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Week 14: Firing Dom Capers solves nothing for Green Bay Packers defense
December 5, 2013 - Matt Wellens
As head of a defense that gave up the second fewest points and fifth fewest yards in 2010, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was considered a genius during the Super Bowl XLV run.
The man could do no wrong, even though he was without a number of key names at linebacker and in the secondary.
Since then, however, Packers fans have declared Capers the most incompetent coordinator in the league as his defense slides down the rankings.
In 2011, Green Bay fell to 19th in points allowed and last in the league in yards allowed.
The 2012 season saw improvements as the Packers climbed to 11th in points and yards allowed, bordering on above average.
This year, the Packers are 23rd in points allowed after 13 weeks and 24th in yards allowed.
So what has changed between now and the 2010 season? Why was there such a steep drop-off from the Super Bowl run of 2010 to the near-perfect season of 2011 that ended with a second-round loss at Lambeau Field to the New York Giants?
Has Capers lost his mind?
He just lost his team.
Of the 25 defensive players who were credited with a sack, interception, forced fumble or fumble recovery in 2010, only 11 remain with the Packers today.
Of the 14 who have since moved on, seven were released or not re-signed in free agency immediately after the Super Bowl win.
Only five starters from 2010 — linebackers A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews, defensive back Tramon Williams, and defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett — are still on the roster this season.
Many of the 14 players Packers general manager Ted Thompson let go over the past three seasons have a history of injuries, with former Green Bay free safety Nick Collins leaving football because of a severe neck injury.
Yet, eight of the 14 — including four starters from 2010 — are still in the NFL. That group includes cornerback Charles Woodson, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, and linebackers Desmond Bishop, Nick Barnett and Frank Zombo.
Individually, none of these players are overly impressive at this point in their careers. But together, the Packers had a dominant group of defenders that could carry the team if, say, a certain MVP quarterback got injured.
Thompson was probably right in thinking each player’s individual skill set was easy to replace with a younger, healthier, cheaper body. What he didn’t take into account was the value their chemistry and experience held.
Don’t blame Capers for missed tackles, blown assignments and worse communication on the defensive side of the ball. He’s doing the best he can with what Thompson left him, which isn’t much.
Now on to my picks, where each week I will include a short analysis on the Packers’ and Lions’ games, plus the primetime games on NFL Network, NBC and ESPN.
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
1 p.m., Sunday, FOX
The NFL was right to flex this game off of Sunday night on NBC, especially if Aaron Rodgers is going to miss another week. Falcons 23, Packers 10
1 p.m., Sunday, 1320 AM WDMJ/1240 AM WIAN
The Lions did everything in their power to let the Packers win on Thanksgiving, but the Packers are just that bad right now and couldn’t capitalize. Philly will. Eagles 35, Lions 31
8:25 p.m., Thursday, NFL Network
If the season ended today, these teams would be picking No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the NFL Draft. The Jaguars need a loss to tie the Texans for worst record in the league. Jaguars 13, Texans 12
8:30 p.m., Sunday, NBC
The Saints learned Monday just how tough the Seattle Seahawks are at home. The Saints are just as good in the Super Dome. Too bad they have to go back to Seattle for the NFC Championship. Saints 36, Panthers 21
8:40 p.m., Monday, ESPN
I look forward to the Jon Gruden-narrated feature on how these two teams habitually lose to teams they shouldn’t — Skol, Vikings — and underachieve in general. Bears 21, Cowboys 20
Here are the rest of my picks this week with winners in bold:
Colts at Bengals
Browns at Patriots
Raiders at Jets
Chiefs at Redskins
Vikings at Ravens
Bills at Buccaneers
Dolphins at Steelers
Titans at Broncos
Rams at Cardinals
Seahawks at 49ers
Giants at Chargers
Last week: 11-5. Overall: 112-79-1
Matt Wellens is Sports Editor of the Mining Journal. Check out his Armchair QB column every Thursday in The Mining Journal and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens. Email him at email@example.com.
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