No member of the Redskins coaching staff has received more outward scrutiny or criticism this season than defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Given the failings of his unit in key categories, questions about Barry’s job security have arisen, and they likely will continue to swirl in the offseason.
The Redskins as a whole this season performed poorly on third downs, in the red zone and in late-game situations, and they also struggled to consistently come up with turnovers.
Barry’s decision-making has drawn attention, but when evaluating the defensive coordinator, Redskins officials also must take additional factors into account.
The team made only minimal investments on the defense in free agency and the draft. The Redskins did spend big after the initial rush of free agency when Josh Norman became available unexpectedly. But they didn’t make any marquee signings at defensive line or safety, which represented their greatest areas of weakness entering the 2016 offseason. Some of the Band-Aid signings at those positions haven’t quite gotten the job done because of either age and/or inexperience.
Injuries hit the unit hard at a number of key spots, including pass-rusher (Junior Galette) and safety (DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton Jr.). And the Redskins have had growing pains with two more cornerbacks (Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett) transitioning to safety, and rookies Su’a Cravens and Kendall Fuller feeling their way along at inside linebacker and nickelback, respectively.
Asked about how Barry and his unit have done considering the circumstances, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said, “Yeah, I think we’ve had some adversity as far as personnel’s concerned — guys getting hurt and losing your captain early in D-Hall, and the safeties we’ve had to kind of mix and match a little bit. We’re transforming corners into safety and all that good stuff and signing a guy late. Linebackers — we’ve had our issues the last few weeks. But, overall, I think he’s done a good job. It’s tough when you don’t have the same 11 in there all the time. But I think for the most part there are things we obviously have to get better at. Third down conversions, red zone, obviously are issues, two-minute drills at the end of the half. But I like the way the guys compete and they play hard. That’s very, very important. And teams are going to make their plays, but I feel like we’re getting them in the right spots and giving them an opportunity to make plays.”
Barry, meanwhile, isn’t allowing himself to focus on job security, or the evaluation of his unit. That time will come later. For now, he has a more pressing topic in mind.
“That’s a good question,” he said when asked how he thinks things have panned out this year. “Those are things that we will obviously address, but right now, I’m just 1,000 percent on the Giants, and I’m not even thinking a day past that right now.”