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Cheese Curds, 7/13: Can Joe Barry make Packers’ defense more than the sum of its parts?

Green Bay’s defense couldn’t make the jump to elite status under Mike Pettine. Joe Barry will hope to change that in 2021.

NFL: Green Bay Packers OTA NP NAME-USA TODAY NETWORK

Too often over the past few years, the Green Bay Packers’ defense has looked like less than the sum of its parts.

There is talent all over this roster. Jaire Alexander, Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark, and Adrian Amos are among the best players in the NFL at their positions (regardless of what any arbitrary rankings might say). There’s no shortage of talent on this team. So why does it feel like there are still major problems on defense?

After an ugly 2018, when the Packers finished 22nd in points allowed and 18th in yards allowed, the team got a jolt of talent in free agency and improved their ranking in points allowed to 9th. Turnovers drove much of that improvement, as the team forced ten more in 2019 than the year before while remaining 18th in yards allowed. In 2020, the defense improved in giving up yardage, ranking 9th, but turnovers dipped a bit again and the points allowed dropped to 13th.

The pressure to elevate this defense from merely “pretty good” to elite now falls on Joe Barry, who takes over the defensive coordinator job formerly held by Mike Pettine. Barry has plenty of good clay to work with to mold a great unit, far more than he has ever had at either of his previous stints as a DC. Now it’s on him to put the unit through the kiln of training camp to create a great final product.

Better, worse or the same? Coaching change will dictate fate of Green Bay Packers' defense - ESPN
Personnel changes drove the Packers' improvement on defense over the last few years while Mike Pettine remained the coordinator. Now with most of the same players but a new coordinator, it's on Joe Barry to figure out how to get this unit to live up to its substantial potential.

10 biggest questions for the Green Bay Packers defense entering training camp | Packers Wire
The change at the top is just one of the burning questions on defense, however. Among the others are whether Rashan Gary will keep developing, who lines up in the slot, and which linebackers will start in the team's base defense.

NFL 100: At No. 91, Willie Davis turned a trade to Green Bay into the turning point of his career – The Athletic (subscription)
The Athletic is trying to come up with a definitive list of the 100 greatest players in NFL history, and Davis cracks the list at 91. It's an appropriate time for this writeup as well, after Pro Football Reference's unofficial sacks data dropped on Monday and shows Davis as the Packers' all-time sacks leader.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers places 24th in celebrity golf tourney | Packers.com
Rodgers wasn't the only person with a Packers connection in the tournament - in fact, Sterling Sharpe finished higher, in 12th place. The winner also has a Wisconsin link: Vinny Del Negro played for the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons in the late 1990s.

Peyton Manning 'can't fathom' Aaron Rodgers not playing in 2021 | NFL.com
I guess it's nice to see someone in Denver talking about Rodgers and not acting like it's a done deal that he's heading to the Broncos. Manning says instead that he hopes Rodgers and the Packers work things out for 2021.

TikTok trend of whitening teeth with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is not safe, dentists say | KUTV
First eating Tide Pods, now whitening teeth with a Magic Eraser. I think it's safe to say that nobody should take health advice from random people on TikTok.