Matt LaFleur’s defensive coordinator plans aren’t going to make Packers fans happy

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur revealed his plans for his defensive coordinator for the rest of the season, and it won't make fans happy.

Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur looks on
Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur looks on / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers were once one of the hottest teams in the NFL this season after going on a four-game winning streak to improve to 6-6 on the year and fly into playoff position. Since then, the Packers have returned to their losing ways. First, they lost to the New York Giants in Week 14, a team led by their third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito. Then, this past Sunday, Green Bay lost 34-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their quarterback Baker Mayfield.

With the team 6-8 on the year and facing a bleak picture for the playoffs, Packers fans have called for defensive coordinator Joe Barry's job. As mentioned earlier, the defense couldn't stop DeVito and struggled to keep Tampa Bay's offense at bay.

On Monday, one day after their latest loss, LaFleur was asked by reporters if Barry would remain the defensive coordinator for the rest of the season. LaFlauer's answer was "yes," while saying that if he felt like Barry was a reason why the team was struggling, he would have fired him.

Matt LaFleur says Joe Barry will remain Packers DC for rest of season

If I thought that [firing Barry] was the best solution today, then we’d make that decision,” said LaFleur, h/t Sports Illustrated. “But when you’re having basic communication problems and you’re supposed to be in a certain coverage or a certain rotation and we’re not getting that communication, that’s what’s so disappointing to me is the fact that it was poor communication. And it always starts with us [as coaches].”

Even though LaFleur did say he'll be sticking with Barry as defensive coordinator, he did mention that his assistant coach does need to be better at calling plays.

"I know there's some [calls] that Joe would like to have back, in particular some of those third-and-3-to-4 yard plays where we're playing soft zone and they can easily get a free completion, just like there were a couple of calls I'd like to have back in the red zone," said LaFleur, h/t ESPN. "And that's football, but hopefully we can learn from that and not make that same mistake twice."

Facing the Buccaneers, the Packers defense allowed 452 yards on 60 plays (7.5 yards per play). Additionally, Tampa Bay was 7-for-11 on third down plays and successful on their lone fourth down play.

Mayfield was efficient against Green Bay's defense, completing 22-of-28 pass attempts for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Chris Godwin was the most efficient against the Packers' secondary, catching 10-of-12 targets for 155 yards.

With 14 games in the books, Green Bay's defense has now allowed an average of 349.9 yards (22nd) and 21.5 points (17th) per game.

The Packers' playoff chances will depend on how they finish the final three weeks of the season. Green Bay is set to face the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. While they are certainly favorable matchups on paper, they will need all aspects of their team to fire on all cylinders, especially defense. The Panthers pulled off an upset against the Atlanta Falcons this past week, while the Bears were a Hail Mary pass away from beating the Cleveland Browns.

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