People, including those who follow this site, don’t seem to be adamantly hostile or opposed toward Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator since 2009. Capers is well-spoken, keeps out of the limelight, and has had varying degrees of success in the past. He also seems to be popular and respected by the defensive players he presides over.
The trouble is, Capers’ success is in the past. The Packers’ defense is on a serious and prolonged downward spiral, and accountability for that problem must fall primarily in his lap. Let’s explore.
Capers began his football career as a grad assistant at Kent State in 1972. Since then, he’s been a member of six other college coaching staffs and then a coach for 10 pro teams. The man doesn’t lack experience.
Curiously, he didn’t last long at his first 16 assignments. His longest stay at one place was with the New Orleans Saints from 1985-91. In the years leading up to his joining the Packers, Capers hardly had time to unpack his bags: fired by Houston after a 2-14 year in 2005, with the Dolphins in 2006-07, with the Patriots in 2008, then joined Green Bay in 2009.
Capers has the distinction of twice being an NFL head coach – both times he was the first coach of an NFL expansion team: the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and the Houston Texans (2002-05). While his record at Carolina was (for a new franchise) a respectable 30-34, he won only 18 of 64 games in Houston.
Capers’ has been the defensive coordinator for all of his eight years in Green Bay. During that time, the Packers league ranking in points given up has been: 7th, 2nd, 19th, 11th, 24th, 13th, 12th, and 28th for the 2016 season. As to yards allowed, the team has ranked: 2nd, 5th, 32nd, 11th, 25th, 15th, 15th, and 22nd in 2016.
For the season that just ended, the Packers ranked 8th in run defense, at just 94 yards yielded per game, but 31st in pass defense, at 269 yards per game.
Over the last six years, the Packers haven’t cracked the top 10 in either statistic. That’s abominable performance for a team that aspires to be a Super Bowl contender year after year. Aaron Rodgers has a solid case for non-support.
Against the better quarterbacks during the 2016 regular season – and even against some lesser gunslingers – the numbers of (gross) passing yards yielded were awful:
The performances didn’t improve any during the playoffs:
Hey, nobody reached the 400-yard mark, though Matt Ryan could have hit the 500-yard mark if needed. The Bears’ game on December 18 (but for the three interceptions) had to be the low point of the regular season – Matt Barkley’s passer rating on the year was 68.3.
Dom Capers is 66. He’s had a long and storied coaching career, but the performance of his defense has been on a downward spiral ever since the Super Bowl win – and the angle of the trajectory keeps increasing.
Six years of under-performance cries out for a coaching change.
I literally could not agree more with the article. The only other thing I’d address is the personnel on defense has changed a lot since the super bowl season. That happens with every team, but some of the blame can be placed on TT as well.
I think it’s safe to say Capers can mold a good defense when he has talent to work with. When TT gives him crap, he’s no miracle worker. Capers appears to be reasonably competent, but he doesn’t show the ability to take poor talent and mold it into a respectable defense like great coaches might.
Capers approach has always been fundamentally incompatible with TTs philosophy. Capers thinks he’s Bill Parcels and wants an old boys club of “his guys.” He disdains younger players and is simply not a good teacher. Thompson will not seek out experienced veterans (Julius Peppers beingthe most notable if rare exception) and has dug in his heels over building through the draft. Frankly both of them should be giving Aaron Rodgers part of their checks for making their continued employment possible
Those QB’s throwing yardage, has been previously posted by me as most of you know.
This article provides nice overview of the situation.
I knew this defense didn’t have what it took to succeed in the playoffs and stated that many, many times.
Since 2011 – present, a handful of us have been posting and calling for the removal of Capers.
For me personally, it started when the defense went from 5th to 32nd overall, in 2011 Rodgers 1st MVP year. I’m like, how does defense drop 27 spots in 1 year? That’s probably never happened before.
From the 2011 and 2012 draft, we have only 3 players on this team from those drafts out of 18 players
Because of the overall failure in the drafts. i’ve taken some blame off of Capers and shifted it over to TT. He has a huge responsibility in the talent Capers had to work with. But Capers still gets his share of the blame for running such a complicated defense with such young players. At one point McCarthy told Capers to simplify the defense. That was when people didn’t know where to line up, and they looked lost on the field. It wasn’t just rookies, it was veterans also. This was back in the Tramon Williams days, like 2012-2014 if memory serves.
Capers may not have provided strong enough defenses. But Ted shares the blame and McCarthy has done nothing to make a change in that area. Except get defensive when asked about it.
So in the last handful of YEARS. Below is why i get so frustrated with all three.
Ted is clearly failing on draft picks, but seemingly, doesn’t have anyone to answer to. Has no boss.
Capers has not made changes to fit current talent level and/or adjust schemes. The only other thing Capers is guilty of is wanting to keep his job and not resigning.
McCarthy problems are more numerous. Bad play calling, game management blunders, unwillingness to switch up a stale and predictable offense. NOT knowing what the team is doing, not knowing what’s going in, even at the end of a NFCCG. At the press Conference after the Seattle game, a reporter asked McCarthy why Mathews wasn’t in the game…..McCarthy had no clue, he didn’t know he wasn’t in there (watch it). Then he lied about it later and said he knew. Lastly….McCarthy’s stubborn refusal to address the defense over the years.
I firmly 100% believe that these 3 know that Rodgers is enough to get in the playoffs. I also believe because of that, they became lazy and derelict in there job duties.
I just remembered the day i wanted Capers gone, it made me blow a gasket. A reporter questioned him on the high yardage given up with the 2011 defense. He basically said it didn’t matter when you have Rodgers at QB. That statement still pisses me off.
Yes, he actually said that. Sorry for the long novel.
Capers went to Macy’s and bought about a hundred different colors of lipstick. He tried all of them on the personnel pig he had to work with, but it still was a pig.
People sure do know how to think with their emotions. I would know, I have done it many times. I was calling for MM’s head after the 4 game losing streak, saying he had lost the locker room. Then all the sudden my gut just told me it wasn’t quite over, and wah-lah, 8 game winning streak. Gotta listen to what my hunch and my brain tells me, not my emotions.
After 2010, Cullen Jenkins, our second best pass rusher, was let go since he had an injury history, and was going to hit 30. We drafted Mike Neal to replace him, but Neal had a pretty bad knee injury that basically destroyed his confidence for years. Charles Woodson simply got too old, and wasn’t able to cover like he used to. Had he been willing to take a pay cut, and play safety exclusively where even though he was old, he was clearly learning the position and getting better and better, that would have been terrific. Point is, we didn’t have our H.O.F. DB anymore. Nick Collins, one of the best safeties in the NFL, ended his career on an injury. Another, potentially all-pro DB was lost. Tramon Williams had a shoulder injury that totally shattered his confidence, and was terrible for 3 years. He was only good again for one more year in 2014. No one really knows WTF happened to B.J. Raji, except that he became pure garbage, but moving him from NT didn’t help. Clay Matthews was good, even in 2011 he still had 48 QB pressures which was 4th most in the NFL that year. But he couldn’t do it all by himself. Then we had 2, back-to-back terrible drafts. (My gut was telling me that the Packers would have been wise to trade up to Von Miller, even though I thought that would be a stupid idea. Wish the Packers had the same hunch, for either Miller or Watt.)
If you ask me, that’s a hell of a lot of bad luck. And everyone here knows just how unlucky the Packers have been. Even miracle workers would have their limits. Also, I think the 2014 defense does not get the credit it deserves. Hell, we basically ass-raped Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, we just idiotically stopped playing in the last 5 minutes. There were three terrible games that year that significantly lowered the stats of the D, and those were mostly a result of very key injuries IMO. When those players were healthy, the Packers had one of the best D’s in the NFL.
TT, MM, DC, Mark Murphy could only dream of all Packer fans having that mindset.
How did Raji do when moved back to NT?
Who got raped in that Seattle fiasco? It’s not all Seattle’s fault, we looked good that day…..we were asking for it.
Those damn injuries, players leaving or retiring. It would be nice if other teams had to go through that kind of stuff. Then the playing field would be level.
We just have bad luck i guess. – Lloyd Christmas
Maybe other teams fans are saying it’s bad luck they don’t have Aaron Rodgers. idk.
Fat Mikes exit meeting with Dom….
McCarthy: “Have a seat Dom, let’s get into this”….”.Looks like another year of bad luck my man.”
Capers: “I couldn’t agree more Mike.”
McCarthy: “Ok, see ya in May.” (extends hand)
Capers: ” Sounds good Mike” (shakes hand)
MM exit meeting with TT….
TT: “Have a seat Mike”….Hell of coaching job Mike, without you running the table, you and i are in deep shit”…”Expect a bonus in your last check…btw Mike, where did you get the balls to say that we’d run the table?”
MM: “Well Ted, i’m a highly successful NFL Head coach, as you know. Being such a great leader, i just needed to make a statement for this team, i wanted to motivate them.”
TT: “Listen Mike, i’ll do what i can in the draft, but what do you see for us next season?”
MM: Well, like you’ve told me 100 times Ted, as long as we have Rodgers, we have nothing to worry bout.”
TT: (Laughing) “Isn’t that the truth…See ya in March Mike,” (extends hand)
MM: (laughing) “Ok, take care Ted.” (shakes hand)
Chad, not gonna argue about players and injuries. The one constant through all those seasons is McCarthy. McCarthy on a team without Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers is just a guy. 6 time division champ in a weak division. 10-8 in playoff games. 1-3 in NFC championship games. At this point the Packers are better known for epic beat downs/collapses during the playoffs. His hand picked schemes such as zone blocking and wanting to run a 3-4 defense. What does he actually excel at? Being defensive and arrogant come to mind. Making excuses as well. That’s not my gut telling my this, it is his MO and what has been observed through the years.
Scapegoating and being vindictive. In regards to McCarthy, in answer to your question, “What does he actually excel at?” I totally agree with what you wrote but would add at least those two as well.
There are many examples but the classic ones would be–
But these negative attributes are actually symptom character qualities. Why scapegoat others? Why be vindictive, especially about infrequent indirect and polite free speech?
The root cause of these is simple cowardice.
Been saying this for years. The constant sniffling when he talks, it’s a nervous twitch. The way he timidly addressed the team post game in locker room, etc. He lacks the confidence to enjoy being a leader of men. Players must see it.
Back to back terrible drafts = lipstick from Macy’s.
There is no doubt that the Packers defense is very bad right now. We agree on that I think.
I think we agree this is also not just bad luck.
Or level of competition since the Packers had the very easiest schedule in the NFL.
Or injury. Sure, a couple players had a couple issues. Every single team can say that and most had much worse. Heck, the Texans had the #1 defense WITHOUT J.J. Watt their best player and likely the best defensive player in the league ALL year. And the injury to Randall was actually a positive!
The scheme, a 3-4, is also not to blame. About half the league runs it and it has no clear advantage or disadvantage over the 4-3. Let’s not waste time blaming the scheme.
Since we all agree on those things we can move directly on to the root cause or causes.
Only 3 general possibilities for contributing factors remain:
*Not enough focus on obtaining talent for the defense
*Failure of obtaining talent at point of attack
We can remove the first one. The Packers have 7 (seven!) 1st rounders on their defense. These are: Damarious Randall, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Datone Jones, and Kenny Clark. This includes 1st round picks used at least the last 5 drafts on defense. This does not include two failed high 1st round draft picks who were defenders but who are no longer on the team = B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk. There has been a ton of focus on the defense. Even in free agency they added Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion.
Just for comparison sake, how does that compare to the Vikings current great defense? You’d think with the huge gulf of differential that the Vikings must have 23 1st rounders on their defense. Not so. They also currently have 7 (Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, Sharrif Floyd [out all year], Terrence Newman, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Harrison Smith). They do not have the two additional failed 1st round picks like the Packers. In free agency the Vikes signed Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, and Linval Joseph. OK, that is 3 free agents vs. 2. But keep in mind Newman was viewed as too old to be effective and as less of a signing than Guion for GB. Joseph is a superstar but he became one, he was not one when he was signed. If you look at last year and realize money is supposed to translate to performance you see that Juluis Peppers made more money than Munnerlyn and Joseph combined. So MN had fewer 1st round picks devoted and as much money or so devoted in free agency and yet were one of the best defenses while the Packers were one of the worst.
So, either TT had the focus but did not perform in obtaining talent or it was the coaching.
Now, granted, Capers is no Zimmer. But is he really THAT bad?
I think he is a solid middle of the pack (no pun intended) D coordinator who would normally give you a #14 to #18 defense. But with 9 1st round picks used in support (I’m including Peppers who is both a 1st rounder and a free agent pick up — the exact same circumstance and inclusion I made for Terrence Newman of the Vikings), 7 still on the team, and all 5 of the last 5 year’s 1st round picks all used on defense, then if TT was a competent GM Capers would have this defense at #7 to #13 or so.
Did Capers draft a slows 3rd rounder to play FS? (HaHa Clinton-Dix — one of the most undeserved pro bowl invites of all time)
Did Capers draft a safety and move him to cornerback where he would be average sized, slow, and totally inexperienced? (Damarious Randall)
Did Capers draft Kenny Clark when he could have drafted Vernon Butler or several other better DT prospects? (Chris Jones, even Javon Hargrave)
Did Capers draft a LB who was reportedly detected with PEDs in his system at the combine in Indianapolis? (Clay Matthews — sure he did great for awhile but, now that he has cut down on PED usage….)
Did Capers draft a DE not built to play in a 3-4 and had to be moved to LB where he also failed? (Datone Jones)
Did Capers sign a #1 pick in free agency who also (much more likely than not) used PEDs? (Julius Peppers)
Nick Perry is OK. It has taken him awhile to bloom. His first couple “prospect” years he was basically nothing. Then the coaches coached him up just in time to be a great free agent addition to some other team.
So, when analyzed, we see that although Capers is no great shakes the real culprit is TT.
01/29/2017 at 7:28 pm
Just for comparison sake, can anyone tell me why the Packers are so much more successful than my Vikings?
Pure luck in getting Rodgers. You guys are like the lazy prospector in the old west spending all his time in the shade drinking booze. Gets up to pee and his urine washes away some grit and, voila, there is a wide band stripe of gold. Meanwhile other prospectors were panning for gold form sun up to sun down but without the bid strike.
Remove that one big strike and the Vikings would be easily ahead in all time head to head victories over the Packers. Even with Rodgers on the Packers and with league-leading horrific injury issues the Vikings only have one fewer win the past two years and an equal number of NFC North titles, and a .500 record vs. the Packers.
So, to be more accurate (oops, hope you do not start melting), in recent history the Vikings are as successful without Rodgers as the Packers are with Rodgers.
That is well said right there. Pretty damning.
01/30/2017 at 8:01 am
Yes, i said LUCKY. The Packers are just lucky.
Remove some plays from reality and blah blah blah.
I remember when the bears were so pathetic, all they could brag about was they were ahead in head to head against the Packers. But then again, at least the Bears won a Super Bowl.
So in summary….When comparing the history of success of the Packers vs the Vikings. I prefer to do it in a 2 year window.
Don’t piss me off with “facts”.
I’m called “Killer”. Because i’ve earned that name.
Just this morning, i ended the life of a cock roach in my kitchen sink.
I’m no one you want to fuck with!!