Why you may owe Dom an apology; Blame the Players, not Capers
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
Those two words were first heard from various corners of Packer Nation following the 2009 NFC Divisional loss to Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals 51-45 in overtime. Remember that game? Warner threw more touchdown passes that day than he had incomplete passes. It was a historic meltdown for the defense and was the best game Warner ever had. He was 29/33 for 379 yards, with 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Yes that’s 5 touchdowns to 4 incomplete passes. Perfect passer rating of 154.1. Historically torched via the air.
You didn’t hear it the next year when the Packers were able to avoid any of the great gunslingers, as the Packers beat Michael Vick, Matt Ryan (before Julio Jones arrived), Jay Cuter, and Ben Roethlisberger to win Super Bowl XLV.
But you heard it again the next year, 2011, when Eli Manning’s Giants came into Lambeau and eliminated the MVP Aaron Rodgers by getting out to an early lead that they never relinquished.
Manning threw for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, and had a passer rating of 114.5.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was also able to chew up 5.3 yards a carry.
And, for good measure, the defense allowed a Hail Mary touchdown to end the first half.
Of course, 2012 was worse as the Packers defense did their best to try and get Colin Kaepernick enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, when they allowed the skinny-legged quarterback to run wild in a 45-31 Packers exit.
Kaepernick set an NFL record for quarterbacks rushing with 181, and not to be discriminatory, the Packers also allowed running back Frank Gore get 119 himself for a cool 300 even between the two.
In addition to that historic day on the ground, Kaepernick also out-passed Rodgers by 6 yards (263-257), despite throwing the ball 8 fewer passes.
And now, following another season-ending loss to the 49ers, when they marched down on the Packers defense for a last-second, game-winning, season-ending FG, you’ve seen your defense fail again.
We’re still hearing it from some folks, but not as loudly because of two things: 1) the defense was decimated by injuries. Again. No Matthews, No Hayward, No Jolly, and Shields and Neal checked themselves out on the first drive for San Francisco; 2) The defense held the Niners to 23 points, which should be enough to win.
However, the defense did fail, once again, in the end.
They allowed the Niners to march down the field to win it, and in doing so, allowed too many 3rd down conversions. Included in that were 2 3rd & longs. One was a pass, and the other, the killer, was a scramble by Kaepernick for a long gain and into game-winning field goal range.
How could Capers be so stupid time and time again? That’s what many Packer fans were asking, again.
Well, it’s not as simple as that.
Capers often had the right call, a brilliant call, had the players (each one) done what they were supposed to do.
It’s like a parent who teaches his/her 5 kids to do this or that.
Four of them do as they’re told, but 1 messes up, and ruins it for everyone.
In the following examples, you will notice Jarrett Bush, twice. And you will notice Mike Daniels twice.
The first one, earlier in the game, they did what they were supposed to do, and the result was a sack.
The second one, that last drive killer 3rd & long conversion, both Bush, and especially Daniels, committed fatal mistakes, allowing Kaepernick the wide edge. True, had that been Clay Matthews and not the gimpy undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba, we might have seen this in-bounds this time.
Anyway, let’s take a look at what I am talking about.
After seeing the stills, you will see that Capers called a great play, but Bush and Daniels simply screwed it up.
First, I am going to break down another play from earlier. It was a similar call, not exact. But those 2 guys, the blitzing Bush, and Daniels, maintained their gap responsibilities, and the result was success: a sack.
This is how the play is Designed. By Dom Capers.
He’s always been a master of these concepts, and when they are executed properly, it makes heroes out of players.
These film breakdowns are what the coaches and players routinely see in film sessions following games.
The Fox, NBC, ESPN guys don’t take the time to break these things down for us viewers, whether it’s a good or bad result.
Speaking of bad:
Here’s the one that failed. This one is THE SIGNATURE PLAY of the failed season.
Everyone blames Capers or Bush for this. But Daniels also did his best to ruin it. Yes Daniels did make some good plays too. But Micah Hyde’s miss wasn’t the only fatal miss on that last drive. Two Hawkeyes.
Here’s the play in full- motion from above. Now you’ll know how it happened, and where the breakdowns occurred.