With Joe Barry unable to save his job, the Packers are now looking for their third defensive coordinator of the Matt LaFleur era. LaFleur has now canned both Barry and Mike Pettine during the 2020s.
The Packers nearly changed Ejiro Evero‘s career path in 2021, choosing Barry over the then-Rams defensive backs coach — who had worked with LaFleur on McVay’s staff in 2017. Then-Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard was believed to be LaFleur’s top choice at that point. While LaFleur may not be closing off the Sean McVay pipeline, one of the Rams leader’s better-known assistants will not be considered for the Packers job.
Brandon Staley is not on Green Bay’s radar, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. The first Chargers HC dismissed in-season since Kevin Gilbride in 1998, Staley has not been connected to any head coaching or defensive coordinator opening since that December firing. Staley rocketed to the HC radar in 2020, using the Rams’ DC post to reach that place. Previously, he had resided as outside linebackers coach for two teams — the Bears and Broncos — under Vic Fangio. The Fangio scheme’s present popularity aside, Staley has yet to receive an interview.
LaFleur also worked with Aubrey Pleasant back in 2017, during his season as Rams OC, and hired him following a Lions dismissal in 2022. Demovsky mentions the veteran staffer as a possible candidate. The team is also believed to have been impressed by Chris Harris in 2021; Harris, who spent this season as the Titans’ DBs coach, is back on the DC radar following the Titans’ firing of Mike Vrabel. Jerry Gray, who served as a Packers assistant from 2020-22, also could be a candidate, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler adds. A Gray and Barry philosophical disagreement led the former out of town in 2023; Gray spent this season on the Falcons’ staff. With 2023 Atlanta DC Ryan Nielsen taking over in Jacksonville, it is possible Gray would follow.
The Packers are allowing defensive assistants to explore opportunities, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, but it is unclear if the team would allow lateral moves to take place at this point. It still looks like their defensive staff makeup will come down to what their next DC prefers, as should be expected.