Joe Barry’s Star Position Will Be a Collective Effort

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry provides more insight on the star position. 

Joe Barry’s star position will have to go to one of the Green Bay Packers' most versatile defensive players. On Wednesday, the defensive coordinator gave more detail on what is required from the star position. Let's just say it is a lot to put on one player’s plate.

“It’s a unique position because you got to be able to play man, and you got to be able to play zone,” said Barry. “And when I say zone, you got to be able to play like a linebacker almost. You got to be involved in the run game, and the run fits. We’ll ask our nickel to be involved in the pressure package.”

The star position has to go to someone whose supremely talented and knowledgeable of multiple positions on the field. Last year, Barry saw corner Jalen Ramsey excel at the position with the Los Angeles Rams. However, the Packers don’t necessarily have a player as versatile as Ramsey on the roster.

The closest they can come is Jaire Alexander, who should play more snaps in the slot, but asking him to play like a linebacker at times might be too much. Because the star position can be strenuous, Barry made it clear that it will be a collective effort.

Also, the star role wasn’t Ramsey’s full-time responsibility. He lined up at outside corner for more than 70 percent of his defensive snaps in 2020. Meanwhile, Ramsey lined up as a true slot on a small percentage of his snaps.

“Jalen, he kind of part-timed it,” Barry stated. “We were able to put him in there for certain game plans, certain calls, or certain situations, and I foresee that being the same thing here.”

“You can have multiple guys understand that position and play it,” Barry added.

Defensive back coach Jerry Gray said he believed four or five guys would compete at the star position this summer.

Last year's nickel corner, Chandon Sullivan, was tendered by the team and could be one of the guys Gray is referring to. However, Sullivan was rarely called on to blitz, and, at times, wasn’t great as a run defender. Sullivan could still be a candidate for the star role because of his experience playing inside, but he will give the defense less flexibility.

Alexander also has the skillset to fill in at nickel on occasion, but playing closer to the line of scrimmage is something both starting safeties have done in the past. Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage looked good when called on to play in the slot or in the box a season ago. Both should see time in Barry’s star position thanks to their versatility in coverage and ability to contribute against the run.

Over the last decade, nickel corner has become one of the most important positions on defense. This offseason, Barry has to find the right guy or guys to fill that role next season. Luckily, he has some options.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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7 points

Comments (70)

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

May 28, 2021 at 08:38 pm

So it appears to be more a position by committee - at least initially. I would not want to see the more wee fellas like Alexander and Savage having to constantly grapple with o-linemen, T.E.s and fullbacks. Ideally, one of the bigger and more physical lads like a Henry Black, Christian Uphoff or Innes Gaines can emerge as a candidate.

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Must be able to cover in man and zone against both receivers and TEs and be like a linebacker in the run game ...

That’s quite a player. It sounds like, to get anywhere close to that, you need either a generational player or to discover TT secretly cloned Charles Woodson way back when.

In reality, looks like a couple of “star” types will be necessary, depending on package and call, possibly more. The risk of injury to smaller players seems large. I’d hate to see us expect Savage to survive that for example, especially with Lowry on the Line. I can’t see a quasi-linebacker covering that well. Our biggest S is Amos at 214, I think. Scott and Black are less than 205.

I hope this isn’t another system that depends on a player we don’t have or can’t keep on the field. It sounds awfully like Pettine’s use of the hybrid. I am concerned. I do not see obvious fits on our roster and I see us getting key performers injured playing in the Star role.

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splitpea1's picture

May 28, 2021 at 01:30 pm

"It sounds like...." We should have drafted smaller linebackers like Lambert and Ham to be able to do all these things effectively. Good luck.

I agree: I'm not sure how well this was thought out by MLF and the front office. The best fit we seem to have right how is Amos. Who knows? Maybe the committee approach will work if our other guys don't get too dinged up.

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Bear's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:16 pm

Small like McDuffie 6’ 1” 227 LBs ??

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splitpea1's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:41 pm

Special teams first, then with some training, a rotational player. If someone gets injured, he'll have to learn fast.

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:01 pm

It was pointed out to me that Ramsey is only 208, so it’s possible in reality. Maybe just overselling a bit?

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:42 pm

If you were a jockey, 2lbs. would be significant. For a football player - not so much. Co-incidentally Woodson was listed at 6'1'', 210 lbs.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 28, 2021 at 04:44 pm

Hercules Hybrid types are rare and have short NFL careers if undersized.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:56 pm

e.g. Raven Greene. Also Ramsey is a relatively large corner - 6'1" and about 210 lbs. Still he played the star less than 30% of the time. If the success of the defensive system is predicated on the star - it may be a short honeymoon with Barry.

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greengold's picture

May 29, 2021 at 06:59 am

Coldworld, you just made me realize the number of different body types added to our current roster.

There was a scout interview that I was listening to, and he remarked that the Packers have specific body types that they look for at DB. Not just the quality of the player, but body types.

S Christian Uphoff 6-2 209 4.4
S Ray Wilborn 6-4 224 4.56
S Innes Gaines 6-2 210 N/A

These dudes are long, S/ILB tweeters, and each one of them fits that mold. I totally agree on Savage, as good as he truly is working near the LOS. I too question if he’d be able to hold up. These 3 players listed are very different from the shorter, stockier Raven Greene whom they let walk to TB. He was something like 5-10 224...

Adding length helps both run/pass. Larger tackle radius, better wrap up, with the size to compete in coverage and win vs. bigger TEs/WRs over middle.

Regardless, we should have some good competition there.

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 08:35 am

Raven Greene was ripped but he was actually under 200 pounds. That fact is part of what triggered my concern.

Black and Scott are not much bigger. I recall the hammering Woodson took at times at 210, but surely that’s got to be about the threshold at which durability is viable for significant snaps?

I liked the Uphoff pick up, as you know, perhaps he or one of the undersized ILB types will show they are ready for snaps early. At this point though, that’s a big leap of faith in their coverage ability. Amos is the only established player I see that looks like a relatively appropriate fit physically.

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greengold's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:03 pm

Yeah, Alberta, should be super interesting how they use Christian Uphoff and/or Ray Wilborn. Maybe they fit, maybe not. My outlier pick at star is Kevin King.

Last year he remarked how much he and everyone wanted to play nickel/star.

You’re not kidding on Innes Gaines either. Possibly the best player for it. Love his tape, which is insanely good!

https://youtu.be/KiqLMpfmUY0

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:33 pm

You cannot expose Alexander or Savage at the star for any length of time. It's a meat grinder. Kevin King is interesting but you know that he is an injury just waiting to happen. Certainly audition Black, Wilborn and Uphoff. Jean-Charles may be game, but because of his size, may end up like Raven Greene. But my $2 bet, for winner of the Charles Woodson (Star) Stakes - is Innes Gaines.

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 08:44 am

I was hoping Scott would emerge last year. Perhaps this one, but possibly he and Black have added a pound or two. Admittedly better than Pettine putting the notably smaller Redmond (or Jean Charles this year) out there and slightly bigger than Greene.

Pettine’s refusal to blood players was extremely frustrating (partly because we always gave up soft points) so they mostly remain a mystery in coverage despite being active at times.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:24 pm

I thought you were trading for Surtain, the perfect fit?

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:30 pm

Thanks for the link greengold.

Wow! I don't know what his 40 time is, but Gaines plays fast, really FAST! He certainly attacks the ball, and wraps up tackles. Broken tackles from our defense would certainly come down if all Packer players played like him.

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 08:59 am

It’s a beautiful mystery’ as his pro day was cancelled and he doesn’t seem to have recorded a prior officially timed run.

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dobber's picture

May 28, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Certainly with Pettine, the Packers didn't go very deep into the CB depth chart. He favored putting Raven Greene or Will Redmond on the field rather than a fourth CB (Jackson or Hollman). Could be he was looking for more physicality...could be he felt that his next, more versatile DB just wasn't a CB. It could be that drafting Stokes and retaining King might lead to the Packers utilizing their CB depth more in 2021, but I think Vernon Scott and Henry Black will get their snaps, too.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 12:41 pm

I really liked Raven Greene but he was not built for the heavy going. While Redmond could neither cover or tackle well. And Sullivan's play declined over the season. I expect to see a new face(s) at this position.

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dobber's picture

May 28, 2021 at 02:13 pm

From your lips to Lombardi's ears...

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Savage57's picture

May 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

I'm probably suffering from flashbacks, and Barry certainly has earned his stripes enabling him to call his shots as he sees fit, but didn't we see a lot of problems in the past stem from trying to fit personnel to a defense, rather than fitting a defense to the personnel?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 28, 2021 at 04:45 pm

Yup. Round peg - square hole.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:33 pm

Normally one would say a square peg in a round hole... but yeah, we get what you mean... neither situation is good.

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jurp's picture

May 29, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Actually, a round peg can fit in a square hole...

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TarynsEyes's picture

May 28, 2021 at 01:03 pm

Another introduction of a round hole meeting square peg.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2021 at 02:02 pm

I don't want to see Alexander in that position at all based on the description provided in the article. He is our only true shut down corner and to increases his injury risk for a few plays during the game is not worth it. Find a couple of guys who can rotate into the position rather than risk our premier defenders to be round pegs in square holes.

This is beginning to sound like a Dom Capers inspired concept. Thanks, Since '61

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PackerAaron's picture

May 28, 2021 at 02:31 pm

Woodson did both (played the Star and on the outside) on his way to winning DPOY. I like that idea for Jaire.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:42 pm

Yes, you’re correct about Woodson, but he had a better DL and ILBs around him for most of his time in Green Bay. Also we had TWill who covered one side of the field. After the 2010 SB season and Jenkins, Collins, Bennettand Bishop were gone and T Will was injured, Woodson was taking a beating in that spot. He managed to get by in his experience and physicality.

If we move Jaire to that spot inside we lose our shutdown CB.
I’d rather keep our shutdown CB for one side of the field and find the player who fits the star role. Then we have both positions covered with good players. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 28, 2021 at 04:52 pm

Woodson was 6'1" and weighed 210 pounds. He was a bigger guy than Jaire at 5'10" and 196 pounds. And Woodson didn't do this for his entire career.

I also listened to Andy Herman who didn't want Jaire to play the slot much, maybe 8 or 10 snaps per game as a change-up. Herman thought it would be a waste of Alexander's talent to put him in the slot.

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PackerAaron's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:33 pm

Right, and I don't. Reasonable people can disagree.

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Since'61's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:50 pm

TGR, good points about Woodson’s size compared with Jaire. Another reason not to move Jaire into that position. Plus any play that we put Jaire in the star position the opposing QB has an opportunity to make a completion on the outside where Jaire should be to break it up. It’s a lose/lose IMO.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 09:06 am

It would be insane to place our star smaller DBs in that position on a regular basis. They are irreplaceable in their original positions. The odd passing down sure, but nothing like a significant proportion of snaps.

I don’t want to see Savage or Alexander there except for the odd shock value play a game, possibly. I’d rather see Alexander move sides if we want to shake things up.

They are too important in their main roles to expose to additional physical attrition.

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:06 pm

Woodson was heavier than all of our current safeties but Amos at 210 pounds. He was just phenomenally athletic. Alexander is 15 pounds lighter. Ramsey is in between but near Woodson.

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PhantomII's picture

May 29, 2021 at 05:22 pm

Jaire is very good, but no Woodson....Gold jacket....Generational player.

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PeteK's picture

May 28, 2021 at 02:59 pm

Woodson was 13 lbs heavier than Jaire and could handle the physicality of that position. Amos was solid in run support later in the season and can do as well in coverage. He has the size and experience to play that role. Hopefully,Scott, Black, or someone else can step up into his vacated S spot. Last chance Jackson?

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CoachDino's picture

May 28, 2021 at 05:09 pm

Great point, plus his days as an Elite boundary corner were waning. Heck, he was such a stud I hate to even write that but there was a reason the Raiders didn't keep him.

Is it OSB the guy from Notre dame, he was made to play that position. He also dropped in the draft because of the value of that position - its just not a High as a 3 down ILB which OSB could be but his size is going to be an issue between the tackles as an Mike LB. Injuries. heck look no further than a packer we fans all loved but just couldn't stay healthy - Raven Greene. It's a game not played on paper so when 300lbs runs into 195-215lbs bad things happen. I couldn't even imagine trying to stick my nose in trying to tackle AJD who has a head of steam for example. One might make the tackle but will pay a price.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:11 pm

You only have to go back to Dillon's freshman season (2017) - Boston College vs. Louisville - (A.Js. coming out) a corner tries to tackle Dillon at the line of scrimmage - gets planted - then a safety is hurled through space trying to stop A.J. rounding the corner - on his way to a 75 yard touchdown. The CB who got planted? #10 - Jaire Alexander.

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:57 pm

As a former (large) rugby player, I will say that there are few things that intimidate a tackler. Two of them keep Dillon off the ground. Weight and power.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:47 pm

I wonder if Dillon is wasting his time with the NFL. His true calling - Rugby Union?

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 09:12 am

He’d fit in well with some of those Pacific Islanders, those guys are usually the guys with legs like tree trunks and the power to match. He’s fast enough to play wing. Fortunately I think he will prove to be in the right place already.

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Lphill's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:01 pm

That's what happens when you don't draft a sideline to sideline inside linebacker, Sullivan failed in the championship game I wouldn't depend much on him .

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stockholder's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:15 pm

No mention of Vernon Scott? Well he is their man. Savage and Alexander aren't moving.

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Lphill's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:34 pm

You are correct I think Barry and Scott crossed paths prior to the Packers.

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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 09:15 am

Innis Gaines was a teammate of Scott’s at TCU. Not sure if Barry had any connection there though.

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Lphill's picture

May 28, 2021 at 03:34 pm

You are correct I think Barry and Scott crossed paths prior to the Packers.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:56 pm

OK - adding V. Scott on the Auditions List - to be a star.

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mbpacker's picture

May 28, 2021 at 04:10 pm

Maybe Gute will look for a veteran free agent.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 28, 2021 at 04:20 pm

Clark Kent couldn’t do what they’re asking. If Ray Lewis and Wonder Woman had a kid, he couldn’t do it. If such a monster defender existed, he’d be the #1 pick . He doesn’t exist.

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:11 pm

I’m starting to think it’s hyperbole from Barry. No ILB can cover like that and no DB can take that pounding all the time.

But this is more like it. So good to talk about the roster and football

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PeteK's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:33 pm

Polamalu did and Rod Woodson before him. However, you are right they are a unique breed . How fortunate were the Steelers.

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jannes bjornson's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:34 pm

Big D linemen and four LBs drafted with one picks--that's how it's done to play smash mouth. Now, with the passive rules prohibiting pure CB play and fast backs 1:1 on the ILBs the paradigm changed.

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CoachDino's picture

May 28, 2021 at 05:00 pm

"Over the last decade, nickel corner has become one of the most important positions on defense".

Easy big fella, that is a bit of a stretch. We would have a tough time naming a Nickel corner that is a top 50th paid player in the league. It has become much more important yes, much like the ILB has lessened in importance.

Just look at the FA signings/Market Value for Slot Corners (nickel) and boundary corners. Its night and day.

Sure guys like Ramsey takes snaps in the slot (like a Nickel) but that's only because he followed a WR there that normally lines up on the outside. Wrs are viewed much the same way. outside WR are valued/paid MUCH higher than slot only WR.

Once again the premise that the Nickel back has become much more important is true, no doubt and that trend will most likely continue. heck just look at the impact Chandon (GB Nickel) had in the TB game. So ya I'm all about strengthening our Nickel DB position. Another point is while star and nickel are similar depending on who you speak with they have differences as well.

Personally, I do not want JA being the Star if that means an increased exposure to run support in the box. He is much too valuable for that.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 28, 2021 at 05:32 pm

Charles!

Where are you?

Charles???

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 28, 2021 at 08:42 pm

Charles is only around 10 or 12 years old. I mean Charles Woodson Jr.

So we may have to wait a decade before we can draft him (assuming he plays football and becomes as good as his father).

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 28, 2021 at 05:35 pm

Long shots? However, keep an eye on these young guys on the roster:

1. Ray Wilborn who as a LB is 6'3" and 230 lbs. Particularly if he trimmed down a little. Guy looks to be a stud!
2. Christian Uphoff who is a 6'3" safety weighing 209 lbs.
2. Shemar Jean-Charles

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wildbill's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:52 pm

That would be three eyes and I only have two...

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NorCalPacker685's picture

May 28, 2021 at 05:36 pm

This is already starting to sound like a disaster. Building a defense around a system and not the players on your roster. See what your guys strengths are, and then build from there on out. You don’t create a position when you don’t even have someone you know can play it... I have a bad feeling we’re in for a season of missed assignments and big plays... please prove me wrong, Joe

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Coldworld's picture

May 28, 2021 at 06:13 pm

I’ve come down a little way from that ledge in going through this discussion. Now, nobody mention Lowry please.

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PeteK's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:25 pm

Lowry will have a solid season. Hahahaha

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Alberta_Packer's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:47 pm

Sir, you have crossed the line.

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BradHTX's picture

May 29, 2021 at 07:57 am

Too slow for the Star position.

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PeteK's picture

May 29, 2021 at 10:34 am

Hahahaha Lowry, King, and Preston will be like a Three Stooges play football episode. Seriously, I think all 3 will have some improved play this upcoming season.

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PeteK's picture

May 28, 2021 at 07:24 pm

Not happening, too many good players on this defense. Stokes will run down any potential breakaways.

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greengold's picture

May 30, 2021 at 09:47 am

I don’t think there is too much to worry about.

The fact that Joe Barry was not brought in for some kind of legendary status of success tells me this is Matt LaFleur’s defense, really, and Barry was brought in to facilitate it.

LaFleur is an offensive mastermind off respected trees, and has been trying to make his own name for himself in that regard. Not only does he know offensive schemes, he knows defensive schemes, inside & out.

I really do think when Pettine was allowed to walk, this was all LaFleur’s baby. All the way. He has his team where he wanted them, with defensive failings contributing to SB dreams ending each season. Seems LaFleur is leaving nothing to chance now.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 02, 2021 at 02:39 pm

It's a shame that Lafleur and Pettine couldn't get along. But a choice had to be made, and Lafleur is under contract, while Pettine was not. No more excuses for Lafleur now. If this defense fails, he will own it. Goodness knows what scheme they will run, or what adjustments they'll make on the fly. This could be the right call for the defensive, or it could crash and burn. Barry never had this much talent to work with, so who knows. Question is will he be really running the defense. We'll know once the season starts.

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Fubared's picture

May 28, 2021 at 11:08 pm

Sounds like another cluster f. we had the elephant, we had the six pack, and the common thread, trying to get second rate draft picks to play sb level with gimmicks because there are zero play makers on this d and the coach sees that. seriously disappointed already in this prick.

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Crankbait's picture

May 29, 2021 at 05:13 am

We need play maker inside linebackers not gimmicks that can potentially cause your secondary to be out of position.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 29, 2021 at 06:06 am

The jury is still out on Barry. He hasn't exactly set the world on fire to date.

He needs to instill something that has been missing from a Packers defense for some time: toughness.
The tackling was spotty at times the past few years as well.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 29, 2021 at 09:20 am

That’s rather kind on the tackling front.

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Charvid's picture

May 29, 2021 at 01:55 pm

Harry, “spotty” is exceedingly generous when describing Packer D tackling. “Spotty” implies there is some inconsistency, when in reality it is pretty bad all the time.

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