It seems so simple. Don't let the offense know who or when you're blitzing.
Yet this simple concept seemed to escape former defensive coordinator Bob Sanders. There was never really much doubt when the Packers were going to blitz under Sanders. Oh sure, every once in a blue moon he would send Woodson in from the slot on, say, a second down. But more often than not Sanders relied almost exclusively on his linebackers when he wanted to send more than four guys at the quarterback and almost always in combination with some kind of line stunt up front. And this almost always seemed to come on third down.
Now, there's nothing wrong with saving your blitzes for third down. Jim Johnson has made a living in Philadelphia doing just that for the last who-knows-how-many years. But the key to making it work is having both variety and a sense of timing as to when TO and when NOT TO, things that were in short supply under Sanders.
So what does Dom Capers bring to the table?
Well, for one, he knows that all-pressure, all-the-time is not the answer. He mentioned in his introductory press conference that people in Pittsburgh started to complain when the Steelers DIDN'T blitz, even if the Steelers still won the game. From the man himself:
To me, you've got to take what you think is going to give you the best chance of being successful. Now I can tell you this, I used to smile because the last year in Pittsburgh we were known as 'Blitzburgh', and we came out of a couple of games where we had given up one touchdown or seven points and basically all you heard about was you didn't blitz. Well, you do what you feel you have to do to try to win the game. And some people were better at picking up the blitz, and to me it's foolish if you know that people are going to protect and they are sound in their protection just to keep bringing pressure...
This is so instructive and something I think a lot of fans don't understand. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered a Packers fan who's big complaint about the team, regardless of who the coordinator is, is always "They don't blitz enough." First of all - do you know what a blitz is? Do you know what a 'dog' is? Do you know the opposing teams' tendencies on 3rd and 12? There are a million factors that play into when a coordinator chooses to bring pressure, and Capers is spot on when he intimates the futility of banging the defense's proverbial head against the wall.
That said, it's good to see that the defense is clearly already working on bringing pressure. Indeed, in the video below from last Wednesdays practice you can see the defense, out of what appears to be a base set, blitzing Woodson and Chillar along with Thompson on a nice overload from the defense's right side. My favorite thing about it? You don't see a bunch of guys waiting at the line. They come flying in at the last second just as the ball is snapped. This is a departure from Sanders and how he had linebackers declaring way too early which was a big reason teams found it so easy to protect against the Packers' pressure packages. Capers is already miles ahead of Sanders in that regard after a little more than a few weeks of practice.
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