Thursday was the first opportunity for the media to ask Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry questions about his defense since the team’s first loss of the season to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. On the ground, the Falcons were able to turn 45 carries into 211 yards, many of which came in the fourth quarter as Atlanta evaporated the Packers’ 12-point lead in the final 12 minutes of play.
Obviously, that effort was disappointing. Barry’s defenses have been poor against the run every single season that he’s been the Packers’ defensive coordinator. Not all of the fault on Sunday falls on the shoulders of Barry, though, as players were put in positions to make plays throughout the game. If you want to check a few of those snaps out, peep this Twitter/X thread — which highlights 10 key plays where the players’ execution, not the coach’s scheme, fell short.
In the presser, Barry was asked to explain, specifically, what went wrong on two Bijan Robinson carries that tilted the game in Atlanta’s favor last week.
Shifty— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 20, 2023
: FOX | NFL+ pic.twitter.com/YrUIqZJPyr
The first play was one of two plays on the day where Robinson made multiple people miss on a single carry. By my estimation, outside linebacker Kingsley Enagbare and both safeties (Darnell Savage and Rudy Ford) had a chance to bring Robinson down on the play before he was gang-tackled.
“I thought Darnell [Savage] has done a really good job over the last two weeks of, we use the term ‘trigger,’” said Barry when asked about the play. “[You] can’t break down or you’re going to miss [Robinson.]” He added, “Everything Darnell did was exactly what we tell him to do.” Barry, ultimately, chalked the play up to “a great back making a guy miss.”
Facing a 4th and 1 down 10-3 in the second quarter, the Falcons decide to go for it, and Bijan Robinson picks up the first down on a toss out of a strong right formation pic.twitter.com/h1dWgW7f5o— Ryan McCrary (@TheRyanMcCrary) September 19, 2023
The second play that Barry was asked about was an unbalanced toss on a fourth-and-one situation just outside of the red zone. The Falcons would run this exact play two times in the game in key moments, converting both of them.
As Barry put it, this “tackle over” sweep was the counter that Atlanta checked into out of their quarterback sneak out of the formation. Apparently, the Falcons showed this look in Week 1. Barry claimed that the team had scouted the look and practiced it throughout the week. “If the quarterback sneak is there, they’ll just snap the ball and sneak it,” explained Barry as he mentioned that the defense was playing the sneak and the jet sweep to the weak side rather than a strong toss.
Unfortunately, Green Bay didn’t have the hats to the toss side on either of the sweep plays, leading to two first-down conversions. Plenty of the Packers’ problems on Sunday were due to execution, but this one, clearly, can fall under Barry’s gameplan.
If you would like to listen to Barry’s full press conference this week, it is linked below: