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Railbird Central Podcast: Debating Dom Capers' Future in Green Bay

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Railbird Central Podcast: Debating Dom Capers' Future in Green Bay

Episode 348

On the day after a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the wildcard round of the playoffs, Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports Shutdown Corner joins Railbird Central to wrap up the Packers' 2013 season. We discuss the game, and Colin Kaepernick getting the upper hand on Aaron Rodgers, but we also take a look at the season in review, including the high amount of injuries and the future of Dom Capers as the Packers' defensive coordinator.

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Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America" and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jh9's picture

(After listening to this interview, I feel this is a better thread to post my comment than the "Exit Interview" thread. If re-posting a comment is a no-no, the mods have my permission to remove it. Thanks.)

There are going to be many opinions as to why the Packers lost against the 49ers. Even though we lost by only three points and by a last second field goal, that shouldn’t mask the problem. In their last drive the 49ers took the last five minutes of the game and our defense couldn’t stop them. We saw this same thing happen many times before this past season. In fact, McCarthy called it a “recurring problem.”

We have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Every year we should be in serious contention for the Super Bowl. It would be a monumental waste if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have a good enough team around him to win at least one more Lombardi Trophy. The question is, what do we need to do to improve this team?

Now if we truly want to know what needs to be fixed in the offseason, we couldn’t ask for a better diagnostic tool than when Aaron Rodgers was lost for eight games. With AR, this team was 6-2. Without AR, 2-5-1. Having him off the field and seeing how this team played was like having an x-ray taken of this team for eight games.

And what did we see?

IMO except for one quarter of the Vikings game and one half of each of the Dallas and Atlanta games, we saw a defense unable to step-up and stop the opposing offense to help our crippled offense win games. We also saw our coaching staff on both sides of the ball unable to motivate and or scheme a way to make the players and the plays better.

Only five teams in the NFL have allowed more 4th quarter points than the Packers this year. Only seven teams in the NFL gave up more total yards per game than the Packers. Only seven teams gave up more total points than the Packers.
Whether you look at total points, or total yards given up, the Packers ranked 25th out of 32 teams in the NFL this season.

My questions for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy is: If your goal is to have the best team in the NFL, how can it be acceptable that 75% of the teams in the NFL play better defense than the Packers? Who is accountable for that?

Stroh's picture

Who's accountable for a better Defense? I would think that's obvious isn't it? Capers is in charge of the Defense! His unit has underperformed 2 of the past 3 seasons, w/ '12 being "acceptable" statistically. Have to keep in mind that we lost some great playmakers from the SB team till now. Guys like Collins, Woodson and Bishop are/were playmakers and those players are very difficult to replace especially drafting as late as we do in each round, each year. Other thing is that Capers D is very complex and usually takes 3 yrs for players to learn completely. Which is why Pitts w/ the same D usually gives their rookies very little playing time. Hell even Polamalu didn't start a single game as a rookie! The rookies in GB are usually playing early and its not unusual for them to start. So there are going to be serious growing pains when they're forced to start early.

None of this is meant to exonorate Capers by any means, but just as an explanation of some of the problems on Defense. I think we have some very good talent on D, but its young and still learning. It kinda makes you wonder if Capers is the right DC for the Packers. We ARE a draft and develop team, and playing rookies is generally a norm. So IMO Capers scheme is too complex for the Packers D and D philosophy. If he's fired find a little more simplified 34 D to play, or if Capers stays need young ascending players to step up. Could go either way.

mike's picture

won't happen. packers don't like hurting other peoples including their coaches and players. soft organization

Al Fresco's picture

Just a recap of the action in regards to Capers defense. I will paraphrase the commentators: 'Wow Kaperdink had a guy wide open, no one around him for at least a 15 yard gain or more but instead took off with the ball and ran for 41 yards'.

Who was covering whom on this play and were are our guys. they are on the field they just lack the speed to keep up. Dom has to work with these guys, its what Ted drafts so who do you blame?

Morgan Mundane's picture

The Vikes have a shut down corner named Xavier Rhodes who was actually on the bench as a second string developmental player but came in to replace their all pro rookie from last year, Brad Smith. Then they put a bunch of third stringers in and they all but shut down the passing game of their opponents.
Oh, did I mention these guys were first and second round acquisitions acquired from trading has beens: Harvin, Winfield, Rice.
We let our pro bowlers go - Wells, Jenkins, and get nothing in return.

ben's picture

Xavier Rhodes is special

Stroh's picture

When did Rhodes become a shut down CB? Right when he was drafted? He got torched early and played better later, but HARDLY shut down CB material just yet! I think he MIGHT develop into one, but he lacks the single most important trait for a DB to succeed, quickness. He has almost all the other ingredients tho. He definitely might become a shutdown CB but teams could just as easily figure him out and take advantage of his lack of quickness! Way too early to call him a shutdown CB! Way, Way too early.

ben's picture

4-3, Matthews 2 MLB (ala urlacher/kuechly)

Raji, MD, Hawk, & Capers gone

Arlo's picture

Only way Dom is not back in 2014 is if he retires. Mac has already endorsed him as a strength (a few weeks back) & Mac loves looking the other way. Mac may end up paying the price eventually.

Clay's picture

Going to ask and repost a fairly intelligent question here that I hope some pretty smart objective fan can help me answer instead the idiots who think TT and McCarthy don't believe in defense....

Justin Smith is the right defensive end for the 49rs and he is an every down player. All I hear is about is superhuman stength, his run stopping and pocket collapsing prowess.

JJ Watt is also a highly regarded defensive end.

BOTH of those guys play in a three-four.

Datone Jones is basically a physical CLONE of those guys, but he was used almost never this year except in situational passing downs.

I am tired about hearing about the BIGGER defenses out there.

Pounnd for pound we are probably the same on the D line as those teams.

WHY of God WHY if Datone Jones is the perfect specimen example of a 3-4 defensive end is he NOT playing? Please don't say it is because he is undersized!

I give you Justin Smith and JJ Watts as proof.

I know guys need time to develop, but I am afraid either Jones is a bust, or Capers just has a very different concept ot the 3-4.

Again DON"T say it's about stopping the run, because San Fran stops the run just fine with a 285 pound Defensive end named Justin Smith.

Help me understand????

I am undecided and objective. I am an amateur non-know-it-all like many here.

I honestly think Capers will be back, but how would he answer this question especially after they drafted Jones in the first frickin round?????!!!

Thanks for reading.

Evan's picture

D-Linemen tend to take some time to develop. I really think it's that simple.

JJ Watt is an absolute freak and he even took a year to fully blossom. I remember Justin Smith not really living up to expectations in Cincinnati. And remember, Watt was 11th overall and Smith was 5th. Both were higher rated prospects coming out than Datone.

I was hoping/expecting more from Datone his rookie year, but you need to give him time.

Clay's picture

Thanks for the thoughts Evan. I hope that is the case, and I hope to see him in there every down if he pans out...

Al Fresco's picture

Not the good ones, those drafted in the first round that should have been drafted in the first round. One of the best defensemen ever was Allan Page, all of 220 and slim and yet he dominated O linemen with speed. Datone lacks strenght, speed and size so why did we draft him?

Stroh's picture

Shut Up! Datone lacks for NOTHING but experience.

Stroh's picture

Couple things... Justin Smith and JJ Watt were drafted quite a bit higher than Datone. I think he has very good chance to become an impact player near that level. DL takes time to learn, even JJ didn't do much more as a rookie than Datone, even tho he started every game. 5.5 sacks compared to Datones 3.5 in no starts.

Capers scheme is very complicated same as Pitts. They drafted Ziggy Hood 5 years ago and he didn't start a game as a rookie either. He stated bout 1/2 season in his 2nd year only due to injury to Aaron Smith. He has really started Full Time his 3rd and 4th seasons.

Hate to say it takes time, but it really does, especially for DL. Lets give Datone and Worthy some time. I like the talent they bring to the table.

Point Packer's picture

Good edition, Brian. I agree with you that at the end of the day, SF's QB outplayed our QB. That was the difference.

Is it even remotely possible that the organization talks to "Burn -ing TT's Money - net about re-structuring his overly compensating contract?

Jameson's picture

This game wasn't won on the back of Colin Kaepernick. The guy was like 16 for 30 with a pick and about 3 that could have been picked off if we had someone on our defense outside of Tramon that could catch. Let's not act like he was on fire. Yes his team won, but it wasn't because Kaepernick carried them anywhere.

This game was won by their defense and our offense's failure to show up for long stretches.

Rodgers was not great yesterday by any means. In fact I was rather disappointed in our supposedly elite 122 million dollar QB once again getting out smarted by that idiot Harbough, but I certainly don't think he was outplayed by Kaepernick.

Point Packer's picture

Did you watch the winning drive by chance?

TommyG's picture

Yes, and it was god awful on our part. But I will return you a question: Did you watch our five 3 and out possesions?

Jameson's picture

I have a hard time jumping on the Fire Capers bandwagon.

I don't think the problem is coaching or scheme. I think the problem is players. Ultimately that lies with Ted Thompson.

I think he needs to look at what he is assembling here because the players he is bringing in here are not good fits for Capers system. And I wonder why. Who is evaluating this talent so poorly?

Lastly I have to question the strength and conditioning team. Yes some of it is just bad luck but it seems like for the past 3 or 4 years we have a novel of players on the IR or hobbled by injuries. 1 year is bad luck, 2 years you pause, 3 years is cause for concern.

We're either drafting way too many fragile betties or we have some serious issues getting these guys conditioned right for the game.

Bob's picture

I agree way to many hamstring pulls and so on. It never ends. I love the 3 - 4,but teams just know what we are going to do before we do. The outside linebackers have to keep the edge in this defense. And are keep getting pushed ether to the inside or completely out of the play. And that includes Clay M. We do all the little things wrong that a good defense does right. How many times in the last couple years have I herd Capers talking about the teams poor tackleing

Stroh's picture

Actually IT IS the scheme! Pitts uses it too and they rarely if ever start rookies! Even the Great Troy Polamalu didn't start a single game as a rookie! They generally try not to start a player till his 3rd season! Try to learn a little before you spew misinformation!!

Calabasa's picture

Don't forget the brain drain that's been happening- the bottom-feeders (yes you KC and Sea) have taken our best evaluators- Dorsey, Schneider- and those teams are suddenly stocked. Mckenzie is also gone, but idk if he did much scouting.

3 years ago we won it all and got our front office picked. Food for thought.

Jameson's picture

Good point. I totally agree.

I think the loss of Philbin as our OC and trying to force Clements into the job coupled with the loss of several of our front office staff exposed TT and MM in many ways to reveal something that aint too pretty.

Plus take notice. TT was in Seattle when they sucked. He leaves and they've slowly but surely climbed out of the gutter. Huh.

zeke's picture

Seattle went to the super bowl in 2006 with the players TT assembled during his four years here as VP. There are plenty of gripes you can make about Thompson, but suggesting that his tenure in Seattle was anything but an unqualified success is insane.

Jameson's picture

I think TT brought about the whole "stop throwing money at free agency and start to draft and develop" motto to Seattle which they found to be successful.

I did forget about the 2006 Super Bowl run Seattle had so yeah I eat crow on that.

My bad.

But I still maintain that TT has either trusted the wrong people or lost his ability to draft talented players because we've had far too many duds to keep this team moving forward.

And I realize it's not entirely his fault but gosh darn it, we look pretty dumb shelling out big money to players like Morgan Burnett and AJ Hawk. Granted TT did try and backtrack with Hawk and has forced him to take some serious pay cuts, but let's face it-not all players are as team minded as AJ Hawk. Not to mention how lucky we are that Raji balked at the money were planning on giving him.

I bleed Green More's picture

I think this made a difference also, to me it did make a difference losing Philbin.

Al Fresco's picture

Ted is the evaluator. Other teams have O coaches too, we pass costs to much. Other teams have defensive ends, we pass they costs too much. Everything Ted does is on the cheap.

zeke's picture

You understand that there is a salary cap, right? How much under the cap is Green Bay?

Stroh's picture

Another comment by you that makes absolutely NO SENSE. Please try to learn something, anything before bothering to post your mindless drivel!

tony's picture

I can understand what jameson is saying. On the other side, if you watch our secondary throughout the year there was alot of confusion. I know capers has who he has to work with. This means he may have to simplify his scheme a little. A great scheme not executed is nothing compared to a simple scheme executed to perfection.

Lombardi beleived he could tell the opposing team the play and it wouldnt matter.

Jameson's picture

I guess you have to look at what the root of the problem truly is.

I agree a lot of times players look confused. Are they (for lack of a better word) football stupid? Is this scheme too complex? If so then again they aren't the right players for the scheme you have so why are they here?

I would be shocked if some other defensive coordinator could come in here with the defense that lined up yesterday and get much more out of them.

Someone will most likely fall on a sword here and I could see Capers being gone because you cannot fire every defensive player. But I'm just not sure Capers is the biggest problem.

Stroh's picture

As I've tried to explain REPEATEDLY here... Capers scheme is very complex, just like Pitts! They try not to start any players till their 3rd season. Even Polamalu didn't start a single game as a rookie! So the scheme IS VERY complex! Is it too complex? Possibly, but only IMO due to the fact that the Packers always play rookies a lot and they just don't know the scheme enough to react and not think. Can we wait for them to learn the D entirely so they can play and react and not think to much? That's the ultimate question. If we want to play rookies a lot we need a scheme they can be successful in. A version of the 34 that isn't so complex maybe would be better.

Don c's picture

I think a mistake made by the packers was letting Cullen Jenkins go. D line has not been the same. He is a stud

Al Fresco's picture

Ya think? Add all pro center Wells to that list too we let him go and he is playing stellar. We put a guy in to replace him that never played center but hey its cheap.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Never played center? Huh?

Stroh's picture

Do you enjoy being WRONG about EVERYTHING?! Jenkins WAS a very good player, but he had one good year after he left GB. If we signed him we would still be paying him top dollar for little production! Wells is not playing Stellar football only good. OVER paid by ST L!

Guyseeeee's picture

With, or without, our starters, I have watched the same breakdowns for multiple seasons. "we'll work on it..." now shifts to next year.

Dire need to find leadership for this D.
Its not Hawks or Clays nature.

TommyG's picture

I think that we all agree that when Wood left there was a huge leadership vacuum on defense that no one is taking upon themselves. That position should fall on either Hawk or CM. As you stated, neither of those two seem willing to take on the responsibility.

WKUPackFan's picture

If there is one play that supports the Capers must go crowd it was the TD catch by Davis yesterday. A good coach simply does not expose AJ in coverage like that. In addition to the scheme issue, the Packers D was stationary on that play for at least 10 seconds pre-snap, giving even a mediocre QB like CK plenty of time to figure out where to exploit the mismatch. Good coaching keeps players out of situations like that.

Stroh's picture

They try not too, but at the same time the Offensive mind TRY VERY HARD to get a ILB matched up in coverage against TE's! Sometimes they get the better and sometimes the DC does. Just like the Packers try to get their playmakers in advantageous matchups on offense! It works both ways... And that was the ONLY time I saw Hawk singled w/ Davis all game.

WKUPackFan's picture

Unfortunately, once was enough and one time too many.

Jameson's picture

Who else would you have put to cover him? You hide Hawk and you expose someone else and CK throws there or tucks and runs. Too many weapons on their offense and like no playmakers on a our defense is a recipe for disaster. I was proud quite honestly at how well we were able to hold up. But we were going to be vulnerable at times.

Capers can only do so much with what he's given.

AJ Hawk is an NFL linebacker. He needs to be able to drop into coverage. If he can't why is he here?

This is Capers scheme. He needs players that fit into this scheme and right now he doesn't have it. He has way too many weak links that he has to try and hide. Well it isn't going to work every time especially against an offense that has more than one playmaker.

So ok. Switch to a DC that can match strengths to a scheme better. I'd love to see any other defensive coordinator come in Sunday's game, take the players Capers had, and have them do better. I truly would love to see what that would have looked like.

Bert's picture

I can go either way with Capers. But T. Williams is absolutely correct when he says the defense badly needs some veteran players. The draft & develop is OK but because of injuries, spotty drafting and slow development TT will have to concede and try to get a couple of vet FAs this off season to make any headway with the defense. The safety position is in dire need of both talent and experience. We just can't wait for a draft choice to "develop" at safety. Also, a vet LB either ILB or OLB would be very nice.

cLowNEY42's picture

1. Too bad they didn't re-sign Woodson. He would have come cheap, would have served as a veteran leader, and could not possibly have been worse than any of the other safeties they put on the field this season.

2. No announcement on Capers' being fired yet means he's not going to be fired. Everyone better just get used to him being around.

3. We have no idea what this team would have looked like when completely healthy. Offense didn't help the defense, defense didn't help the offense, special teams didn't help anyone.

4. While I agree that Capers didn't have a lot to work with... I don't think he put the players he did have in the best positions for them to succeed. Daniels/D. Jones/Worthy/Raji/even Jolly are not "hold the point" D-linemen. They are better shooting gaps. There has to be a way to play a 3-4 while allowing your DL'men to do what they do best... if there isn't, then they shouldn't be running a 3-4. Talent is being wasted by the scheme. Some of you may say "but they play sub packages anyhow." I say bullshit - that's the problem EVERY OFFENSE CAN TELL WHEN WE HAVE A RUN DEFENSE ON THE FIELD OR A PASS DEFENSE ON THE FIELD AND ATTACK US ACCORDINGLY. The Packers have to do a better job of playing run or pass out of their base D.

5. There will not be an impact FA defender signed during the offseason... don't even think about it/get your hopes up. It's not how the Pack does business.

6. Re-sign Shields, Lattimore, Raji (if affordable) or Wilson (if Raji costs too much $). Jolly's not coming back (inj).

7. Even though I'm not in favor of it - I think they need to move Hyde to Safety.

8. Gotta pray that a lightbulb goes on for Perry, D.Jones, and Worthy... as scary as it is - those guys are the keys to the Packers' defense for the next 2 years.

9. Don't get caught "reaching" to fill positions of "need" in the draft... that's what got us into this position in the first place (Perry/Worthy/Hayward/Daniels/McMillian/Manning).

10. Pick the best player on the board. If it's a WR, pick him. If it's a CB, pick him. If it's a TE, pick him... regardless of round... regardless of need. The NFL is won with PLAYMAKERS... go find some. Hell, if Ebron is the best player on the board at pick 22 PICK HIS ASS AND MAKE THE OFFENSE RIDICULOUS. The defense isn't going to be improved by any rookie anyhow.

11. I'm not upset with the strength coaches. If it was a bunch of muscle injuries that sidelined our playmakers, that would be one thing but Cobb broke his leg, Rodgers broke his clavicle, Matthews broke his thumb, Perry broke his foot, Jolly broke his neck, and Finley broke his neck... THESE ARE BONE INJURIES... a different conditioning program would not have helped avoid them.

12. Red zone offense was abysmal. I feel that the reason for this is that when the field gets smaller, it gets more congested. In that situation you need someone who can physically dominate an opponent (Finley, Megatron, Gronk, Graham, etc.) or a player who can gain separation in a tight space (Sproles, McCoy,etc.). the Packers only have one player that fits either of those descriptions (Cobb) and he was out most of the year (if we're lucky, Harris and Franklin can help here). I love Nelson, Jones, Quarless, Lacy, and Boykin but none of them are exceptionally quick or exceptionally dominating when the ball's in the air. A giant receiver/tight end is needed.

13. Hey Rodgers... Go watch some tape of Manning, Brady, and Brees... GET RID OF THE FUCKING BALL AND USE YOUR FUCKING CHECK DOWNS!

RC Packer Fan's picture

For the most part I agree with your takes.

Capers- I have said it for a while that I love his scheme, but I hate how he runs it. How many times this year have we said that his nickel package gets ran all over it. Way to much. Well when that happens change it. I have suggested going to a 3-3 alignment, or take out a safety and use CB and play base 3-4. To me there should be a way to put 3 DL in there and allow them to actually rush the QB.

I don't see them going after a big free agent. But what about a guy like Ryan Clark from Pittsburgh? He would be a great fit in our scheme and should be able to help young DB's learning the scheme. He would definitely be an upgrade over Jennings.

For the most part I agree with you on drafting for BPA, but Hayward and Daniels have proven they weren't picks on need. They were the best players available. Hayward was the 3rd ranked CB last year. We'll see how he is next year. Daniels has really taken a step and is becoming a good rushing DE.

Correction, Packers pick at 21.

Red Zone offense was not efficient at all... I agree a bigger target would help. Its why I'm in favor of drafting one of these big WR or TE's early. Ebron - 6'4, Amarro - 6'5, Sefran-Jenkins 6-6. Benjamin - 6'5, Evans 6'5, Brandon Coleman - 6'5 are some that I can think of off the top of my head.
Think of what the Bears are able to do with their tall WR's/TE's. Its hard to defend that in the redzone.

calabasa's picture

"ontest tied, San Francisco reached third-and-8 at the Green Bay 38 with 1:13 remaining, holding one timeout. On a very cold day, this is not realistic field goal range: Green Bay doesn't need a sack, just an incompletion. That cannot seriously be a seven-man blitz! Why defensive coordinator Dom Capers would call an all-out blitz against a mobile quarterback whose team was out of field goal range is anybody's guess."

Courtesy of TMQ. Damn, I didn't look at it that way at first...

cLowNEY42's picture

They were in man.
All receivers were accounted for.
Bush probably had Gore.
When Gore stayed in the block... Bush goes.

If Capers would have rushed 3 and given up a 15 yard completion everyone would be calling him out for being too passive (again).

Kaep's a stud.

I hate it.

But it is what it is.

TommyG's picture

yup.

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