The book has been written on how to move the ball on the 2011 edition of the Green Bay Packers defense, at least early on in games.
Teams are coming out in max protect calls, letting one or two wide receivers work out in routes with the occasional running back releasing underneath, and giving their quarterback ample time while he waits for his receivers to work open.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers seems content for teams to do this early, instead focusing on stopping the run and making the offense earn everything it gets before the defense clamps down in the red zone. It doesn’t always keep opponents out of the end zone, obviously, but more often than not his squad has been up to the challenge.
Then, after watching the offense build a lead, Capers starts to dial up the pressure. It doesn’t always yield results by way of a sack, but Capers’ defense is getting plenty of hits on the quarterback as games go on.
It’s telling that the defensive line did not yield a single pressure (sub required) against the Rams, despite Sam Bradford dropping back a whopping 48 times. B.J. Raji and company are coming up against not only the offensive line, but fullbacks and tight ends as well, extra protection that has been utilized in order to let the receivers work downfield.
If that has tempted Capers to dial up more early pressure, he hasn’t shown it. He seems content to let teams move the ball early, lean on an improving red zone defense, and wait while the offense builds a lead before starting to call upon his pressure packages.
While this approach might be frustrating to watch (Loved Tom Silverstein’s line today – “The Packers give away 400 yards like banks give away pens.”) it’s hard to argue with the results. Yes, they are giving away lots of yardage – but they are winning games.