In Capers We Trust?
After a second straight post-season loss to the 49ers back in January, I don't think I've ever seen more Dom Capers hate from my Facebook feed.
Despite just losing by the score of 23-20, fans were fed up with the late-game, defensive collapse and were calling for his head even though the missed blitz by Jarrett Bush towards the end of the game was an error on his part, not on the blitz scheme called by Capers.
Despite having a "hard conversation" following that loss, coach Mike McCarthy has put his support behind Capers again as we move into the 2014 campaign. Despite full, defensive coaching turnovers for the Lions, Vikings and Bears in the last two years, the Packers are sticking with what won them Super Bowl XLV.
Capers' defense finished 25th last year in yards allowed after finishing last in the league in 2012. A slight improvement, but nowhere near the previous two years where the defense finished 5th and 2nd. Injuries to key defenders like Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Casey Hayward limited the package options in 2013, but the team has vowed to show teams a wider variety of personnel packages this coming year.
Per ESPN.com, McCarthy explained "We were not as multiple maybe (last) year as we’ve been in prior years really because of the stress of injuries on that unit so we want to get back to some of the things that we did very well in the past and make sure we’re carrying enough packages to utilize all of our players."
In a rare, off-season move, Ted Thompson sent a signal by bringing in free agent Julius Peppers to add a clear pass rusher to the defense, but one who has never played in a 3-4 scheme. He also used the team's 21st overall pick in this year's draft to take safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as well as late-round, defensive picks that seem to fit more of a 4-3 look - which would butt heads with Capers' philosophy.
In the third round, Thompson drafted Khyri Thorton, a smaller, quicker defensive lineman. Also, the fourth round pick was spent on an outside linebacker (Carl Bradford) rather than an inside linebacker, which could signal potential scheme change in the future. The pieces seem to be in place for the Packers to move to a 4-3 scheme, or at least a hybrid version of the two.
On top of that, McCarthy has also mentioned taking more of a hands-on approach to the defense this year. Seems like the writing is on the proverbial wall for Capers if he isn't able to produce this year.