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Joe Barry 'Brings A Great Passion To The Game'

Joe Barry turned in an impressive interview last month when talking to the Washington Redskins' brass about their defensive coordinator opening.

On Wednesday, his former general manager said he wasn't surprised that Barry was able to eventually earn the job in Washington.

The Washington Redskins announced the hiring of Joe Barry as the team's defensive coordinator on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Take a look back at Barry's NFL career through photos.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco — who worked with Barry in San Diego in 2013 and 2014 — raved about the team's former linebackers coach, calling him a "knowledgeable, energetic football coach."

"[Barry] did a great job with a good group, coached both inside and outside linebackers," Telasco told Redskins.com Wednesday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "Brings a great passion to the game, and you'll see that in practice from the first day you're out there with them. Players love to play for him. "

Barry — who was hired as the Redskins' defensive coordinator Jan. 20 — is entering his 15th season as a coach in the NFL, having spent the previous four years in San Diego.

In 2014, the Chargers' defense ranked ninth overall in total yards allowed per game (338.3), including a No. 4 ranking in passing yards allowed per game (214.2).

Perhaps Barry's greatest challenge as a coach came in the 2013 season, when his linebackers unit was so affected by injuries that the team started the same four linebackers in consecutive weeks just twice the whole year.

Despite the injuries, however, starting linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te'o finished the year with 99 and 93 tackles, respectively, and the group was responsible for 16 of the team's 35 sacks, including 4.5 by Thomas Keiser, a practice squad player at the start of the season who went on to lead the linebackers in sacks and quarterback hits (10).

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Wednesday said the team had a few quality candidates on the table for their defensive coordinator position, but Barry's passion for the game stood out.

"I don't think I could have gone wrong in a couple different ways, but what I liked about Joe is that I liked his energy," Gruden said. "I think he's got a good overall grasp of defensive football, and I think he's very passionate and … I know about his background and I know about his work ethic and know what he's about."

Barry, who began his coaching career in 1994 as a video coordinator at USC, his alma mater, got his start in the NFL in 2000 as a defensive quality control coach with the San Francisco 49ers.

It didn't take long for the Boulder, Colo., native to move up the chain of command, and by 2007, he was named the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.

Barry said he emerged a better overall coach after two tough seasons in Detroit. He returned to USC in 2010 as the Trojans' linebackers coach before joining the Chargers in 2011.

"The thing I think is the problem in any walk of life – I don't care what profession you're in – when things happen, and they're bad things, poor things, I think that's when growth really takes place," Barry recently explained to host Larry Michael on "Redskins Nation." "And I know as a football coach, specifically, it was brutal. It was hard. But it made me a better football coach. I walked out of Detroit a 10-times better football coach than I walked in."

Barry said he learned from experience that "when things are easy – when things are rosy and happy and great – usually you don't grow from that."

"You grow when you're getting hit in the mouth repeatedly, and you've gotta react; you've gotta recover," he continued. "So, no, it doesn't bother me, because it made me a better coach. It made me a better person. I went and re-invented myself the last seven years, and it made me better."

Telesco said that exact attitude is what will serve Barry well moving forward.

"He's an all-football guy, and I think he's going to do well," he said. "We'll be sorry to see him go, but it was a great opportunity in Washington."

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