in a good place, but I think true growth takes place when things are really hard.”