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#1 Run Defense: A Paper Tiger?

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#1 Run Defense: A Paper Tiger?

It would sure seem like it from the way the Cardinals tore through them with Hightower and Wells yesterday. I was worried about the possibility but thought they would do a better job of controlling them after watching how well they did corralling Adrian Peterson and Marion Barber. Of course, the big difference was Wisenhunt sticking with the run, unlike Brad Childress and Jason Garrett.

Of course, some of this was the result to how off-balance Wisenhnut kept Capers yesterday. He seemed a step ahead at almost every turn. However - there was a lot of the Cardinals just mauling the Packers one-on-one in the run game. That's not good.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

IronMan's picture

The run defense is legit. They just didn't show up yesterday.

packeraaron's picture

Seemed an awful lot like the game against the Bengals. They got pushed around pretty good...

hollycrat's picture

Wells is a tough runner, reminds me of Frank Gore when he runs hard. Hightower, we should have been able to tackle. Neither goes down if you don't wrap up.

bogmon's picture

Dom Capers was outcoached yesterday. Whisenhunt had the perfect answer to everything the Packers threw at them. Stacked alignment; the max protection schemes and quick passes had the defense totally off balance. They never seemed to find a groove. I am really surprised that Zona was able to neutralize Clay Matthews the way that they did...I expected them to get more pressure off the corners.

tsi431's picture

Rush defense wasn't as bad as you might think. There were 2 big rushing plays one for 42 and one for 28 yards. I call them fluke plays. Take those away and we only gave up 76 yards. But of course that can't happen. Tackling is what killed us there.

IronMan's picture

I think the PASS defense is a paper tiger. Yes they had 30 ints, but they also gave up 29 td passes. Fourth most in the league.

Matthew's picture

Not only the run defense, but also our middle linebackers inability to succesfully blitz up the middle. Against QBs with a quick release pressure needs to come up the middle, but we couldn't get there all game long. Warner executed brilliantly all game long getting rid of the ball before Matthew could generate pressure. Same problem we had agaianst Favre. So is it that Barnet and Hawk just don't have the timing down or can't disguise it properly?

nypacker's picture

IronMan, the pressure up the middle thing is scary because we certainly aren't running it correctly. But isn' that the reason why TT gave Chillar that $21 million contract extension?

Jayme's picture

Capers was just outcoached. I think the run defense suffered because the pass defense was suffering. The Cardinals were setting up the run beautifully with the pass. It's hard to stop the run when you're committing everyone to stopping the pass.

Steve in Mpls's picture

Aaron, speaking of defenses in general,your
post on attacking DRC (which we agreed on)
was on the money. Barring his int. off the
tip, all of our guys had their way with him. Not to mention that face masking punk
Adams. So,despite the outcome, good call.

Ruppert's picture

Before we all hang Dom Capers for being outcoached, has it occurred to anyone that we just don't have the players to run the adjustments? People, Matt Giordano and Jarrett Bush were on the field at the same time. I'm not sure you can scheme your way out of that. And our LBs are not exactly thought of as good in pass coverage. Now I agree that both yesterday and against Pitt, he probably should have simply tried SOMETHING different because the adjustments couldn't have possibly been worse. But Capers isn't an idiot, either.

fish's picture

Bad Coaching and Playing against the Pass all year when up against hi-caliber QBs. Minny, Steelers, Cardinals, and even a good rookie QB Josh Freeman (Nelsons QB in College). Now, Any good QB can burn you with a throw, but Capers rarely pressured in any of these games and we lost them all.

JerseyAl's picture

So much for the favorite stat du jour - Defensive Hog Index...

Phil Hanrahan's picture

Aaron, I'm with you on the Pat Lee thing. That was my second thought on waking - after wishing to travel back in time to give Rodgers a second chance to connect with Jennings in OT.

retiredgrampa's picture

So much was said before the game re the experience factor between Warner and Rodgers. I confess not believeing that theory, but now I do. Warner refused to be flustered but Aaron WAS affected by the pressure of the situation. That was illustrated by the first and last series. His first pass was eerily reminiscent of TOG early on. He could have easily thrown it OB but instead tried to make a play when there wasn't one. The last play showed he had the ball unprotected with the rush on. It was slapped out of his hands and grabbed. He also missed wide open WRs by overthrows, a sign of over-excitement by the situation. That was also a flaw by the young gun-slinger. It was a tough lesson for our young, future pro-bowler. But he'll learn from it.

CSS's picture

@Ruppert - I agree on the personnel for the defense issue.

My perspective: Charles Woodson's flexibility allowed the scheme to advance well beyond the personnel this team currently has. As soon as Harris went down and our Nickle/Dime consisted of Bush/Underwood Capers was forced to play Woodson primarily in coverage. Gone was the ability to blitz at will, crowd the line of scrimmage and roam the strong side alignments.

CB injuries forcing Woodson to play cover killed the flexibility with this defense.

Hell of a season though, I will not complain with the progress.

PackersRS's picture

Didn't read the posts, but IMHO the poor run defense was a direct result of Warner completing 87% of his passes and Capers and the players being baffled the whole game trying to figure out what to do. They abandoned the run support, trying to get to Warner.
That, and the piss poor tackling job. How could we tackle so badly? That amazes me...

nypacker's picture

CSS if you're implying that Capers should have blitzed woodson more, think again. Woodson blitzed 2 to 3 times yesterday but kurt warner didn't fall for it. Warner kept his attention towards #21 the whole game and no matter coverage nor blitz warner picked on woodson the whole time.

packeraaron's picture

nypackerbacker - Capers indicated that the plan was to blitz Woodson from the slot on 3rd downs. The problem, of course, was that the Cards only had 5 3rd downs all game...

Jayme's picture

Injuries just don't account for giving up 45 points, especially considering that the Cards were missing one of their best players. After the first quarter, the Packers knew exactly what was coming and had no answer. Even though Woodson was being abused by Fitzgerald (oftentimes literally), there was no real help for him. And, if I see the "psycho" package next year when we need to stop the other team from scoring, my TV may have a remote sticking out of it. It's a good change of pace to give the offense a different look, but using it more than that has been proven to be ineffective. Twice. As it stands, the Packers didn't fix the problems from the Pittsburgh game and Arizona exploited it.

Even so, we were an overthrown pass away from winning the game. This team has a very bright future, and hopefully CAN succeed down the line where they failed this year. Look for the Pack to be 11-5 again next year because of a much more difficult schedule, but they should be able to make a strong playoff run.

Dilligaff's picture

Hawk has to go, he is slow and he should be big against the run. He is not a pass rusher. We draft an inside LB to do what a 5th over all pick should do and this defense is a top 5. Hawk is the problem, we need another pass rusher from our LBs. If Hawk is not a run stopper, then what is he worth?

Jayme's picture

Dilligaff - Hawk's still better than many MLBs out there. Who cares where he was drafted? If he's the best option, he's the best option.

Dilligaff's picture

Hawk not doing his job makes our secondary look worse. Hawk got his butt kicked all game and everyone wants to blame the secondary. If you give any QB that much time, he will pick apart the best secondary in the nfl. Barnett and Jones have nothing to brag about either. But Hawk has had issues all season, that is why he only got 9 reps against the lions, there is an issue there.

BuckslayerNYC's picture

The packers like to play zone now, so when teams spread them out there is zero surprise to the blitz AND most importantly you have to have 5 to 7 guys that can cover in space. This was not a defensive scheme issue or coaching, it was defensive talent. When the Cowboys got spread by the Eagles...who have great receivers, they covered. When they covered they could then get to the QB cause no one was open.

We have known since Blackmon, Lee, and Harris went down that it would catch up to us, that type of help is not found on the street (Giordano or Bush). The team that is going to get smoked is New Orleans because their secondary is even worse than ours.....Spreading the defense out is also great for the run because once the ballcarrier gets past the first level there is no one there to tackle we saw. It was a great gameplan executed well by Arizona that would work on just about every team they face if their QB is healthy and that hot....period.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

I still think that the defensive stats this year were padded by the crappy special teams play in the first half of the season. The D didn't stop anybody. The opponents simply couldn't go any farther because of a short field. Had they had worse field position, their yardages would have been higher while we were starting Popinga, Kampman couldn't play the 3-4, and Raji was injured. What I'm saying is that the high ratings were caused by short fields and that we caused through ST play.

Once we got these nice D stats, we also started playing better, so we thought we had an upper eschelon defense, but we still had a ways to go. So maybe a paper tiger in 2009, but not next year.

The future is very bright. I think we will have a top-tier defense and obviously an awesome offense for many years to come.

Dilligaff's picture

I agree when you spread the defense out you have to have good cover guys, but when your front 7 can not get any pressure on the QB, it gets worse. Same problem and delima was against the vikings, with the blitz packages. If AJ Hawk was a dominate LB, alot of these problems would go away.

andrew's picture

ill say what i said on a different post.. capers needs to spend the offseason workin with aj hawk nd developin his coverage ability nd keep him in when we run a nickel package chillar is a solid 2nd string guy at best we bring him in nd the cardinals handed the ball off.. literally.. hawk nd matthews are the run stoppers if u take them both out its easy to run all over us.. we really missed al harris tramon is a decent 2nd cb but bush can not cover anyone nd gets blown rather often capers needs to be more willing to stray from the game plan when things go bad droppin a lb into a zone coverage in the middle of the field never hurt anyone but capers did a lot to transition this team into a 3-4 although i question some of the positions he placed players in (kampman not bein on the line hawk bein moved to mlb rather than in kampmans spot bishop not gettin the go ahead over chillar) capers has a year to fix the small things hopefully he realizes he cant make his defense 1 dimensional i feel like we either stop the pass or stop the run when we go into a game gotta be able to do both

tsi431's picture

You say injuries won't cause 45 points, but look at the numbers. We had 3 CB's on injured reserve. Our stud, ha, Aaron Kampmon and Jermey Thompson all out. There are not many teams in the last decade that could even have a chance to get this far with all of those injuries to the Defense. This is pretty much a repeat of last year, when we had the very same problem. Injuries.

CSS's picture

NYPACKER - No, I'm saying Woodson's flexibility was out the window when teams had the personnel to use 3,4 & 5 receiver sets. When you force Woodson into coverage only your fledgling defense is severly limited. See Pitt., Ariz., and Minn.

BuckslayerNYC's picture

When they spread you out, you only have a front 4, not seven, you have 7 in coverage. 3 or 4 corners, 2 or 3 safeties, and one linebacker....normally. So there is no front seven, only 4

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