Packers: Is Dom Capers’ defense ready?


Ever since the Green Bay Packers‘ Super Bowl run in 2010, the Packers have had “Super Bowl or bust” aspirations tagged to them.  Fans know that if you have Aaron Rodgers on your team, then anything is possible.  There is no doubt that is true.

Yet the narrative attached to the Super Bowl or bust mantra with these Packers teams has been an elite offense paired with a bend-but-don’t-break defense.

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The past five years Dom Capers’ defenses have been good at forcing turnovers but have been very susceptible to the big play.  While his defense has been the cause of some great game changing plays in the regular season, you can easily point to their performance the past four playoff losses and wonder if/when we’ll get over the hump again.

The year after Green Bay’s Super Bowl win, they played against the New York Giants in the Divisional Playoffs and got shellacked by Eli Manning.  Manning threw for a playoff career-high 330 yards and three touchdowns at Lambeau to take down the favored Packers.

Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs with the ball past Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House (31) in the second quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2012 playoffs, Green Bay gave up the most rushing yards to a quarterback in NFL playoff history, allowing Colin Kapernick to run for 181 yards and two rushing touchdowns in San Francisco’s 45-31 win.

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The playoff rematch between San Francisco and Green Bay came a year later, this time at Lambeau.  While Green Bay’s defense bent throughout most of the game, San Francisco finally broke them on their game-winning drive.  Phil Dawson kicked the game winning field goal to give the 49ers a 23-20 win.

Then just last year it looked like Capers and his defense were actually going to carry our elite offense back to the promised land.  Then all hell broke loose with five minutes left to go.  While it’s unfair to pin that loss on just the defense, they definitely did themselves no favors at the end of the fourth quarter going into overtime.

So for the past four years Dom Capers’ “bend-but-don’t-break” defense has in fact been broken; broken on record-breaking levels.  It’s been said before, even by former linebacker A.J. Hawk: Aaron Rodgers and the offense cover a lot of holes and mistakes the defense makes.

Yet it seems going into the 2015 season the narrative remains the same.  Aaron Rodgers and company have all the pieces in place to be an elite offense, and we all await anxiously to hope the defense doesn’t screw it up.

Now let’s clear something up quick.  It’s not like Green Bay has ignored the problem the past four years.  Ted Thompson and crew have mixed and matched, drafted and signed a number of different players.  Just last year, rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix filled the much needed void of a consistent safety.

Now this year’s draft the secondary was heavily focused again, taking Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first two rounds.

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  • Despite these efforts, something just isn’t working.  If the trend continues then eyes will have to start looking towards the common denominator of this situation and wonder if Dom Capers is the man for the job anymore.

    For this year specifically, the defensive outlook is the most positive since their Super Bowl win in my opinion.  Adding Randall and Rollins to a depleted secondary could be the boost that this team needs to get over the hump again.  Veterans Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are now gone and are replaced by fresher legs who hopefully can cover better.

    The experiment of moving Clay Matthews to the inside worked out better than expected last year, and at least for the time being the team is looking at keeping him there.

    Capers may have to change up his scheme of blitzing, leaving his corners on islands, and looking to make a big play if Casey Hayward or one of the rookies have trouble against these big NFC north receivers.  And maybe that’s all it takes.  Maybe the defense just needs to play a notch or two safer and let the best quarterback in the league do his work.

    Whatever the problem is come playoff time, I give Capers one more year to try and turn the ship around.  People can mock the “#FireCapers” trend that has been surfacing the past few years as much as they want, but when a team has Super Bowl or bust expectations for four years in a row and you get let down in some of the most disappointing ways imaginable, something has to change.

    Next: Packer Offense Could Be One Of The Best Ever

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