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Packers Film Study: Defense can’t stop...the Giants?

Joe Barry had no answer for New York’s passing game on Sunday.

NFL: International Series-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers came into Sunday’s game in London as heavy favorites over the New York Giants. Instead of a convincing win, the Packers came home with more questions than answers on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense.

Despite the Giants being without Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Kadarius Toney, the Packers still allowed Daniel Jones to complete 21 of 27 passes for 217 yards to give him a 100.2 passer rating.

That’s inexcusable passing efficiency for Green Bay’s defense, which is littered with talent at linebacker, cornerback, and safety. While there were instances of poor play and execution from the players, the conservative zone coverages and play calling from defensive coordinator Joe Barry should firmly put him on the hot seat.

Over the first five games of the season, deep crossers have been a huge issue for the Packers. At the beginning of the season, the Minnesota Vikings and Justin Jefferson killed the Packers simply by going across the middle of the field.

That was the case again on Sunday, but instead of going against a superstar receiver, it was against a bunch of backups.

Barry’s strategy for handling New York’s passing game, despite their lack of talent at wide receiver, was to play conservative with three or four deep defensive backs in Cover 3 and Cover 4.

Playing soft coverage has been a real problem for the Packers, even under previous defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Even on first downs, the Packers were playing too conservatively with a secondary that has made plays all year by being aggressive and attacking.

Schematically, some of the looks were odd to watch on film. On this Cover 3 look, De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas bumped into each other in man coverage, while Quay Walker appeared to vacate the middle of the field and drift away.

As bad as the scheme and play calling was on Sunday, the execution wasn’t much better. Eric Stokes had a particularly brutal day according to Pro Football Focus, allowing five receptions on five targets for 70 yards and an overall grade of just 43.6.

Despite his stellar speed, Stokes had a problem with getting out of position on multiple occasions. Whether it was taking bad angles as a deep-third defender, or simply getting caught inside on play-action, it was a rough game from the second-year cornerback who had been showing some flashes earlier this season.

Even inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who was a first-team All-Pro last season, has not looked like his former self. He made a serious mental error on a third and long with the team playing Cover 4. Rather than occupying his zone in the middle of the field, Campbell drifted to his left, opening an easy throwing window for Jones to move the chains.

It was another disappointing defensive performance from a unit that’s littered with Pro Bowlers, All-Pros and talented players. If things don’t turn around this season, then Barry’s job is in serious jeopardy.