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Oh, So the Packers Run a 4-3 Defense and it Sucks?

Dom Capers

Forgive us if we didn’t pay much attention to the fact that the Green Bay Packers ran some 4-3 defense in week 1. Considering their personnel — and the fact that they are supposedly finally tailoring the scheme to personnel instead of the other way around — it only makes sense that the Packers would run some 4-3.

The Packers used the 4-3 quite a bit in the first half against Seattle before switching predominantly to their traditional 3-4 in the second half.

As you no doubt noticed, neither worked. Of course, the Packers were still in the game in the first half, so you might be wondering why they didn’t play more 4-3 in the second half.

“One of the reasons that we didn’t play much in the second half was because of the substitution issues that we had in the first half,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “I just didn’t want to take a chance after that happened. I didn’t want that happening again. …We felt we could match that against whatever personnel group they put out there and we wouldn’t have to sub and match. The first half we were going from our 3-4 to our 4-3 and matching them. We got some plays, we got some plays out of it. But we weren’t as consistent as we need to be.”

Capers is referring to Marshawn Lynch’s 9-yard touchdown run there. The Packers only had 10 guys on the field for that play. You know, because of their poor communication and/or blatant stupidity.

The good thing about the 4-3 package is it gets more playmakers on the field. The Packers will bring in Mike Neal, who had five sacks in 2013, adding him to the likes of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, rather than substituting him for one of those guys.

Of course, the negative is you have to do some substituting when you’re switching back and forth between personnel groups. And when you don’t coach these things effectively or your guys are too dumb to know where they’re supposed to be, you end up with only 10 guys on the field.

And then you figure you might as well play it safe and just utilize the same package over and over, lest the bozos you’ve got trying to execute your scheme don’t enter the game when they’re supposed to.

Seriously, the Packers might just be better off relying on the 4-3. Their personnel would seem to be better suited for it and then they don’t have to worry about crazy shit like substituting players.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. James Bennett September 9, 2014

    Whether they go 4-3 or 3-4 won’t matter much if the defensive players don’t get tougher and nastier. Where is Ray Nitschke when you need him?

    1. The Money Mike September 9, 2014

      Dead at 61…

  2. James September 9, 2014

    It doesn’t really matter what defense they are playing in as long as the inside linebackers play so terrible.

  3. stubbyduck September 9, 2014

    thats shitty coaching

  4. James Bennett September 9, 2014

    Where’s Desmond Bishop? How did we lose him?

    1. The Money Mike September 9, 2014

      Are you serious?

    2. Savage57 September 9, 2014

      Fuck this, I want the GBP to play a goddamn zombie defense made up of nothing but former greats, dead or alive, dragging their asses around the field.

      Can’t be any worse than the shit we saw Thursday.

  5. disposable hero September 9, 2014

    Same shit different year. DC needs to go and take the rest of his staff with him to the unemployment line. ILB needs to be upgraded (3 years ago) for us to have a chance to stop top tier running backs.

  6. Vijay September 9, 2014

    If I were the coordinator I’d not only play 4-3 almost exclusively, but I might actually go to a set with 5 down pass rushers
    Jones, Neal, Peppers/Perry, Boyd, Daniels… And have Clay play inside with Hyde or Hawk. I do recall they had Clay blitz by himself up the middle on at least one play.

  7. Vijay September 9, 2014

    Mind you… I would do this against run first teams like the entire NFC West.

  8. Cheese September 9, 2014

    Our guys were too dumb or weren’t told who needed to be on the field so we stuck with a scheme that wasn’t giving us the best results???? How the fuck does this guy have a job?

    1. rebelgb September 9, 2014

      My thoughts exactly. Its not like a bunch of rookies were making their first start. How is this acceptable? What other coordinator around the league openly admits he had to use the lesser of 2 defenses against a team because he was afraid of too many or too few guys on the field? Seriously WTF?

  9. Shawn Neuser September 9, 2014

    Unfortunately, the premise of this article and many of the comments following, appear based off delusion rather than the facts.

    Marshawn Lynch had the vast majority of his yards in the first half. In fact, if you take beyond the first minute of the 2nd half, the Seahawks as a team only got 35 more yards from Lynch AND Turbin combined from that point to the end of the game. It was the 43 yards that Seattle got from Wilson and Harvin that was the biggest factor in the rushing game in the second half.

    So, this article suggests the Packers played better run defense in the first half. They did not. They were worse in the first half, much worse against running backs alone than they were in the 2nd half.

    I also find it kind of comical that you take Mike Neal, who is an OLB in the 3-4, simply have him put his hand down, make everyone on the line scoot over a couple feet, and now you have a 4-3, like it is some big change. Hahahaha… good one.

    1. rebelgb September 9, 2014

      Hmm yet you completely disregard the fact that an NFL coordinator admitted changing his scheme based upon the lack of faith in his team being able to execute it, something he is 100% responsible for?

      Is every Packer coach and player on your love list?

      1. Shawn Neuser September 9, 2014

        I am not defending Capers.
        I never mentioned him nor any other coach or player.
        I can agree that it is pathetic that our defensive scheme had to be toned down because our players couldn’t handle it, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Seahawks did more damage running the football in the first half BEFORE Capers simplified the defense. In fact, if you take away the safety and the FG, which were no fault of the defense, then the Seahawks scored more points and gained more yards in the 1st half than in the 2nd.

  10. TyKo Steamboat September 9, 2014

    Does it really matter? Our base defense is really like a 2 – 3 1/2 anyways.

    We should change the name to the “frightened nickel” or something more appropriate along those lines.