GREEN BAY – Head Coach Matt LaFleur has hired Joe Barry as the Packers’ new defensive coordinator.
Barry, a native of Boulder, Colo., has more than 25 years of coaching experience between college and the NFL. He most recently served as the assistant head coach/linebackers coach of the Los Angeles Rams, who led the NFL in both scoring defense (18.5 ppg) and total defense (281.9 ypg) in 2020.
Here are five things to know about the Packers’ new defensive coordinator:
1. Barry and LaFleur were part of the Rams’ resurgent 2017 season
Barry and LaFleur were brought together on Sean McVay’s first coaching staff with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. The Rams enjoyed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NFL history in 2017, leading to LaFleur being hired as Tennessee’s offensive play-caller the following year. Both LaFleur and Barry previously worked with McVay in Washington, though at different times. LaFleur was Washington’s quarterbacks coach under Mike Shanahan from 2010-13, while McVay served as tight ends coach. He’d later be promoted to offensive coordinator after Jay Gruden was hired in 2014. One year later, Gruden tabbed Barry as his defensive coordinator.
2. He has experience as an NFL defensive coordinator
Barry would spend two seasons as Washington’s defensive coordinator, working with both Packers inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and linebacker Preston Smith. Smith had eight sacks in Barry’s defense as a rookie second-round pick in 2015. The following year, Washington had two players finish in the top 10 in the NFC in sacks – Ryan Kerrigan (11) and Trent Murphy (nine). Barry’s first season in Washington saw the defense record 26 takeaways in the final 14 weeks of the regular season, tied for third in the NFL over that span. Barry got his first taste of being a defensive coordinator with Detroit in 2007.
3. Barry cut his teeth as a developer of linebackers
A linebacker coach by trade, Barry oversaw the development of former undrafted free agent Cory Littleton during his first three seasons in LA. In their second season together in 2018, Littleton made the Pro Bowl after recording a team-leading 125 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and 13 passes defensed, the most by any linebacker in the NFL a season ago. Littleton then recorded a career-high 134 tackles the following year, with 3½ sacks, two forced fumbles, nine passes defensed and two interceptions. Barry also coached linebackers for three seasons with the San Diego Chargers and two years at USC, where he mentored Packers first-round pick Nick Perry. Barry reached the pinnacle of the sport in 2002 when he was part of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl XXXVII championship team. It was a part of a six-year stint as Buccaneers’ linebackers coach from 2001-06. During that time, Barry’s linebackers combined for seven Pro Bowls, while coaching future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002.
4. Barry has coached on some of the NFL’s most innovative defenses over the past 20 years
Barry got his big break under legendary defensive coach Monte Kiffin in 2001. Kiffin’s “Tampa 2” defense took the NFL by storm at the turn of the Century, playing a pivotal part in the Buccaneers’ first Super Bowl win. The Bucs allowed the fewest passing yards per game from 2001-06 and ranked second in fewest yards allowed per game and second-fewest points allowed per game. Barry would also work with Wade Phillips during his first three seasons in LA and serve on Brandon Staley’s staff this past year. After the Rams led the NFL in total defense in 2020, Barry was set to join Staley after he was announced as the Chargers’ new head coach last month.
5. He played linebacker at both Michigan and USC
A former two-time All-Colorado pick at Fairview High School in Boulder, Barry began his college career at Michigan before transferring to USC in 1991. He’d start seven games at inside linebacker as a senior in 1993, before breaking into the coaching ranks as a video coordinator for the Spartans in 1994 and graduate assistant in 1995.