Gray Expected To Join Falcons

At the end-of-season press conference held earlier this month, Matt LaFleur said he didn’t anticipate making any staff changes. He was either fibbing or hadn’t yet spoken to defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Jerry Gray, who, according to a report from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, is expected to be hired by the Falcons in the next few days.

Gray chose not to extend his contract with the Packers and became a coaching free agent at the conclusion of the regular season. He interviewed with multiple teams in the past couple of weeks, so his departure didn’t come as a surprise.

Gray figures to coach the DBs in Atlanta, which would make this the second consecutive offseason that a defensive assistant left for a similar job with another team. Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith moved to Minnesota last year. While lateral moves do occur, they’re not common. That begs the question, why did Gray and Smith want out of Green Bay?

It’s possible that Smith wanted to rejoin mentor and longtime close friend Mike Pettine and that Gray preferred being 500 miles closer to his home state of Texas. Of course, it’s also possible that neither man wanted to continue working under defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who’s not nearly as well-regarded around the National Football League as they are.

Looking back, this move may have been foreshadowed several months ago. Gray responded matter-of-factly when asked why the defensive backs played such soft coverage in a Week 5 loss to the Giants: “Coach Barry is the architect and defensive coordinator, so he’ll answer those questions tomorrow… We gotta be more aggressive ourselves and not wait for schematics to tell us what to do.” Gray seemed as frustrated as the fans with a game plan that made very little sense.

Regarding a possible replacement for Gray, one name to keep in mind is Aubrey Pleasant. He joined the Packers as an offensive consultant a couple of weeks after being fired by the Lions last October but spent the previous five seasons as a defensive backs coach, including one year with LaFleur (2017) and four years with Barry (2017-2020) on the LA Rams staff.
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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

6 thoughts on “Gray Expected To Join Falcons

  1. Jerry Grey was defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills in the early 2000’s for 5 seasons. His best and only winning campaign was at 9-7. His worst was his first season at 3-13. This coming off the previous season when the Bills were 13-3. He followed that up as DC for three seasons in Tennessee from 2011 to 2013. Again, his best season was when he likewise tallied a 9-7 mark. He hasn’t really sniffed a DC job since. I wish Jerry Grey the best and he seems like a fine DB coach but he’s hardly irreplaceable. The implication is he would somehow be better than Joe Barry as DC. I’m not convinced. While I have no explanation why Joe Barry played zone to begin the season when his personnel was better suited for man. I do know we don’t win four games in a row without those 8 defensive turnovers during that span. This without Rashan Gary our best pass rusher and Eric Stokes our second best CB. Poor QB play, not Joe Barry’s defense kept this team out of the playoffs. I’m not saying the defense didn’t underachieve, because it did. It just seems like every year after a playoff loss, and yes, the Detroit game was a playoff game. We have to survey the room and fine a scapegoat goat because we can never blame Aaron Rodgers. And this year it’s Joe Barry. And no, Jim Leonhard doesn’t want the job.

    1. Who’s CBs by scheme were playing several yards off the line of scrimmage that allowed a 3 yard completion for a first down that iced the game.
      I wouldn’t be so sure Stokes is the second best cornerback on the team, he was having a horrible year, won’t tackle and so far has proven not to be a ballhawk. Hopefully he’ll rebound
      Rodgers same ole dude in critical times forcing the ball into double coverage instead of taking the easy play to keep the chain’s churning….agreed…. But he got a lot of criticism for that the last few years.

  2. You must not have eyes or ears because Rodgers has taken a ton of blame for the past three elimination games. He was also the biggest reason why the Packers made the playoffs in 2020 and 2021. Barry is just an albatross.

  3. I don’t think LaFleur can get anybody good to come to Green Bay. Any DBs coach with options won’t want to work for a stiff like Barry, especially since he’ll probably be gone after next season.

  4. I much prefer the PackersNotes Michael over Twitter Michael. No snarky comments about Aubrey Pleasant, for instance. Good on you.

    While I think Gray was solid I do like the possibility of an upgrade with their secondary coach. They really will need someone to work very closely with Stokes. He has the skillset to give them the best Corner tandem in the league, but if he doesn’t make a jump, he could go the direction of King.

    1. Good on you for understanding the Packers Notes Michael is different from the Twitter Michael. Most people aren’t smart enough to figure that out.

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