Packers are 6-8 following their embarrassing home loss to Buccaneers on Sunday. The 34-20 defeat highlighted what many Packers fans have been saying all season: Joe Barry’s defense has not worked, is not working, and will not work. Despite yet another defensive dumpster fire, head coach Matt LaFleur has stated that Barry will remain the defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.
While unpopular, the decision does make sense. There is no other defensive coach on the Packers’ coaching staff that is even close to be qualified to call defensive plays. Had Jerry Gray not left for greener pastures with the Atlanta Falcons, it is possible that Barry would not have made it this far in the season. As it is, though, the Packers lack anyone capable of being an acting coordinator, and that may even include Barry himself.
Even though Barry is keeping his job [for now], many presume that he will not be retained after the season. While the contract details of Packers assistant coaches are not public, recent history suggests that they are signed to three year contracts. As this is Barry’s third year in Green Bay, it is probably also the final year of his contract. Signing him to a new contract, at this point, would be organizational malpractice. Instead, his contract will simply not be renewed.
While this is not the firing that most fans are calling for, the end result will be the same: Green Bay will be looking for a new defensive coordinator this offseason. While there are many names that can and will be considered, one Packers insider believes LaFleur should look at a coach well-known to Packers and Wisconsin Badgers fans.
Packers Insider Suggests Jim Leonhard Should Be on Matt LaFleur’s List of Defensive Coordinator Candidates (Again)
As Packers fans are well aware, Barry was not the first person that LaFleur offered the defensive coordinator job to in 2021. That honor went to then Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator and 10-year NFL veteran Jim Leonhard. Much to the dismay of fans, Leonhard turned down the job with the Packers to stay in Madison.
After Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was fired, Leonhard served as the Badgers’ interim head coach. However, he was not given the full-time job, which was given to current head coach Luke Fickell. Despite a job offer from Fickell, Leonhard decided to leave Wisconsin. He is currently an analyst on Bret Bielema’s staff at Illinois.
Leonhard chose not to take another coaching job on a sideline this past year due to hip surgery. However, in 2024 he could be a hot name on many hiring lists. Jim Polzin of The Wisconsin State Journal believes he should be on LaFleur’s list again:
“Wisconsin Badgers icon Jim Leonhard is hanging around Cross Plains and should be on LaFleur’s list of candidates despite turning down the Packers in 2021. But that’s a solution for after the season, not now.”
Many Packers fans were incredibly frustrated with Leonhard when he turned down the job the first time. Perhaps he will not turn it down if he should make it to the finalist list again, and thereby mend some fences with fans.
Of course, his standing with fans is not the reason Leonhard would take the job. The Wisconsin Badgers head coaching job was presumed to be his until Chris McIntosh made the unexpected Fickell hire. With his dream job no longer in reach, Leonhard could be looking at any and all opportunities.
As Leonhard will undoubtedly be looking at multiple openings, so too should the Packers be looking at multiple candidates. LaFleur has only been the Packers’ head coach for five years now and he is about to hire his third defensive coordinator.
This next hire needs to be a home run. LaFleur’s hiring tendencies are already in question. Getting this one wrong could cost him his own job.