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Done with Dom

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Done with Dom

This column is written by Wednesday columnist John Rehor.

One week into the 2012 season, and I’ve made my first decision about this Packers team: I am done with Dom Capers.


Seen as a defensive guru when he arrived on the scene in 2009, Capers was supposed work his magic and turn the Packers defense into one of the most feared in the league. By installing the 3-4 scheme, which was going to cause pressure from any direction at any time, the Packers would be able to combine a high-powered offense with a top-notch defense and create the next dynasty in the NFL.

This thought process worked for a few seasons anyways. Winning a Super Bowl definitely helped mask some of the flaws in the defense. But since the beginning of 2011, the defense of the Packers has been in free fall with no end in sight.

Think back to last season. How lucky were the Packers they went 15-1? Having the 32nd-ranked defense (which was ranked fifth the previous season) and winning 15 games was a miracle.

Yes, the Packers lost Cullen Jenkins in free agency, and Nick Collins was lost for the season with a neck injury, and these clearly had an impact on the defense. But if Capers is such a wizard in the coach’s box, how could he have not made any of the adjustments necessary to prevent the Packers defense from getting embarrassed on a weekly basis?

How could he not emphasize that arm tackling, or just not tackling all together, is unacceptable? I just don’t get it. Thank goodness the offense just kept scoring so the Packers would keep winning. Otherwise, who knows what the Packers’ record could have been.

After the playoff disaster against the Giants, the Packers knew they had to do something on defense. Finding a complement to Clay Matthews was a must. So was finding some help along the defensive line, as Howard Green was not going to be the answer. Ted Thompson went defense-heavy in the draft, finding the likes of Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels and Casey Heyward to help. He even dipped into free agency, grabbing Phillip Merling to help the D-line.  Dom had his guys and whisked away to his wizards palace, cooking up new ways to confuse the opposing offense.

And what did we see against the 49ers?

Jarrett Bush as a starting cornerback. No further discussion necessary.

Nick Perry, a 265-pound linebacker, trying to cover wide receivers 30 to 40 pounds less than him, and a hell of a lot faster.

Confusion in the secondary.

Zero push from the defensive line.

Seven-yard cushions given to receivers over and over.

The same issues that plagued the Packers last year showed up again on Sunday. Worst of all, these were issues that we all thought were going to disappear after last season’s debacle and the influx of new players. But it became pretty obvious early in the game that the problems were still there.

Were there some positives? Oh, sure there were. The Packers registered four sacks. Sam Shields proved that he could actually tackle. But this does not outweigh all of the bad that was on the field Sunday.

I know what some of you are thinking, that I’m just bitching. That the Packers lost to an equal in terms of talent, and I should give the defense time to gel.  But the 49ers are not exactly a juggernaut on offense. Yet they found a way to put 377 yards against the revamped Packers defense, including 186 on the ground. Imagine what could happen against a better offense like the Bears on Thursday.

Is it the defensive scheme? Is it the players? A combination of both? Who knows? What I do know is someone has to answer for the poor performance of the defense for the last 18 games, and that man is Dom Capers. Until I see otherwise, I have zero confidence that this defense will be good enough to help carry this team into the playoffs.

John Rehor is a writer at Cheesehead TV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of Cheesehead Radio ( He can be contacted at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (107) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

pooch's picture

Fire the old fart bring in some young blood and energy,we are back to Bob Sanders era

Chazman's picture

My biggest gripe is that nothing seems to change. Week in and week out there is a running back coming out of the backfield wide open, or a tight end or wide receiver open 15 yards down the middle of the field. Watching this defense is akin to Einstein's definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

packsmack25's picture

While I share your frustration, let's give the rookies a few more games to figure this stuff out. If they can't, then it's on Capers. But when you take seven straight defensive players in the draft, they're all not going to be ready day one. Part of the "Draft and Develop" philosophy is giving them time to, you know, develop. Shields didn't start the first game in the Super Bowl season, and Clay didn't start in his rookie year. Just breathe.

BubbaOne's picture

Those that don't have patience become patients...a lot of new players in the mix need time to gel.

mark's picture

To trot out Sam Shields almost makes the counterpoint. There's a guy who showed a flash of talent then basically regressed to the point where Jarrett Bush is a better option.

I'm still cursing the decision to draft Nick Perry over Janoris Jenkins. Our secondary is in shambles, and no amount of "develop" is going to fix it this year. Plain and simple: we do not have good players back there. Get your Pepto ready Packers fans, Cutler is going to shred us tomorrow night.

packsmack25's picture

Shields its the better option as a cover corner. But they want Bush's tackling ability in the base defense. It's not so much that Bush is better as it is that Shields just doesn't have the bulk to hold up against the run. I still think you have to play Sam, regardless.

Rocky70's picture

You may be exactly correct. Patience is always needed with so many young players thrown into the fray all at once.

However, players like Worthy, Perry, Daniels, etc. may take a year or more to develope into viable NFL players (If they do at all). That's not going to help the pack "D" in season 2012.

IMO, another draft & another off-season will be needed to fix this "D". IMO, AR & the "O" will have to carry the Pack again. If the "O" sputters, it will be a long non-playoff season.

cow42's picture

but i don't want to wait 3 more years.
rodgers, matthews, williams, woodson, sitton, bulaga, jennings, saturday, nelson won't be around forever.

"F" patience.

The time to win is NOW!

FourEyesBrewing's picture

I don't think it's fair to pin all the problems on Dom Capers. His job is to put the right players in position to make the plays. If the players aren't good, get out of position, or fail to execute (tackle), those are problems more in the realm of McCarthy and Thompson. Even the size of the cushions given to receivers might be the result of the coaching.

mark's picture

Oh, to the contrary...when I see a consistent break down of fundamentals, and even effort (the Burnett shove on the Gore TD) I will put that on the coach. Raji said the defense was "unprepared" for what the 49ers threw at them. At what point does Dom bear some blame? He needs to motivate and inspire this defense. For all the off-season talk about a "meaner, nastier" defense, what we saw last Sunday (outside of #52) had about as much edge as a Kate Hudson romantic comedy.

David's picture

"His job is to put players in position to make plays."

So how is having Nick Perry cover Micheal Crabtree, and lining up 10 yards behind the receivers on 3rd and 2, "Putting them in position to make plays." Please explain this to me.

mark's picture


tunfraboy's picture

I like many did not see the energy on D with few exceptions. Tackling was better but had nowhere to go but up. Yes their are new faces but a lot of teams have that we just rarely get to see that from ours. But most of all I am tired of seeing the secondary playing back and seemingly every pass made to anyone on the other team is a cakewalk, It stood out even more seeing our receivers constantly have people in their shirts. And then there is AJ. I have defended him but it is time to start ANYONE but him. Seeing him on one play have his back to the pass coming and then pointing at someone else was beyond disgusting. I hope as well to see a different attitude and of course change in D philosophy Thurs. Lets see some anger and nastiness on both sides of the ball, it has been too long. Can accept defeat but not what we are seeing from our PACK. Maybe it is Capers. They have the talent

Michael from Winnipeg's picture

I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks the same thing. I want to give Dom a chance, but he didnt make any strides throughout the year last year, and after Sunday, I am not expecting much more this year. Yes, its only one game, but he didnt make enough adjustments vs the 49ers. Without Matthews, this defense would be horrendous.

Watch out for the screen passes from Cutler to whichever RB he elects to choose from. Those are usually killers for us, especially on 3rd down.

jeremy's picture

I want to know why the players don't know the scheme. I couldn't get away with not knowing how to do my job, and my manager couldn't get couldn't with allowing it.

jimgb4's picture

I could not agree more. I was saying (and tweeting) during the game that Dom Capers is one of the most overrated coaches in football. The only people his schemes are confusing are his own players. Something needs to change SOON!

Evan's picture

In addition to the loss of Jenkins and Collins, you forgot to mention that Tramon's shoulder injury had him playing at maybe 50% all season. That's a lot for a defense to lose.

tundraboy's picture

Great point which is why the last game was even more frustrating. Everyone has talked about how bad our defense was last year but we had reasons just like any other team. After losing Nick not having Tramon healthy was a death blow because our D line and Linebacker pass rush has mostly been just Clay anyway so we needed those two to be who we were. And we still won 15 games. We had a bad year not a bad defense. I guess that is the price of success.

Brandon's picture

I expect Davon House and eventually Casey Hayward to leapfrog Bush in the depth chart, but I agree about every single other thing said here. Perry wasn't drafted to cover tight ends, the DLine gets no push and doesn't even try at times (see Akers long FG how only Raji is trying to block it) and we are the worst tackling team in all NFL (I thought Peprah was released in part because of poor tackling). And if this wasn't enough, the chaos in the secondary is huge. Let Woodson be Woodson and don't try to turn him into Polamalu, don't think Burnett can play both safety positions at the same time and get Bush off the field once and for all!!

Josh's picture

We need some kinda change, more stout run D, more physical corners.. Does House play this week? gotta see something or were gonna get blown out by the Misers of the Midway..

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

This league is graded on results. Doms' unit got an F last year, they are off to a similar start this year. If strides are not made soon, Dom will be out of a job. Youth and injuries are not unique to the Packers.... Need to see results. Period.


dilligaff's picture

In poker game Harbah beats Mike and Capers every time as far as Xs and Os. That was my guy reaction with the defense on Sunday, has the NFL game surpassed Caper's play book

PackersRS's picture
packsmack25's picture

Rabble rabble!

Mike McCarthy's picture

Pad level, I tell ya. It's all pad level.

Franklin Hillside's picture

This didn't sound like Brian...took me a few mintues to find the actual byline.

The Packers only gave up 211 yards passing? That's a vast improvement over their average of 300 given up from last year.

IowaPackFan's picture

Yeah, but 211 yards to Alex Smith. Didn't generate any TOs either - which was a hallmark of our defense last year (basically the only reason we didn't lose more games)

Evan's picture

Again, to be fair, the 49ers had the best Turn Over Differential in 2011. Smith had like 5 INTs all season (I thought it was a one year aberration, too, and it might still be), but this is a REALLY good team.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Did you watch the game? The only reason they had 211 is because they chose to have 211. It was nothing the D did, I can assure you that. If they didn't take the air out of the ball, 350+ were there for them... If they chose.

D B H's picture

But all 211 yards were easy completions. Rodgers was jamming passes into tight coveage by the 29ers, while Smith was throwing to wide-open and unchallenged receivers all day.

tundraboy's picture

That was the sickening part for me.

PackersRS's picture

Yes. Most of them due to miscommunication.

Which is correctable, and not necessarily the coaches' fault.

Really, the post is pertinent. Not on the 1st game of the season.

There were things that were Capers' fault. The mix and match on the secondary. The usage of some players, both in terms of responsability and plain suiting up to play defense.

But, like some have said, this defense is counting on too many rookies to make an immediate impact. It's not gonna happen, not on week 1.

Calling for a coordinator to be fired midseason is an emotional response, let alone the first game of the season.

There are some benchmarks. Making the playoffs is the first, if it's not achieved then there're going to be drastic changes in the coaching staff.

But, bottom line, this defense needs to play top 10 by the end of the season, not now. That is a reasonable goal.

Look at the Giants' run both in 07 and last year. They started awfully. They progressed as the year went on, kept the things that worked and ditched the ones that didn't. Hell, look at the Steelers from last year. They started giving up a bunch, being called old and ended up with the #1 D in both yards and points.

It would be awesome to have all the answers by week 1, but that's just not realistic, and borderline impossible. Even Fangio, the 49ers D, he's doing a great job, but he has the best front 7 in football, that is both great at rushing the passer and stopping the run, both at base and sub packages.

Right now we have only 1 player that is capable of doing so, Clay Matthews. The rest are situational players, which can be exploited by a good OC with a balanced offense.

The secondary with Nick Collins was the clear strenght of the team, but with him gone miscommunications are killing the team, even with the improved pass rush.

Right now, there is no strenght to lean on. Capers is not maximizing what he has on the defense, that's true, but let's not pretend he is waisting all the talent.

If by week 11 (after the bye), after Mike Neal is reinstated, after Perry, Worthy and Daniels have had time to adjust to at least situational roles, after the secondary has been playing together long enough to be able to communicate properly, if by then this defense isn't drastically improved, I guarantee you this will be Dom Capers' last season.

But at this time this post is just a rant.

Bearmeat's picture

Post of the 2012 season so far.

Well said RS. Well said.

cow42's picture

if they continue to play the way they have for the past 18 games, by week 11 they'll be 4-5 and probably have to win out to make the playoffs.

good luck with that.

PackersRS's picture

Yes, except that last season was last season.

And they didn't play like last season. Last season, only against Carolina they got more than 3 sacks.

Plus, here are the next opponents:
New Orleans
@St Louis

Even if the team plays like it did against SF I guaran-damn-tee they won't be 4-5. And they won't. They'll improve.

cow42's picture


there are your 5 losses.

PackersRS's picture

Do you wanna bet? ;)

GBPDan's picture

I just posted this on another site, before I read this article........"I hate that the DBs are still giving up a huge cushion, all it adds up to are open recievers and completions. DCs blitzing isn’t working again and covering WRs with Perry is stupid. DCs DBs have no clue who to cover, again, just like last year. Other teams have figured out his tendencies , DC is not making the adjustments and is not getting his unit ready to play."

djprotege's picture

What bothers me the most is that there are no adjustments during the 49's game and all last season. Especially in game adjustments. Seems like they have a plan and stick to it no matter what happens in the game.

I also think Cutler has a chance to throw on us, but he also has a chance to get smashed. His Oline is TERRIBLE. I think we should let Clay and Perry just go all out tomorrow.

IowaPackFan's picture

Cutler will throw 2 INTs tomorrow due to good pressure from our defense (and weak Bears O-line), and Cutler trying to force his throws. I saw him do it several times against Indy in which he should've been picked off a couple of times.

brando's picture

Exactly, from what I was able to see of the game the first two drives were horrible as Freeney was a wrecking ball. Once he got hurt and went out, there was no pressure and Cutler was able to pick apart the Indy D. Hopefully, we can get some of that pressure and Cutler will be Cutler.

Although, to listen to him, all of their offensive struggles were due to us jamming his receivers which we can't do now that they have Marshall and Jeffery... haha. Will be a fun game to watch!

cow42's picture

this defense is a perfect combination of soft, untalented, clueless, heartless, and rudderless.

cutler will throw 4 tutties tomorrow (unless they decide to have bush/forte run in the short ones). and there will be a def or ST score from the bears.
38-17 chicago.
book it.

ohenry78's picture

Anyone who refers to a TD as a "tuttie" loses all credibility :P

Brando's picture

Well, glad I didn't take your advice and go to the bookie with that... :p

djbonney138's picture

I think I heard on the radio yesterday...the defense is too complicated for a lot of the newbies and that's why you are getting dudes out of position. WIth all the new starters they need to get less complex defensive schemes until the guys are better at the plays. Any merit to this?

Jamie's picture

I think this team (via the HC) is stuck in the mindset of, we do what we do and the other team has to stop us...both on Def and Off. We're inflexible...uncreative.

We are the anti-Patriots...the anti-Niners. Both are teams that approach each game as opportunists, with the goal of attacking and exploiting the opposition's unique weaknesses...even if that means making extreme shifts in game plans week to week.

It appears teams caught up with our Def last year, and are starting to catch up with our Off...though an elite QB and group of WR stretches the curve a bit. People have now read MM and Capers' book enough to recite it word for word.

Sure, MM and Capers mix in wrinkles here and there, and on Off have made a concerted effort to integrate Cobb's abilities, but LARGELY this team does the same things week in and week out.

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean we can't win games, but it does largely mean we will struggle to beat the upper tier of teams...especially the teams with the more creative philosophies (SF, NYG, NE). And on occasion lose to lesser teams that are just more creative and flexible that day (KC).

Maybe this is OK, because upper tier teams are upper tier teams and we will struggle either way. I'm just concerned that this will become a trend, and we will lose a majority of the time against these teams, which is not good enough...not going to win us another SB.

chuck's picture

Who would you replace Dom with? I remember a lot of D-cord turning down the job when Dom took it. Wasn't he the third choice? Gonna take a chance on a young unknown so if he is good he'll be a head coach somewhere else in a year, or worse, he isn't good at calling plays.

Can't play bump and run with Bush. Hawk can't blitz. Burnett average. Leading "Thumper" Bishop out. The corner that was clearly the 2nd best corner on the team was House in camp, he's out. The second, or third, safety all look average at best. DJ sure didn't light it up tackling. O line didn't get a push.

We saw what Dom could do with some talent. Sometimes it is on the players.

Unprepared Raji...sure didn't see you stuffing Gore, or pushing back the oline. Saw you in the backfield a couple times, but failed to make the play.

What about Pick, Worthy, Wilson or Merlin? Is Dom suppose to run out on the field with a cattle prod?

You don't hear Matthews yelling about being unprepared, pour scheme, he just goes out there and does him job.

Capers uses who he has. As far as getting them prepared, you can only coach a player so far. Then the PLAYERS HAVE TO PLAY! How would you like to be responsible for getting the most out of MD Jennings, Merling, CJ Wilson, Bush, etc. Late round picks and undrafted guys make a hell of a story when they are Tramon Williams, but how many of them turn out like that?

Maybe a lot of the miscommunications is because every year we have to rely on so many rookies/unproven undrafted practice squad guys.

You don't see the offense starting Bokins, Gurley, Borel at WR. I don't see Saine coming in as the starting RB. How about not signing Saturday and let an undrafted rookie start at C. Remember when we tried putting all the unproven guys on the offensive line for four years?

There was a reason we selected so many defensive players.

pkrNboro's picture

An effective tackle eliminates the movement of a ball carrier's legs.

It's a lower-body activity.

I've seen so many instances of linebackers trying to stand-up a ball carrier.
I've seen so many instances of the secondary escorting a ball carrier to the sideline.

There is no effort or attempt to take out the legs.
And I mean this in a fundamental way, not as an attempt to injure.

I just don't understand how this is not addressed by coaching.

Players are giddy about concussive, high-light-reel, career-ending hits -- but they can't go low to make a safe and effective tackle?

Are they worried about missing? as if this would be more embarrassing than the half-ass efforts we see weekly?

Do they just not know how to anticipate where a "plant" foot will be located? where a stride will take a runner's feet, and a good target for wrapping up?

I keep seeing this over and over -- a continuation of last season -- and I understand how some poster's are livid.

chuck's picture

You think this is not being coached? Do you think Burnett wasn't coached properly on tackling? Who taught Desmond Bishop to tackle, the same people that teach Hawk? Who taugh Clay Matthews to rush the passer, the same people that taught Perry?

We lose Wells, we get Saturday. We lose Starks, we get Benson. We lose Collins, we stick with MD Jennings and draft a guy in the middle. We lose Bishop, did we sign anyone to help at ILB? Even a backup veteran?

These draft picks (Worthy, Daniels, McMillan, Haywood, Perry) are going to take a little time.

The rest of these guys are the same guys as last year! Coach them all you want.

PadLevel's picture

Our Defensive coaches are average at best. Why do you think that not one of them was considered for a HC or even a Def. Coordinator job by another NFL team - after our Superbowl victory. Sure, some were interviewed, but that had more to do with Rooney rule than any real interest. In fact the only coaches who have been hired away from us are on the offensive side (our WRs coach and recently Joe Philbin).

pkrNboro's picture

Coaches don't just train or teach, but they also influence playing time.

Bench their ass.
Take their helmet.
Send them to the showers.

The Packers -- almost to a player -- tackle poorly.

The 49ers are just about as much of a polar opposite as you can get.

As I've seen several players mentioned by name, at different positions -- it seems more institutional, or widespread, in nature.

Is it training? (Personally, I think hugging someone down to a pillow as a way to teach tackling is complete bullshit... but that's just me)
Scheme? (too complex? need to dumb-it-down?)
Evaluation of players, or opponent?
Seems like these things falls more on the coaches -- because it just seems improbable that GB has a collection of screw-ups on defense, while SF is golden.

chuck's picture

I guess I just have a difference in opinion.

Vic Fangio's first year as 49'er dcord. I thought 49'ers D was good for a while.

I also thought 49'ers have more talented players as a whole on defense. Both Smiths, Brooks, Bowman, Willis, Rogers, Whitner, etc.

Players tackle. If you are a pro and need extensive tackling training, it is too late.

I believe tackling to be more of an attitude than something that needs taught. Everyone was taught proper tackling in pop warner. Throwing a shoulder into somebody instead of wrapping up and setting them on their ass is something you are born with, not taught. You are either aggressive, or you are not.

The one thing I agree with you on is bench the players for not performing, if their is a better player behind them. I doubt Burnett gets benched for throwing a soft shoulder, and I don't believe he should be.

I totally disagree with our assistant coaches being below average. You can call back Shottenheimer and Bob Sanders as assistants, but I would rather have Green, Perry, Trgo, etc. Just because you are a good assistant doesn't make you a good coordinator.

My bottom line is, if the defense that showed up in limited action against the Chiefs shows up tomorrow night, all of this is forgotten.

Jamie's picture

I'm not sure Dom needs to go, but I'm fairly certain our Def was MUCH better against the pass when our CBs played a lot more press coverage. Much more physical and much less confusing for the players.

The cusions we give are give-up first downs, and our zone coverages appear to do the well as cause confusion (not in a good way).

hobot's picture

This confuses me too. I may very well be missing some OBVIOUS explanation for the lengthy cushions, but it just SEEMS like a simple and effective solution.

Evan's picture

It made sense when Tramon hurt his shoulder and couldn't be as physical. But it doesn't make sense this year.

Pack12's picture

The Sky is Falling. The Sky is Falling! After one game you want to go and fire Dom Capers. Does Capers tackle or cover anyone? You can draw up all the different schemes you want on paper but the players have to execute. Why don't we see a few more games before asking for Capers' head? Last I looked Capers was the Defensive Coordinator in 2009 when the Packers won the Super Bowl. Did he become stupid since then? Do not underestimate the loss of Nick Collins, he was the defensive QB back there and he is sorely missed. Just remember that one game does not make a season. If the Packers play a lousy game against the Bears and do not show any improvement on defense going forward then changes will have to be made and since you can't get rid of most of the defensive players then Capers will probably have to pay.

SHODAN's picture

You're right -- one game does not make a season. You know what does, though?

A full season. You know, like the Packers' '11-'12 season -- the one in which our defense allowed more passing yards than any other defense EVER.

I don't think anyone is saying Dom has "become stupid." What most seem to be upset about is the severe lack of defensive adjustments we've seen over the last 18 games, be they in-game or between games. It would seem that some of the issues from last season carried over to game one of this season, which is why I think there is some justification for disappointment in our defensive scheming.

Point is, it's not as if everyone is looking at the 49ers game in a vacuum.

Frank's picture

Omg we lost 3 of our last 18 games ,, be careful what you wish for , loosing bishop really hurts our run defense and please give the rookies a chance , the 49rs have a very good team , a huge offensive line ,, if our offense would have made the plays needed for first down ( Finley ) who knows the end result ,, we will be ok

lebowski's picture

we lost 3 of our last 5 games

Mojo's picture

And honestly, in the 3 losses maybe we weren't dominated, but the Pack were clearly outclassed. If they had won any of them, it would have been a fluke.

packsmack25's picture

Or 3 of 24....

chuck's picture

You can't coach AJ Hawk into Ray Lewis.

chuck's picture

You can't coach MD Jennings into Ed Reed.

woodson4president's picture

Lets think positive people damn. Its just one game and i dont care who we have on the field thurs. Their all gonna want to kick Cutler in the teeth so we can see him trot off the field with that pissy look on his face blamin everything on everybody but himself as he always does

bomdad's picture

Has Dom started a season with the same two OLBs from the previous year in the five years he's been here? Those are the key players in a 3-4 D like Dom's. Perry played his first NFL game, here's hoping he gets better, I think he will.

I didnt think the D was all that horrible considering the time they had to spend on the field (they did get 3+ sacks). If the O goes more no-huddle, the D will be spending ALOT less time on the bench between series. That scheme doesnt do the defense any favors.

philip's picture

no huddle hurts both teams' defenses

Beep's picture

Ever since our stout run defense in 2009, turnovers have been a rosy deodorant to a stinky defense that cannot stop the run or short passes which comes down to the DL and LB not executing. You can blame the players for not executing due to lack of talent or or lack of effort, but at some point the system itself has to come into question since the Packers are not succeeding. Go ahead and give these rookies the rest of the year to hopefully blossom because its too late in the season to make any drastic changes in system or personnel. TT and MM need to look hard next offseason if it is worth going after more talent to fit the system or find a new system to fit the talent.

Mojo's picture

Maybe the guys in the secondary, as a whole, are just plain stupid. In interviews, Shields, Bush and Burnett don't come across as Rhodes Scholars. Players like LeRoy Butler(one of the Packer greats) and Eugene Robinson got buy on smarts more so than athleticism. Tramon seems to know what he's doing, but for the last two years CWood is reduced to grabbing and swatting. For God's sake, someone throw him a couple pick-sixes so he can move on from trying to tie and break that record. Hopefully, Hayward and House will be able to raise the level of cerebral play in the backfield. Just being a good athlete isn't enough, you need smarts and instincts.

I asked this question a lot last year. Why when we come with a heavy blitz do those blitzing players so easily get picked up? I don't know how many times we sent in two or more blitzers coming in at full speed, and then give the appearance of running into a brick wall. Think about it, we were one of the(if not number one) heaviest blitzing teams last year, but near the bottom in sacks. When our secondary guys blitz are they telegraphing their intent? It's hard to believe, but they almost universally lose their one-on-one battles.

In Capers defense (pun intended), Tramons arm problems last year, Jenkins move to Philly and losing Collins to injury greatly stressed the D. These were the best players the Pack had at their respective positions. Losing Bishop this year was a major blow also(easily our best ILB). But other teams have injuries and don't fall apart. Something is just not working with this scheme. A cautious player like Alex Smith just emphasises it more. Without the turnovers a patient offense can move the ball all game long whether it's through the air or on the ground. And it's been that way for over a year now.

tundraboy's picture

Can we ever stop anyone on 3rd down when it matters most. Can we make it difficult and not so easy. That is our biggest weakness. And again other than Matthews I do not see a mean angry face to our D. A hate to lose anger. We do not have that identity and it has gotten to the point where are reputation is being Soft. Not just bad but soft.

I think we need an in your face D coordinator not a mastermind. I would rather be 8-8 and known as an opponent teams fear than one who know that they can be intimidated. Does anyone else see this?

hobot's picture

"I would rather be 8-8 and known as an opponent teams fear than one who know they can be intimidated."

B.S. If the Packers were 8-8 you would be calling for the head of the head coach and the general manager, as well as clearing the team of everyone not producing at an All-Pro level.

hobot's picture

I can't believe I am reading this non-sense from a website of supposedly "educated" fans. I initially came to this site for intelligent discussion that is non-existent on a number of other blogs. ESPN may post controversial things simply for the traffic, but I believed this site to be above that.

If there is ANYTHING to be learned from the example set by the Packers organization it is that rash decision making is never wise. Prudent long-term thinking, rather, will always prevail. Everyone wanted the entire coaching staff and front-office fired after the meltdown in Tampa (no pun intended) in 2009. The team responded with something like a 22-6 run since that game through today (my math MAY be off by a game or two but an impressive run nonetheless).

Consider me one who is firmly entrenched in the philosophy of the organization and quite frankly all of the doom and gloomists should be embarrassed of themselves. It was ONE GAME. One game. Against a very solid team too.

The season may play out and you may be correct in your assessment (although I remain doubtful), but to call for the firing of the coaching staff after one game (even if you're back dating your frustrations to last year) is for Browns' fans.

packsmack25's picture

35-11 since then. 26-6 since the back-to-back Redskins and Dolphins debacles in 2010.

Mojo's picture

A couple of things Hobot; First of all not everyone on this site is advocating that we fire Capers. Nor did "everyone" push for firing the entire coaching staff & front-office after losing to Tampa (I didn't). I hate when people use absolutes to supposedly strengthen their argument when they don't apply. And the 22-6(or whatever) run is mostly the result of the offense (the D did have some great games in the 2010 season).

It's not just the first game of the year that a lot of people are complaining about. It's basically all of the 2011 season too. This team gave up the most passing yards in NFL history! You'd have to be either completely blind or in denial not to recognize that. Questioning Capers defense is a very reasonable expression. Personally, without knowing what a particular players responsibilities are on any given play, I can't tell if the consistently bad defense performance is more on scheme or the players. If it's quality of defensive players, then TT should get most of the blame.

Many of the same bloggers critiquing Capers now, preached patience last year. They didn't fly off the handle. And to their credit they now recognize something isn't right with this defense, and I agree with them.

SHODAN's picture


JohnRehor's picture

For the record, I've been a critic of Capers since 2010, and have said that the defense relies on the big play (sack, turnover, etc) far too often. And these plays make the defense appear better than they actually are

hobot's picture


Thank you. You make very valid points and correctly called me out on the absolutes I jumped to. I shouldn't have need to throw out the term "everyone" where it did not apply.

My frustration lies with the lack of patience and this immediate-improvement-or-else mentality. I understand the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, but the Packers have shown that arising above that mindset is what all the great franchise to for success.

My belief is that the lack of talent (and not the scheme) that caused the defensive meltdown. The organization attempted to address the dearth of talent(in a drastic way IMO) by using it's first 6 draft picks to improve the overall talent and depth. Rookies, across the board, are not going to come in and take the league by storm, they take time. They just do.

So after one game, against arguably one of the best two or three teams in the league last year+, to already call for a change in defensive philosophy seems counter-productive and incredibly rash.

That was the point I attempted to make and the hyperbole I delved into was unnecessary to my larger point.

Ruppert's picture

Hey, I don't think we should fire Capers.

And we all know how much weight the Ruppert endorsement carries around this place!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I know!

Ruppert's picture

What's up Fitz!

Better days lay ahead for this team. I just hope we're still in the playoff picture when they come.

Cole's picture

The 8 yard cushions infuriate me. It's so cowardly. Theyre so scared of losing to the big play that they just get eatin alive in small chunks. It's like capers has instructed them to let the other team score as slowly as possible so our offense can put them in a hole and force them into bad decisions. Well, hey that works great against crappy and mediocre teams but it absolutely fails against teams with good defenses. It's like DUH! That won't work against niners, giants, ravens, bears, texans, steelers. Nearly half of the playoff teams. The only way we can win a Super Bowl with this D is by getting lucky with who we play in the playoffs. Lions, Falcons, Saints...something like that. Then we have to hope we meet the Patriots who can all of a sudden run the ball.

I believe we now have the talent. It's just a matter of whether Capers will start playing to win...and not playing trying not to lose. Fucking hit somebody in the mouth!

And another thing: I want to see McCarthy foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Players feed off his intensity. McCarthy needs to step his game up as well. Two yard runs and continual bombs to Jordy aren't going to work you fool! What happened to the short passing game and screens? You have Alex green for chrissakes...use him at what he's good at. This praying for the big play crap is pissing me off.

All that said I think we come out and beat the Bears 34-30

Rocky70's picture

Any "D" that can't stop the run is in trouble. 186 yards to SF ---- Ouch! The Bears are capable of 200+. I doubt Cutler will even be a factor in Thursday's game. Forte & Bush all game long. AR & his stable of WRs (minus GJ) will be watching most of the game from the sidelines.

Pack fans need to get use to the possibility that season 2012 is a transitional year. It happens.

Ruppert's picture

I think this is a distinct possibility.

petr's picture

Capers works with what he has and he doesn't have much. Outside of Clay, Pickett and Woodson, Green Bay don't have any other defensive players that are above average players at this point.

Green Bay's defence was elite in the Superbowl run because we were ahead of everyone else in scheme and mismatches. Now a lot of teams have caught up and we have declined.

Drafting 6 defensive players in the draft should have been done after the Superbowl victory and Cullen Jenkins shouldn't have been allowed to leave.

I wouldn't mind if Capers left but I am more concerned with the lack of talented players on defence then I am with the defensive coaches.

Spend some money on defensive leaders in free agency. Our defence isn't nasty enough and doesn't carry enough energy onto the field. It's weak physically through the spine of the team at nose tackle (Raji), ILB (Hawk and Smith) and at safety (Burnett, M.D. Jennings).

Personally at the end of the year, I would trade Raji and Finley, let Greg Jennings walk, cut Hawk and rebuild the defence in free agency and the draft.

PackersRS's picture

There's no cap room whatsoever to spend in free agency. Not having to re-sign Jennings, Raji and Matthews.

But letting Jenkins go was a mistake, that much is very clear. TT gambled on Neal and lost.

Maybe he was asking just too much money, and what he accepted from Philly was just a way to rub it in. But the money he got from Philly was more than affordable. I think TT got scared because of Jenkins' injury history. I know, I know. Irony.

PadLevel's picture

Free agency does not have to be a costly proposition. Looks at the Patriots for example. They never shy away from signing veterans who are past their peaks - sure they may play for only a few years, but that gives the young players time to learn and develop. TT was notorious in stubbornly staying away from this, until his hand was forced due to injuries and the malaise of our D line. I still don't understand why Muir was let go

hobot's picture

Has Muir been signed by any other team? To my knowledge he has not, and if that is the case then apparently 31 other teams shared the Packers assessment.

PackersRS's picture

FA per se, no, but finding defensive leaders, yes it is. Big time.

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

There is a saying that I particularly like and I think it applies in this situation. "You are who you are all the time." What this means to me is that at your core, you have to be what you have always been. That doesn't mean you are inflexible and don't adapt with situations. It simply means that you have to always stay near to your core philosophy. Drift to far and bad things happen. This perfectly describes Capers for me. This defense is not aggressive. Throw on the tape from 2010 and you'll see a defense that came from all over the place with multiple personnel groupings, disguises, and fronts. In a word...pressure. This also meant that our secondary was playing quite a bit of single high safety and zero coverage. Last year we saw nothing but passive quarters coverage a majority of the time. It was if the philosophy changed. Frankly, that's not Capers' style. Trace his roots and he has always been big fan of zero coverage as opposed to Dick LeBeau's fire zone pressure with a 3 deep shell. Capers has incorporated fire zones over the years with success. In fact when he deployed it last year we were pretty successful. An example of this was the fire zone trap coverage against Rivers in which Williams returned the interception. Great disguise with pressure. But those things were few and far between. I felt like I was watching the Dallas Cowboys defense of the early 90's minus Haley, Maryland, Lett and Co. Those Dallas teams made a living playing passive quarters coverage in particular because their front 7 were so good. That's why it was so maddening to see Sanders and Bates try the same things in their tenure with Packers because we didn't have that talent up front. It didn't work.

Now, some could say Capers was adapting to the personnel he had in the secondary and that is valid. Collins was lost early and Williams was hurt. However, Capers strayed too far. Press man seemed to be jettisoned. I fear, based on the approach in week 1, we are going down the same path. I can certainly understand not wanting to play press man coverage on a guy like Moss. But you can't tell me that Crabtree posed that big of mismatch that Tramon couldn't cover him man to man while a bracket or off coverage was played on Moss.

The bottom line: Unless Capers moves back more towards his core philosophy of multiple looks, personnel (think Psycho), and pressures, this will be a repeat of last year and ultimately, I believe, Capers last hurrah in Green Bay. There is always a time and a place to mix it up and play a soft zone. That time and place just don't happen to be all the time as we have see the last 18 games.

cow42's picture

i love you.

PackersRS's picture

Yes. From everything, this is what really worries me. That Capers might've lost his balls, or worse, the trust in the players.

JohnRehor's picture

Your last 5 words scare the hell out of me. Because if that is the case, it's going to get ugly

PackersRS's picture

Yes, but that's a highly subjective opinion that can only be gauged correctly by those living the day-to-day.

And that's not the solution, that's just the identification of the problem.

If this is indeed the case, considering that it is already too late to install a new defensive philosophy, then the solution would be to elect someone from the current coaching staff to act as the DC and call the plays.

However, if there was someone qualified for such, he would have done something about it already. Because that's not the way the Packers operate, so if Capers is to go, it'll probably mean the rest of the defensive coaching staff will go as well, so this someone can't afford to wait for his opportunity.

Moreover, someone that is willing to take such measure is a problem in itself.

In the end we're left with conjectures that can't be proven and that, if true, can't be corrected.

That's why I say the course of action to be taken, even if just from the analysis perspective, is to wait to take such a definitive stance till the sample size is substantial to exclude the possibility of coincidence. Even with last year's data, because it's not the same circumstances, even though a lot of the results are similar.

PackersRS's picture

Just one thing, POC.
You say unpredictability. And I agree. But, with the playcalling as it is, there's been a buttload of miscommunication. Do you really think these players can take more intricated calls?

I think back to the psycho package of 2009. They just ended up telling what they were going to do and got picked apart time and time again.

Maybe confusion will just end up confusing the team itself.

I do endorse the use of more cover 1 and cover 0 press coverage, even if it'll allow big plays now and then. I think it caters to the secondary's strenght, and the new guys at the front 7 will be able to get enough pressure in time.

PackersRS's picture

Per example. I execrated Burnett for changing the call seconds before the Moss TD. But, alas, came this:

Probably what Burnett did what was he was supposed to do. Change the call if the offensive formation changed (motion). Though it's not unheard of, it is a degree of intricacy. And the result was a wide open TD...

marcopo's picture

In a nutshell, Capers is not yet comfortable with his personal. Understandable given how many new guys. Last year he couldn't do his thing because there was NO defensive line, amid other problems.

NJ's picture

Alen Dominjic had some interesting things to say about Dom's defense before the season started in a little back and forth on twitter.

Basically it boils down to Dom trying to be to "cute" as the seasons stack up with a particular team and getting away from fundamentals.

After seeing the opener I have to wonder if he wasn't spot on. The defense just doesn't seem to know how to hit people in their damned mouth.

Maybe it can be turned around, but if the season goes another year like we had last year and what we saw against SF, changes will have to be made.

ppabich's picture

After one game, it seems the large majority of you have lost your minds. After just finishing watching the All-22 tape, it's amazing how poor the defense started. But over the course of the game it got better, sounder tackling, hitting proper gaps and less blown coverage, even from Bush.

The differences between the two defenses in the fist half was striking as SF was nearly flawless. However, on offense, the Packers DID make adjustments as the game wore on, and receivers were able to get open.

It wasn't the start anyone wanted, but it's WEEK 1!!!!! If the Packers can improve as much as I saw during the game, improvement over the course of the season is a pretty reasonable expectation.

Bohj's picture

A few pieces of optimism and actual game breakdown.
San Fran ran one heck of a scheme to kill doms philosophy.
Often ran out of passing formations. And passed out of running formations.

1) this is what raji meant by not being prepared.
2) all this dime is killing us. Too many dbacks equals no run support. Too many guys were away from the play.
3) 3-4 linebackers. On all of the power sweeps they ran, our linebackers were out of positIon consistently. Hawk is not super aggressive which is true. But remember two of our 4 linebackers are practically rookies. I can honestly say that if bishop was there, the 49ers run game would have been a different story. When the other 2 have more in game experience the 3-4 might actually work. And capers may even be more willing to "trust" our players to run his base scheme,
4) someone on here wants to blame the personnel dept. Or TT. Don't forget that we draft super late when you're a winner. You're not choosing Aldon smith and Von miller. You are choosing the best talent you can find. I'm not saying our picks are scrubs. But give them a chance. Clay matthews. Didn't even break the starting lineup until game 6 or 7. You guys are expecting waaaaaaay too much out of rookies.
5) the only thing that I have been annoyed with capers is getting away from our base. But I feel like that has been more of a personnel growing pains. See #3.
6) a 3-4 is meant for this: the front 3 take up blockers. The back 4 are meant to storm the gaps to make plays. This means stopping the run and getting pressure on the qb. Stopping the run is the first priority. This makes teams one dimensional. Unfavorable down and distances let's the 4 pin their ears back to kill qb and cause rushed throws and therefore picks. 2009 was a great example. Other teams aren't catching on folks. We have gotten too far from our base 3-4. And I could argue that it's because our front is not equipped......yet.
7) be patient. Worthy, perry, smith will pan out. 2 of these guys have never played these positions. Now they have one game under their belt. And film to learn from.
8) go pack.

ppabich's picture

I noticed a litte more base against the 49ers than usual. But like you said, it had a lot to do with run formations. The 49ers would have 2 TEs and a RB and split them out wide, and three 300 lbers on the field it forced Perry into coverage. That killed the Packers.

Joey's picture

Woohoo!! Someone on here at least has the balls to say it!

marcopo's picture

Whoa, Nellie! I saw the same things, thought the same things as Brian, but I'm far from declaring that the sky is falling. First, I find comical that grown men, both fans and writers, thought even for a moment that the Packer defense would come out of it's brand new box finely honed. How could they? This defense has way too many new pieces for that. It's going to take at least 4 weeks to see improvement. The is no substitute for game experience. The offense, like last year is going to have to pick up the slack. That said, why is Bush a cornerback, let alone a starter?

marcopo's picture

Adding to what I said above: It's easy, when frustrated, to blame failure on the highest available victim. In this case, Dom Capers. First, it (as it almost always is) not a systemic problem, but an execution problem. Coaches don't coach chaos, but inexperienced players don't execute. Further, outside of Mathews, there was little contribution from the Packer veterans. Woodson, outside of blitzing, better get his act together. The same to be said for Williams. The Packers failed in preseason to find answers they're still searching for personal-wise.
I'll also add this note for the sake of optimism. We saw some inside pressure, something we NEVER saw last year. I'm talking pressure on the pocket, not sacks. We have much more potential defensively this year. But it will take more then a few games to realize that potential. Get used to it.

Bohj's picture

I'd like to vindicate Williams a bit here. They didn't throw to his side a whole lot. They understood our second cornerback problem and attacked that. We can't be too upset that our staff was planning on having House be in that role this year. He was progressing into a fine corner before injury. I do like our depth there once Hayward gets a year in. Shields and Bush are decent "BACKUPS".

denniseckersley's picture


Frank's picture

Do we still want to replace Dom ,, I rest my case ????

marcopo's picture

Brian really isn't that bad, but he's young. It will be an open book for awhile, but I was overjoyed they had the night they had after the beating they took after the SF game. Perspective isn't easy, especially when the panicked mob is yelling the sky is falling.

Frank's picture

Point taken , I love this blog , very football smart people ,, Go Pack !!!!

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