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Schematica and the Future of the Packers Defense

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Schematica and the Future of the Packers Defense

I'm not a fan of schemes. I'm particularly not a fan of schemes as a silver bullet to fix obvious shortcomings on an NFL football team.  And, most of all, I'm so not a fan of jumping late on a scheme's bandwagon, after everyone else is already doing it.

But, along the line, the Green Bay Packers have done this twice, with at best marginal success. Oh, certainly, the Pack won a Super Bowl a few years ago, but I don't know if anyone would say it was because of the Zone Blocking Scheme or even the 3-4 Defense. Quite honestly, they won a Super Bowl because they were talented and hungry, and had one of those charmed streaks where they managed to force a turnover at just the right time, whenever they needed it.

Since those days, the timely turnovers have disappeared, and players have openly questioned the hunger of the team. Change is on the horizon, and naturally, some of the conversation has turned back to the same one we've had before: "Maybe we should change the scheme!"

However, any change in scheme needs to be done for the right reasons, and I'm not sure the Packers have always chosen their schematic overhauls because it was the best idea at the time. In fact, I would guess it might have been to give General Manager Ted Thompson an opportunity to target tweener players that drop down the charts because they don't fit the traditional 4-3 mold. And, there's nothing Thompson loves more than drafting a guy he likes later on draft day rather than sooner.

Following the hiring of coach Mike McCarthy in 2006, he decided to implement the Zone Blocking Scheme, a simple idea that the Denver Broncos worked to perfection in the 1990's with Terrell Davis. The concept was straightforward: get a bunch of guys who all block one direction (with the end tackle laying a chop block on the back of someone's leg), and run the ball with a running back who merely had to make one cut and charge upfield.

It worked great....for the Broncos. But by the time the Packers decided to opt into the ZBS, not only had the idea been copied throughout the league, many teams (such as the Atlanta Falcons) were already trying to phase it out: a painful process, as the entire OL personnel needed to be overhauled. Seems that the "ZBS body type" wasn't conducive to a traditional scheme.

But it allowed Thompson to quickly draft the three offensive linemen of the future: Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, and Tony Moll, all ZBS-style bodies that would be projects in a traditional system. Instead, they were all plucked into the starting lineup as rookies.

In the end, none of the three wear the green and gold anymore, and the ZBS has slowly been changed out for a more traditional, pulling-guard offense that features "mean-and-nasty" linemen like Josh Sitton and TJ Lang.  Oh, for a time the ZBS seemed functional, particularly when Ryan Grant (perhaps the only true ZBS-style back the Packers have had in the backfield) slashed his one-cut-and-run for a couple of 1,000-yard seasons.

But, in the end, it was never anything near what the Broncos had achieved with Terrell Davis, and for good reason. The Broncos tailored the offense to maximize the talent they had on the roster. The Packers chose an offense, then searched for talent that might fit into it.

The 3-4 defense, installed after the debacle of 2008, was perhaps an attempt to modify the defensive schemery around the talent they had at the time. At that point, the Packers were struggling to keep healthy defensive linemen on the field, while possessing a deep stable of young, promising linebackers. The 3-4, originating with the Steelers, had proven to be an effective counter to the West Coast Offense's shifty misdirection, and by 2009, a cadre of NFL teams had already adopted the scheme.

Not coincidentally at all, Thompson used his draft position to take on two ideal 3-4 defensive bodies: defensive tackle BJ Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews, both in the first round. They would go on to play integral roles in the Packers' Super Bowl drive in their second seasons.

But the Packers' defense appears to be faltering, falling to a league-worst in 2011 and following it up with yet another playoff embarrassment in 2012. The calls have gone out far and wide for the firing of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, which doesn't appear likely. Nor should it: simply firing someone out of anger or frustration without a viable plan to improve upon it is foolish business.

But no truer words have been spoken than the words uttered by Thompson recently, who said that "If you're not getting better, you're getting worse." Every element of this team will be under scrutiny, but the main question is "How is it going to get better?"

My advice would be to return to a 4-3 defense, but not for the reasons you might expect. I don't believe that the 4-3 in and of itself is going to be a silver bullet that will turn this team around. It is the kind of move, however, that is going to allow the Packers to start looking for talented football players to stock their roster, not guys who fit a particular scheme that can be drafted further down the board as value picks.

Case in point: whenever I mention the idea of returning to a traditional 4-3, the first response I hear is "But, what are you going to do with Clay Matthews?? He's a 3-4 linebacker? You'd be limiting our best defensive player by making him a 4-3 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end!!! What about his sacks??"

Seriously? Yes, Clay Matthews is our best defensive player, perhaps head-and-shoulders above the rest of the team this year. My colleague John Rehor once said he'd grade out CMIII this season as an A, while he'd give the rest of the defense an F.  But just because he's our best defensive player doesn't mean that you handicap the rest of the defense in order to keep him in his A+ position.

Would you rather have a dominant, playmaking Clay Matthews playing on a defense that keeps giving up 200+ yards on the ground to a running back or a running quarterback, or a less dominant Matthews contributing on a defense that can stop opposing offenses in the playoffs? Which do you think Matthews would rather be on?

The idea of keeping Matthews in his always-pass-rushing-playmaker role as a higher priority than the necessities of playing defense in today's NFL is ridiculous. The Packers have Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and RGIII all as possible opponents in the playoffs next season. We're going to continue to play the way we have been, with no adjustments (as usual), hoping eventually that the opposing quarterback will just get so tired of running for so many yards that he'll eventually give up?

As the Falcons and the Packers discovered with the Zone Blocking Scheme, stocking your roster with limited range and skill to fit that scheme will come back to bite you when it doesn't work, and you have to switch back to something else. The Packers are at a crossroads, and the time has come to evolve the defense into something that can handle the read-option offense. And the West Coast Offense. And an Adrian Peterson-power-led offense. And any other offense that comes along.

In other words, we just need to put the best men we have out there, and adjust the schemes to fit the best talent we can find balanced against the opposition we're facing. No more looking down the draft charts for the "would be a good 3-4 linebacker" or "could be a playmaker in the right scheme". Let's get the "can be a dominant player in any scheme" guys whenever we can.

And, I personally don't believe that Clay Matthews is that limited in a schematic change anyway. He's a monster out there, able to hit and find the ball. Yes, he's a great pass rusher. The problem is that he's presently our only pass rusher, and he can't get there every time. So, instead of continuing to try and find 3-4 players to surround Matthews, surround him with great football players.  Allow the talent on the field to dictate what kind of defense you are going to run. And if that 3-4 isn't going to cut it, go with what works.

If Matthews gets only four sacks and loses some endorsements, but the Packers' defense puts them in a position to take on any offense in the playoffs and come out on top, it's worth it for everyone involved, particularly the fans. If Matthews gets 15 sacks, is featured in every commercial during the game, and the Packers continue to lay eggs in the playoffs...well, what are you watching football for?

The Cowboys are switching to a 4-3 this season. So are the Dolphins and the Jets (partially). Meanwhile, the Saints are switching to the 3-4, and the Panthers and the Browns may be close behind. There's no hard-and-fast rule here, gang.

Except that if you keep doing what isn't working, there's a whole lot of people that may end up on the unemployment line. Let's quit chasing the perfect scheme and start chasing the most talented players and design the scheme around them.

After all, isn't that how schemes are created in the first place?


C.D. Angeli is a lifelong Packer fan and feature writer for You can hear him on Cheesehead Radio on BlogTalkRadio and co-commands the Packers Talk Radio Network. Follow him on Twitter at @TundraVision.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (75) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

zeke's picture

"It is the kind of move, however, that is going to allow the Packers to start looking for talented football players to stock their roster, not guys who fit a particular scheme that can be drafted further down the board as value picks."

Don't they do this already (look for talented players, I mean)? And specifically what is it about the 4-3 that makes it more likely to be successful against a WCO or read-option/pistol or whatever else is out there? I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, just wondering what you're basing this on.

tundravision's picture

It's not that the 4-3 is more effective, but that it would be a base more suited to the offenses that are prevelant in the NFL right now. Again, the scheme itself isn't the silver bullet..its a matter of working the scheme around the players.

zeke's picture

I guess that's my question: why is a 4-3 more effective than a 3-4 against these offenses? I may be missing something, bit it seems on the one hand you are saying that it's not the scheme, it's the players, but that switching back to a 4-3 would be better because it is a more effective scheme against these particular offenses. Why?

And as for TT getting off on being able to "reach" for players late in the draft, I doubt that has anything to do with why they are running a 3-4. If his motivation for running this scheme is so that he can make "value picks further down the draft board", this team wouldn't have had near the success it has had over the past several years. You seem to be arguing that Thompson drafts in a way that feeds his ego, but I don't see it.

jmac34's picture

Not all of the best players fit into the 4/3 either. No matter what scheme you choose some players don't have a place in a certain scheme and a 4/3 isn't going to magically make players like AJ Hawk and Erik Walden better. The 3/4 scheme isn't the issue. It's who is on the field and to an extent the person calling the plays. Teams that are switching to a new system are teams that have new coordinators who are experianced in running a 3/4 and most of them have questions about the players who need to switch. You say they should not fire Capers but you suggest they switch to a scheme that he has little experiance in. That makes no sense whatsoever.

tundravision's picture

I didn't say they shouldn't fire Capers. I said they need a plan of attack first. If Capers can be a part of it and can adapt to it, then so be it. If not, then they need to bring in someone who can. The sad part is I believed Dom was the guy who would always design his defenses around his players (remember the fun creative-name fronts he would employ?). Just not doing it anymore.

razor's picture

More talent improves any scheme. And if you don't have the talent (Bishop, Jenkins, Collins, Perry), you can't play as aggressive no matter what the scheme. So in the SF game aggressive calls exposed the defense to big plays. Being less aggressive doesn't sound very exciting, and I don't care for the bend but don't break concept, but it might have give GB a better chance against SF. Hope we can get more talent on defense next year and don't have to wait for it "to develop".

cow42's picture

Neal - Pickett - Raji - Perry

CMIII - Bishop - Smith

= pretty sweet front 7

Jamie's picture

They could run this similar to Denver's 4-3, where Von Miller (Matthews) essentially plays your typical 3-4 OLB, and on the opposite side Dumervil/Ayers (Perry) plays more of your classic 4-3 DE...hand in the dirt dropping into coverage much less (zone dogs, etc).

Tibbits's picture

I agree with this in theory. Honestly, I think Capers was best when he was less concerned about the players labels and more concerned with being creative. The point of his defense was disguising pressure and I think we've gone away from that too much. I wonder if lack of sure tackling in the secondary is what ended up killing that kind of scheme. Anyway. I think the defense takes a positive step next year as long as they are healthy. Having a healthy Perry and Bishop by themselves will do wonders for our defense.

Jersey Al's picture

... with NO pass rush. Not exactly the 49ers or Giants front fours...

Chad Toporski's picture

Exactly what I was thinking, Al. We just don't have the lineman for a 4-3.

cow42's picture

perry is a 4-3 lineman

cow42's picture

and i don't think we have the linemen for the 3-4.

pickett should be a nose not an end
raji's best abilities are wasted on the nose
neal is closer to a 4-3 end than a 3-4 end IMO

... and they're all too short.

other than pickett (who's playing out of position) they're all actually 4-3 tackles.

and i think neal would be a good 4-3 end if you took 10 pounds off him.

yes - in the 3-4 matthews is playing his ideal position but...


are all out of position.

would CMIII's sacks go down? yup.
but i bet perry's, raji's, worthy's, and neal's would all go up.

in reality - who cares what base they're in? they're in nickel and dime more than anything.

nick perry's picture

Exactly! I have to agree with you cow42. Last years draft had 4 perfect players for a 4-3 defense. Perry, Worthy, Daniels, and Manning are all better suited for a 4-3.

Brian's picture

I think in a lot of cases the draft pick was matched to the scheme and your point is correct...draft the best player and adapt the scheme. I would suggest that somehow as offensive schemes evolve, defenses must evolve, too. I believe that is how the nickel and dime defenses have been a reaction to 3-5 WR sets. I would bet that many d-coordinators will work on schemes this off-season to stop the pistol/read option etc. Again, as you stated, we need the best players to be effective no matter what scheme is used. tough task for a GM to find enough really good players that can perform in a wide variety of schemes!

jeremy's picture

I think what you should be asking for is a move to a hybrid defense like the Ravens use. They've got a spot for every technique along the defensive line. The Packers could let Clay Matthews do what he does best and let Nick Perry put his hand down more than cover.

However, all of it is moot because Capers is Static and despite his Binders full of plays he has shown zero ability to adapt.

tundravision's picture

If the hybrid is what they use that makes them better, with the talent they have, then that's what they should go with.

David's picture

So the first half of the article is spent convincing me that schemes don't really matter, and then spend a lot of the middle telling me they should switch.

The Packers running a 34 defense is a tremendous oversimplification. How often do they actually run base?

Even if they moved to the 43, and they did draft a few guys namely Daniels, who while they play in 34 defense, play in more 43 concepts on passing downs when rushing the passer. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil do fine as a 43 OLB because the Broncos scheme around their best player.

Not all 34 defenses are created equal. For example, Wade Phillips 34 is drastically different from the Pittsburgh 34.

tundravision's picture

Interestingly enough, David, how often do you hear about new schemes like "Big Okie" and "Psycho"? Remember when Capers was constantly experimenting, like putting a linebacker back at safety?

We aren't seeing that anymore, and that's part of the problem. Worse yet, we're refusing to make adjustments when its clear its not working.

JimZ's picture

The no Adjustments thing drove me crazy and you know that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The defense played better when Raji was out and Pickett was in the middle this year.


Evan's picture

This doesn't make any sense.

In your argument in favor of switching to the 4-3, you say "we just need to put the best men we have out there, and adjust the schemes to fit the best talent we can find" while also acknowledging that the 4-3 isn't ideally suited for Clay Matthews' talents.

If he's our best defensive player, as you say, then we just need to put the best men we have out there (Clay), and adjust the schemes to fit the best talent we can find (that's the 3-4).

There is no evidence to conclude that a switch to the 4-3 would "stop opposing offenses in the playoffs."

The defense needs more play makers, no doubt, but I just don't understand the logic you're presenting.

Jamie's picture

Not to mention the two SB teams this season (as well as the 2010 season) are both 3-4 DEFs.

Evan's picture

Also, this faulty comparison stuck out to me: "But the Packers’ defense appears to be faltering, falling to a league-worst in 2011 and following it up with yet another playoff embarrassment in 2012."

You make no mention that statistically they made huge strides this year: from dead last to 11th in total defense. That's a remarkable turnaround. Yes, they need more playmakers. But I think it's silly to focus entirely on one game, as ugly as it was.

cow42's picture

remove the stats for a second and tell me what you thought of 2012's defense.

be honest.

did you ever trust it?

do you think it was the 11th best defense in the league?

Evan's picture

I trusted it more than 2011's defense, that's for sure.

cow42's picture

better than last year doesn't make it good... just less bad.

Evan's picture

And that's all my point ever was: they've improved. And with some injured guys back and hopefully some quality draft picks, they should continue to do so.

PackerAaron's picture

It also means it's improving - but god forbid we look at both the positive and negative.

tundravision's picture

Faulty comparison?

Come on. Mike Sherman was chased out of town with pitchforks and torches because all he did was win division championships but couldn't win in the postseason. You're going to tell me a regular season bump between playoff failures is supposed to be "the rest of the story"?

I'm certainly not advocating for anyone to be fired or chased out of town, but let's be serious: in this town, what you've done in the playoffs is going to be the measuring stick we go by. We're not going to be preparing our team to better prepare for the Lions next year...we're going to find a way to crack the Kaepernick puzzle.

Evan's picture

Yeah, it's a faulty comparison and it ignores a lot of other info for the sake of your argument. Sort of like pre-determining a defensive scheme and then shoe horning the available players into it.

Another point you leave out is that of those two bookend playoff failures, 2011 was more of an offensive failing than defensive.

My only real point is that to discount all the progress made in 2012 because of one bad (historically bad, yes) game seems shortsighted.

Whether they run a 3-4 or a 4-3, this defense needs to get (and stay) healthy and uncover a couple more playmakers for the front 7.

Tyler's picture

How can you dismiss the 3-4 defense when 3 out of 4 teams in the conference championship the last two years and both super bowl teams this year run the 3-4?

tundravision's picture

Because those teams have the personnel to run the 3-4. Given our last few playoff performances, I think its fair to examine whether we have the right fit, talent to scheme, that we need to make it to the conference championships or the Super Bowl. Because we are not in any of those games, and running a 3-4 isn't a magic bullet.

Incidentally, would you like a list of teams that also run the 3-4 that didn't even make the playoffs?

Turophile's picture

Too much emphasis on either the 3-4 or the 4-3.

We have guys more suited to the 4-3 (Perry, Daniels for example) and guys more suited to the 3-4 (eg Matthews, Wilson)so why not line up in both the 4-3 and the 3-4, using whatever you want in the game. New England have done that.

Chris's picture

My main suspicion why the Packers are lacking is still the coaching part. They drafted several players high for their defense, but most of them did not work out the way they wanted.
Who on the defensive side improved their performance in the years Capers has been D coordinator? You could argue Matthews, maybe even Bishop (if healthy). But most have regressed (Raji, Walden, Williams, Burnett) just to name some of them.
Shouldn't the coaching staff make players better?

About scheme: I don't see that the Packers have more defensive personal who are a better fit for a 4-3 defense. Plus the scheme alone can't fix the problem with running QBs on other offenses. You need to free up a man to cover the QB should he opt to run the ball, and that means probably putting your CB 1-on-1 against WRs. Plus you need to practice against this kind of offense to know exactly what you need to do on defense.

The league will figure it out eventually, so will the Packers.

Chris Davis's picture

I agree! Coaching players "up" is what wins Play-off Games. The last time that occurred was in our last Superbowl win. Kevin Green coached CM3 up and he communicated with Picket to cause a game changing fumble. That is what the packers need on a continual basis to be successful.

kennypayne's picture

You are correct about the high picks on D.

I'd say it is about time someone coaches up the hight Packer draft pick in decades Hawk and we tap into all that amazing natural talent he has kept hidden the past 7 years.

It is not TT's fault he selected AJ right ahead of 3 guys who are all pro-bowl worthy and will be playing in the Super Bowl next week, it is the coaches fault for not getting more out of our superstar LBer -- the one we've paid $50Million to.

Brooklyn81's picture

Hybrid/Multiple defense. We need to be prepared for whatever offense type we are going to face

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

New England'ish.

redlights's picture

I also believe that we should run the Baltimore style defense, with players to plug in for more combinations. I thought that the 4-3/3-4 combo was the sparkle of last years' training camp.

If we plug Bishop, Perry and Worthy back from injuries, with their expected in-season development (like the DB's), I think there would have been a better outcome.

As far as going to 4-3; I would think that you'd want more 260 lb LB's chasing a QB, then 290 lb DL's. I don't see the 4-3 giving better results, proof is that no one (as yet) has beaten SF in the playoff's.

Where I think the answer lies is in more Dlinemen to get more versatiliy for heavy vs fast sets. Why do we need 6 or 7 WR's on the roster (practice squad is adequate for them), instead of 7 Dlinemen? MM's infatuation with the passing game has decimated our "trenches". 7 Olinemen and 6 Dlinemen is one short each. I'm not NFL caliber by any stretch, but tell me why Jarrett Bush can't be the sixth receiver and be taught to run a shallow crossing route? I understand that there are complex reads, but for the 5 times a year that we put 5 WR's on a play, more creativity could give the roster a boost.

Bottom line: keep Capers; draft two Dlinemen (heavy is better) and two LBers to bolster the D; and then whatever TT sees best. Get our players healthy and give it another go next year. No panic, just more thought. Remember, you can't teach speed or size.

rjw's picture

Switching to a 4-3 makes no sense. Today's offenses can be defended better with one more agile LB instead of a 300+ lineman. What we need is toughness and discipline... not Waldon moving inside his lane to allow the QB to run around him or Hawk being strong-armed by a RB because he hasn't squared his shoulders and bent his knees to tackle low, or T. Williams running away from contact with a RB like a pop warner kid whose afraid of getting hurt. The solution is crystal clear -- tougher/meaner/disciplined players and coaching that demands players adhere to the fundamentals of football.

Tarynfor12's picture

This team can look and scream long as they are standing across the street when doing so.

Winning in the trenches players need to have the self-confidence in themselves and the physicallity to do thing is for sure about them..they know they don't and the reason why the fight is easily lost.

lebowski's picture

Just throw 11 linebackers out there and see what happens

cow42's picture

i think i want Capers fired and the scheme changed because if the problem isn't the coach or the scheme that means it's the players.

Admitting that the players aren't good is depressing. It takes a long time to get better players (when you only get to add through the draft).

So if the problem truly is that the players aren't good/tough enough, then Rodgers' best seasons are going to be wasted while the defense slowly improves... by adding 3 or 4 draft picks a year (and hoping that 1 or 2 of them actually "come through").

God - I hope it's the scheme.

God's picture

Sorry to inform you, cow, but it's the players.
But have a good weekend!

ron's picture

It does not matter what type defense or offense you run its how you run it.Packers have 500 schemes and master of none.How many times did Rodgers reset another player or the defense wavy arms in air totally confused.Lombardi had few plays but ran them to perfection.

Chad Toporski's picture

Considering the Ravens and Steelers have made their defensive names with the 3-4, I don't see anything wrong with the scheme. If its the run we're trying to stop, those two defenses were the top run stuffers you could find.

It's not about the 3-4.

cow42's picture

that means the players aren't any good.
that sucks.

tundravision's picture

Teams that run the 3-4 defense:

Arizona Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
Green Bay Packers
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints
New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
Washington Redskins

If you use the premise that the 49ers and Ravens are running the 3-4 defense, what does having the Eagles, Jets, and Cardinals also running it? Does that mean if we run the 3-4, we are doomed to not make the playoffs, too?

Come on, people. The whole point of the article was NOT to copy what everyone else is doing. The point of the article is to place talent and ability dictate the scheme that we use.

Chad Toporski's picture

I just don't get the call for a massive makeover on defense when they played one bad game against the eventual NFC Champions. The Packers allowed 21 points per game during the season, good for 11th in the league. The 49ers scored more points on the Packers in that playoff game than any other team this season.

I understand how much it sucks to lose like that in the playoffs, but you can't throw the whole season away in the face of one single game.

This defense is improving, period. We can't all suddenly forget what happened for 17 games and make decisions based on the 18th one. Green Bay's defense played well this year, and they've shown lots of improvement from 2011. Considering the fact that they lost a number of key players on the unit, I'd say we shouldn't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Brian's picture

What about the 2 games against Minnesota where they couldn't stop AP? I think it was more than just one playoff game where our d-sucked.

imfubared's picture

I don't know what team your watching but I see a defensive that again, two years in a row, had trouble getting off the field.
Teams know how to play the packer d and its run baby run and pass for short 10 yard dink passes and the d begins to wilt.
Yes we have key players hurt but yes the D sucked in pre season, the D sucked with our top people in, and sucked with them out. Other than Mathews there is not ONE game changer on this D.
We've drafted for position and not the best player available because T doesn't want to pay that highly rated player the money. Its biting us in the arse and will be much worse next year. Packers 5-11.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Eagles ran a 34 last year?

Bruce Kennett's picture


KurtMc's picture

Agree, that 3/4 or 4/3 doesn't matter. coaching and game planning does. lso, an excellent point about 7 WRs. Our D line should rotate with 7 d linemen.

I personally believe that the days of set Defenses are soon over and D's are going to have to morph in some hybrid set to compensate for the new Offensive happy NFL.

The rules all favor offensive scoring. A hybrid D will be will able to slow down, somewhat, by confusion the high octane offenses.

Remember, "The big okie" ? Effective because it was new and confusing.

So the real question is do we have flexible players and coaches? I don't know.

cow42's picture

hard to be flexible as a coach when your players can't even do basic stuff right... or are limited talent-wise.

let's be honest - the Packers have Matthews, Hayward, Raji (sometimes) and Bishop (if he can come back and be effective - and he's not getting any younger). Every other player is just a "guy". And, really, only Matthews is in the top 5 players at his respective position.

not a lot of talent.

Chad m's picture 3-4 is very successful IF you have three down linemen AND two Mlb's that stuff the run. Capers went to one and two down linemen which does not work. Hawk is a horrible mlb'er that gets a ton of tackles 7 yards past the LOS. Capers needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and get mother middle lb with good run stopping power and keep three DL's n the field AT ALL TIMES. It's not rocket science, but it is physics... 250 pound lbs taking on 310 OL lose all the ime when the 310 OL does not have to block 325 pound DL's.

Ray's picture

I believe the "4-3" scheme and "3-4" schemes are a thing of the past. Today's defenses need to change from week to week, for team to team. The Packers have too many single role oriented players. We need fast outside linebackers who can play defensive end and linebacker depending on the weeks opponent. We need a strong safety who can play linebacker and cover a reciever. All Defensive linemen need to be able to hold up two blockers. Primary draft needs are a fast, aggressive linebacker and an all around football player at strong safety. (a younger Charles Woodson).

John's picture

I completely agree with a movement to the 4-3 defense. Our best player on defense, Clay Matthews can be neutralized for a majority of a game (especially in the playoffs) by a QB that gets rid of the ball quickly and most of these QBs have a stud left tackle along with someone chipping on him several plays. Why not let Clay Matthews be a traditional linebacker with specific roles based on who they play. With offenses facing the prospect of Clay blitzing from any number of gaps and/or shadowing a running QB, we can get defenses worried about where Clay is lined up rather than knowing where he is lined up. If you review the San Francisco tape, you will se our defensive line got liitle to no push/penetration which allowed Kapernick to execute quality RB fakes, move down the line of scrimmage and around the end. If we can beef up our DE push, that will force these running QBs to get deeper in their option roll out and allow our LBs more time to get an angle for the tackle.
It is very clear to me, that we have a defense with many talented players, but players that play with far less toughness than the Ravens and 49ers. Do we have any DBs that really line up to light someone up? I think we have a lot of players that are protecting their bodies and future when tackling which is understandable from a medical standpoint, but this approach is not going to beat the top teams in NFL.

tundravision's picture

Right now, opposing offenses only really need to worry about where Matthews is and contain him. They really haven't had many other concerns on a consistent basis...and that's a problem.

Jamie's picture

Can't believe nobody's even mentioned the 5-2... :(

tundravision's picture

Actually, a few years ago, I was touting the idea of a 3-3-5 with a linebacker-hybrid playing one of the defensive backs, with Woodson in mind. A month later, Capers came out with the Big Okie, with Brandon Chillar playing in the backfield.

Didn't really work, but points for thinking out of the box!

djbonney138's picture

I want the scheme that makes our guys tackle better.

Ruppert's picture

We barely have enough D linemen now for a 34. If we go to a more consistent 4 man front, we will need more linemen to rotate in to keep guys fresh as well as fill in for banged up/injured players as the year would drag on.

I don't think we have anybody currently on the roster who will step in and be a quality pass-rushing 4-3 D end, either.

We need better players in our front 7 no matter what scheme we run, and that's all there is to it. Specifically, we need better linebackers than we ended the year with, except for Clay. Seriously, would Walden or Jones start for any other team in the league? No way. Hawk is average at best. And those guys aren't going to get any better in a 43.

tundravision's picture

That's exactly my point: we're going to have to get better talent-wise, and my point is to get the best players in here (as well as growing our own best players from within) regardless of scheme. The more flexible we can be (instead of getting guys who can only play a 3-4 DE or OLB) makes us a better defense in the long run.

imfubared's picture

I'm shocked to learn the packers have a D. Really? No kidding? I must of missed it as they were giving up a ton of rushing yards to everyone who came out of the backfield with the ball, and all those tall receivers reaching over the top of our 5'8 defensive backs.
Opposing QB's could have read the newspaper in the pocket this year it was that bad

PackersRS's picture

The Packers have a "rule" that no CB can be short of 5'11".

DB is not the problem. Sure, they're not 6'2", but those Seattle guys are a rarity. Usually, DBs that tall can't run.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't see stopping Kaepernick as a 3-4 issue. I think that is about lane discipline and having a player you can use to spy who does NOT also happen to be your best sack artist. I also don't buy that Perry can't be an All-Pro 3-4 OLB. Said it last year, I'll say it again - the Packers are hoping he will be their LaMar Woodley. If there is a problem, it is between Perry's ears, and not because he can't play the position. And it is all about getting play-makers. Right now, for stopping Kaepernick I like Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas. Good enough speed. Exceptional size for a S. Can cover and can lay the wood. Most safeties who lay the wood have their bodies break down. Vaccaro has enough size that he can take it. I would love to see TT do what it takes to get him in the 1st round. I've seen him going anywhere from 10-30.

Brooklyn81's picture

Hell no we do not need a SS in the first. We really need to do whatever it takes to get this Margus Hunt kid from SMU. IMPROVE THE TRENCHES = IMPROVE YOUR TEAM

cow42's picture


... with an Estonian who's' 6'8" (too tall), 275# (too light), 25 years old (too old), and has played like 2 years of football (too inexperienced).

great idea.

MarkinMadison's picture

Margus Hunt got eaten up at the Senior Bowl. Listen to the interview that Carriveau did last week.

imfubared's picture

Love your article. Very thoughful. I would like to throw in that it should have been written at the end of last year. Why. The Packers changed nothing this year over last and we did nothing on defense.
I see an unwillingness to change on this team. Like, well we won the super bowl so we must know what were doing. If we just had the right scheme players.....

Lets look at what you said in regards to the Vikes. They drafted two people last year that made the Pro Bowl as rookies. ONe provided the Vikes with the best kicking game in the NFL, the other kept the QB protected.
Over the years the Vikes sucess has lied just in what you expound: drafting the best player available when your pick comes and drafting players who are game changers.
This year Ted picked Perry who was a marginal DE, not a game changer and Worthy who was rated a third pick at best and analyst said, he got lost in games often.
The best teams draft game changers not people who fit a scheme.
Last, if the Pack played a 3-4 that would be one thing but you look at the films and you see constantly a 5 or 6 man rush with two backers trying to stop the run and cover the wide runs. That hasn't worked for two years.
I personally have always thought Mathews would be a monster in the middle and not on the line. I too agree his pass rushing skills are killing this team because he is it, no one else is doing anything but standing around waiting for him to so something.

Evan's picture

"Over the years the Vikes success..."

What success is that exactly??

I also like how you single out Perry and Worthy while ignoring the DROY finalist Hayward.

MarkinMadison's picture

"What success is that exactly??"

You know, like the year they went 15-1 and then missed the Super Bowl. Boy, I wish the Packers could have a year like that one of these days.

PackersRS's picture

It's not scheme it's game planning and play calling.

On both sides of the ball.

A dominant player on both lines wouldn't hurt.

imfubared's picture

I like to read and listen to the experst whose job it is is to evaluate talent. When I hear 'this guy will be a work in progress kind of guy' or 'this guy has a tendency to go missing in games' that scares the heck our of me if were talking a one or two pick.
Hey, if these are six round picks no problemo. However, I absolutly believe last years draft was a pieced of crap by Ted.
The Vikes draft two guys who go to the pro bowl? We draft a number one who was passed over by 28 other teams and was not rated a one pick, a number two who went missing in games as a two pick and both proved the analyast correct.
Neither did didly squat last year.
I had to listen to three pack games on the radio and never once heard Worthys name mentioned. Perry not much more.
Both have something in common: they make a play and then go missing in the game.
Lets hope Ted changes things up this year and drafts the best player available.

The Vikes are deep in talent except wide receivers and this year they can shore that up as well so don't expect two easy wins from them. The Lions will be better and again only need a bonecrushing Safety to get a lot better, and the Bears are close.
I see six loses in our division next year unless Ted comes up with some solutions and gets players who are game changers not just bodies.

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