Time to Dissect the Defense : Packers Insider

Time to Dissect the Defense

January 14, 2010 by  
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Jan 14, 2010 ~ By Tom Silverstein, Journal-Sentinel

~Before the start of training camp, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy will settle a debate that erupted during the last month about his defense.

Is it the scheme or the players that can’t deal with spread offenses?

Dom Capers improved the defense in 2009, but it is Capers who bears the responsiblity of devising a scheme to contain the QBs like Warner, Brees, Favre, and Roethlisberger. Those QB's were contained by less-talented defenses than the one Capers has in Green Bay.

Dom Capers improved the defense in 2009, but it is Capers who bears the responsiblity of devising a scheme to contain the QBs like Warner, Brees, Favre, and Roethlisberger. Those QB's were contained by less-talented defenses than the one Capers has in Green Bay.

There are many things on the off-season checklist for McCarthy following an 11-6 season that ended in an overtime playoff loss at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday. Finding out why over the course of four weeks the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals were able to gash the defense to the tune of 58 first downs, 1,068 yards and 88 points is a priority.

“Trust me, we’ll take a long look at Arizona from a defensive standpoint, and Pittsburgh,” McCarthy said in his season-ending news conference Wednesday. “You’re talking about over 1,000 yards of offensive production in two days. We will take a long look at that, and particularly the quarterbacks.”

McCarthy dismissed the idea that because both of those teams know coordinator Dom Capers’ defense inside and out, they simply outwitted him with their game plans. Capers employs a Pittsburgh-style 3-4 defense, which the Steelers still run, and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt knows it from his days as Steelers offensive coordinator.

Both the Steelers and Cardinals found a formula that featured multiple-receiver formations and lots of completions in the middle of the field. The Cardinals did a particularly good job of beating Capers’ pressures and exploiting matchups in the secondary in their 51-45 victory.

Capers called the Cardinals game disappointing because of the number of breakdowns in pass coverage.

“I mean, just base fundamentals, things we had worked in practice came up, and you don’t expect that when we’ve seen those same things in practice and seen us match them up pretty well in practice,” Capers said. “I don’t know if that comes from the heat of the battle of a playoff contest where the tempo picks up, but we didn’t execute with the same degree of efficiency that I had seen us (do) the second half of the season.”

Capers said the combination of the success the Cardinals had running the ball and the number of missed assignments in coverage made it difficult to counter Arizona’s passing game. He said he mixed up defensive calls throughout the game but couldn’t find the right buttons to push against veteran quarterback Kurt Warner.

Short-handed?

One of the issues McCarthy has to consider is whether Capers was left short-handed against a high-powered Cardinals offense. The loss of veteran cornerback Al Harris on Nov. 22 left him with two inexperienced cornerbacks in Jarrett Bush and rookie Brandon Underwood to cover Arizona’s third and fourth receivers.

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