Barry Will Let Playmakers Make Plays on Defense

“He knows how to put his playmakers in a position to make plays,” edge rusher Preston Smith said Monday afternoon about his new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. 

One of those playmakers, safety Adrian Amos, may find new opportunities to make plays in the box this season. Early observations from training camp would certainly seem to indicate that Amos is getting extended playing time in the box, much closer to the line of scrimmage. That leaves third-year pro Darnell Savage and a third safety (still to be determined) in two-high. 

Two-high is familiar to Barry, who worked with Brandon Staley in Los Angeles last season. The Rams played with two-high safety looks 45% of the time on defense, which was the most in the NFL. 

Under Mike Pettine in 2020, Amos still led the defense in tackles with 83, notching four tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. The leading tackler on the Rams in 2020? Free safety John Johnson, who tallied a whopping 105 total tackles with 73 solo. 

The safeties will get their opportunities to make plays in Barry’s new scheme, and bringing Amos, a sure tackler, into the box not only improves the unit’s run defense, but also immediately bolsters the passing defense, which was a weakness over the middle of the field last season with slower inside linebackers unable to cover shifty slot receivers. 

What’s more, the Staley defense is also known for playing with a Tite front, designed to force runs to the perimeter rather than right up the middle. This Tite front benefits the inside linebackers, Barry’s bread and butter in his defense. In a traditional four-man front, a B-gap is left exposed, putting the onus on the inside linebacker to either play close to the line in an effort to stop the run, leaving himself vulnerable to a pass behind him, or play back to defend the pass, leaving an open running lane right up the B-gap. 

In a Tite front, the nose tackle (looking at you, T.J. Slaton) and defensive ends absorb both the A and B gaps, forcing any runs to the C gap outside of the tackles. This is where the speedier defenders like a safety creeping closer to the line can make a break on the ball carrier and negate a big play. 

Now, this was easy for a team like the Rams that had a dominant front three in 2020 and a steller secondary. When Aaron Donald is on your defensive line, you really don’t need to dedicate more than three linemen to rushing the passer, and chances are you’re still going to create pressure on the quarterback. But, Green Bay has the pieces to be just as productive in 2021. Slaton will have his opportunities to eat up blocks allowing Kenny Clark to do what he does best, get after the quarterback. 

What’s more, a key role in Barry’s defense is the “Star” defender. Right now, it looks like Chandon Sullivan is getting those initial snaps in training camp, but if Barry wanted to consider a different option (again, putting his playmakers in a position to make plays), he might look to Savage or All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander to take some snaps inside. 

Troy Hill emerged as a key defender for the Rams last season playing that same nickel role. In 2020, Hill ended the season starting all 16 games for Los Angeles, tallying three interceptions for 119 yards with two touchdowns, and 10 passes defensed. He also had one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one of which he also returned for a touchdown), 77 total tackles, and one tackle for loss. 

While it’s tough to envision Barry bringing Amos into the box and Savage into the nickel role, completely breaking up one of the best two-deep safety tandems in football last season, the resounding theme in the locker room is that he’s going to give his best playmakers opportunities to make plays. Savage played over 600 snaps in the slot during his final two seasons at Maryland, so the skills and experience are there. Add in rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes and fifth-round pick Shemar Jean-Charles, and there are plenty of new pieces for Barry to mix into his defense.

One thing is clear, though, listening to post-practice pressers from key players on defense. This team has already bought into Barry’s energy, and his scheme is only going to put them in more positions to be impactful on the football field.

 

----------------------------

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

10 points

Comments (34)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
nostradanus's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Can’t wait to see the new Defense in action, they certainly have the playmakers!

- Z. Smith
- P. Smith
- Gary
- Savage
- Amos
- Alexander
- Clark

If Barry can’t field a top 10 with this group then he ain’t got what it takes as DC

ND

17 points
18
1
Gee's picture

August 03, 2021 at 05:45 pm

Man I like it, and that's what always frustrated about Pettine. I always thought he was going to do what hopefully Barry will now. Let's face it with the way the NFL has the rule changes in favour of the offence, the one way to slow them down, is pressure and turn overs. With the guys in secondary they have now, they are man for it. So come on coach let your defence hunt!!

3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

August 03, 2021 at 08:07 pm

If the guy goes multiple, I will pay attention, but derivative 3-4 alignments have been driven to the turf. More 5-2, 4-2 looks. Let Gary study the film of Bruce Smith and emulate his style. Hand-in-the-ground, and two-point from both flanks. He has to be allowed to be the next superstar.

3 points
3
0
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:22 pm

Ya there guys are average at best. Dominate no, super bowl quality hell no

-6 points
0
6
LeotisHarris's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:38 pm

Oh, they're there and their defense will be dominant.

2 points
2
0
ricky's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Hopefully your optimism will be rewarded. But relying on at least two rookies (Slaton, Stokes and perhaps Jean-Charles) to be big contributors their first year seems to be asking a lot. And it's not as if Barry is seen as a top coordinator in the league. But, what the heck, it's training camp, time to be optimistic.

9 points
9
0
Bure9620's picture

August 03, 2021 at 03:56 pm

True, you don't want a rookie core, but realistically is Stokes going to be on the other teams top WR? No that is Jaire Island. They are going after him on purpose and putting him on Adams on purpose. Stokes will not face a better receiver singled up all year....Also when Adams does not have safety coverage rolled that way he torches EVERY corner. Made Jalen Ramsey look silly. Baptism by fire, this is great for Stokes.

2 points
2
0
Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2021 at 05:13 pm

I remember Shields learning. He was pretty dodgy in terms of technique, but once he got to realize what the receivers were doing his speed started to kick in and then he’d start getting in the way, basically, and went from there. Stokes has the same freaky speed and acceleration. Once he figures out the moves somewhat he will be catching up faster and faster.

2 points
2
0
jannes bjornson's picture

August 03, 2021 at 08:29 pm

Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson started for George Siefert and Bill Walsh as rookies in the 49r Secondary and they WON the Super Bowl. Get the Talent and get great coaches. La FLeur is the real deal, just like Holmgren. Barry did have his LBs playing fast inside, so may the best man win for the ILB spots. The Strong Safety position is now more physical and faster. This Defense needs Rookie Infusion. Let them prove it. I am on record for wanting King out as well as letting Redmond walk. Sullivan is a Dime guy, not a slot CB. Jean-Charles fits the profile and Savage can play it also against slot WRs and faster TEs. The weak link is the Five Tech. This is what I want to see from Barry, going more 4-2 looks with Clark and Slayton Inside, Keke and Gary the DEs with Lowry in on 3rd downs. Za can move inside and outside with P. Smith given some room to zone the flats. They're getting paid to perform. It's on them.

2 points
2
0
Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:30 pm

This sounds encouraging and I’m grateful for the insight. I look forward to seeing it as applied. If he can free Clark as a weapon, that in itself will be a big plus. If he can unearth another playmaker from the ranks through his changes, that would be superb. I think Amos close is a plus if we can replace him and still let Savage play freely.

6 points
6
0
mnbadger's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:29 pm

August Optimism is a must. We can be ornery later if the play dictates it. Let's kick some butt and get going. GPG!

11 points
11
0
flackcatcher's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Nice spin Maggie for a twice failed DC. At this point it's a wait and see on Barry. In his defense, there are those who point out he never had this type of talent to work with. I'm not one of those. His record as a DC is...wanting at best. The Staley and it's variants all share a major weakness, one which HC Matt Lafleur exposed and exploited in their playoff game. In that respect, it's no different from most defensive schemes. In the NFL, it comes down to talent on the field and coaching on the sideline and in the Box. For now Barry gets the benefit of the doubt. For now...

1 points
3
2
jannes bjornson's picture

August 03, 2021 at 08:51 pm

" Players, not Plays...."

2 points
2
0
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:21 pm

Wow wonder why they didnt get someone who was a terrific d coach? My only guess is he must have some connection to the Pack from the past, aka Gutt the boot

-2 points
0
2
Packers0808's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Sounds very refreshing for new season!

-3 points
1
4
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:17 pm

We heard all this shit before, deja vu all over again. The coach is new the talent or lack of is still in place and he has to live with that. I know of not one coach who can make somone faster or quicker. I know of no coach who can teach a qb how to read a defense. You have these skills or you dont.
All the guys who trained their butts off worked on conditioning, couldnt beat Usain Bolt once the race started.
Kevin King aint getting any better this year

-4 points
0
4
Packers0808's picture

August 03, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Well thank you for the great uplifting update there Sunshine! That gray overhead cloud should rain on your parade very soon!

-1 points
1
2
splitpea1's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Sounds good, but the players have to follow through and make those tackles whether it's inside or on the perimeter. One of Barry's big assignments is to improve the tackling skills and cut down on the misses--it's long overdue.

5 points
6
1
porupack's picture

August 03, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Interesting! Thanks maggie. So the scheme is designed to force the runs to the perimeter. I see its merits, but we've endured a decade where the OLB/DEs were not able to consistently set the edge, and thus they often allowed big gains through undisciplined play. So I guess this scheme simply predicates the perimeter run, so no ILB is caught out of place and anticipates the lane and gets to the perimeter first. I guess that is the strategy, and then it puts the onus on a faster ILB play; either pure speed and/or quick read and react, and certainly on being sure tacklers. Martinez would have fit that assignment. I wonder if Safeties can hold up on the 20 game schedule leading the D in tackles.

2 points
3
1
Nerd's picture

August 03, 2021 at 06:30 pm

Maybe Josh Jackson can fill that position. He's got size to stuff the run. Let's see what he's got.

1 points
2
1
Johnblood27's picture

August 03, 2021 at 02:01 pm

Question: How would Leonhard have been different/better?

1 points
3
2
flackcatcher's picture

August 04, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Good question, since Leonhard uses a Pettine type defense at Wisconsin. The main difference is how Bucky's LB attack the LOS. Ironically, Leonhard plays only two DL with pressure coming from the edge. It is an exciting type of D with one major weakness, it leaves Wisconsin CB on an island. But since many Division one teams can't go over the top, it works. Because the rules are different in the pro game, which drastically favors the offense. The players (even the ones cut) are at an elite level which changes how a coach schemes. The elephant in the room is Lafleur wanted a different defensive scheme, but the guy who was his first choice is a close friend and help create the Pettine scheme that Wisconsin uses. If Leonhard had agreed, there was a good chance the same problems Lafleur had with Pettine would have happened all over again.

1 points
1
0
NorCalPacker685's picture

August 03, 2021 at 02:42 pm

Defense can only be as good as your worst player out there, because good teams will find that weakness and go after it time and time again… so as long as Kevin King and Will Redmond are getting meaningful snaps, this will always be an average to maybe slightly above average. We can’t be top 10 with those 2 guys on the field. Especially Redmond. King at least has shown the ability to make a play here and there… Redmond just drops ducks from Tom Brady like they’re playing 3-flies up.

3 points
4
1
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:12 pm

You Nailed it. QB's in pre practive games will be looking at King films and saying wow I wont exploit him until we need a big play here or there aka Brady. Maybe a pass into the end zone with 15 seconds to go in the half to take the lead. Ya that may just work

-4 points
0
4
Since'61's picture

August 03, 2021 at 04:44 pm

The plan always looks good on paper but it’s the execution that matters. The defense needs to play more aggressively and tackle better. If Barry can achieve that any scheme will produce better results. Thanks, Since ‘61

6 points
6
0
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:10 pm

Our problem all along wasnt Capers or his sucessor, it was the simple fact, we dont have talent on D. Barry aint playing unless I'm mistaken and he aint making these guys faster, quicker, smarter, You have that or you dont. Hey how about an elephant package, to really cornfuse the offense.

0 points
2
2
Savage57's picture

August 03, 2021 at 04:52 pm

It's been said a championship defense needs a difference-maker at all three levels.

Do the Packers have them? Clark at the point of attack, Jaire on the back end and ? in the middle. It's not Z, P or Gary, they're gettin' after the QB. It has to be either Martin or Barnes for that to come to pass, and my bet is on Barnes.

Make it so, Joe.

5 points
5
0
Coldworld's picture

August 03, 2021 at 05:19 pm

Your namesake and Amos would be the most obvious candidates in the deep and middle respectively. Coaching is also about improving everybody’s chances of success though. Using players coherently and according to their abilities can make a big difference. Pettine was execrable at that in my opinion.

2 points
3
1
Savage57's picture

August 03, 2021 at 05:45 pm

I'm looking for guy who'll become the Packers Bobby Wagner or Eric Kendricks.

2 points
2
0
splitpea1's picture

August 03, 2021 at 08:03 pm

I'm with you. Both were mid-second round picks. Now we just need to have Gute with us at some point....We'll have to see how much Barnes improves in his second season.

1 points
1
0
jannes bjornson's picture

August 03, 2021 at 08:56 pm

Not on Ted's radar at the time, ask Low-Ball how the story plays out.

-1 points
0
1
Nerd's picture

August 03, 2021 at 06:28 pm

Weren't they going to run the Fangio defense?

1 points
1
0
flackcatcher's picture

August 04, 2021 at 12:42 pm

As I said when Barry was hired, what a FUBAR. Not Barry's fault, but Pettine was let go so late in the process, there were not that many DC available. Of the three mentioned one ran the Fangio and flatout turned down Lafleur, one was happy at Wisconsin and ran a modified Pettine scheme and turned Lafleur down. That left Barry as the last man standing who ran the stanley and a mod 3-4 at Washington and Detroit with little success. Of course, he didn't have the talent he has now at Green Bay.

1 points
1
0
ImaPayne's picture

August 03, 2021 at 09:07 pm

This D will suck, they have no talent, Alexanders interceptions came from being out of place and cathing over thrown balls to guys he was supposed to be covering or a few tipped balls.
You need ball players on D not just guys wearing uniforms. If King makes the team I rest my case

-5 points
1
6