The Green Bay Packers and head coach Matt LaFleur fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on Wednesday, and it has taken about 48 hours for the first firm report of a candidate interviewing for the job to arrive. That report is now here and the first interviewee, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic, is former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
The links between Staley and the Packers are numerous, and many of them involve the man he is interviewing to replace. A veteran of the Vic Fangio school of defense, Staley spent three seasons as the outside linebackers coach under Fangio, following him from Chicago to Denver after the 2018 season. He then got his first opportunity to be an NFL defensive coordinator in 2020, when the Los Angeles Rams hired him to lead the defense under head coach Sean McVay — a close friend and former coworker of Matt LaFleur.
In that one year with the Rams, Staley’s defense was the best in the league in both points and yards allowed, featuring the top pass defense by net yards per attempt and the third-best in yards per rush. That performance earned Staley the head coaching job across the hall with the Los Angeles Chargers, a job he held until he was fired with three games remaining in the 2023 regular season.
The McVay connection is notable, but it is Joe Barry who is the strongest link between the Packers and Staley. Barry, who had been the Rams’ assistant head coach and linebackers coach from 2017 to 2020 and worked under Staley during his one year as Rams DC, was initially set to follow Staley to the Chargers to be their defensive passing game coordinator and linebackers coach. Instead, the Packers offered him their own DC job and he came to Green Bay instead.
Staley called the plays for the Chargers’ defense as their head coach, but that unit struggled to find any success during his tenure. The Chargers never ranked higher than 20th in either yards or points allowed in his three years at the helm, and they finished 28th in net yards per pass attempt allowed in 2023. The Packers beat Staley’s Chargers 23-20 in week 11 this fall, the first win of a three-game streak that set them on a path to a postseason berth.
Green Bay will surely have many more candidates come in for interviews in the next several days, but Staley’s performance at the head of a defense is a bit of a Rorschach Test. He would likely run a similar scheme to Barry’s, and he took the league by storm with the Rams in 2020, but he also has had no success standing up a quality unit with the Chargers. It should be no surprise that the Packers are bringing him in to interview, however, given the connections he has in Green Bay.