As the Green Bay Packers prepare for their playoff showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, potential Joe Barry replacements are becoming available.
Regardless of how far the Packers go in the postseason, head coach Matt LaFleur needs to make a change at defensive coordinator. Despite improving in the final two games, Barry's defense fell short of expectations again this season.
Green Bay ranked 27th in defensive DVOA, which is unacceptable for a team with so much talent. Barry's unit struggled against the run, allowing the fifth-most rushing yards per game. Four teams rushed for over 200 yards against the Packers.
LaFleur needs a change of approach. His defense is built to play more aggressively, which goes against Barry's philosophy. Interestingly, Barry has brought more pressure and played more man coverage during the current three-game win streak, and the results have improved.
But Barry's body of work over the past three seasons is enough evidence to move on.
Mike Vrabel would be a dream defensive coordinator hiring for Packers
The Tennessee Titans have surprisingly fired head coach Mike Vrabel despite leading the team to a 54-45 record and three playoff berths in six seasons.
Vrabel may walk into another head coaching job, but if not, returning to his previous role of defensive coordinator could help him bounce back in 2024. Green Bay would be the perfect landing spot.
Once upon a time, Matt LaFleur was Vrabel's offensive coordinator in Tennessee. They have worked together before. The roles would be reversed in this situation, with Vrabel joining LaFleur's staff with the aim of eventually returning to a head coach job.
Beyond that, the Packers have the talent to succeed under Vrabel. Green Bay's defensive front, led by Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary, can become one of the league's best. They are backed up by a young core of Lukas Van Ness, Devonte Wyatt, Karl Brooks, and T.J. Slaton.
Green Bay's secondary needs work in the offseason, but All-Pro Jaire Alexander remains under contract and rookie Carrington Valentine has impressed this year.
Vrabel was an All-Pro and three-time Super Bowl champion as a player before becoming Ohio State's linebackers coach in 2011. He took the same job for the Houston Texans in 2014, earning a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2017.
His Tennessee defense ranked eighth in his first season. The results have been up and down since, but there's one thing Vrabel would bring to Green Bay: A culture change on defense. The Packers wouldn't get accused of playing "soft" defense with Vrabel running the show.
While he would be a "dream" hire, there's a reason for that. Vrabel could land a head coach job elsewhere after his previous success in Tennessee. It's hard to ignore his leadership ability.
However, if Vrabel is willing to accept a defensive coordinator position in 2024, there may not be a better landing spot than in Green Bay.