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Rams Linebacker Reeder Raves About New Packers DC Barry

“Pretty early on when I got to the Rams two years ago, I just felt like he kind of had that presence of a coordinator/head coach type to him,” Troy Reeder said.

It didn’t take long for Los Angeles Rams linebacker Troy Reeder to figure out his position coach had the ingredients to be a defensive coordinator.

Having played at Penn State – aka “Linebacker U” – Reeder arrived in Los Angeles as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Under the tutelage of linebackers coach Joe Barry, Reeder wound up starting eight games as a rookie.

Last week, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur named Barry defensive coordinator.

“Pretty early on when I got to the Rams two years ago, I just felt like he kind of had that presence of a coordinator/head coach type to him,” Reeder, who recorded a career-high 81 tackles in 2020, said this week.

“He’s been around so many great teams and great defenses. I know he won a Super Bowl back in the early 2000s with Tampa Bay with one of the best defenses of all-time. I think it automatically garners respect just because you know he’s been around, you know he’s been a good coach for such a long time. I’m excited for him to get the opportunity to call the plays. All the coaches do so much week in and week out with the game plan but really only one guy gets to call the defense. I’m really excited for him. I know this is a big move in his career and he’s been at this stage before. I have no doubt he’ll do a really good job.”

The Rams fielded the best defense in the NFL in 2020 to reach the playoffs. While Brandon Staley got the credit as the team’s first-year defensive coordinator, a performance that allowed him to become the Los Angeles Chargers’ new coach, Barry deserves some, too.

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Cory Littleton, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016, went from special-teams standout to Pro Bowl linebacker with Barry as his coach. Littleton signed with the Raiders in free agency this past offseason but the Rams’ defense didn’t miss a beat.

“I think a big part of that is just how he coaches and teaches,” Reeder said. “One of the things he always says is there’s not just starters and backups but there’s starters and starters-in-waiting. Last year, my rookie season in 2019, I started off the year as a backup and then grew into a small defensive role and then finished the season as a full-time starter. He prepares guys, whether they’re going to play in a game or not, to be ready to play. Every guy we’ve had in our room who’s had to step up has done a really good job. That’s a tribute to him as a coach.”

This will be Barry’s third crack at running the show. His Detroit Lions defenses in 2007 and 2008 were the worst in the NFL, no different than the year after his dismissal. His Washington defenses in 2015 and 2016 ranked 17th and 19th in points allowed, much better than 29th in 2014 before his arrival and 27th in 2017 after his departure.

In Green Bay, he’ll inherit much stronger personnel than he had at those stops, with Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary as outside linebackers, Kenny Clark on the defensive line, Jaire Alexander at cornerback and Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage at safety.

Plus, Barry got to work alongside the venerable Wade Phillips from 2017 through 2019 and the rising star Staley in 2020 the past four years.

“I think he’s great,” Reeder said. “One thing that’s been really cool with him is having him as my first NFL coach and coming from a pretty good college program, I just felt like I grew a lot learning the game of football with him. He’s an unbelievable teacher – not just our position group but the defense as a whole. He had a great understanding of offenses. Just really felt prepared with him as our coach week in and week out. And just a great guy. The Packers will be lucky to have him. I’m sure all the players are going to love him. I wish him nothing but the best.”