Capers Defense needs to step up against the Pass, disrupt QB’s rythym : Packers Insider

Capers Defense needs to step up against the Pass, disrupt QB’s rythym

January 17, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Jan 17, 2010 ~ By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider Senior Analyst

~Dom Capers did some magical work in 2009 with the Packers rushing defense. They lowered their average-per carry down a full yard, which is almost unprecidented from one year to the next.

NT Ryan Pickett was the biggest reason this defense shut down the run. Now someone needs to step up and lead the way in stopping the pass. With Matthews and Woodson, that's a great start. But more guys need to do more.

NT Ryan Pickett was the biggest reason this defense shut down the run. Now someone needs to step up and lead the way in stopping the pass. With Matthews and Woodson, that's a great start. But more guys need to do more.

His defense ranked #1 in the NFL in rushing yards per game, which believe it or not, is the first time the Packers have ever led in that category. You have often heard the experts say that to march thru the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl, you first need to be able to run the football and stop the run.

His team led the NFL in takeaways, and the team in turnover differential. However, as all Packer fans saw in the big spotlight games this year, this pass defense was actually horrible. Sure they padded their stats thanks to two games vs the Lions, the Bucs and their rookie QB making his first start, the Browns, the Rams, poor passing games of the Ravens, Bengals, and getting Cutler in his first ever start for the Bears. What this team is missing is two-fold.

First, they need to get some more pass rush other than just from the stud Clay Matthews on the right side. They need some consistent push from someone in the middle, either Cullen Jenkins or BJ Raji. The pocket has to be disrupted against the great QB’s to throw off their timing & rythym. You all know what happens to Favre when he’s getting hit and hurried. He donates gifts like Santa Claus on December 25th.

But you also all saw what he does when he has his nice little bubble back there. Warner showed you the same thing. Besides Matthews, Jenkins and Raji, Capers needs to time and mix in the ‘A’-gap blitzes better. He also needs to find someone who can get to the QB against one-on-one blocking over on the left side. Brad Jones did okay as a 7th round rookie. But he’ll need to step it up, or OLB Cyril Obiozor will have to be given a chance, because Jones got nowhere near Warner in that embarassing loss in the wildcard game. Aaron Kampman’s status is very much uncertain, both due to his ACL injury, and his contract status. He’s a free agent, and he can stay or leave for a 4-3 defense again if he feels mis-cast in the 3-4.

That’s just one end of it. The other end is the back end, the coverage side of things. You may have noticed in the Arizona game that it seems very few of Dom’s DB’s and LB’s actually elect to cover. It was a mess back there. Surely, missing Al Harris hurt, but in the NFL, missing one of your top three CB’s is not that uncommon. The key is to have backups that know what they’re supposed to do, and who can do it. With Jarrett Bush, you’ve all seen what happens when he’s out there. Besides him, rookie Brandon Underwood and street free agent Josh Bell didn’t provide any coverage either. This is a position that either needs miracles from Harris and Pat Lee, Will Blackmon with injury-recoveries, or else will need to instantly upgrade that position in the off-season, hopefully via free agency and not that draft. If you’re aware of the Packers last 20 years of drafting CB’s, you’ll realize that they don’t fare too well there.

There should be some natural improvement in the system in year two of Capers’ system, but he’s going to have to learn how to defend, attack QB’s like Favre and Warner. Capers has not had any success against Favre his whole coaching career, and I think that speaks volumes about who and what is to blame for those gigantic breakdowns against the Vikings, Steelers, and Cardinals offenses in 2009. The Cardinals knew what his defense was going to do. That cannot happen again in 2010. Capers needs to bring heat at those QB’s and let the CB’s man-up.

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