The Green Bay Packers reportedly crossed one potential name off the list of defensive coordinator candidates for the 2024 season. After head coach Matt LaFleur announced Joe Barry would not return for next season, the Packers will be getting set to interview multiple coaches in the next few weeks.
The Packers’ defensive coordinator gig has to be an attractive job for any coach looking to improve their chances of becoming a head coach. The Packers’ defensive roster has a lot of young talent in its front seven and has an extremely competent secondary led by cornerback Jaire Alexander.
The Packers made it to the Divisional Round with the youngest roster in the NFL. They were a few plays away from reaching the NFC Championship Game. An NFL scout believes this team can be a Super Bowl contender next season.
So the Packers have every reason to be selective on who they hire to replace Barry this offseason.
Brandon Staley is not a candidate
According to Rob Demovsky with ESPN, the Packers are not interested in hiring former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley for the defensive coordinator job. LaFleur hired Barry because of his connection to Staley when Staley was an assistant with the Rams:
“Barry and LaFleur worked together with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. It was during Barry’s time with the Rams when he worked under Brandon Staley, who ran a version of the Vic Fangio defense. LaFleur hired Barry in part because he wanted to run a similar scheme in Green Bay.
Staley, who was fired this season as the Los Angeles Chargers‘ head coach, is not expected to be a leading candidate to replace Barry in Green Bay, according to sources familiar with LaFleur’s plans.”
Staley is considered one of the best defensive minds in the NFL
Staley was a national punching line during his final two seasons as the Chargers head coach. While he didn’t fare well as a head coach, Staley is considered one of the top defensive minds in the sport. Per Daniel Popper with The Athletic, Staley’s defensive schemes weren’t his downfall with the Chargers. His communication skills were:
“Staley is a brilliant schematic coach. He can develop a game plan on the whiteboard capable of stopping any offense. The only problem is the game is not played on a whiteboard. There were weeks when this brilliance shone through, like in a win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 14 last season.
But more often, the scheme and plans were too layered and complex for the players to grasp and execute consistently. Players detailed how Staley and his defensive staff would try to build in answers and rules for every minute facet of opposing offenses — every route, every motion. At times, players said, this bogged down the unit as a whole.
They were overthinking, and they could not play fast as a result. That showed up in some noteworthy losses this season — Miami in Week 1, Kansas City in Week 7, Detroit in Week 10.
Staley’s inexperience was exposed in this stubborn commitment to a defensive vision that simply was not working. There was a disconnect between how some players wanted to play and how Staley wanted to play.”
The Green Bay Packers need to improve their defensive scheme
One understands why LaFleur would hesitate to hire Staley after canning Barry this week. Packers players had similar complaints about communication problems with the defense this season. Players said Barry’s scheme was too complicated for them to play fast.
A few candidates for the Green Bay Packers
“Before hiring Barry in 2021, LaFleur also interviewed Ejiro Evero, Chris Harris, Ryan Nielsen, Chris Kiffin, Matt Burke, Bob Sutton and Jerry Gray. It’s possible LaFleur could go back to some coaches on that list, although Nielsen was just hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ defensive coordinator. Evero, Carolina’s defensive coordinator, has interviewed for head-coaching jobs since the regular season ended.
Another possible candidate is Rams defensive passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant, who joined LaFleur’s staff for the second half of the 2022 season after he was let go by the Lions.”
Those could be solid candidates for the Packers. Many fans are hoping Al Harris and Jim Leonhard will get an interview to take over one of the biggest assistant coaching vacancies of the offseason.
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