Brian Gutekunst has been the general manager of the Green Bay Packers since 2018. During his tenure, the Packers have drafted a defensive player in the first round in each season except for 2020 (quarterback Jordan Love). In total, Gutekunst has drafted seven defensive players in the first round of the past six drafts:
- Lukas Van Ness (2023)
- Devonte Wyatt (2022)
- Quay Walker (2022)
- Eric Stokes (2021)
- Darnell Savage (2019)
- Rashan Gary (2019)
- Jaire Alexander (2018)
If one includes Kenny Clark, the Packers’ first round pick in 2016 and drafted by the late Ted Thompson, the 2023 defense will have eight first round picks on it. Yet, for all of the investments the team has made in its defense, they have yet to put it together for a top-five defense. With the continued focus on drafting defense first, defensive coordinator Joe Barry is now under even more pressure to develop a dominant defense.
Green Bay Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry Is on the Hot Seat
In addition to their eight first round picks, the Packers also have Super Bowl Champion cornerback Rasul Douglas and All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. Indeed, all the pieces are there (aside from the safety position) for the team to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately, neither former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine nor his successor Joe Barry have been able to put a dominant defense on the field.
In 2021, for instance, the Packers’ defense ranked 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed (3,724), but gave up the third most passing touchdowns (31). Additionally, they ranked 11th in rushing yards allowed (1,855), 10th in rushing touchdowns allowed (13), but gave up the third-most yards per carry (4.7).
2022 saw an improvement from the passing defense, as they ranked sixth in passing yards allowed (3,349). However, they were 12th in passing touchdowns allowed (22). The run defense, though, took major steps back. They ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed (2,372), 23rd in rushing touchdowns allowed (17), and gave up the fifth-most yards per carry (5.0).
Frankly, these last two seasons under Joe Barry have not been good for the defense. Certainly not where a defense with so many first round picks on it should be. As the team continues to invest in its defense, the onus is on Barry to translate that investment into results. If he cannot, 2023 will be his last in Green Bay.
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