Joe Barry enters his third season as the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator knowing that he probably won't see a fourth season if inconsistent play from his crew continues.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has never wavered in his faith that Barry is the man to guide the defense, and the 52-year-old DC understands the struggles last year rest on his shoulders.
"There were a number of things, it starts with me," Barry said Tuesday. "I have to do better. In order for this group to play better, I have to do better."
The Packers were a roller-coaster ride once again under Barry. At times they looked like a top-five defense, able to discombobulate offenses. However, after injuries took their toll, including losing top edge rusher Rashan Gary, the warts of Barry's system started to show.
Green Bay allowed far too many big plays. The unit was particularly bad in two-minute D and situational football -- where Barry's propensity to play off coverage in critical spots allows offenses to pick defensive backs apart.
Barry noted his unit must even out the valleys of inconsistent play to succeed in 2023.
"If you do go back and really critique last year, the inconsistencies were the things that really got us," Barry said. "We played well at times, we didn't play well at times. And that's what you can't do in this league. … On our side of the ball, on the defensive side of the ball, that's the thing that we've got to do week in and week out, is that we've got to show up and play our best version of football, our best version of defense.
"We can't be up one week and down the next. We've got to find that consistency and show up every single week."
Barry has spent six years as an NFL defensive coordinator. In his two years in Detroit (2007-2008), he led one of the worst defenses in league memory (the Lions went 0-16 in 2008). As DC in Washington for two years (2015-2016), Barry's defenses similarly allowed a lot of yards and points. In his first two seasons with the Packers, he led a solid D in 2021 (ninth in yards allowed, 13th in points, eighth in takeaways), but one that last season struggled to gain momentum and was gashed on the ground.
2023 will mark the first time in his career Barry is given a third year with a club to right the defense. He'll have to prove LaFleur's trust correct and help the Packers defense carry a young offense if he's to make it to Year 4 in Green Bay.