Joe Barry received a lot of heat from Green Bay Packers fans during his time as defensive coordinator.
Fans' frustrations were understandable, as the Packers' defense continuously underperformed under Barry's watch. It's why Matt LaFleur made a defensive coordinator change after three seasons.
But beyond the soft coverages and scheme decisions that often led to the defense's downfall, Barry was popular in the locker room.
A change was necessary, but Barry is undoubtedly a great person, and the players' reactions reflect that.
Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari defends Joe Barry after firing
Packers All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari reacted to the news on X (formerly Twitter) and had nothing but praise for Barry.
"Joe was awesome. Always happy and relatable. Favorite among players. Always enjoyed our talks before practice," Bakhtiari wrote.
The Packers haven't ruled out retaining Barry as part of their staff, but much will depend on how the hiring process shakes out. It wouldn't be a surprising move. Barry is popular in the Green Bay locker room and had a successful career as a positions coach with multiple teams.
And Bakhtiari isn't the only Packers player to publicly praise Barry. Before he was fired, veteran edge rusher Preston Smith came to his defense.
"He gets a lot of hell in the media, but we've come together. We play for Joe B," said Smith.
But that doesn't mean firing him was the wrong decision. Barry's unit underperformed throughout his three-year run as defensive coordinator. The Packers loaded up the defense with multiple first-round picks, but they never figured out their poor run defense, ranking 28th and 26th in the past two seasons.
The Packers made the correct call, but based on Barry's popularity with the players, it won't be a major surprise if he returns to the staff in some way.