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.
Packers’ Defense Under Capers
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:
- Blake Bortles, Jacksonville – 320 yards
- Sam Bradford, Minnesota – 286 and 382 yards
- Matthew Stafford, Detroit – 385 and 347
- Marcus Mariota, Tennessee – 295
- Kirk Cousins, Washington – 375
- Matt Barkley, Chicago – 362
The performances didn’t improve any during the playoffs:
- Eli Manning, New York – 299
- Dak Prescott, Dallas – 302
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta – 392
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.