Matt LaFleur's Biggest Mistake as Green Bay's Head Coach...

Matt LaFleur's decision to hire Joe Barry as his defensive co-ordinator has compromised a vastly talented group of players.

In his time as Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur has done plenty of good.

Taking over a team which had endured back-to-back losing seasons, he quickly led a turnaround culminating in 29 regular season wins across three campaigns.

However, a frustrating and disappointing 2022 season (and particularly Green Bay’s loss to Tennessee) has highlighted LaFleur’s biggest mistake since he took the helm: Hiring Joe Barry as his defensive co-ordinator.

With the season on the line, the Packers allowed the Titans, who came in with one of the worst offenses in the NFL, to put up 27 points. This was the third time in four games Green Bay had allowed 27 points or more.

It has become increasingly clear that the defense, which appeared to be Green Bay’s strength compared to the scuffling offense, was being propped up by Rashan Gary and his ability to make game-changing plays.

Barry had a poor track record as a co-ordinator before his arrival, but the excuse given for this was a lack of talent on the previous units he coached. There is no such excuse this time.

Green Bay has used seven first-round picks on this defense: Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Eric Stokes, Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, and have invested significant free agency dollars in Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas.

Joe Barry has failed to maximise the talent at his disposal. Players under his tutorship have not developed or have even regressed.

One of the hallmarks of Barry’s defense has been its passive nature. This was on full display on Thursday night when Green Bay’s cornerbacks were playing criminally far off Tennessee’s receivers in crucial situations.

All of this comes in stark contrast to the job Ejiro Evero, who was another candidate for the defensive co-ordinator position, has done in Denver.

LaFleur’s decision to hire the safe, known quantity in Barry over Evero has backfired, and unless the Packers have the sense to part ways with him at the end of the season, a crop of talented defensive players will continue to be stifled.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (40)

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fangirl's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:18 pm

Fans will be watching.
He needs to not only fire but do his due diligence in locating someone very good.

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KenEllis's picture

November 21, 2022 at 09:56 pm

Problem is, an argument could be made that MLF's hiring of Mo Drayton as Special Teams Coordinator was even worse.

How many BAD coaching hires does MLF get before it becomes a pattern?

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KenEllis's picture

November 21, 2022 at 09:56 pm

Problem is, an argument could be made that MLF's hiring of Mo Drayton as Special Teams Coordinator was even worse.

How many BAD coaching hires does MLF get before it becomes a pattern?

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:26 pm

I'm not here to slay Barry nor to defend him. However, many things have possibly contributed to the fall of highest expectations to the mere middling that creates a turmoil for many DCs.

1) Rookies
2) Sophomore slumps
3) Less impact of previous year signings.
4) Aging of veterans.
5) Injuries.
6)Lackadaisical play/mentality.
7) Scheme and player fit.
8) Good players with bad scheme
9) Scared HC.
10) Offense beating up your own Defense

What had everyone thinking this team would be a Top 5 Defense before camp with Barry?

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Starrbrite's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:47 pm

Lacksadasial —Spot on!! And soft!!

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ricky's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:57 pm

Why was the defense so highly touted during the off-season? Because, on paper, the team has a lot of very good players. They still do. But the team also has a DC who has his way of doing things, and somehow expects the players to fit that scheme. Rather than designing a scheme, or even multiple schemes (depending on the offensive strengths of the opponent) that are relatively simple, but effective. And for all that is sensible, please stop having your DB's playing back several yards when the opponent only needs three or four yards. On the other hand, the offensive problems have kept the defense on the field far too long. So, fire Barry, but it's also time to take a hard look at Stenavich, MLF, Gutekunst and Rodgers, and decide where the offensive problems lie. Then fix them ASAP.

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Packerpasty's picture

November 22, 2022 at 09:50 am

Lackadaisical...thats on the coaching staff...this team from head on down is soft...

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PhantomII's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:37 pm

I would say Denver drafted MUCH higher for many years and have a lot more overall talent on Defense. ML biggest mistake (there are many), including making the good OL coach the bad OC. Barry is stuck in making his players run his defense and not using players strengths. ML definitely needs a more aggressive DC. Our defense was never going to be a top defense with a passive DC. The talent level in the secondary is not remotely elite. Our DL, though improved with Reed signing is not a pocket collapsing front. KC is played too many snaps and is a ghost on the stat sheet largely due to it. ML should insist Barry increase pressure on throwing downs with blitzes that are well thought out so GB does not get picked apart by the QB like what Titans did to us. Having our DB's 7 yards deep on a 3rd and short is not gonna get it done. Our DL did as good a job as could be against an elite RB and good OL. Our lack of pass rush needed more blitz packages due to the loss of Gary and a pretty stout Titan OL. KC got a big push up front but did not follow thru with penetration and collapse the pocket. I believe this was Barrys plan...fill the gap and tackle the RB.

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Coldworld's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:43 pm

This is the guy who hired and refused to fire Maurice Drayton. Barry is but one howler among many.

Barry may need to go but he’s no more inept than LaFleur. LaFleur shouldn’t be hiring anyone in Green Bay any more.

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canadapacker's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:02 pm

This is just another example of how bad this organization is run from the top on down. Dom Capers was a capable coach but the game changed and it passed him by and we lost several of AR's good years because the D didnt work and Capers never got fired - game against Seattle and Cards to name two playoff loses due to bad D. So was it MM's fault - I mean they dragged their heels in getting rid of special teams guys, strength and conditioning guys and DC's for decades. I blame this whole process during TT's time and up to now on Murphy and company. I find it kind of amusing that a team like the Ravens can keep this rough and tumble proper drafting and team cohesion for decades while the Pack struggles. I know that our organization has been poached from people from the inner circle - that is the way that it goes - we lost a great one in Schneider - and Reggie Mackenzie helped stabilized but we quickly went downhill and TT's drafting did too. Murph needs to retire and we need somebody at that level to look at what is wrong with our scouting and hiring practices.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:48 pm

Outstanding CW.

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stockholder's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:53 pm

I don't agree. I say they should keep Barry and point to Gutey. Posted: Team needs: WR, TE, S, DT, EDGE, OG
Notable free agents: WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan Jr., OT Elgton Jenkins, S Adrian Amos, DL Dean Lowry
Is this list really a Surprise? The posted needs show whats wrong with the Defense. And why the notable FAs are not the answer!

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:02 pm

It is Barry and Gutey. Why was King on the field vs Brady? Why Chandon Sullivan? Now the whiff on Savage. Amos not held accountable, no big plays....

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Rob3980's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:08 pm

😂

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barutanseijin's picture

November 21, 2022 at 06:59 pm

If the offense doesn’t score more points it won’t matter who is DC. And why isn’t the offense scoring more points? Maybe figure that out first.

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jlc1's picture

November 22, 2022 at 12:20 pm

This is definitely true but it is also true that it is hard for them to score points when the other team is routinely on the field for 6,7,8 minutes at a time.

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jhtobias's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:54 pm

I do agree that this is absolutely his biggest mistake since he also has everjo in look at what he is doing in Denver with less talent and if you can believe it a worse offense than us . It still is amazing to me that Joe Berry is here as a DC . He is actually a great linebackers coach but that's it .

I can't really blame the offense on Lafluer I have a sneaky feeling that Rodgers and Gutey make these calls.

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HawkPacker's picture

November 22, 2022 at 07:37 am

I believe Drayton was his biggest mistake as Drayton worked for a guy who was terrible, fired and then MLF hires a guy who works for a terrible coach. Now that was down right stupid.

However, Barry is a close second IMHO.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:54 pm

Lafleur's biggest mistake was giving a single f*** about keeping Rodgers happy.

"Winning isnt everything. It's the only thing."
-Vince Lombardi

Ive been easily the most vocal MLF supporter on these boards but thats over with. The only person id keep around here is Gute. Everyone else from Murphy on down can gtfoh. Go hire Dan Quinn or Demeco Ryans as HC and lets go beat some ass.

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Rarescope's picture

November 21, 2022 at 09:09 pm

“(Lombardi) told me once, ‘I wish to hell I’d never said (‘Winning isn’t everything . . . it’s the only thing’),’” Jerry Izenberg, a sportswriter from Lombardi’s native New Jersey, tells the camera near the end of the documentary. “I said, ‘Don’t you believe it?’ He said, ‘What I believe is, if you go out on a football field, or any endeavour in life, and you leave every fibre of what you have on the field, then you’ve won.’”

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 21, 2022 at 10:14 pm

You missed the context of why i posted that quote. This game is too hard for coaches and management to be wasting precious time massaging a player's ego. His bloated contract and millions of adoring fans should be enough.

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PackerGravy's picture

November 21, 2022 at 07:55 pm

I like Joe Barry..............as a Linebackers coach

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:26 pm

Why? Barry has never coached up ILBs with the Rams to be an elite group. In fact, the Ram ILBs under his command were never very good. The success of the Rams D was the DL and Edge rushers, not Barry's ILBs.

I do not think he was a top NFL coach before he came to GB and has reinforced his lousy resume as a Packer DC.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 21, 2022 at 11:04 pm

He made undrafted free agent Cory Littleton a pro bowler. Then did the same for Devondre Campbell last year. He is an excellent linebacker coach.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 22, 2022 at 11:25 am

Olividetti was Campbell's coach, not Barry. And how was Campbell this year? He had more missed tackles early in the season than he did during all of 2021, being fully immersed in Barry's prevent D. Last year Campbell was flying to the ball. This year he was hesitant and off target in his run D.

So Littleton made a pro bowl in spite of Barry would be my counter. My opinion is Barry is nothing special and a real reach by ML after missing out on Leonard.

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Scott1369's picture

November 22, 2022 at 02:05 pm

I like Stenavich as the O-line coach. Did great things last year. Not an offensive coordinator

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Starrbrite's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:07 pm

I watched the Chiefs/Chargers game last night.
Standing on the sidelines is Andy Reid, studiously reviewing his play chart, observing, advising—-coaching.
My mind flashed to LaFleur, crying in the locker room (after a win no less); a press conference where he doesn’t have a clue what the problem is; watching him cheerleading the crowd…?
What a contrast.

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Johnblood27's picture

November 21, 2022 at 08:59 pm

well Starrbrite, thats the thick and thin of it...

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Crazedcamel's picture

November 21, 2022 at 09:40 pm

Not keeping Andy Reid in house as Holmgren’s successor was one of the worst mistakes the Packers have ever made.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

November 21, 2022 at 10:14 pm

Cant keep them all.

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jlc1's picture

November 22, 2022 at 12:25 pm

Big mistake to watch other teams. What i see when I do are teams running tight routes, good crossers and rubs. I also see teams playing press D on receivers and, this will be astonishing, even on 3rd and short. I see decisive quarterbacking, I see jet motion that every so often is not just a decoy. I see offenses that force defenses not to stuff the box. I see WRs reaching behind themselves on poor throws and coming up with the catch. Above all I see self belief. Don't watch other games, it is too depressing.

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GP1's picture

November 23, 2022 at 05:04 pm

You nailed it.

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stinkycheesehead's picture

November 22, 2022 at 06:40 am

Barry as an aggressor huh, they might as well stick his ass up in the box or keep him home and call plays. Yes, he has to go, and I don't mean wait until the end of the season!

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HarryHodag's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:08 am

MLF and Gutey signed contract extensions so they aren't going anywhere.

Published in 1969 was a book--"The Peter Principle" -- that outlined how people are promoted within an organization until they reach their level of incompetence. I've seen it many times when a person who is great in sales is promoted to sales manager and fails. Why? Two different skill sets.
Last year Nathaniel Hackett was offensive coordinator. Luke Getsy was QB coach, Adam Stenavich was line coach. The offense hummed. Hackett goes to Denver and bombs, likely a one-and-done there. Getsy runs the Bears offense and save the remarkable ability of Fields would be the worst offense in the league. Stenavich helped develop Nijman to take over at left tackle and the line played well, even with injuries. Now Stenavich is offensive coordinator. The line is nowhere near as good and the offense sputters, save for the ground game. Josh McDaniels is a great offensive coordinator and has bombed as head coach in Las Vegas.

Joe Barry is an excellent linebackers coach but has let a talented defense flounder.

So when I see the calls for 'fire everybody' I'm reminded of how difficult it is to find a person to be in the right place at the right time. The Packers got lucky at least three times with Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi and Ron Wolf but there's no guarantee that sweeping changes will lead to anything but more of the same. At one point the Packers entrusted the fortunes of the team to two of it's most cherished Hall of Famers, Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg, with bad results.

Changes need to be made but wholesale change is a recipe for disaster. Just ask the Texans, or Jacksonville, or Detroit, or the Bears, or.....

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Starrbrite's picture

November 22, 2022 at 11:43 am

An outstanding post Harry.

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Coldworld's picture

November 22, 2022 at 12:24 pm

If the issue requires wholesale change, lesser upheaval will be fruitless. In less you change the driver the destination will be the same. When the issue is at the top and has shaped the franchise then only wholesale change will offer hope. That’s not a guarantee, but without it one stays in the wilderness if irrelevance until eventually the problem is addressed. Then the risks if such a wholesale change remain. Messing around with symptoms Is the worst possible course of action.

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joejetson's picture

November 22, 2022 at 08:34 am

Coaching (or lack thereof ) is the problem for GB defense. As an example, the coverage scheme vs Tennessee. In the postgame interview Rodgers stated that they knew the officiating crew did not call many penalties for Pass Interference, Holding, Illegal Contact, etc. Tennessee's defense played tight coverage all game, grabbing, holding, and generally hanging all over the Packers' receivers. It worked, made the passing game difficult, and no penalties were called.
Green Bay, on the other hand, played their usual soft zone, allowing easy completions all night. They made Tannehill, an average QB, look like Dan Marino, hitting easy completions at will.
My point is, if GB's offense knew the Titan's defense could likely get away with uncalled penaties on tight coverages, why didn't GB's defense adapt the same techniq ue?
IMO, that is a perfect example of poor coaching, poor defensive scheme, passive vs aggressive philosophy, and just plain stupidity.
Just plain bad coaching.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 22, 2022 at 11:44 am

Yes—exactly.

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fangirl's picture

November 22, 2022 at 07:57 pm

The guy @ the top hired MLF. He likely doesn't want a capable hotshot to disturb his hierarchy.
My question is: Will GB fans (shareholders) tolerate this 'arrangement' until 2025?

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Slim11's picture

November 23, 2022 at 03:33 pm

PhantomII said...

"ML biggest mistake (there are many), including making the good OL coach the bad OC."

There's a lot of that in the NFL. Look at what happened when McCarthy promoted Tom Clements from QB coach to OC. McCarthy took over play calling at mid-season and Clements departed Green Bay when his contract expired. This doesn't excuse MLF's decision but it's not uncommon.

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