Capers Needs To Keep Cutler Guessing

Dom Capers needs to resist the urge to sit back in his passive nickel alignment, hoping Matthews wins a one-on-one matchup.

In their first meeting with the Bears, Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers began the game by bringing a wide range of pressure from a variety of personnel groupings and formations. Curiously, as the game went on, Capers seemed to fall back into a very vanilla version of his 2-4-5 nickel and seemed content with letting Clay Matthews and Frank Zombo try to beat the Bears' offensive tackles.

Now, there was good reason to think Matthews would be able to beat Kevin Shaffer. Matthews was coming off two unbelievable games rushing the passer against the Eagles and Bills. But Matthews was unable to get home against the Bears though he came close a couple of times.

The good news for the Packers is that Matthews has been participating fully in practice for the second straight week since coming off a shin injury that saw him severely limited the last few months. His explosion off the line of scrimmage was noticeably better against the Giants on Sunday.

However, as good as Matthews can be, Capers needs to keep bringing pressure from multiple positions and not just rely on Matthews and the ascending B.J. Raji to make life uncomfortable for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

One guy who hasn't gotten a ton of opportunities to rush the passer is Desmond Bishop. He showed great explosion on Capers' favorite A Gap cross blitz against the Patriots, causing a fumble after his hit on Tom Brady as well.

Notice the timing. Bishop does a great job of delaying his rush, waiting for Hawk to cross him (a great job of disguise by Hawk as well) and then exploding through the hole. This would be a better blitz to run on early downs against the Bears as Chester Taylor, who often comes in on 3rd down, is much better in pass pro than Matt Forte, who is a willing blocker but not nearly as sound as Taylor.

Of course, Capers doesn't need to go all Bob Slowik on us. Sometimes Cutler's laziness and lack of recognition are the best friends a defense can have. Take a look at this play from last Sunday against the Jets. This is just an incredibly lazy read and throw.

Cutler does a terrible job in recognizing the safety rotation in response to the motion. (Funny, as motion is usually supposed to HELP the quarterback)

Capers did a great job early in the first matchup of sending linebackers and corners from anywhere and everywhere. Matched up against a quarterback like Cutler, who can mess up the easiest of reads, Capers needs to vary the pressure even more rather than dial it back the way he did in September. And don't think this is a simple "Capers needs to blitz more!" screed. (I wouldn't want to get Donald's Designated Driver mad at me).

It is, however, a plea for Capers to resist the urge to sit back hoping Matthews wins a one-on-one.

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Comments (34)

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thepretzelhead's picture

December 31, 2010 at 11:12 am

Well done, AN. But the headline? That jar head is always guessing. He is tough, I'll give him that. And win or lose he's the same surly guy...that's kind of unique about him...other than that...I'd ask for my draft choices back.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

Agreed Aaron. And the nice thing is that we have the speed in the secondary to avoid the long plays that we saw the Bears run against the Jets. I'll take our back 4 or 5 against any team's WR's in the league.
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The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that keeping Forte between the tackles is the key to stopping the Bears offense cold in its' tracks. Throughout the season, the little flares by RB's and quick WR ins, bubble screens, etc. is what makes that offense go.
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Of course, Jay Cutler is a moron, and any confusion GB produces in his little pea brain is a good start to producing an INT.. ;)

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Brian Carriveau's picture

December 31, 2010 at 11:31 am

Maybe we'll see the return of Matthews blitzing from ILB every now and again too. Of course, it might take the return of Cullen Jenkins in order for them to do that.

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jeremy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 01:29 pm

The return of Jenkins and some pressure from the DE position would definitely open up Capers play book.

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Overkill's picture

December 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I'd say just beat Cutler into the turf. Otherwise solid analysis.

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cow42's picture

December 31, 2010 at 03:36 pm

i miss that mathews guy.
i thought he was going to be something special.
remember when we all used to hurry and find mathews pre-snap so we could see what he was going to do next?
that was cool.
that is gone.

imagine this defense if they had a premier pass rusher.

injury?
increased attention?
still chases guys down from behind?
no help on the other side?

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.

do your job.
get to the f'n qb no matter what.

time for this dude to show the hell up.

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Tommyboy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 03:44 pm

LOL...wow.

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cow42's picture

December 31, 2010 at 03:47 pm

my bad.
you're right.

mathews has been tearing it up.

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Tommyboy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 03:52 pm

Easy, tough guy. I just thought it was funny. There is evidently no reason he hasn't been keeping with his initial 48 sack pace that he started the season with. Personally, I think your view is way too simplistic. The idea that being double and TRIPLE teamed while plays are being run AWAY from you doesn't have a bearing on his drop-off is comical. C'mon, man...

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cow42's picture

December 31, 2010 at 04:04 pm

you can call them "reasons" i'll call them "excuses".

when he get's walled off by 2 - 3 guys, ok - but i've seen him get held in check by ONE guy on plenty of occasions.

no - i didn't think he'd get 48 sacks. but after he started with 8 in 2 games i sure the hell expected more that 12.5 going into week 17!

i may have a simplistic view - i won't argue that.
i guess i just had much higher expectations for the guy.

you seem too accepting of what he's become over the last 8 weeks... an "almost got there" guy.

we shouldn't be happy with him being "an almost got there" guy. we should be calling for a "damn - he got there AGAIN" guy.

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PackerAaron's picture

December 31, 2010 at 04:31 pm

"Accepting what he's become"? Hurt and the focus of opposing defenses. Lord man, how about a dash of reality...

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Tommyboy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 04:38 pm

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but everyone else's sack totals have also gone way up recently. You think Raji isn't benefiting from Matthews double/triple teams?

Oh, and it was 6 sacks in the first two games, not 8. What you call excuses, I call injuries, strategy, and scheme.

An almost got there guy, by the way, is also a big part of the reason the Pack's secondary should buy him a car at the end of the season.

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cow42's picture

December 31, 2010 at 07:17 pm

so you guys are all happy with his current (last 8 or so games) level of production.

you wouldn't like to see more?
you don't think he can be better than he is?
is he special right now?

me - i hope he does more than absorb double teams to open other guys up.

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PackerAaron's picture

December 31, 2010 at 08:40 pm

Where did anyone say they were happy with it? I saw a bunch of people who understand why his production has dipped. Big difference.

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Oppy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 08:02 pm

@cow42:

"Is he special right now?"

You're damn right he's special right now- teams are often throwing a Tackle, a TE and a RB directly at Clay Matthews just to make sure he doesn't wreak havoc in their backfield.

That's special. I don't know what planet you are living on, but it must be one crazy place if you don't think that kind of attention to, and respect of, a player's talents is special.

Clay Matthews is being talked about as a front funning contender for defensive player of the year right now.. And you don't think he's special.

Amazing.

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Tommyboy's picture

December 31, 2010 at 09:15 pm

You don't want to watch him absorb double-teams...k, cuz that's sort of up to the other team.

Look at the Raji sack - he draws a double-team, while dropping into COVERAGE. This leaves Raji one-on-one with the friggen center. No wonder he was nearly escorted to the qb.

And the Williams interception...tell me Eli Manning has another motivation to throw into 72 packer players other than Matthews about to hit him cleanly.

You're making the mistake of thinking that sacks are the only measure of his production. Tackels for losses, solo tackles, forced fumbles, drawing double and triple teams - this is nearly unmatched. Again - it's just too simplistic of thinking.

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thepretzelhead's picture

January 01, 2011 at 01:12 am

OMG this is the same Fourth Column type BS blogged this week about Rogers but masked a bit differently. Like shock radio- flash something black or white and the fish will bite.

NFL= 45...our 45 is better than their 45

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cow42's picture

January 01, 2011 at 01:25 am

my bad.
i guess mathews is all good.
since you guys say he's been a game-changing force, i'll believe you.

i thought we were looking at a 15 sacks per year guy.
guess i'll have to be happy with him being a "set up the rest of his teammates" guy.

go clay! get raji some sacks!

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Tommyboy's picture

January 01, 2011 at 08:06 am

Actually, you're right. He's average at best. Most teams double and triple team him out of stupidity. Let's cycle in some fresh legs. DPOY candidate is garbage - all the coaches, fans, players, stats, and media are wrong. Whew! Glad that's settled.

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Tommyboy's picture

January 01, 2011 at 08:11 am

Just out of curiosity - who would you rather have at OLB? You can pick ANYONE in the NFL. Who's performing better?

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cow42's picture

January 01, 2011 at 10:39 am

you're missing my point.

i know his GOOD.

i want him to go back to being AWESOME.

i want him to take over games - because i know he has the potential to do that.

please point to where i said the Packers need to find someone else.

i'm waiting.........

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Tommyboy's picture

January 01, 2011 at 11:13 am

Never said you said that. Wow. Easy, killer. I guess you're missing my point. Being AWESOME is measured in more than sacks...at least to me. I guess we have to agree to disagree.

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Tommyboy's picture

January 01, 2011 at 11:19 am

Ya know what I think we can agree on, though? We're friggen dorks for arguing about CM3 for this long. Don't we have wives or girlfriends or something? Or jobs?

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cow42's picture

January 01, 2011 at 11:31 am

problem is i think i care more about cm3's shin than my job or my wife.

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davyjones's picture

January 01, 2011 at 11:54 am

Wow, Who let the Cows out, Who??

Did you see him chase down that NYG RB and punch the ball out to case that fumble??

If that wasn't awesome, what is? He isn't just good...gotta come down with Tommy on this one.

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cow42's picture

January 01, 2011 at 04:08 pm

he shouldn't have had to chase him down.
jacobs was that far down field because mathews gave up his edge.

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PackerAaron's picture

January 01, 2011 at 07:21 pm

And WHY did he give up the edge? Because he was trying to rush the passer for you, big guy. ;)

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Tommyboy's picture

January 01, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Again, I'm not suggesting you said the Packers should cut him, but I ask again, who else would you rather have in that position? I ask because I can't think of anyone, and if I can't think of anyone I'd rather have covering him, and he's not awesome, that means there are literally NO awesome players in his position right now in the NFL. That's just tough for me to swallow.

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cpheph1's picture

December 31, 2010 at 09:35 pm

A.Nag's money quote?..."The good news for the Packers is that Matthews has been participating fully in practice for the second straight week since coming off a shin injury that saw him severely limited the last few months. His explosion off the line of scrimmage was noticeably better against the Giants on Sunday.

However, as good as Matthews can be, Capers needs to keep bringing pressure from multiple positions and not just rely on Matthews and the ascending B.J. Raji to make life uncomfortable for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

One guy who hasn't gotten a ton of opportunities to rush the passer is Desmond Bishop. He showed great explosion on Capers' favorite A Gap cross blitz against the Patriots, causing a fumble after his hit on Tom Brady as well." [/Quote]

I think your money quote is spot-on & nice video cut-ups...I always appreciate those!

I think some other blitz options are bringing guys from the slot (not necessarily CW either) or one of the boundary CBs...but your premise that Capers needs to keep Cutler off-balance is key.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

December 31, 2010 at 10:29 pm

That Cutler pick got me 2 points for the INT and 6 for the TD, helping me get a FF Championship. Other than that the Jets didn't get me many points, luckily they didn't have to. Thanks Jay!

GBP 4 LIFE

Oh yeah, Realease the hounds Sunday Dom.

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cpheph1's picture

December 31, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Congrats on the FF Champ...I was 4th in my league.

I have high confidence in Dom to unleash the dogs...no doubt about betting on it.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

January 01, 2011 at 12:13 am

Thanks man. I was in 4 leagues this year and that's just too many. The one I won was the only one I saw the cash in. I think two's good, but you get into more than that and it's almost more of a headache than it is fun! Won't do it again.

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thepretzelhead's picture

January 01, 2011 at 01:26 am

I quit FF because I didn't feel right about my friends wanting to trade with me for my fantasy tight end.

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NickGBP's picture

January 01, 2011 at 02:25 pm

I love the camera view for that Bishop blitz. As you said the timing is impeccable. I really wish the broadcasters could show that view more often. You can see our Walden back into coverage on that fire zone and the fact that if Brady has a few more seconds the receiver gets wide open behind him. Really love the whole picture you get from that view. Maybe if 3D TVs take off broadcasters would be more willing to show from that view so you can actually see what the fuck is going on and realize there are actually safeties on the field! They complain people can't gauge depth properly from that view. I say they're crazy

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