Less than 24 hours after his defense pitched a shutout in the red zone, turning around their historic issues inside the 20 from the first six games, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has a problem. Barry will be unable to make the calls for the Packers’ defense when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on a short week this Thursday night.
The reason, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, is COVID-19:
#Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has tested positive for COVID-19, sources tell me and @RapSheet. He will surely miss Thursday’s game against the #AZCardinals, though he will be part of the planning virtually.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 25, 2021
Barry, like all members of the Packers’ coaching staff, is vaccinated against COVID-19, a requirement for any NFL coaches who work with players in-person. There are currently no indications of whether he is symptomatic, but if he is not he will be able to return to full duty after testing negative on consecutive days.
With Barry likely unavailable on Thursday, the Packers will need to decide on an alternate playcaller for the defense when they face the Arizona Cardinals. That game was going to be a challenge for the Packers’ defense regardless of who was calling plays, as Arizona’s offense ranks fourth in points and seventh in yards. The only other individual on the Packers’ coaching staff who has served as a defensive coordinator in the past is defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, so he may be a candidate to take over playcalling duties.
Green Bay’s defense has been improving in recent weeks, and the unit is up to 7th in the NFL in both points and yards allowed. They have allowed 17 or fewer points in four of their seven games this year, including three of their last four, and they have forced multiple turnovers in five of the six games in the team’s current winning streak. The unit will likely need to continue creating takeaways this week if the Packers hope to defeat the 7-0 Cardinals.
In addition to Barry’s reported positive test, the Packers currently have one player on the reserve/COVID-19 list: wide receiver Malik Taylor. Taylor has been inactive on that list for each of the last two games.