Should The Packers Fire DC Dom Capers?

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been with the team since 2009. In that stretch, the Packers have seen some significant highs and lows on defense. Capers oversaw defensive player of the year performance by Charles Woodson in 2009 and a number two ranked scoring defense and a Super Bowl championship in 2010, but he was also the architect behind a defense that surrendered more than 40 points in three different postseason defeats.

After each of those crushing losses, the #FireCapers crowd has been boisterous. Will this be the season that the Packers finally pull the trigger? Jon and Gary debate that point below.

Jon says: Dom Capers shouldn’t be fired.

The Packers defense has laid some extraordinary eggs in the postseason. Colin Kaepernick went nuclear in 2012. The Seahawks rallied to a win despite a double digit deficit in 2014. Even last week against the Cowboys, the defense seemed to be doing all it could to send the Packers home with another postseason defeat.

Then, against Atlanta, everything came undone. Though the Packers could hardly be described as world beaters on defense, every player seemed to have their worst day. Jake Ryan failed to recover a loose ball that he had dead to rights. Defensive backs dropped three sure interceptions on one drive. Ladarius Gunter was tabbed to shadow all-world receiver Julio Jones.

It was, in a word, disastrous.

It was also not Dom Capers’ fault.

Look at the players tasked with key roles on defense. While Atlanta lined up NFL sack leader Vic Beasley, hard hitting rookie Keanu Neal, and Pro Football Focus’s 17th best corner in Jalen Collins, the Packers turned to two fourth round picks and an undrafted free agent at inside linebacker, two pass rushers with two functional arms between them, and three second year corners who have been torched week in and week out.

Sure, their performance was lousy, but what could Capers have done to prevent it? He can’t go out and cover receivers himself.

I don’t know if Capers will be back in Green Bay next season. He’s 66 years old and has coached at the college or professional level nearly every year since 1972. Retirement could well be in his future.

But I don’t think he should be fired. Give him some actual players, and see if he’s an actual defensive coach.

Gary says: Dom Capers should be fired.

The Packers defense forced Atlanta and Dallas to punt a total of four times over 18 possessions. When trying to defend two of the league’s best offenses, Green Bay struggled mightily. 

How much longer should Green Bay continue to trot out a scheme that has been rendered ineffective in the postseason? 

In 2012 and 2013, the 49ers stomped over the Packers. Then in 2014, both Dallas and Seattle had big offensive performances. Last season, the Cardinals were able to score at their convenience. This postseason may be the worst the Packers defense has played in recent memory, allowing Dallas and Atlanta to score on 13 of 18 possessions.

I think Jon makes some compelling points above. I don’t know what else Capers could have done differently, and that’s the problem. 

Too many young players are forced into crucial moments. Without their veterans, all of the wrinkles that makes Capers great go out the window, and the defense plays extremely vanilla. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the average length of an NFL career has shrunk by two and a half years in the past 10 years. Playing professional football is already a short career choice, but recently the NFL has become even more of a rotating door. 

Establishing a complex defensive scheme meant for veterans, like Dom Capers does, is not the way to win the NFL. That’s the bad news.

The good news? There are 31 other teams in the NFL trying to figure out how to train their young players to play fast and smart. This isn’t a unique problem, but it requires a different solution than what Green Bay is up to now.