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Packers Counting On Capers

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Packers Counting On Capers

Before the draft I wrote a post titled "New Players Will Only Help Capers So Much".

Apparently, Ted Thompson agrees.

So much so, in fact, that he declined to bring on board any new cornerbacks in this past weekend's draft and to only bring in a couple of undrafted free agents at the outside linebacker position. This tells me a few things. 1) Thompson and company are quite high on Brad Jones and expect him to keep his starting LOLB job. 2) They have the utmost confidence that the guys that were injured in the secondary last season will be back. (Personally, I'll be shocked if Al Harris doesn't start the season on the PUP)

But most of all, it tells me that when Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers sat down and went over the cut-ups on the defensive side of the ball, they saw a lot that Capers could do to improve with what they have on hand personnel wise. As I wrote in the post mentioned above:

It’s Capers job to figure out where those breakdowns occurred and to ensure that his system is clear to EVERY member of the defense coming out of training camp. If that means drilling rookies and second year players more in camps and preseason, so be it. If that means running crossing routes until their eyes are crossed, so be it. It’s all well and good to have a playbook that is larger than a Manhattan phone book (yes, an antiquated reference) but it’s little more than fodder for the shredder unless it is grasped and understood by every single member of the defense.

Every team that can will be spreading the Packers out and trying to confuse the nickel and dime backs as much as they can. And it will keep happening until Capers shows that he has made the adjustments necessary to stop it. As for the pass rush, it will be interesting to see how Capers tries to adjust some of his pressure packages. As McCarthy indicated in his April 24th press conference:

It's not just we have Clay on one side, we don't have anybody else on the other side. I thought Brad did an excellent job in his time with his opportunity. Also, we have other ways to get the pass rush.

This is true on all counts, but it is incumbent on Capers to use all the methods available to him to get pressure on the opposing quarterback and that includes using his secondary on early downs. Many times last year Capers liked to sit back early, stop the run and wait for 2nd and 3rd and long until sending guys from the secondary, even when teams came out in multiple receiver sets.

One very interesting thing about the above video, at least to me, is the fact that Brad Jones and Clay Matthews both do a great job of squeezing the pocket (Jones even gets a chip from the guard) but there is plenty of space for the quarterback to step forward due to the lack of push from Jenkins and Jolly. Why is that? If you ask me it's because it's later in the game and both those guys were asked to play way, way too many snaps, both in this particular game and over the course of the entire season. If second round pick Mike Neal, seventh round pick C. J. Wilson or second year player Jarius Wynn can show anything and get on the field in Capers' beloved 2-4-5 formation, that will allow Jolly and especially Jenkins some time to rest and be at their best in the 4th quarter.

I know fans (myself included) were a bit dismayed that the team seemingly neglected some areas of 'need' this past weekend, but I'm starting to think the Packers' "improve from within" mantra extends to the coaching staff as well. Dom Capers and his scheme will be counted on to evolve and improve on what was an extremely promising first year.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Cletis's picture

As Bedard has frequently noted, the other big factor here is that last season was the install year for the 3-4. We expected a rough year, and can now reasonably expect some improvement from the existing vets (and coaches). I would think training camp will be an entirely different experience for the vets this year as compared to last.

packeraaron's picture

Exactly right.

jeremey's picture

Yes. We should be the #1 defence instead of the lowly #2 this year ;)

FITZCORE1252's picture

That is a very good point. Players tend to take a big step year-one to year-two, I'm expecting another offseason to have the same effect on the Defense, as a whole.

Glorious80s's picture

"It’s Capers job to figure out where those breakdowns occurred and to ensure that his system is clear to EVERY member of the defense coming out of training camp. If that means drilling rookies and second year players more in camps and preseason, so be it. If that means running crossing routes until their eyes are crossed, so be it. It’s all well and good to have a playbook that is larger than a Manhattan phone book (yes, an antiquated reference) but it’s little more than fodder for the shredder unless it is grasped and understood by every single member of the defense."

The following applies to Lombardi's sweep, but could apply here:

" once old and new, it was seemingly simple and offered infinite complexity, demanding swift decisions by all eleven offensive players. It wasn't size that mattered...nor was it speed alone...the sweep required precision, teamwork and brains" Pg. 284, D. Maraniss, "When Pride Still Mattered.

packeraaron's picture

Maraniss and me in the same comment? I'm in heaven. ;)

Jon's picture

I think if you go back and look at the Pittsburgh game especially the last drive the defensive line seemed to be worn out there as well.

Glorious80s's picture

I've read that the coaching staff likes to pace and rotate players to build towards the end of the season, but does training camp develope enough stamina in the case of injury adjustments? Could this be part of the proposed above changes?

Jim Rarick's picture

My point exactly from this weekend. So often the D-Line was in the backfield when they had success against the pass. But against the Vikings, Steelers and Cards, they had no push from the D-Line, or hands in air to break up passes. The D-Line really have 3 1/2 effective players last year. It was not enough to keep up the entire year, except against weak teams.

packsmack25's picture

And.....Jarrett Bush sucks.

packsmack25's picture

But seriously, don't forget that Raji will likely improve as well, what with attending a training camp and (knock on wood)not having a sprained ankle all year. Have we forgotten the disruptive force he was promised to be? It never happened last season, but this year he could become explosive. I'm also excited to see what Raji and Neal could do alongside one another. We could have our own version of the Williams Wall if those 2 guys live up to their potential.

bomdad's picture

We got a guy pending 4-game suspension already, we are on our way!

NickGBP's picture

I agree about the pass rush from the DL as well. Without having any real knowledge of schemes, at its simplest the 2-4-5 appears (to my uneducated mind) to be essentially the same as a typical 4-3 rush, meaning your expect your interior line guys to move to the QB as well, not just take up space as in the 3-4.

Both Thompson and MM stressed this fact after the draft and the lack of pressure from the DLine must have been the reason why we picked up so many DL.

NickGBP's picture

And great point Aaron. Jones REALLY got some push on that rush. With an extra year learning some technique he could really be a factor.

PackersRS's picture

I was pretty open in my criticism of Capers last year, during the SF game, the MN games, the Pit game, and, of course, the Cards game.

I thought he played them wrongly, and already explained why I thought so.

Now, the biggest issue on our team last year (side by side with coverage), has been fixed, the DL pass rush, that with the rotation, as well as Raji being healthy the whole year, should come alive (made the point in a Jenkins post you did, Aaron.).

We're still thin at OLB and CB, but, like I did last year, I think we absolutely have the players at least to support what our offense do, if not more.

It's up to the Dom to make it work.


BTW, changing subject for a minute, am I the only one that, after 5 or 6 years, am trully happy with the current and future state of our OL?? Am I the only one that looks at it and thinks "man, we're set at it. We have starting quality, and depth."

I think Rodgers and Grant have a huge grin on their faces.

And we have to count on Johnson, also. With the OL steady, and Johnson with the playbook learned, never again we're gonna struggle in the endzone.

More, I predict a top 3 offense for our team, in yards and points scored. As well as a top 5 in ball possession.

Damn, this season is gonna be beautiful, I tell ya.

bomdad's picture

I like the OL right now. Good blend of experience and youthful depth. Screw OLB, we'll just outscore everybody.

PackersRS's picture

Amen. If the Saints won with Bobby McCray, Scott Shanle and Remi Ayodele being vital parts of their D, why can't we with what we have, added the rookie talents, and the development of the young players???

FITZCORE1252's picture

Yeah, we appear to be much more sound on the O-line. Guys should only need to cover 1 maybe 2 positions if/when injuries occur. And we're pretty young there overall. If Bryan And TJ are the bookends for the next 7-10 years, we're gonna be solid, 'cause I think the interior is gonna be pretty stout as well.

"I predict a top 3 offense for our team"

If we get a cohesive group in front of #12, I see ZERO reason why that shouldn't be the case for years to come. Really.


Glorious80s's picture

The offense is looking good. As to where it will end up, what we don't know is the extend of improvements other teams have made. How will they match up? Can't wait to see it though.

Bearmeat's picture

The DL and OL needed help that's for sure. TT is for once, ahead of the game there. However, we are PERILOUSLY thin at OLB. This is where the playmakers/sack artists come from in the 3-4. It's documented ever since Dom brought together "Blitzburgh" back the early 90's.
If Jones doesn't pan out, or if CM3 goes down, or if they get tired and we have to put in Poppinga, we are screwed. Period. I for one would advocate picking Adalius Thomas and trading for a somewhat-watered- down-post-knee-injury Merriman.
I see how badly injuries decimated our CB's last year, and can understand just plain old bad luck. We'll get Harris back by week 6. Pat Lee or Blackmon hopefully won't both get hurt again. And Underwood should grow to at least be a capable dime back this year if needed.
If we don't fix our pass rush from the OLB spot, we are gonna get chewed up by Benedict Arnold, Brady, Romo, Smith and E. Manning this year.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Sign. Adalius. Thomas. Ted.

dilligaff's picture

I have been saying it since last season, it not that we have a bad secondary, or Bush is as bad as he looks, but we have to get a consistent pass rush from our front 7.

Jolly and Hawk should not be on the field at the same time, both lack any pass rush or pass defense. Even when Jolly gets a breather he is no pass rusher commanding a double team like he is in the running game.

I agree a solid rotation of 5 or 6 guys on the defensive line will go a long way in addressing this. Raji,Jenkins,Wynn, and the 2 rookies should address this problem. Jolly is a run stopper, and should be used in those situations and the goal line.

I am more up set that we were not able to address the ILB position in free agency or the draft compared to our CB situation. I think we are ok at the OLB position as far as starters, depth may be a concern. IMO I would like to see someone take hold of that ILB position next to Barnett.

Erdie's picture

Don't forget they can play Chillar at OLB as well, he can sub if either CM3 or Jones goes down.

aussiepacker's picture

read some good reports on the undrafted freeagent olb's. Does anyone think any of these guys could contribute?

FITZCORE1252's picture

James Harrison went undrafted (at least that's what I keep saying, I should probably fact check that, but, it sounds good, so I'm gonna roll with it). Why the hell not? Aussie, Aussie, Aussie...


PackersRS's picture

Nickel formation to start the season:

Jones Raji Jenkins CM3

Barnett Chillar

Woodson Lee Williams
Bigby Collins


Dime formation to start the season:

Jones Raji Jenkins CM3


Woodson Lee Burnett Williams
Bigby Collins

(BASE, 2-4-5, 2-3-6 packages...)

nerdmann's picture

1: The rookies in the DL rotation will help alot. Jarius Wynn and Brad Jones will have an offseason to bulk up and learn some moves. Raji should also be healthy this year. Who knows, Harrell might even be back! Both rookies sound like they can play.
2: The defense would have looked alot better last year of the offense wouldn't have turned the ball over twice in their first three plays against the Cards. What happened in OT again?
3: We were signing DBs off the street last year. Morgan Burnett would have looked sweet, just as an extra DB. Hell, Peprah would have been a godsend. People talk smack about him, but he's assignment sure. Underwood will have a year to develop too. Pat Lee is the question mark. He was stashed on IR, because he was still raw, in his second year. This is his make it or break it year. Harris will at least be the nickel CB.
4: TT has looked much better drafting offensive linemen since MM stopped asking for the "smaller, quicker" types and began requesting the "bigger, stronger" guys. Ending with Barbre and starting with Sitton. (And Lang.)
5: With Starks and Quarless (not to mention a "bolstered" offensive line) this offense could be FREAKY good. Like greatest show on turf good. Or better. Especially if they ever decide to monopolize time of possession. LOL.

nerdmann's picture

Here's another issue. TT has gone into seasons with no help whatsoever at positions before. Usually it's with the OL. We see what happened last year. It got stabilized, as it usually does. That one year we went into the season with NO RBs. Jackson was a rookie, Wynn bruised his labia early and Grant didn't get a shot until mid season. Fortunately, he learned the playbook and was able to show what he could do.
The point is, this is TT's modus operandi. I'm confident someone will emerge at CB. A least one of those guys will step up. Underwood will be fine. Probably Lee too. And Bell. I liked him. Martin could be decent.
As to OLB. This could be the problem area, if we lose Jones and/or Clay. Imagine if we had a run on OLBs like we did CBs last year. However, I see TT pulling a gem out of his butt somehow. Remember how he found Grant on New York's scrap heap? This is how the Steelers got James Harrison. It can be done. And they don't even have TT to do the looking.
We're going to go far the next two years. Very far.

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