This afternoon, Mike McCarthy and his assistant coaches will be available to the media in their season ending press conference, and with all the potential talking points, it seems as if one topic has taken over. What is the future of Dom Capers?
It’s been talked about since week one; it’s been talked about since last season. The Packers defense, the unit that continually bailed out the team in 2010, was weak at best last year, and inconsistent and at times sloppy this season. Is Capers to blame? What about the massive injuries and reliance on younger players in key roles? Is it schematic or a problem with the position coaches?
Questions, that for the last two seasons went un-answered and the Fire Dom Capers train gained steam. The talk snowballed in the aftermath of the Packers crushing defeat in San Francisco.
It wasn’t just the repeated inability to execute basic tackling techniques, or Erik Walden failing to turn around and actually watch the play. It wasn’t even just the failure to make any in game adjustments. It was a lack of preparation.
Charles Woodson spoke after the game and Ty Dunne, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, reported that the defense “didn’t anticipate the quarterback running the way he did.” The Packers defense did not expect Colin Kaepernick, the player who rushed for over 300 yards since taking over the starting role from Alex Smith, to run the ball?
It’s shockingly cavalier and for fans, immensely disappointing, yet it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
In the Wild Card round, the Packers faced Vikings backup quarterback, Joe Webb. The Packers knew Christian Ponder was hurt; they had to. Morgan Burnett hit Ponder the week earlier, and Ponder clearly displayed his pain in game. The Vikings also limited Ponder all week in practice. As game day approached, doubts about Ponder’s ability grew.
Yet, it wasn’t until a few hours before kickoff, that the Packers defensive staff sat down to review film on Webb. Luckily for the Packers, Webb’s accuracy left much to be desired, and the Vikings seemed to rely on Webb’s weakness in throwing and not his strength in running and mobility. Had the Vikings ran Webb more, there’s a real possibility that Woodson’s post game quote from the loss to San Francisco would have been used a week earlier, “We didn’t anticipate the quarterback running the way he did.”
So as the public conversation swells for Dom’s firing, a key piece to the puzzle has quietly emerged. Dom Capers’ contract expired at the end of the 2012 season. The question is not if the Packers should fire Capers, it’s if they should re-sign him. It changes the discourse from if Dom’s faults warrant termination, to deciding if he’s earned a new contract.
Yet, this part of the topic is lying quietly under the surface. Tom Silverstein wrote after the Packers Super Bowl win in 2010 about the contract extension for Dom Capers. Yet, it appears, after cursory internet searches, that that article is the last time Capers contract was formally written about. The Packers aren’t talking about it, leaving the media and fans simply to wonder why aren’t the Packers saying anything.
Is the lack of discussion from the Packers a ploy until they make up their mind? Or is it another case of the Packers not seeing the same problem that the fans and some media do.
In that respect, it is similar to the Jermichael Finley situation.
Finley has been a fan and media target all season, the majority of it brought on by him. He’s a problem child, a disruption in the locker room. He talks poorly about his teammates to his agent and failed for much of the season to work on his relationship with Aaron Rodgers. Storylines researched, common themes throughout the year. Finley’s never been afraid to say what he thinks, and at times, he sometimes doesn’t think about what he wants to say.
Therefore, all season, and carrying over from last season, the conversation was should the Packers keep Jermichael Finley. To the outside, he’s not worth the trouble. His 15.55 drop percentage over his first nine games of the season (7 drops out of 45 targets), combined with the perceived locker room troubles, made him extremely unattractive.
But the Packers organization and Finley’s teammates never discussed any dismay toward him. And as the season progressed, so did Finley. His comments have calmed down, and his drop percentage dropped to 4.08% in his last nine games (2 drops out of 49 targets).
Sometimes overlooked in the Finley conversation, like the Capers situation, is Finley’s contract. Finley is under contract. The conversation here isn’t if the Packers should re-sign him, it’s if his short comings warrant being released or traded.
Yet again, that’s not an aspect being discussed by the Packers. And that’s not completely out of the ordinary while in season, but it brings about the question, are the Packers failing to fill in the framework of the discussions that fans and media want, or are the fans and media failing to see the framework presented by the Packers?
Jermichael Finley is due a roster bonus of $3 million in March; by then his fate should be known. But hopefully today, the Packers will provide some answers, some context on the future of Dom Capers.
Mike McCarthy will address the media and no doubt be asked about Capers future. Will Capers contract being extended or re-signed or will Capers’ time with the Packers expire like his contract has? Regardless of the answer, the Packers response should provide a clearer context for the discussion.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at Packertalk.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.