Defense under Barry

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As many fans who don't like this hire of Joe Barry have wondered what the reason could possibly be that he got the job, let me suggest one: Barry was hired to bring to Green Bay the defense that was so recently successful in LA. That is why two of the three finalists were guys who, theoretically, have the experience to do just that.

So if that's right, and Barry is going to try and install a defense in Green Bay that's in the mold of Vic Fangio, Brandon Staley, etc., then what might that look like? And what would the Packers need? Here's what I've got on that:

Philosophy: The Fangio/Staley defense, if you want to call it that, is based on the premise that good defenses in 2021 focus on the passing game, not the running game. Staley has put it this way: you live with 1-on-1's in the running game and create 2-on-1's in the passing game. Philosophically, this is very similar to a Mike Pettine defense, but Fangio has done a better job in teaching a scheme that executes the idea at a high level. It is essentially the answer to the Packers style of offense, which uses personnel to try and lure defenses into formations that are designed to beat the run, and then passes on them with great efficiency.

Personnel: The key difference between a Fangio/Staley defense and Pettine is terms of personnel is a shift away from dime and towards nickel defense. Both Denver and LA used true linebackers for about 400-500 more snaps in 2020 that Pettine did. And that was true despite the reality that neither team had great players at the position. So expect them to live in a lot of 4-2-5 defense.

Run Defense: Fangio and Staley give opposing offenses light boxes more than anyone else in the league (Staley's Rams were at 83% last year, and the Broncos at 78%). To deal with the run from these lighter looks, the interior defensive line will typically set up in what looks like a condensed version of the traditional 3-4. The NT will be at the 0, shade, or 1, and the other two DL will be in the 4i position, basically lined up on the inside shoulder of the tackle. The alignment, and the way the DL are taught to play it, avoids OL getting clean blocks, and forces things to get "messy" at the line of scrimmage, slowing things down and allowing safeties and linebackers to flow to the action. It's been described as a halfway point between penetrating one gap defense, and block eating two gap defense.

Pass Defense: The reason this defense lives with light boxes is because they're almost always playing two high safeties. The basic (and I mean basic, because I'm not capable of understanding all the nuance, let alone explaining it) premise is to give the same 2 high look at almost all times, and to flex into various coverages from that look, post snap. So as the QB surveys the defense, he basically sees the same thing over and over, but once he snaps the ball, he doesn't know what the coverage is going to be. They may stick in cover 2 or 2 man, or they might drop the corners into quarters, or they might spin into cover 3 or cover 1. All this post snap flexing requires really intelligent safety play.

Fangio and Staley also use a lot of match coverage, which is where defenders are assigned man coverage responsibilities to a number, not a player. So if you imagine a formation with two receivers on the offense's left, one outside and one in the slot, we will call the outside guy "1" and the slot "2." If you're assigned to 1, but he motions clear across the formation, then the numbers change, and the slot becomes 1. So instead of following guys all over the field horizontally, everyone just shifts down a spot. This prevents motion from creating wide open looks, but requires lots of discipline and quick processing.

Needs: As I look at the defensive personnel the Packers already have, and what this defense requires, this is what I think:
  • Defensive Line: They need some long, powerful players to deploy alongside Clark. Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day have power and length to make that 1.5 gap defensive front work.
  • Edge: It seems like this system likes to use a smaller speed rusher, but I don't know if that's by design or circumstantial. I'm not sure that Za'Darius is as good a fit in the design of the defense as he was in Pettine's.
  • Linebacker: While this system has used two true linebackers a lot more than Pettine tends to, it does not seem to be a big point of emphasis in terms of finding premium talent at the position.
  • Safety: This defense relies heavily on the safety position for its flexibility, and thankfully the Packers have a couple good ones.
  • Cornerback: The Rams used three corners together even more than the Packers did in 2020. And the corners in this system need to be intelligent and fast thinkers. This has to be the emphasis. Thankfully the most important piece is taken care of in Alexander.
 

PackinMSP

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I'd be fine with him over King. If King takes a prove it deal, may be good... i think this new scheme benefits him with more zone and safety help it seems
 

PackinMSP

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As you and I have alluded to in other threads...

I think the "scheme" fit was the main thing here, and I also think it helps our players more

For DL, Clark is great obviously and this scheme would help Keke I think.

Now if we added maybe a value signing like JJ Watt or something on the other side, we would be great

This scheme really needs 2 good safeties that we have.. J'Aire would be good in ANY Defensive scheme so not worried about him lol

Not sure about the Z comments, don't know much about what the EDGE does in this scheme but Clay had 8 sacks in his lone season playing it....

I think his background will also, presumably, help to develop our VERY YOUNG ILBers to their full potential
 

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I'd be fine with him over King. If King takes a prove it deal, may be good... i think this new scheme benefits him with more zone and safety help it seems

Lots of safety help. Pettine ran a ton of zone.
 

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the more I think about it, this reminds me more of the Dom Capers hire.

When we hired Capers, it was to install the Attacking 3-4 scheme, which was effective for his first 4-5 years with us. Obviously wasn't the best finish but despite that

He moved us from a base 4-3 for so many years to that Attacking 3-4 scheme that was effective at the time.

Capers was also a bit of a journeyman, albeit a former HC though lol

Why Barry over Elviro(?) my guess is we didn't want to take a shot at Gray, who has done a great job, and "position wise" we haven't really had good ILBers for quite some time now.
 

tynimiller

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I'd be fine with him over King. If King takes a prove it deal, may be good... i think this new scheme benefits him with more zone and safety help it seems

Who Hill talked about right before your post? King and him don't play the same position, ones a slot and one is outside.
 

Dantés

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As you and I have alluded to in other threads...

I think the "scheme" fit was the main thing here, and I also think it helps our players more

For DL, Clark is great obviously and this scheme would help Keke I think.

Now if we added maybe a value signing like JJ Watt or something on the other side, we would be great

This scheme really needs 2 good safeties that we have.. J'Aire would be good in ANY Defensive scheme so not worried about him lol

Not sure about the Z comments, don't know much about what the EDGE does in this scheme but Clay had 8 sacks in his lone season playing it....

I think his background will also, presumably, help to develop our VERY YOUNG ILBers to their full potential

They definitely need to add help at defensive line. I'm not sure an aging JJ Watt would be the best solution. If they want guys to play similarly to how Brockers and Joseph-Day did in LA, then they should look at guys like Daquan Jones, Lawrence Guy, or Derek Wolfe.

A lot of Za'Darius' value lies in his ability to reduce down and rush from the interior. Now I'm not saying that there's no place for that in this system, but I haven't seen a lot of it. They've used a lot of four man front, with three bigs and a lighter speed rusher, like Leonard Floyd, or Malik Reed in Denver.
 

PackinMSP

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They definitely need to add help at defensive line. I'm not sure an aging JJ Watt would be the best solution. If they want guys to play similarly to how Brockers and Joseph-Day did in LA, then they should look at guys like Daquan Jones, Lawrence Guy, or Derek Wolfe.

A lot of Za'Darius' value lies in his ability to reduce down and rush from the interior. Now I'm not saying that there's no place for that in this system, but I haven't seen a lot of it. They've used a lot of four man front, with three bigs and a lighter speed rusher, like Leonard Floyd, or Malik Reed in Denver.

Yeah JJ I just threw in because there are a few rumors

How does Z not fit a Leonard Floyd but better?
 

PackinMSP

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besides the "weight" factor between Floyd a 240lb guy and z a 275lb guy

I mean Z has had better production and I think his skillset just fits that "ideal" rover type of guy you can play anywhere... fast enough to make plays in the run and also big enough, obviously piles up sacks
 

Dantés

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Yeah JJ I just threw in because there are a few rumors

How does Z not fit a Leonard Floyd but better?

He's better, but a way different player.

Floyd is a true linebacker-- he can drop and play in space, and he's a speed rusher on the edge.

Smith's rush style is totally different. He wins with power and with his hands. And he does a lot of his damage as an interior rusher.
 

rmontro

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let me suggest one: Barry was hired to bring to Green Bay the defense that was so recently successful in LA.
I guess that fits in with MLF's pedigree. In fact, maybe the reason he got the job is because MLF is so familiar with him from LA. I hope MLF isn't going to be like McCarthy and hire all his old buddies.
 

Jerellh528

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I'd be fine with him over King. If King takes a prove it deal, may be good... i think this new scheme benefits him with more zone and safety help it seems

I read somewhere, I think pff that king is actually better in man and Alexander is better on zone.
 

Dantés

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I'm going to say something here, and it will probably get a lot of heat, but that's ok. Discussion is good, and I may be wrong.

If the aim of the Barry hire is to install a system similar to what Fangio and Staley run, I think it might be smart to explore trade options for Za'Darius.

I think the ideal front for this defense is a NT with two long, power ends, and then a speedier edge rusher who can drop at times. I am not sure where Z fits super well in there-- he's a not a power end who could handle extra gap responsibility in the running game, and he's not a speed rusher.

His value should be sky high right now. He has 26 sacks the last two seasons, he's still only 28 years old, and the acquiring team would have him for ~10M in 2021 and ~14M in 2022. So the return on that trade could be pretty strong.

I am not sure (and I mean that literally-- again, I could be wrong) that this defense will lend itself to all of the interior rush opportunities. And if you take away or limit interior rushes for Smith, I think his value declines dramatically.

I can envision a scenario where he becomes more of an exclusive edge rusher, and his production is a lot more replaceable. Maybe this will end up being way off, but I can imagine a situation a year from now where Packer fans are wishing that they sold high on his value.

So what say you guys? Say you could get a late 1st round pick and the 11.5M in cap relief-- would you do it?
 

tynimiller

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I'm going to say something here, and it will probably get a lot of heat, but that's ok. Discussion is good, and I may be wrong.

If the aim of the Barry hire is to install a system similar to what Fangio and Staley run, I think it might be smart to explore trade options for Za'Darius.

I think the ideal front for this defense is a NT with two long, power ends, and then a speedier edge rusher who can drop at times. I am not sure where Z fits super well in there-- he's a not a power end who could handle extra gap responsibility in the running game, and he's not a speed rusher.

His value should be sky high right now. He has 26 sacks the last two seasons, he's still only 28 years old, and the acquiring team would have him for ~10M in 2021 and ~14M in 2022. So the return on that trade could be pretty strong.

I am not sure (and I mean that literally-- again, I could be wrong) that this defense will lend itself to all of the interior rush opportunities. And if you take away or limit interior rushes for Smith, I think his value declines dramatically.

I can envision a scenario where he becomes more of an exclusive edge rusher, and his production is a lot more replaceable. Maybe this will end up being way off, but I can imagine a situation a year from now where Packer fans are wishing that they sold high on his value.

So what say you guys? Say you could get a late 1st round pick and the 11.5M in cap relief-- would you do it?

I've said this about other items, but if someone believes Z does fit Barry's system - simply doesn't pay attention at all. Now, will Barry operate differently to fit Z into our scheme and calls given how special Z can be...maybe....

Yes, 100% yes - there is your surefire CB opposite Jaire, or a WR2 or a chance at a Z Collins level ILB. IF it seems we will not be using him to his potential or salary 100% you do it.
 

Dantés

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I've said this about other items, but if someone believes Z does fit Barry's system - simply doesn't pay attention at all. Now, will Barry operate differently to fit Z into our scheme and calls given how special Z can be...maybe....

Yes, 100% yes - there is your surefire CB opposite Jaire, or a WR2 or a chance at a Z Collins level ILB. IF it seems we will not be using him to his potential or salary 100% you do it.

So what am I missing about that defense that makes it a great fit for him? Because I do think I'm paying attention.
 

tynimiller

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So what am I missing about that defense that makes it a great fit for him? Because I do think I'm paying attention.

I think you misread a does as a doesn't in my post. I'm agreeing with you and the bold is response to the bolded part in your quote.
 

tynimiller

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I'll go as far as saying the Dolphins might be the team to jingle that in front of. They have the 18th pick besides their top 5 pick and have space.
 

Jerellh528

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If lafleur hired Barry knowing our best pass rusher has no place in his system then that says a lot about LaFleur. I’d rather have Z than Barry.
 

Dantés

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If lafleur hired Barry knowing our best pass rusher has no place in his system then that says a lot about LaFleur. I’d rather have Z than Barry.

If we just take names out of the equation, a really good defensive coordinator is way more important than a good pass rusher with two years left on his deal.

I would compare this idea to what the Chiefs did between 2018 and 2019.

Pre-2019, the Chiefs had Dee Ford and he was a really successful edge rusher. But in 2019, they fired Bob Sutton, hired Steve Spagnuolo, and shipped Ford out for value because he wasn't going to be a good fit in the new system.

Chiefs fans at the time could have said (and likely did) that hiring a coordinator for whom one of the best defensive players wasn't a fit was a terrible idea. But the actual result was that they got a 2nd round pick, and the defense took a big leap forward under Spagnuolo with guys that actually fit what he wanted to do.
 
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