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Woodson: "Find Ways To Get Clay To The Quarterback"

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Woodson: "Find Ways To Get Clay To The Quarterback"

Charles Woodson has been known to speak his mind when it comes to not only his own play and the play of his teammates, but Dom Capers' handling of the defense as well.

Woodson had plenty to say regarding all of the above after the game yesterday, but it was one bit in particular that caught my attention.

Said Woodson:

We have to find ways to get Clay to the quarterback whatever that may be. Draw some things up for him and just let him do his thing. We can't continue to allow him to be stuck on the side and double-teamed every time he gets upfield. So I think for us, finding ways to get him to be the 'Claymaker,' which he is. We've got to find some ways to get him to the quarterback.

I could not agree more.

It's interesting to note that all three of the Packers interceptions came on plays where Capers sent five or more and all of Rivers' touchdown throws came on plays where Capers sent four.

Now, that doesn't mean much of anything other than show the correlation between putting pressure on the quarterback and sacks and/or turnovers. It's no great mystery. What is curious is how Capers continues to use Matthews in such a predictable manner, usually lining him up on his customary left side, sometimes stunting him into the middle of the line, occasionally dropping him into coverage.

But more often than not, opposing offenses can set their protections knowing where Matthews will be coming from. It's no surprise to see Erik Walden getting close a few times, as he was facing a bunch of one on ones due to the attention being paid to Matthews on the opposite side.

Another concern, and as I've learned this year I am about to touch the Third Rail of Packer Punditry here, is that when Matthews does get his one on one opportunities - he's simply not winning them.

Woodson's lament is also notable because the Packers and Capers had an extra week to gameplan. Yet despite the extra time, Capers seemed to not have dialed up much in the way of new looks for getting Matthews free. Looking around the league, you see premier pass rushers like Demarcus Ware or Terrelle Suggs being moved all across the defensive front. One would think Capers would want to use his best pass rusher in a similar manner.

It will be interesting to see if Woodson's complaint prods Capers into action on this front. Obviously, the secondary can only benefit from Matthews getting to the quarterback more often, and right now this secondary can use all the help it can get.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Chris's picture

Something that I have been thinking about - though I'm not sure it's plausible - is it possible that Capers is going vanilla as long as they are winning to ensure that he has something new to show once they hit the playoffs?
Does it matter if they win ugly as long as they win the division? If you don't show your cards when it doesn't really matter then your opponents won't have anything to scheme against when it does matter.

What do you think?

packeraaron's picture

I've wondered the same thing. No idea, though it seems unlikely.

MCS's picture

I was thinking the same thing. Just do enough to win. Perhaps Capers did install some new looks over the bye. They just haven't rolled them out yet.

Remember that this wasn't even a conference game, let alone a division game. If there is a game you can afford to lose, this was it.

I hope they have new plays in place that they just haven't rolled out yet. I also hope it doesn't come back to bite them.

Evan's picture

It's interesting.

During these tight final minutes of games, the defense does seem to step it up a bit, especially in the pressure department.

I'd love to read an analysis of the difference in defensive scheme/effectiveness between the final defensive stands vs. the previous 57 minutes.

dougie smooth's picture

I don't think Capers is holding back to surprise people later, but I do think what McCarthy needs out of the defense is much different this year than last year -- now that the offense is consistently putting up 35 points per game instead of sputtering every other game like most of last season. It might be bend-but-don't-break by design. Even if that is the case, they're still not doing a very good job of it.

packsmack25's picture

This has been my theory all year. Capers is an evil genius and he's giving other teams "bad tape" on purpose.

cow42's picture

Then why would Woodson be saying anything. Wouldn't he know "the plan"?

Evan's picture

That's the genius of it!

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Lol. Hope you're right Smack.

Evan's picture

It's really starting to get worrisome and I don't get it. You'll see Clay one-on-one, trying to speed rush around the edge and the tackle just eats him up.

All last year he'd chop the guys arms, dip his shoulder, and get around the edge, but I don't think I've seen him do it once this year.

Mel's picture

Is Raji hurt?? I think all the snaps are killing him. Why is Green not going more snaps?? He proved in the SB that he can get a pass rush. Praying that Neal can get back sometime cause this is getting sick.

mrjnumber1's picture

also, send bishop more. i swear no one but he could win his matchups rushing the passer...

AJKUHN's picture

I would still love to see improvement, but I can't help but wonder if the usual score difference has serious influence regarding the opponents offensive play calls. In a game where you are down by 21 your risk vs reward equation changes and you are more willing to sling some crazy stuff out there. It would be nice to stop more of it, but with guys like Rivers, some of it will payoff big, but you also throw three picks. I suspect the play at the safety position has a lot to do with the secondaries issues. Hopefully each game will bring some improvement.

Evan's picture

I still think it'll improve. I think the communication issues that seem to be leading to many of the big plays will get straightened out with practice and Burnett/Peprah getting more seasoned.

Crede's picture

Maybe trade Matt Flynn and 2012 1st round draft pick to Denver for Von Miller?

packeraaron's picture

I don't know if you're serious, but the trade deadline has passed.

Crede's picture

Aaron, I was thinking of next year. A sign and trade deal with Flynn. I got to believe the Pack has to address the defensive line and outside LB somehow in the off season.

djprotege's picture

Dd you see Woodson interview? Not happy at all.....

cow42's picture




packeraaron's picture


CSS's picture


cow42's picture


CSS's picture

That's funny, doesn't appear to be stuck below and you can preview your posts before submitting.

cow42's picture


PackersRS's picture


FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture


packsmack25's picture

He is and he has been. Where is the confusion?

cow42's picture

No way is he better this year.
I'm getting so sick of hearing/reading this.
Stats are for losers.
Watch the game.
You have to look to find the guy.
Last year he exploded off of the screen every game.

He just went up against arguably the worst tackle tandem he will see all year... and got bubkus.

Even one on one he got engulfed.

Yes - he is hurt.
Maybe - he's more complete.
NO - he is not BETTER.

In my book "more complete" does not equal "better".

His two most memorable plays yesterday were a block he made and a missed tackle where he got shucked by tolbert.

Go ahead - tell me about all the pressures and hurries he got... sure seemed to bother rivers. kept him from getting 400 yards passing I guess.

Screw playing the run. Give me the old Clay. No team gets to run consistently against the Pack anyhow - beacause as soon as they walk out of the tunnel they're down 2 scores.


That means the OLB position will not get to 10 this year.
That's pathetic.

They're gonna be able to get away with this garbage D during the regular season. And they may be able to get away with it against most NFC playoff teams. But they DO NOT match up well with 2 teams...

The Lions

The Eagles

Mark my words... if they see either of those teams in the playoffs, and the D still resembles the D we're seeing right now, THEY WILL LOSE.

Evan's picture

Why, exactly, don't they match up well with the Eagles or Lions?

cow42's picture

Both teams can score with the Packers.
Both teams can get pressure with 4.

The way the Packers are playing right now, the offense can not make even a single mistake.

packsmack25's picture


But I marked your words. We'll see if you bother showing up to eat them.

CSS's picture

The entire premise behind your season long rant with Matthews is sacks and the box score.

You say 'complete' does not equal 'better', then turn around and basically argue that your idea of better turns on his sack numbers only. Brilliant.....

Are the Packers a flawed team, absolutely. Are they by far the least flawed team in either conference, yes. Unless of course you're arguing via box score again and haven't really watched other teams in the league play.

PackersRS's picture

If he were arguing over box score he would've seen that we've won every single game by at least one TD.

CSS's picture

He would have also noticed that Detroit is a very flawed defensive unit outside of their pass rush and the Eagles may not even make the playoffs unless they can find away to play with a lead due to how bad their run defense coupled with a bad back 7 really are.

Oh ya, Detroit can't run the ball and Stafford looks like a regression from Hill at this time last year.

PackersRS's picture

If he went 10 passing plays against those tackles it's too much. Double teamed almost every single time. Even with stunts.

I did have that worry about him and I came back and re-watched the Broncos game. The explosion is there. The power is there. The agility is there. It's a combination of things, but mostly is him being double teamed. Up until that point, and as far as the Vikings game if I'm not mistaken, Clay led the league in combined sacks, hurries and QB hits.

Strahan in his record year recorded 3.75 sacks every 100 dropbacks. Just to put things in perspective. He's not supposed to win 1-on-1s every time, regardless of opposing player. When he's getting them, he's winning them in a good rate, not as much as the first 3 games of last year because 1) it was an abnormality, profootballfocus said it was the best 3 game stretch of any pass rusher ever, 2) getting double teamed on almost every single play tires him up quickier, and 3) Capers' scheme changed, Matthews seldomly rushes the passer without gap responsability, which pratically negates his best asset that is the speed rush.

Judging things from what pop out on the TV or not is not smart and let's leave it at that. ESPN loves guys like that.

NoWayJose's picture

Very interesting to see Woodson calling out Capers (effectively, thats what he's doing by commenting on the scheme). Definitely a departure from the "stay patient, best days are coming" talk out of the D all year.

I think we can partially attribute his comment to frustration over his own sub-par day and his emotional nature. But I can't remember the last time anyone called out Capers so clearly.

This could be a watershed moment. And maybe not. Very interesting to see how the schemes play out next week.

Paul DelVechio's picture

After watching Marcus McNeil, SD's LT, get abused last week I fully expected to see Clay rush from Rivers blind side numerous times yesterday. I kept waiting for him to move over to the right side thinking "Ok this is the play they're going to move him" over and over again. I don't get it. The opponents are sliding Clay's way everytime and its like that's the answer to the Clay Matthews is a beast problem for opposing offenses.

packsmack25's picture

Speaking of McNeil, the hit Clay laid on him at the end of the Peprah TD was AWESOME!

CSS's picture

McNeil is listed at 340lbs., I promise you he's all of 360lbs. +. It takes a lot of power and 'pop' to not only level McNeil like that but change his inertia and move it in a totally different direction. That, is power.

Kind of exploded off the screen at me....

packsmack25's picture

Yeah, and it wasn't even really a blindside hit a la dirty Sapp. McNeil saw him coming and STILL got rocked.

cow42's picture


BrianD's picture

I seem to remember Matthews putting heavy pressure on 2 consecutive plays in the 4th quarter (it may have been the two before Woodson's pass interference penalty). The pressure is certainly there, as the Chargers faced a 4th down, but the sacks are not.

Jersey Al's picture

"Third Rail of Packer Punditry" - very nice...

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

I smell a players only defensive meeting in the near future.

WisconsInExile's picture

Didn't Woodson take a similar shot at Capers last year, and/or the year before? Seriously, I'm too lazy to go dig up a bunch of links but I know we've heard this before from Woodson.

It seems like when Capers was pulling punches in the past, it turned out that guys were making mental mistakes, he closed off the fancy part of the play book. Woodson doesn't abide that for more than half a season, and then starts making noise in public. Only this they aren't losing those games.

Woodson just likes blitzing from the slot, and getting physical near the line of scrimmage. Ball hawk. Don't blame him.

packeraaron's picture

It was after the first Vikings game in 09, after Favre had all day to throw all game. Woodson said they needed to blitz more.

petr's picture

Capers recently said he gives Matthews free-reign to decide where to line up on the field. I imagine this can't be for all plays, but it must be at least a significant proportion.

Justwondering's picture

I need to be more educated about the Packer's defense. I can see they are not as dynamic as last year but it can't all be on Matthews. What defensive players did we lose from last year? Did they have major roles in the success of last years defense? It seems like the Packers lost someone who could "quarterback" the defense on the field of play. idk

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