Before the draft I wrote a post titled "New Players Will Only Help Capers So Much".
Apparently, Ted Thompson agrees.
So much so, in fact, that he declined to bring on board any new cornerbacks in this past weekend's draft and to only bring in a couple of undrafted free agents at the outside linebacker position. This tells me a few things. 1) Thompson and company are quite high on Brad Jones and expect him to keep his starting LOLB job. 2) They have the utmost confidence that the guys that were injured in the secondary last season will be back. (Personally, I'll be shocked if Al Harris doesn't start the season on the PUP)
But most of all, it tells me that when Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers sat down and went over the cut-ups on the defensive side of the ball, they saw a lot that Capers could do to improve with what they have on hand personnel wise. As I wrote in the post mentioned above:
It’s Capers job to figure out where those breakdowns occurred and to ensure that his system is clear to EVERY member of the defense coming out of training camp. If that means drilling rookies and second year players more in camps and preseason, so be it. If that means running crossing routes until their eyes are crossed, so be it. It’s all well and good to have a playbook that is larger than a Manhattan phone book (yes, an antiquated reference) but it’s little more than fodder for the shredder unless it is grasped and understood by every single member of the defense.
Every team that can will be spreading the Packers out and trying to confuse the nickel and dime backs as much as they can. And it will keep happening until Capers shows that he has made the adjustments necessary to stop it. As for the pass rush, it will be interesting to see how Capers tries to adjust some of his pressure packages. As McCarthy indicated in his April 24th press conference:
It's not just we have Clay on one side, we don't have anybody else on the other side. I thought Brad did an excellent job in his time with his opportunity. Also, we have other ways to get the pass rush.
This is true on all counts, but it is incumbent on Capers to use all the methods available to him to get pressure on the opposing quarterback and that includes using his secondary on early downs. Many times last year Capers liked to sit back early, stop the run and wait for 2nd and 3rd and long until sending guys from the secondary, even when teams came out in multiple receiver sets.
One very interesting thing about the above video, at least to me, is the fact that Brad Jones and Clay Matthews both do a great job of squeezing the pocket (Jones even gets a chip from the guard) but there is plenty of space for the quarterback to step forward due to the lack of push from Jenkins and Jolly. Why is that? If you ask me it's because it's later in the game and both those guys were asked to play way, way too many snaps, both in this particular game and over the course of the entire season. If second round pick Mike Neal, seventh round pick C. J. Wilson or second year player Jarius Wynn can show anything and get on the field in Capers' beloved 2-4-5 formation, that will allow Jolly and especially Jenkins some time to rest and be at their best in the 4th quarter.
I know fans (myself included) were a bit dismayed that the team seemingly neglected some areas of 'need' this past weekend, but I'm starting to think the Packers' "improve from within" mantra extends to the coaching staff as well. Dom Capers and his scheme will be counted on to evolve and improve on what was an extremely promising first year.
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