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Improve From Within: Dom Capers

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Improve From Within: Dom Capers

The one area that has gotten the most attention by both fans and the media this offseason has been the pass defense, especially against "veteran quarterbacks". Much has been made of the young guys who were forced onto the field because of Al Harris' injury. While this holds some water, its not completely true. Its popular to say, for instance, that the team was "forced" to play Jarrett Bush because of the domino effect of having Harris out. But there he is in Week Two getting torched by Chad Johnson for a big play. How could that be? I thought the company line was that he was only playing because Harris got hurt?

The truth is the team, from Thompson on down, put way too much faith in Bush's abilities from the start, and have for a long time. But he is not the issue. Neither is Brandon Underwood.

The issue, when it comes to the pass defense, is Dom Capers. I got a chance to chat with Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson about this on Green and Gold Today a few weeks ago and Bill made the perfect point. Capers simply has to trust his pressure packages more, especially on third down and particularly on third and long.

Take a look below:

I mean, there is just no excuse for that.

Again and again, the Packers defense put opponents in bad positions on third down, and again and again, Capers let them off the hook with safe 3 man rushes and by dropping 8 into coverage. I realize he's playing the odds here, but take a look at that video again. Where is Clay Matthews? That's right, playing zone coverage on 3rd and a mile. That's absurd. That kid should be after the quarterback any and every time the opposing offense is set up to fail. To nullify your best pass rusher by your own doing is just unfathomable to me.

And to dispel the myth that Capers was only vulnerable to "elite veteran quarterbacks", well, ahem:

Now, a couple of things to note here. Yes, Williams slips on the coverage. But the lack of a pass rush not only gives Cutler plenty of time to move around the pocket and find a receiver, it also allows Knox the time necessary to work back to the quarterback or find a soft spot in the zone. (On a side note, I find it interesting that Hawk is the linebacker on the front end of the hole-in-zone here...)

Now, is Capers going to 'hit' every time he blitzes? Of course not. And these are obviously extreme examples used to make a point. He has the system and the talent on his squad to get after the quarterback, and I trust that with a full season under their belt and another offseason working and learning and tweaking things, Capers  should have the confidence to unleash the hounds a bit more regularly.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

"Where is Clay Matthews? That’s right, playing zone coverage on 3rd and a mile. That’s absurd. That kid should be after the quarterback any and every time the opposing offense is set up to fail."

A-freaking-MEN! I said it during the season, and everybody told me what a magician Capers was. For as much praise he got for constructing the run defense, he deserves the blame for this.

Take a look at the SF game. First half, we dominate. Then he decides to take Woodson off of Vernon Davis, and puts Matthews to cover him deep. We all know how that 2nd half went...

Oppy's picture

WHY did he take Wood off of Davis..?

nerdmann's picture

Wasn't that after Harris went down?

Oppy's picture


Jersey Al's picture

Since I see very few Cowboys games, I couldn't begin to know what Ware is doing on every play. And bringing a different player, defense, team and coach into it is not going to help convince me of anything.

With the defense the PACKERS had, and the player MATTHEWS was (a rookie), he was used pretty well, in my opinion.

The yooper's picture

Kevin Greene is quoted as saying Matthews is one of the most fluid pass defenders he's seen at outside linebacker. So maybe he should drop back now and then,

ZeroTolerence's picture

If Capers believes his approach on 3rd and long is appropriate, he has to explain the many failures. I am in total agreement to bring it - a few failures has to be better than many.

Aaron - your film breakdown is excellent. No other site that I know of presents this type of analysis as often. Bravo, sir.

packeraaron's picture

Oh my God. Really? What also goes unmentioned by "the author" is that water is wet and that (most) grass is green.

brian's picture

In that same CHI game, the Bears failed to convert on 3rd down attempts of 21, 8, 10, 22, and 11 yards. Yet this goes unmentioned by the author.

Chris's picture

Dropping 8 man into zone coverage should make a pass nearly impossible if all 8 guys know what to do.
I can see a draw play work here, or a swing pass to the RB get some yards, but not a thrown for 10+ yards.
Apart from that: You can't do the same all the time. You cannot rush 5+ each time it's 3rd and 8 or more, and you cannot drp 8 into coverage each time. You got to mix it up, make it difficult for the opponent to see your scheme before the snap.
These are growing pains of the switch to the 3-4. They will be better this year in these kind of situations with that one year experience under their belt.

JohnRehor's picture

Blitzing more is only have the issue-the blitzers need to get to the QB. If they dont, as was proven several times last year, it could turn into open season on the secondary.

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