The Packers Have Something in Krys Barnes

Rookie UDFA linebacker Krys Barnes has shown up in all four games this season. 

The Green Bay Packers may have something in rookie linebacker Krys Barnes. After being signed from the practice squad a day before the season opener, Barnes is second on the team with 25 combined tackles. Through four games, the undrafted free agent out of UCLA has been very productive despite playing in just 35 percent of the defensive snaps. However, given his current trend, Barnes could be a staple on the Packers defense by the end of the season.

We’re well aware that Green Bay’s defense is behind the offense. Then again, that’s been the case for virtually all Packers teams with Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback. Currently, they are 12th in total defense but 23rd in yards per play. For the foreseeable future, Green Bay’s defense is going to be a work in progress. However, Barnes has been a silver lining on an otherwise unremarkable defense.

The Packers have seen some good individual defensive performances to date. Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander were expected to be two of their top defensive players, and so far, they have been just that. Smith is tied for the NFL lead in sacks, and Alexander is playing like the All-Pro he expects himself to be. However, Barnes is also in the conversation for being one of the most impactful players on Green Bay’s defense.

 

Against the run, Barnes has been one of the most efficient linebackers in the league. His athleticism is evident when he’s flying around the ball, and he’s shown the ability to finish plays with zero missed tackles on the season. Furthermore, his 25 combined tackles are second only to Christian Kirksey, who has played in 43 more defensive snaps. Clearly, Barnes has been more effective than the starting linebacker the Packers are paying $16 million to over two years.

Coverage from linebackers has been a big problem for the Packers defense the last few years. However, Barnes is doing everything he can to extinguish an issue that has plagued this team.

In week one, he completely blew up a screen during the second half that could have gone for a huge gain.

 

Then, in week four against the Atlanta Falcons, Ben Fennell highlighted a play in which Barnes did a tremendous job retreating in coverage to somehow get his hands on a crossing route.

 

These aren’t plays made by your typical everyday linebacker. Barnes has been a major surprise in 2020 and could be another diamond in the rough that Green Bay has snatched up after the draft has ended. His versatility as both a run defender and a coverage linebacker is rare in today’s game. If Barnes can continue to carve out his role as possibly being an every-down linebacker for the Packers, it will be exciting to see what more he can bring to this defense throughout the course of the season.  

 

 

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

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Comments (45)

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Bearmeat's picture

October 09, 2020 at 03:26 pm

In theory he doesn't have the speed or agility to play coverage. But theory is out the window. He's done well for 4 weeks. Let's hope he can keep it up. An ILB who can keep the middle of the field from being a cesspool is something the Packers defense hasn't seen since 2010. It would go a long way to mitigating the weakness of our DL post-Clark.

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Coldworld's picture

October 09, 2020 at 04:16 pm

One of the knocks against Greene too. While Greene’s difficulty has been health, when he has the ability to read The game and react. Physical speed is merely potential, in reality reaction or even anticipation or it’s lack can make a huge difference. Both of these players seem just to be instinctive.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 09, 2020 at 05:34 pm

Remember Vernon Gholston? Won the underwear olympics about a decade ago. Awful player.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 09, 2020 at 07:21 pm

Lot of soft tissue injuries this year too. Lack of experience in conditioning for most, and luck of the draw. The short training camp does the rookies and 2 year players no favor at all.

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CoachDino's picture

October 09, 2020 at 07:40 pm

Why would anyone down vote this post. It's dead on and is true for not just football but most anything that measures time.

How fast you process and react, speed, angle, acceleration, distance/positioning are all part of the equation.

If you are 1 second faster in a forty time that gives you .25 seconds of advantage (over 10 yds). If you are 1 second faster in process/decision/react you would have .75 second advantage.

Ive spent years coaching Baseball and Boxing and these sports are all about reaction time.
recognize/react. It makes a world of difference. Floyd Mayweather is a great example. He was so smart and recognized things so quickly that you couldn't touch him and he was able to consistently touch his opponent. Sure he was very quick so the combination was GOAT like. He took minimal damage and lasted years in the sport using this to his advantage.

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Bure9620's picture

October 10, 2020 at 01:08 pm

Correct on all fronts

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:53 am

The cesspool of 2011 would include Bishop, Our all-time leading tackler and future Packer HOFer Hawk, and the guy who led the league in tackles, Martinez.

Cesspool. They don’t talk about our team like that even on Viking boards.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 09, 2020 at 04:07 pm

I think that I read that he was hurt in college and did not have good tape before the draft and so was under the radar before we picked him up.

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Coldworld's picture

October 09, 2020 at 06:13 pm

I think you may be thinking of Martin. Barnes had some issues early in college that held him back but was healthy after.

Barnes didn’t test well and wasn’t seen as fast enough by scouts over distance. He looks like one where the tape was truer than the metrics at this point. He was very effective in college in the run and aerial game and known to be instinctive but he was perceived as just too slow for a smaller linebacker outside of short area. Seen as good at everything but not great at anything.

It looks like he is one of those who A combination of a sub par pro day and negative chatter led to an unjustified fall at this point. I’m not claiming I foresaw it, but if he just continues as he is he is a huge plus.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 10, 2020 at 10:13 am

Thanks coldworld.
Because this team doesn’t value MLB as a high draft and has not done so in years then I am happy to see anyone step up.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

NFL pass rules make ILB previous to 2010 completely different to what it was. It's now territory for the likes of Raven Greene and other hybrid/SS, rather than the modern MLB like AJ Hawk. Condense explain from Packer defense coach. (still active in league) Up till 2017 defensive players could still put hands on each other in 5 yard zones from LOS. League push Refs to call holding on defensive players (usually LB) which was 5 plus a fresh set of downs. Teams went to chase from mirror in coverage which meant lighter faster players at LOS. Packers 7 DB under Capers with 2 SS in place of OLB/ILB from 2014-2017. Atlanta's 8 DB in Superbowl against NE. Packers with Raven Greene and or Sullivan or Redman in the slot or box depending on the defensive call. Packers were an early adopter under Capers, and have continued under Pettine. Don't blame them, NFL owners with the Player's agreement changed the rules for a more fast paced game, with more scoring. Like FB/H-back, players will fill the ILB slots, but different kind of player who are currently rare in the league.

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CoachDino's picture

October 10, 2020 at 08:28 pm

Thanks Flack - I learned something.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 12, 2020 at 07:26 pm

You're welcome.

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Bure9620's picture

October 10, 2020 at 01:10 pm

If anything, it will make the Packers value ILB less, it says you can find a solid player to fill the role in UDFAs, why spend or waste high draft picks?? Patrick Queen has mixed results, looked great early, but has looked like a rookie on many plays....

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Coldworld's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:25 pm

Getting lucky and thinking that is the norm will kill front office careers. Possible but not probable in my view.

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CoachDino's picture

October 10, 2020 at 08:38 pm

Big C - lucky? In a way, you lower your probability of success, does mean you are relying on luck? ya, it might. I'd like to think they have all the statistical information and use probability of success by position and round weighted heavily by positional value to decide which position to risk the lower probabilities on.

Then you factor in your draft/player acquisition staffs past performance. Can't say with any certainty but i "feel" like the Packers have had an above average performance of spotting UDFA that can contribute. I have seen stats saying they have signed more than most to the original 53 but that doesn't mean they performed well in games.

I do agree with you that if you "rely" to heavily on beating the probability norms you are at risk. The house always wins in the end...

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arthurl's picture

October 09, 2020 at 04:40 pm

This player has been a big boost to the defense. I also like the play of Summers. They both seem to be holding their own. I feel the defense kinda gets a bad rap. They have been making stops. They had that lead in Minnesota and seemed to go to prevent. Versus the Lions they looked pretty bad early, but played well the final three quarters. The Saints have a solid offense and will score on any defense. Same with the Falcons offense

I know it’s still early, but the Barnes we see now seems the real deal.

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Guam's picture

October 09, 2020 at 05:03 pm

Imagine Barnes and Kamal Martin as our ILBs! Run stuffers and can cover.

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CoachDino's picture

October 09, 2020 at 08:03 pm

Sounds great but i'm too "scared" to get my hopes up. Brynes is doing it on the field so that's a great sign, Heard nothing but great things about Martin so hopefully that will transfer onto the field as well.

I guess the Packers "may" of been right not spending high draft picks on ILBs. Heck the one they drafted the highest in the last 5 years has been the worst...lol (Burks)

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ABZdroik's picture

October 10, 2020 at 08:46 am

I was thinking the same thing. 2 young energized LBs making plays l over? Also impossible to imagine given the last few yrs.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

October 09, 2020 at 05:42 pm

ILB is evolving into a position of strength - a pleasant surprise. The trio of Barnes, Summers and Martin augurs well for the future and the potential for an outstanding linebacker corps. Next, the D-line.

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Coldworld's picture

October 09, 2020 at 06:14 pm

Get back Clark, Keke emerging as a threat, also better against the run, Lancaster playing better, flashes from Winn and even Adams.

I’d still like to add a big man, but Adams and Clarke can play sone DE. I never thought I’d be considering that Adams might be a contributor during the off season. I’m even starting to think that this group less Lowry might be ascending quietly.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

October 09, 2020 at 07:41 pm

Yes, the line is not quite as bad as it might have been - which I attribute largely to the development of Keke. Of course Clark is the rock and the potential of Keke suggests a good 2/3rds of a defensive line. Another big boy run-stuffer would be lovely but probably not possible until next year's draft or free-agency. As for Adams, I don't expect his contributions to be sustainable. And have you noticed that the D-line plays better when Lowry is off the field?

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Coldworld's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:27 pm

Yes to your comment on Lowry. He has been a necessity with youth, injuries and snap counts. I’m hoping that he will be needed far less after the bye.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

Lowry is under contract. You save a little if you replace him with a bargain and you create millions in dead money.

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Coldworld's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:31 pm

Dead money requires him to be cut. Benching him on merit does not. He remains depth. A bad contract does not force a player playing badly on the field, it just alters decisions about how to move on. Lowry has been bad for a season and a quarter. The best players need to be on the field when health and stamina allow.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:44 pm

So you think the GM made a mistake on Lowry? I sure don’t.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

October 11, 2020 at 11:25 am

I think if the GM had a re-do, he wouldn't have offered him his current contract. Somehow Lowry has misconstrued it as an early retirement plan.

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CoachDino's picture

October 09, 2020 at 07:52 pm

Good stuff but I'm kinda like stats usage SJW.

"Currently, they are 12th in total defense but 23rd in yards per play".

The article gives the impression that "23rd in yards per play" portion carries enough weight to offset the overall performance.

The issue is the Packers have held a 90% probability of winning in each of their games in the 4th Qtr. Some games had large leads earlier. That is going to impact defense strategy - Prevent in one form or another. It's going to impact the offense strategy, passing down field / abandoning the run in one form or another. That has a large impact on YPP IMO without context making that 23rd ranking a low value stat.
Works both ways. The packers run defense on paper looks pretty good, could the scenario above impact that stat. IMO it does. they are currently the 8th best run defense in Rush yards allowed....Hmmm

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PhantomII's picture

October 09, 2020 at 09:55 pm

Both Barnes and Summers are doing pretty good. Better than most expected. As far as the run Defense....I do like trying other personnel out in the game and getting more players live reps. It will pay dividends because Pettine is notorious for leaving DL in too long and getting them tired so they play tired. Keke should start along side Clark when he's healthy. Pretty sure everyone agrees with that. If we can blitz more from our DB's for TFL, we should be okay. Let's keep in mind we have not played any offense who is at full strength and our offense has not struggled like 2019. Most teams have abandoned the run early. Litmus test is murky but I do believe we are playing better, just not great, yet. Would have loved a big ole DT pick up but we can play better and the backups are getting more game exposure and the D has not cost us any games yet. We didn't get a 3 and out during Atlantas 20 play drive but they could not put the ball across the goal line. We could take it as a positive or we could say 20 chances at stopping them and that's the way I will continue to see it until I like what I see, Like a steady 3-N-OUT or a turnover.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm

We have surrendered 101 points. Ten fewer points would have us in the top ten.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:36 pm

And 10 more would place them at 22nd as opposed to 18th where they are now. So what's your point?

https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/opponent-points-per-game

The combined record of the opponents so far is 3-13. Can we at least wait until we play a few decent teams before declaring this is close to a top 10 defense?

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 03:40 pm

I’m sorry you didn’t get the point, . I’ll try again, just for you.

THE POINT is that if you factor in garbage time points, our defense looks worse than it really is. If you deduct even half the garbage, we’re in the top ten.

New Orleans has the league’s 7th scoring offense, Minnesota is #12, Atlanta is 14 and Detroit is 18...

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 10, 2020 at 03:54 pm

If I were 6" taller, I could dunk a basketball.

But thank you for that personal clarification. I feel special.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:47 pm

You aren’t very good with the abstract, are you?

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PhantomII's picture

October 11, 2020 at 11:34 am

Thanks 13TimeChamps for showing us that you can love your team but still point out the weak links on it. Truly our Offense is humming right along so far. Rodgers has been a Professional and Elite. ML has came up with great game plans. Our Defense primarily against the run is mediocre to poor depending on the greatness of the opposing RB skill set. Keke has improved Lowry has not and should not be starting. Pettine does not prioritize stopping the run and it shows. Is it him or Gute not getting a solid DT next to a now injured Clark?? Both if you ask me. Not having 2-ILB's as a base D is also an issue. Not using your xtra DB's for blitzes is an issue. Not having your xtra DB or LB on the TE who is chipping OLB inside to run around him is another problem. You are right we have not played a really good team yet. N.O was okay but missing Brees primary receiving weapon. Points and run numbers are skewed as teams pass more to catch up and go against what is our strength pass rush as of late and our DB win rate. Clark was paid big money and he will not last physically a year or two without a much better DT next to him taking some of the heat off double teams. IF you want to shorten the career of our best DL just keep things the way they are. 3 and outs get our defense off the field and Rodgers back on the gas pedal ensuring the likelihood of a Win.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 11, 2020 at 12:05 pm

This has been a fun year and I love this team. But certain posters on here, well the one above in particular (meaning LH, not you), thinks it's sacrilegious to point out any flaws, even in a constructive manner. Every team has things they can improve on. I'm not a fan of "bend but don't break" defenses. They're rarely sustainable, as witnessed in last years NFC championship game. You can cherry pick numbers all you want to try and convince yourself otherwise.

I would love for this team to become a legitimate top ten defense, but I just don't see it yet. But I do see improvements over last year, so hopefully we're headed in the right direction.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 13, 2020 at 07:38 am

And it's only 4 games in.

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Packers0808's picture

October 09, 2020 at 08:00 pm

Barnes seems to have a bright future barring the insane number of injuries this year around the league!

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PackerBacker84's picture

October 09, 2020 at 08:12 pm

Hell of a post! Spot on with analysis and clips to showcase a young man putting his bid in to hold down the position! He has great energy and infuses more youth to our already young D. An observation we’re failing to mention, his FOOTBALL IQ. He is taking on live snaps with a complex defensive playbook, especially at his position group. Not to mention he’s been included in wearing the communication helmet! Not only is he game fast, he’s also got a decent football acumen! The attention our D receives from the opposition when viewing ways to attack them gives me heartburn before kickoff, but having Barnes manning the middle gives me hope. Love this young man, and can’t wait for Martin to return! ..... and maybe get a refund on Kirksey?

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 10, 2020 at 09:30 am

That is what I see PB...instinctive play. Barnes diagnosis the play and reacts very quickly . He puts himself in the mix in the right spot and makes the tackles.

He reminds me a bit of Chris Borland in his instincts. Borland was so instinctive. Always around the action. Which is why he was a 4 year starter for the Badgers. Hopefully Barnes will develop into a long term starter for the Pack.

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nostradanus's picture

October 09, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Some of these guys just have that “it” factor that overrides size and 40 time. This kid had “it” in spades and if you listen to his interviews he’s all football.
Gotta like that.

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wimiller's picture

October 10, 2020 at 11:53 am

what a superb find. he just makes plays, diagnoses immediately, gets to the ball, and finishes.

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stockholder's picture

October 10, 2020 at 01:07 pm

I don't believe we've found anything. Ryan and Martinez were considered everything too at some point. The safeties are still to involved to say we have something. Great write up Gil. But No! I'm not convinced. I believe he's a flash in the pan. It should be obvious in a few more games. Martin impressed me more.

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Coldworld's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:43 pm

This guy was a UDFA not even considered a lock for the PS. After 4 games he is rated by pretty much every measure in the top half of ILBs in the league.

Of course we found something. if Martin ( whom I believe to be our best draft value) shows as well we will have found two players at a position of need. Martin May be the better long term but Barnes is already doing it.

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