14

January

So You Want To Fire Dom Capers?

A lot of fans have been clamoring for the head of Dom Capers, the perceived problem to all of the Packers woes.  Some have argued that Dom Capers is getting too old to be coaching, his defensive philosophy and schemes too outdated and too complex for players to handle and perhaps most puzzling his lack of coaching causing injuries, missed assignments and miscommunication between the defensive unit.  However, before you start cleaning out his office, you have to have a plan B; namely if the Packers did fire Dom Capers, who would be the new 3-4 defensive coordinator?  Before all of you shout “I don’t care, anyone would be better than Dom Capers”, you and I are “anyone” and we all know that anyone that comments on this site would make a terrible defensive coordinator (let’s not even pretend).  With that in mind, I’ve created a list of the some of the potential coaching candidates that could replace Dom Capers

In House Options:

  1. Mike Trgovac: Trgovac has the most experience among the assistant coaches and is the only one with previous defensive coordinator experience having been the DC for the Carolina Panthers from 2003-2008. However in Carolina the Panthers ran a 4-3 alignment so it’s unclear how much experience he has with the 3-4 defense as a whole.  Furthermore, Trgovac turned down a 2-year contract extension with Carolina in order to take the Packers defensive line coaching position, which is interesting in itself considering Trgovac essentially took a pay cut and dropped down a rung on the coaching ladder to work for the Packers, which might be an indication that he doesn’t have an interest in being a defensive coordinator any more.  Of the in house choices, Trgovac probably has the best chance of being promoted to defensive coordinator; while he has turned down several coordinator interviews over the last couple years stating that he doesn’t want to move his family, obviously becoming the defensive coordinator for the Packers would not have this issue.  Furthermore, 3-4 defensive line production is largely a stat less critique, which would likely help Trgovac hide some of the poor performances the defensive line has had over the years.
  2. Darren Perry: Perry been coaching in the league for 11 years as either a cornerback or safeties coach with the Steelers, Bengals, Raiders and the Packers after an All-Pro career.  Perry, along with Trgovac and Moss were the three members of the Packers defensive staff rumored to be in the running for the defensive coordinator position with the Miami Dolphins after former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin accepted the head coaching position in Miami (the Dolphins would ultimately hire Kevin Coyle).  Perry was also interviewed for the defensive coordinator position in Philadelphia in 2011.  In my opinion Perry would be the runner up for in house promotions, but safety play has taken a bit hit, most notably with the lack of progression from Morgan Burnett, however Perry does have an alibi that he hasn’t been given that many talented players; his squad consisted of a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder and three undrafted rookie free agents.
  3. Winston Moss: Moss is the most tenured defensive coach on the Packers staff, having followed head coach Mike McCarthy from New Orleans and was the lone member of Bob Sanders’ staff not be to fired after 2009.  Moss was also promoted to assistant head coach by Mike McCarthy in 2007 so its obvious that McCarthy has a lot of respect for Moss. Moss has also been a candidate for several head coaching positions in the past, but has never made it very far in the interview process.  Moss has not been the subject of many defensive coordinator interviews in the past most likely because his position as assistant head coach allows the Packers to block interviews because defensive coordinator would be at best a lateral move (Teams may block interviews as long as the coach would not be getting a promotion).  It’s actually pretty interesting that almost nothing is ever heard from Moss, with most fans unsure of what exactly his responsibilities as assistant head coach really entail.  Personally, should Mike McCarthy be unable to coach for a period of time (see John Fox’s heart surgery for example), I would guess that it would be offensive coordinator Tom Clements or defensive coordinator Dom Capers filling in for head coach and not Moss.
  4. Joe Whitt Jr.:Whitt has been coaching in the NFL for 6 years, first as an assistant and quality control coach and then as the Packers cornerback’s coach in 2009.  Whitt Jr. was rumored to be in the running for the defensive coordinator position in Oakland in 2012 but it’s unclear if Whitt Jr. ever actually had an interview and the job ultimately went to Stanford assistant Jason Tarver.  Whitt is also very new to coaching and is almost certainly not in line for a promotion any time soon.  Whitt can be credited for the development of Sam Shields and Casey Hayward but cornerback has been an issue for the team over the last couple of years and again has no experience at any level in calling plays and never played or coached in a 3-4 defensive before joining the Packers.
  5. Kevin Greene: The “sexy” choice among comments on this site and fans in general, many remember Greene from his potentially Hall of Fame career (he’s been nominated the last two years) at linebacker and his famous “it is time” quote from Super Bowl XLV.  Fans angry at the “softness” of the defense think that Greene and his hard hitting  coaching style as well as his fiery personality would push the defensive players harder and make a more smash-mouth unit.  However, Greene has the least coaching experience of all the defensive coaches, having gotten his first coaching job at any level with the Packers in 2009.  Furthermore, Greene’s only training as a coach was in 2008 when he served as a coaching intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers during training camp.  Personally, I don’t think Greene is ready for a promotion just yet, it took Mike McCarthy 11 years to be promoted from position coach to coordinator and 19 years for Dom Capers to get his first defensive coordinator position.  Also keep in mind there are very few star players that make the successful transition to coaching, Packers fans only have to remember Bart Starr and Forest Gregg to recall how much of a disconnect there is between the two occupations

“Out House” options

  1. Wade Philips: Son of the legendary Bum Phillips, Wade has been coaching for 44 years, starting as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston, rising to the rank of defensive coordinator after 12 years and finally taking his first head coaching position in the NFL with the Denver Broncos after 24 years.  Most recently he served as the defensive coordinators for the Houston Texans and took over as intern head coach after Gary Kubiak was fired mid-season but was also let go after new head coach Bill O’Brien was hired this offseason.  As a defensive coordinator his units have ranked on average 11.6 over 15 years.
  2. Romeo Crennel: The first set of “coordinator geniuses” to come out of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, Crennel and Charlie Weis both left the Patriots staff after the 2004 season and took up high profile positions with Crennel taking over as the Browns head coach.  He lasted 3 abysmal season before being let go.  Perception of the Patriots has changed a lot over the last 10 years and now it appears as if Bill Belichick is the only genius with the Patriots as countless coaches and front office personnel have failed in new locations (here’s looking at you Josh McDaniels) .  Crennel’s most recent coaching position was in 2012 when he was promoted to head coach after the firing of Todd Haley in Kansas City and proceeded to guide the Chiefs to the first overall selection in the 2013 draft.  As a defensive coordinator his units have ranked on average 7.2 over 7 years, but considering 4 of those years came while he was the coordinator under Belichick a grain of salt needs to be taken with that average rank.

Overall, no one really strikes me as a significantly better than Dom Capers.  The Packers have a history of promoting and grooming coaches from within, such as Tom Clements moving from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, Edgar Bennett moving from running back to wide receiver coach and Ben McAdoo moving from tight end to quarterback coach.  However, the Packers curiously have not moved defensive coaches around at all, hence no position coach really has any experience outside their position (save the secondary coaches who have flip flopped between safety and cornerback).  Furthermore, if you take out the interviews where the team has just cleaned house and has an obvious connection to the Packers (Reggie McKenzie in Oakland or Joe Philbin in Miami), there hasn’t been much interest in the Packers defensive coaching staff.  Out of the group, Mike Trgovac probably has the best chance of succeeding Capers as he’s the only one with previous defensive coordinator experience (his units ranked 9.8 on average over 6 years).  As for “out house” options, there isn’t really much to differentiate Dom Capers from Wade Phillips nor Romeo Crennel; all three have had very good seasons as coordinators (Capers fielded the best defense twice, Crennel the 2nd best once and Philips the 4th thrice) while all have had abysmal seasons as well.  Capers’ defensive units ranked 11.9 on average over 11 years, nearly identical to Wade Phillips.  None of these options would be any younger; Dom Capers is 63 while Philips and Crennel are both 66.

Arguably, a lot of the defensive woes from last season are not the fault of the defensive coordinator; poor tackling is not the fault of the coaches but of the players themselves (they didn’t get into the NFL without already knowing how to tackle).  It’s also not the fault of the defensive coordinator when players miscommunicate with each other or miss assignments; inherent with each of these issues is that the defensive coordinator gave the players an assignment that they failed to execute.  Furthermore the argument that the defensive players cannot grasp the play calling is also a little suspect; if Aaron Rodgers and the entire offense can have so many different variations of routes, concepts, protections and calls for every single play, why can’t defensive players handle the same complexity?  Finally, blaming the spate of injuries on the defensive coordinator is pretty hilarious, its not like Dom Capers is down on the field stretching the players before a game or taping them up.  As I’ve mentioned before, injuries are statistically random hence no coach is really responsible for injuries.

So really, why would the Packers fire Dom Capers when there’s no sure fire better option?  No one in house has the experience and the free agent coaches out there right now are without jobs for a reason.  Firing Dom Capers might give some fans a warm and fuzzy feeling, but not having a plan afterwards would truly be the stupid thing to do.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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125 Responses to “So You Want To Fire Dom Capers?”

  1. Slim11 says:

    This is well written and provides a good analysis of the DC position.

    Two thoughts…

    First, one of the weak areas in the Packers’ defense is ILB. Moss is the ILB coach. Is he part of the ILB problem?

    Second, the comparison of Green to Starr and Gregg is valid to a point. Greene has 16 years of military leadership experience in addition to his NFL career. Starr and Gregg didn’t have that. I admit there is a certain amount of bias as I am a retired military officer. That’s why I think Greene has a chance to be a DC somewhere sooner than others mentioned in the article.

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    • Hank Scorpio says:

      Kevin Greene has done more to earn pink slip than a promotion, IMO.

      He can’t seem to get his guys to contain the edge consistently. He has 2 #1s and a #2 draft choice among his guys and still they are inconsistent. Every year there is a surprise at OLB in training camp (Zombo, Moses, So’Oto). Every year that guy is cut the following year. Guys just don’t seem to get any better under Greene than when they arrived in GB. That’s a BIG problem for a position coach in a “draft and develop” organization.

      I like his intensity. He was a great player. But he doesn’t have much of a resume as a coach, IMO.

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      • Bedroske says:

        Greene cannot coach them on IR (or while injured), and as soon as they’re healthy, we play ‘em. I don’t envy the position he’s been put in to get results.

        We need to start calling any coach that gets results MacGyver, if even for a play. “He really MacGyvered that play.”

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        • Razer says:

          I like it – the MacGyver Defense

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          That would be an issue regardless of what coach is out there; even Buddy Ryan and all his sons can’t get around that problem. You can argue that perhaps Capers has trouble adapting when injuries hit during a game, but I would give him a pass when a bunch of starters get injured, he simply doesn’t know how the new guys will fit in with the 1st team defense.

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    • Razer says:

      I am not sure how good Green is as a coach. Other than Clay Matthews, our OLB are around the same as our ILB. Nothing to see here. People think that the failure of guys like S’oto, Zombo and the like to advance is a reflection on Green’s in ability to get more. Green is retraining DE’s to play linebacker and working with 6th, 7th round and UDFA to make this thing work. Since our D-line has almost zero left-to-right mobility our OLBers better be good because holding the edge is a tall order.

      Can you really look at these guys without considering the totality of the defense? Unless you have stud players that overcome mistakes and make big-time plays, one fail – they all fail.

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        Traditional thought dictates that the OLB actually don’t set the edge, rather the 34 DEs does and allows the OLB to flow to the play. However, I’m beginning to think that this is probably a lot more complex than that; arguably Thompson has drafted 3 DEs that are supposed to be pass rushers (Neal, Worthy and Jones) while he’s drafted an OLB that’s strength is his ability to be a run defender (Perry). However, Greene arguably has had the most investment in his position, both Matthews and Jones are first round picks, if you think about Joe Whitt Jr. the highest pick he had to work with this year really was Davon House, who was picked in the 4th and his two starters were both undrafted free agents.

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    • Dobber says:

      There’s always a leap from positional coach to coordinator, just as there’s a leap from coordinator to HC. Some guys just aren’t cut out for the higher position, but–just as likely–there are guys who are better suited for the coordinator position than they are for a positional coach. We tend to use the quality of play at a position to judge the positional coach, but that might be the better argument to NOT promote that person.

      That said, should TT be scouring the 3-4 teams in the league and look for the positional unit that has the least talent but has demonstrated the most solid play and hire that positional coach as a DC? No guarantees, people.

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      • JimR_in_DC says:

        Maybe TT should cast his net a bit wider and also consider 4-3 defensive candidates as well.

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        Arguably which team would that be? Cleveland perhaps?

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        • Dobber says:

          Perhaps. I was more “f’rinsancing” than making a suggestion, but I suppose if I’m going to be doing that, I should be prepared with an answer, eh? Perhaps even the Jets…

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          • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

            Perhaps, but how much of that is Rex Ryan and not his position coaches?

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Starr was raised in a military family (father was in the air force and was the stereotypical “army” man from all accounts) as well if that counts for anything.

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  2. duhawks says:

    keep dom. what is needed is players to believe in dom and his plans. if bush would have stayed in his zone he wouls have force the 49ers qb back inside and not leave the outside open. so players have to believe in what they are told by older coaches who have been around longer then they have been playing. and if they want to keep playing they should start believing.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Defense has always been considered more reactive than proactive, and I’m sure defensive players are told to trust in their instincts, which of course makes coaching them even harder as it’s not just what’s played but also reacting properly what the offense is running.

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    • Shavager says:

      So you’re gonna ignore the FACT that Packers have been kicked out of playoffs THREE CONSECUTIVE SEASONS by a team that beat up the Pack’s defense? Forget about the Vikings playoff game in ’12 season–that team should’ve NEVER qualified for a spot–it was Dom Capers DEFENSE that gave them the win that qualified them and excepting for that team, Packers have been ONE AND DONE THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS because this defense couldn’t stop the Giants, Niners and Niners again. Face it Packers fans, THIS IS NOT ARENA FOOTBALL, just run the offense back on field and outscore opponents. At some point Packers need to play DEFENSE, scoring production has DROPPED from 35 points PER game in ’11 to 27 points PER game in ’12, to 25.7 points PER game in 2013. How bad was defense? They allowed 26 points PER game, baby, that’s LOSING FOOTBALL no matter what league you’re in. That means Rodgers MUST score TD’s instead of FG’s, NO turnovers, NO mistakes, NO penalties and score EVERY drive otherwise defense will give away the victory. Had Rodgers gotten a TD on last drive vs. Niners, it meant a TD to win or else. As long as Packers defense is at this level of inconsistency and inability to get off field, NO lead is safe, NO win is certain.

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  3. palmda says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      1) The Packers defense ranked 8th overall last year according to FootballOutsiders, you are probably thinking of 2011 and this year, but Capers fielded a good defense last year.

      2)The Packers do not get better simply by firing Dom Capers, the Packers get better by firing Dom Capers AND finding someone better. The prime example of “anyone is better than no one” would be when the Eagles hired Juan Castillo, do you want the Packers to be the next team to hire a Juan Castillo?

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  4. Razer says:

    Everyone of our position coaches that you pointed to has had performance troubles. Oddly enough, each has had to deal with a lack of talent. Bringing these units together to form a solid defense is no small task. Aside from our talent issues, we don’t seem to have the right athlete for the modern game.

    I watched the Seattle defense this past weekend and was stuck by how fast and mobile they were. The D-line moved like linebackers. I can see why they can play against the modern mobile quarterback. When I think of our Wilson, Raji and Pickett beef, I can’t help but think this line is built for the old pound-it running attack. If it starts in the trenches then we are a generation behind in our philosophy and talent. Today’s game is about pressure and pursuit and we haven’t got the personnel to run that defense (yet).

    Replacing the DC would be the easiest part of the solution. Drafting and developing a new D-line and better linebackers will take a couple more seasons – at least.

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    • Hank Scorpio says:

      I don’t think Joe Whitt or Mike Trgovac are caught too heavily in the defensive mess. Moreso Whitt, who I think has been outstanding. Trgovac has been ok.

      I also disagree that those guys are hamstrung by lack of talent. The Packers have been drafting heavily on defense for years now. Every defensive coach has gotten new players to work with. Most of them don’t do anything with those players. The exception being Whitt and Trgovac.

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      • Razer says:

        I like Trgo and I had big hopes for him. He has done about the same as everybody else on this defense. Our D-line hasn’t improved or even got back to 2010 championship levels. Our best lineman is a 6 foot 4th rounder. Worthy and Datone Jones may help to change that but until that happens our D-line is average at best.

        If you look at these defensive components in isolation, then I think you are basically right about Whitt. He has done fairly well with the talent given him. A little more pass rush and his guys might be top five.

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    • Dobber says:

      I’ve been on the fence with DC over the last couple years because my feeling is that his units have been hamstrung by a lack of on-field leadership. Others have said it, too, but the downward spiral of this defense seems to coincide with the loss of a couple key players: Collins, Jenkins, even Bishop.

      If they can find that field general, I suspect that the quality of play will take a significant step forward…will it fix everything? No, but it’s a start.

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        I’d pretty much say it’s all on Collins; Jenkins was getting older and honestly Bishop was replaced relatively well but the Packers have not figured out how to replace Collins; Burnett would have been a great compliment to Collins but he isn’t a true center fielder.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I think fans tend to forget how many years has been invested in the 34 scheme, Thompson has been drafting heavily on defense for the last 3 years and there’s no proof that any of the current players could be able to transition to a 43 defense. Seattle is built differently than the Packers and arguably they had the advantage right now, but playing lighter and lighter players is gonna lead some offense to find a counter with bigger and bigger receivers and what not.

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      • Herb the Bitter says:

        There’s little evidence the current players can play a 3-4 either.

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  5. Hank Scorpio says:

    I don’t accept the premise that Capers would have to be replaced by a 3-4 coordinator. I see a quick and easy transition back to 4-3 given the personnel on the roster now. They have more depth at DL than LB. That suggests 4-3 is at least as appropriate as 3-4, IMO.

    However, we’re past the point where a change would have been made if one was going to be made, IMO. I don’t think Capers is going anywhere.

    If I’m wrong about that, I don’t see a promotion in the cards. If you’re unhappy with the current defense enough to fire the DC, you’d want to look outside the organization for a fresh start. Promoting from within is usually the approach when a coach is poached by another team.

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    • JimR_in_DC says:

      I agree with you, Hank.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I think you’d be looking at least a 2-3 year rebuild; I don’t accept the premise that just because a 3-4 player was good means that they will be a good 4-3 player, just look at Aaron Kampmann. Look at Mario Williams or hell even Darelle Revis who isn’t even on the line. It’s a bigger risk than I think you imagine.

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  6. Nick Perry says:

    I’m curious Thomas, where do Capers defenses rank on average over the years? I saw your average finish for both Crennel and Phillips but not Capers. As everybody knows, Capers defense normally go straight down in rankings after year 2.

    In Pittsburgh he actually was better in year 3 than 2. That was the first and last time that happened, in 1994. In Carolina he was HC but I believe he oversaw the defense. Year one was great, year 2 top 10. Year 3 he was right in the middle and year 4 he finished in the 30′s and was fired. 2 years in Jacksonville got him another HC job in Houston, where he just sucked the whole time.
    Then on to Miami and Capers was top 5 in yards and points and 23rd and 30th in year 2 and fired and on to Green Bay. I don’t know about you, but I see the pattern here.

    Is Phillips a better option? I have no idea, but I hate that helpless feeling like the Packers had against the Bears the first game, Eagles, and the 49ers twice as they run the ball straight down the Packers throat or throw to wide open receivers without a DB or Safety in sight. In everyone of those games the opposing team controlled the final minutes of the games. Who could forget the Bengals game where Cinny has drives of 65 yards in 4 plays and 95 yards in 7 plays BEFORE Franklins fumble blowing a 30 to 16 lead. Of course we could blame the offense just as easy in that game.

    At the end of the day TT keeps Capers and actually helps the poor guy with a Safety in free agency, maybe a ILB too. As we’ve learned we can’t count on Ted to sign a free agent, but I’d think Ted has learned he can no longer IGNORE it.

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    • Dobber says:

      “Capers’ defensive units ranked 11.9 on average over 11 years, nearly identical to Wade Phillips. None of these options would be any younger; Dom Capers is 63 while Philips and Crennel are both 66.”

      End of third paragraph from the end.

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    • Stroh says:

      Last 2 games vs SF they certainly did NOT Run the ball down the Packers throats! They had all of 90 yds rushing in game 1 this year and only 68 by RB and 22 by Kaeperdork. In the playoff game, SF ran for a lot more but Kaeperdork did most of the damage by scrambling for nearly 100 yds. But again the RB were held to 70 yds rushing! QB scrambles don’t represent running down someone’s throat! It represents a broken play on a passing attempt.

      What games were you watching? Epic Fail… Try again.

      Bears and Eagles had plenty of success running but SF certainly didn’t!

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      “Is Phillips a better option? I have no idea”

      This is the root of the problem, if you don’t know if anyone else is better, why are you so quick to fire Capers. The absolute worst case scenario is that the Packers fire Capers and the defense gets worse (and it can happen).

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      • Since '61 says:

        Thomas – if I or the Packers were to follow your logic, that there is no one better out there, then we should have closed down the franchise after 1968 when Vince Lombardi left, because there wasn’t anyone better then and 44 seasons later there still isn’t any one better. Thanks, Since ’61

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          If Caper decides to take a job somewhere else like Lombardi did that’s a completely different issue and frankly not even remotely related to this article.

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      • Archie says:

        We can get worse?! Are you sure?

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          It can always get worse, Capers’ performance average out puts him as an slightly above average DC, so it could totally get worse.

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      • Nick Perry says:

        I never said fire him. I’ve said from day one that this is his pattern, as have other readers. I also said get him some help in FA. Every team playing this Sunday has been active in FA. Maybe neither Phillips or Crenell are answers. Maybe they move away from a coach in his 60′s if they were to change at all. But one can hardly say this defense has been a success the last 3 years and their average ranking over the last 3 years is a bit higher than 11.9. I think it’s closer to 23rd or so.

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  7. JH9 says:

    I’m sorry Tom, but I don’t think your list includes everyone and I don’t accept the notion that a fan must have a replacement in mind if he wants to criticize Dom Capers.

    There is always up and coming talent in every profession ready to step-up and take over a position of responsibility. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the medical profession, legal profession, business management, entertainment industry or football coaching.

    A measure of senior management’s talent is to identify and hire such a person before the competition hires them. If senior management doesn’t have the ability to do that, then they should be replaced.

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    • “I’m sorry Tom, but I don’t think your list includes everyone and I don’t accept the notion that a fan must have a replacement in mind if he wants to criticize Dom Capers.”

      I think the point is more that fans should consider the alternatives before making up their mind. Do you have to? No. But then your opinions will suffer from lazy thinking.

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      • JH9 says:

        Well, I could just as easily say that you didn’t include college coaches in your choices and that could be attributed to “lazy thinking.”

        And before anyone chortles at the thought of a college coach stepping up and becoming a NFL DC, we must remember that Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and Chip Kelly all stepped up from college to being a NFL head coach in one year.

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        • Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

          Ok fine JH9 – Name some college coaches that you’d like to see interviewed for DC of GB.

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          • JH9 says:

            Okay, you could start looking at the defensive coordinators at these ten colleges:

            http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1881515-grading-the-top-10-college-football-defenses-of-2013

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          • Shavager says:

            WHY does it have to be college coaches? What’s wrong with Mike Singletary or Greg Schiano? BOTH would bring an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT to Packers defense–BETCHA they wouldn’t be sitting in coaches box is stadium during games, they’d be on the field in the flow of momentum of game and in the emotions of their defensive players instead of far away playing video game defense upstairs. IF you think a #2 defense in ’10 season dropping to #25 in 3 years is good, how far ya’ gonna wanna drop next year for Capers INCONSISTENCY to become unacceptable.

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          There are literally hundreds if not thousands of college coaches and I frankly have neither the background in college coaching nor the time to really go through all of them. If you want to do some research on them and offer some suggestions I’m all ears.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      The above was not meant to be a end all be all list of all the coaches that potentially be the Packers DC; there’s just too many coaches that no one has ever considered, I mean did anyone think Mike McCarthy was really a candidate for the HC position?

      Also I don’t have a problem with people criticizing Capers, I think Capers has done a poor job, especially in 2011. But if you are calling for Capers to be fired outright, then you need to think of what happens next, and if you do I bet a lot of them would regret it.

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      • Barutan Seijin says:

        It’s all fantasy anyway. It’s not like anyone here is going to have a say in the decision. I could say hire Lovie Smith and support my case with a number of facts & observations, but it’s not going to happen.

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    • Archie says:

      Well put!

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  8. Dobber says:

    The poorly-conceived notion of fans (especially unhappy fans) is that change means things automatically get better (whether it’s the GM, HC, OC/DC,etc.). If that were true, no team would ever languish at the bottom of the league.

    Whereas this article focuses on Crennel and Phillips as established coordinators with good track records at DC who could step in and run the show, I agree that there is likely a plethora of up-and-comers out there. It’s impossible to talk about all of them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as viable as some of the people mentioned here.

    Finally, I worry a little about organizational nepotism: we’re going to promote from within, move people up, and only add at the bottom-most levels of our coaching staff. If all you do is perpetuate your culture, how do you grow? Find people to populate positional coaching spots or coordinators who bring in experiences from other, successful coaching trees. That’s how you grow and evolve.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      It is nepotism, but then again if your system works why not develop your own guys? At least on offense, I think moving your coaches around givens them more depth of experience which will only help the team in the future.

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  9. Michael from Winnipeg says:

    Well done Thomas. Maybe your article will shut some people up.

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  10. Since '61 says:

    Tom – First, I agree with Palmda that not having a replacement for Capers is not a valid reason for keeping him. I am confident that the Packers keep a short list of internal and external candidates for all of their senior coaching and management positions. Suppose Capers retired or took a position with another team, the Packers would be prepared to interview candidates. So that argument is not justified IMO. Beyond that, your comments concerning the defensive staff combined with the on field performance actually makes a further argument for replacing all of them. You are basically saying that all of them have performance issues and this supported, unfortunately, by the on field results. I understand that poor tackling and miscommunications are on the players and I agree with that, but again we have a reasonably high level of NFL and GB experience existing on this defense with the exceptions of Perry and D. Jones, so why do those issues persist? These are both correctable issues during practice and pre- game preparations. If we are working on these issues and there is no improvement why aren’t players benched? It seems as if there is no corrective action at all. All organizations make changes either because they are required or to improve the current performance, even when current results have been good. Here we have lack of results and apparently no accountability. If this is true, what message does it send to our players? The article could be, Why keep Dom Capers? If the answer is continuity, to continue what? Poor defense! Thanks, Since ’61

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    • Ed Schoenfeld says:

      ’61 the issue is communication on the field ‘in the heat’ of the game. The solution is is a better safety to recognize the changes the D needs to make defensive calls based on the offensive play. The defense’s problems over the past few years have far more to do with the loss of Collins than anything else; that’s on TT, who took a shot at replacing him with Macmillian and missed.

      Another playmaker at OLB would also help; the only ‘natural 3-4 OLB on the roster is Matthews, who is off the field too much. The conversion projects (everybody else) are OK as what they are, but the Packers need at least one more ‘natural’ OLB to make this thing work *consistently.*

      Unfortunately, it looks like this year they also are going to have to rebuild the DL (Raji, Pickett, WIlson and Neal all FAs and Jolly an FA with maybe a career-ending injury.) I don’t see how they get that all done without seriously looking at other teams’ free agents, like TT did in ’06 with Pickett.

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      • Since '61 says:

        Ed – thank you for your feedback. Yes, communication is an issue and the loss of Nick Collins hurt, but that was over 2 seasons ago. Besides communication, we have tackling issues, we don’t hold the edge, when we do get penetration our guys usually run themselves out of the play, our players do not get off of the blocks and rarely does anyone deliver a hit, especially the safeties. We play defense like it’s illegal to make a hit. Defense needs to be played with abandon and with a sense of urgency. Our defense exhibits neither and that needs to change. When was the last time we stopped a short yardage play on the ground? Those are attitude plays, not schemes, they are man on man and we lose them almost all the time. When was the last time an opposing QB looked uncomforatable in the pocket against our defense, maybe 1998 when Reggie White was still here. Even after 2 seasons of poor defense I was a Capers supporter into this season until Rodgers went down and the defense did not step up at all. They got worse and at times disappeared. That was their opportunity to respond and they failed, badly! I wish the problems were just communications, but they are much more and have been for too long. What happens next year when we are still having the same conversations about Capers and the defense or the season after that, etc… Make the change when it hurts rather than wait until it kills you. Thanks, Since ’61

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        • JimR_in_DC says:

          You nailed it, Since ’61.

          The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

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        • JH9 says:

          I’m in complete agreement with you, Since ’61!

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          It is illegal for defensive players to make a hit :D

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          • Since '61 says:

            Thomas – let me make it clear for you. Our team plays defense like it is illegal to make a tackle. Is that OK for you? It is that kind of thinking (about hits)as to why we have as DAVE Robinson said, “A Mamby Pamby Defense”. Thanks, Since ’61

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            • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

              I meant it basically is illegal for defensive players to make a hit and this isn’t an issue for just the Packers, it’s a league wide trend, most likely due to the reduced amount of time spent practicing due to the CBA and the whole issue of concussions, which is a very big deal.

              I’d also rather have a soft defense than a team full of Brandon Merriweathers, who have to regard for the safety of their own colleagues.

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              • Since '61 says:

                OK, you can have a soft defense. I would prefer to have a solid defense with players who square up, lead with the shoulder, feet driving into the ball carrier and actually make a stop with clean, legal tackles (hits). These have been sorely missing from our Packers defense. I would never advocate for any kind of dirty play such as leading with helmut,leaving your feet, late hits, etc… It’s dangerous and unneccesary. IMO, players like Merriweather are not penalized sufficiently by the league. 1st offense, a least a one game suspension, 2nd offense, season suspension, 3rd offense- out of the league. Dirty play and players are a sore point for me. A long time ago I played in a league where one team tried to stick me and my teammates with pockets knives and cut us with broken glass at the bottom of pile ups. Another time I was chased down the field by a switch blade weilding opponent as I ran back an Int. Fortunately, I was much faster than the cirminal, I mean player, with the knife. I retired from that league relatively unharmed, shortly thereafter. Thanks, Since ’61

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        • Barutan Seijin says:

          That’s easy, ’61.

          Here’s what’ll happen next year: People will say “Gimme your list of guys that are certified better than Capers” “If it weren’t for the injuries we had in ’14…”

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I think question that your comment brings up is are any of the potential coaches on their short list any better than Capers? I’d argue that their short list contains at least a couple of the defensive position coaches, who you’ve already alluded to should be fired. Say for instance, Capers retired and they promoted Winston Moss to DC (who is likely on their short list considering he is the assistant head coach), would you think Moss would fare any better?

      I should also mention that tackling has been heavily practiced in the last two offseasons, so it’s not like the coaches haven’t noticed the issue. Also given the restrictive nature of the offseason as well as the need to protect your investment, I’d believe the coaches are teaching and practicing tackling as much as they can.

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    • Mark says:

      Until there is accountability for lack of results, Rodgers is being wasted. Hate too see that, the guy can flat play. Brett was fun to watch and as fierce a competitor as ever put on pads, but A-rod made him irrelevant. Come on Ted, safeties, blocking tight ends [with decent hands] and kick returners are cheap in free agency. Don’t waste draft picks on guys who don’t fit – Perry and Neal. And an OL who was a LT in college isn’t the best choice for C and G, we need a road grader in the middle for Lacy. Sorry strength guys you are gone.

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      • Razer says:

        Nice summary Mark. I particularly like the last items about picking guys that don’t fit. The draft has a degree of chance as to who will play at the next level. Retraining guys adds another level of difficulty for the college player. I like Nick Perry but I am doubting that he has the head for a read and react LB. Mike Neal is in the same boat. Now, if we were to morph our defense to take advantage of the draft talent, maybe we could fully utilize some of these players. We are kind of stuck half way across the stream.

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        Not a lot of teams play a 3-4 defense in college, so there isn’t much choice but to pick players who don’t “fit”. I should mention that Clay Matthews was never technically a 3-4 OLB at USC either so it’s not like Thompson has never figured it out either.

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  11. Big T says:

    Change is SCARY, just let it ride…

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  12. FourEyesBrewing says:

    In all your discussion about the defensive coaches, maybe that’s where the personnel changes should be made. We have Dom Capers at the top, who we must admit has shown he has the chops to put together a great defense, and underperforming players at the bottom. The link is the coaching staff, who help translate the scheme and assignments from the DC to the decisions made on the field. Safeties underperforming and missing their assignments? Then maybe we should be looking to replace the safeties coach, not the DC. Capers has said that he can put people in the right position to make a play, but he can’t make them execute. The coaches, however, should be in part responsible for their unit’s performance, especially with the development of talent.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Its possible, unfortunately not many of us know exactly what each coach does and even less know exactly what Packers coaches do. However I would presume that all DCs are spend much of their time developing a game plan and picking calls while position coaches are more responsible for the physical issues, like missing tackles and what not.

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  13. grizzlymitch says:

    Capers has coached a terrible defense for three years. I agree that the team needs better players in certain positions. I never miss a play and I can predict our defense throughout a game. When we send seven or eight players to get to the quarterback, they rarely get there. This defense is too predictable and we have to make a defensive coordinator change. I do believe that a Packer assistant is capable and I do not want one of those washed up bums that have been bouncing around on loosing teams over the years. I don’t think that I am naive when I say that there has to be great young coaches throughout this land with great ideas. Lets go find the next great defensive coordinator. Capers D will not change this defense. It will continue to be a bottom Defense in this league. An improved D will make this team a certain contender for a title.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      The Packers had the 8th ranked overall defense last year, better than Cincinnati, Carolina, New England and the Giants. I would not call that a terrible defense. This year, yes they were terrible.

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      • Nick Perry says:

        11th last year Thomas, at least for “Game Stats”

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          I’m referencing Football Outsiders’ metric, to match my article; but even if the Packers had the 11th best defense they should not be considered terrible.

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  14. Bedroske says:

    Who’s the big stats guy that writes for this blog, Mr. Hobbes?
    I’d be very interested in the percentage of plays Dom has actually had what he said he needs to make this defense work. He has said he needs a run-stuffing DT (oh boy) and stud OLBs.
    Most professionals can accomplish their goals without certain materials, but it becomes increasingly difficult as those materials are removed. Can I build without steel? Sure. But it won’t be as good. Can I build w/o steel and wood… and, and, and… We’re trying to evaluate the constructor (Capers and his staff) when the equipment suppliers (TT and his staff) are dealing with very limited access to resources (FA, back-ups).
    How in the world do we expect the product to resemble anything like it’s supposed to?

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Actually we all kind of do stats, but your question is basically impossible to answer because no one knows the real play calls other than the Packers, who rightly will never tell anyone else. There’s basically no way to tell when Dom Capers wants a run stuffing DT on the field but can’t due to injuries because the defense will just field a different guy.

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      • Bedroske says:

        I’m referring more to the idea of having his fully healthy DT and OLBs for the game, regardless of play call. Perry and CMIII have been less than 100% for a large stretch. (Although it can be argued any “healthy” player is less than 100% after a game). Before Perry, the Poppinga/Zombo/Walden/??? never seemingly being at full strength.

        I understand, too, that part of my request asks for us to ascertain if a player is truly “healthy” as well.

        Oh well.

        WHY CAN’T WE JUST HAVE A HEALTHY SEASON LIKE THE 9ERS?

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          I guess it depends on how you want to qualify “healthy”. Is a guy with a bowling ball for a hand but still playing “healthy”? Also, players will play with smaller injuries that aren’t reported and other injuries are reported more severe to throw off other teams so it would be hard to really correlation health with performance unless you work for the team.

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          • Nopainnogain says:

            no matter what metric you use it’s pretty obvious that the Niners had a healthier season. their only serious injury was crabtree. no other SF starter missed more than 4 games to injury. Their starters only missed 31 games (16 off, 15 def). Meanwhile, Rodgers, Cobb, Finley, Bulaga, Hayward, Matthews, and Perry all missed at least 5 games. Packers starters combined to miss 84 games (48 off, 36 def). it’s a trend that’s repeated the last 4 seasons. when was the last time they lost a stud like collins or bishop to basically a career-ending injury?

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  15. Stroh says:

    If Capers gets replaced, and at this point there is almost no chance it happens, the place to look would be to another 34 D, like SF, to find a position coach w/ leadership ability and a good track record in his current position. I don’t like re-treads like Phillips and Crennel. Totally pass on them and would keep Capers over either. Look for a younger, position coach w/ the leadership and track record to take over the D.

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    • JimR_in_DC says:

      34D may be nice, but isn’t a necessity.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I agree, but those aren’t the guys that fans who want Capers to be fire want to see. They want to see a name they can recognize.

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      • JimR_in_DC says:

        That’s not necessarily true.

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          If this isn’t you then you definitely are in the minority. Personally, I’ve always felt that Packers fans in particular want something to flaunt and talk about to other fans. I think after so many years of no real free agent signings, no “blockbuster” draft deals and no real big name coaches joining, Packers fans feel a little left out during the beginning of the offseason. They want to say “hey, we just nabbed the best free agent this year, what have you done Chicago/Minnesota?” Same applies for coaches.

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  16. Razer says:

    “When we send seven or eight players to get to the quarterback, they rarely get there…”

    Why don’t we get there on blitzes? Surely Jarrett Bush or A.J. Hawk or M.D. Jennings or Brad Jones can win their assignment. Surely our D-line can push aside the opposing O-line to allow a blitz to get through. It is NOT for lack of trying to bring pressure, it is for lack of winning the one-on-one. Consider this in light good teams getting to our QB with a 4 man rush (see the Giants, 49ers, Lions, etc).

    The option is to not blitz and watch guys like Kaepernick stand in the pocket and pick us apart. What would you have Capers to do? He sent more guys in different ways to get to the opposing QB and we didn’t get the result. What do you do? Firing the DC so that the next guy can send 7 or 8 guys seems to be the only answer

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I’m not actually sure how good the Packers are when they send the house, but the Packers aren’t built to really get pressure with 4, the blitzburgh style of 34 is more predicated on putting pressure from weird place with weird players rather than just a simple “i beat my man” sort of defense that the Giants or the Lions play. Is it better? Arguable, but that’s not the strength of the defense nor was it supposed to be.

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    • White92 White92 says:

      This is what maddens me the most about the Packer defense. Routinely, when they blitz, they don’t get home.

      I think this is the reason Capers doesn’t blitz more, not the lack of confidence in the secondary.

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  17. John says:

    Excellent article. I really have no way of knowing if Capers is a good or bad DC. I do have a way of knowing if the players TT gives him are any good or not. That is call PFF, they have a very in depth grading system for every player in the NFL. Per PFF, the talent on defense is extremely poor. No DC could win with the talent on defense provided by TT. Now, could another DC do better than Capers with the level of talent provided. I can’t answer that. Here is a piece I put together for a group of friends that asked “What should the Packers do with their 17 free agents”? It speaks to the incredible lack of talent on defense provided by TT.

    Out of 103 DT/NT that played at least 1 game, PFF grades Pickett at 72nd best. Considering there are 49 starting DE/NT, not so good. He actually was grading out as a starter for the first half of the season but got tired and dropped significantly. If resigned, it would be logical to expect the same. I suppose he should play very limited snaps. I would not give him much more than the minimum. I doubt if he would sign for that.

    Of 62 3/4 DE that played at least 1 game, Raji grades out as 3rd worse in football. For those that believe Raji played better at DT/NT his grades since 2009 were -13 for DT/NT and -3 for DE. A grade of zero is just doing your job at an average level. Raji did have a couple of real good years but my guess is we are seeing the real Raji now. He is worth no more then the Minimum, if that. This could be a huge mistake the Thompson might make. Why is it all right to drastically overpay Packer free agents and not pay the market for other teams free agents? If Raji was a free agent off another team, would you pay 5-8 million for him. I think not. Thompson made mistakes paying for future promise when he overpayed, Hawk, Finley and Burnett. Please don’t do it again. What if Thompson used the Raji money to pay Jarius Byrd? Safety problem solved.

    Of the 98 TE that played at least 1 game, Finley grades out at 63. Finley has never graded out per his reputation. Packer management and fans have always greatly overrated him. His estimated value per his grades is usually about 2 million. The packers dodged a bullet with this one. If he hadn’t had the serious injury, Thompson would have drastically over payed him on promise like he did in the past. Can you imagine if the 8 million spent on him last year was spent on a safety or ILB what might have been? Pay him 1-2 million eems reasonable if his neck is healthy or cut him. Makes no difference. The packers do need a TE, but defensive help is a much more drastic need, in comparison, TE is a luxury.

    Of the 162 WR that played at least 1 game, James Jones grades out at 60. That’s a starting grade considering 64 starters for a 2 WR offense and 96 starters for a 3 WR offense. Nelson, Cobb and Boykin grade out at 2, 34, 41 respectively. Impressive. So if money needs to be saved Jones can be let go. If he is willing to sign for reasonable money, IE: 60th best reciever money, by all means keep him.

    Of the 150 corners that played at least 1 game, Shields grades out at 68. His pass coverage grade his .9 and would rank him as the 48th best in coverage. Not bad but certainly not the super star that some say he is. His tackling grade is -4.7 which brings him down. If he can be signed for reasonable money, what an average #2 corner on a team should get paid. Pay him, but please don’t over pay him because he is a Packer. For comparison sake, Williams ranked 44 in all aspects of playing corner, Hyde 46, Bush 56 ( surprised, not a Bush fan ), Hayward 62 ( he ranked 4th best last year but had hamstring problems this year, if he can get over them he is a Gem ), House 93rd.

    Of the 25 FB that played at least 1 game, Kuhn grades out at 3rd. In years past I thought it was silly to be spending 2-3 million on Kuhn. I thought that money was more well spent elsewhere. I was wrong. Please resign him for the 1.8 or so he made this year.

    Of the 45 Centers that played at least 1 game, Evan D-Smith grades out at 8th. Keep him.

    Of the 97 Tackles that played at least 1 game, Newhouse grades out at 15th worse. Since 2008 Newhouse grades out as the worse player on the current roster. Hawk grades out as the 2nd worse. Stop the madness. It shouldn’t take this long for professional coaches this long to figure this stuff out. Get rid of him.

    Of the 98 TE that played at least 1 game, Quarless grades out at 78. Not much difference than Finley’s 63. Granted, they are completely different types of TE’s. Finley is a receiver and Quarless is more complete, although not anywhere near the receiver Finley is. Bostick grades out at 69. Between Quarless and Boskick we may have a Finley. Which isn’t great but with our defensive needs is enough. One other thing, please do not use a high pick on a TE. We already don’t have a chance at winning a Super Bowl because of our horrific defense. Our offense is very good when not trying to cover up for a horrible offense, TE is a luxury. If a draft pick must be used. Please use it after drafting a safety or 2, ILB or 2, DT/NT and DE.

    Seneca Wallace. No need for him. He should un-unretire.

    Of 62 3/4 DE that played at least 1 game, Jolly grades out as 14th worse in football. Consider that there are 30 starting 3/4 DE’s, not so good. I love and root for Johnny Jolly. I think he brings a toughness and nastiness to the Packers that is missing. But, the Pack should only resign him to a Min contract. He may be done anyway with a neck injury.

    Rob Francois only got 13 snaps this year before tearing his right Achilles. He had no snaps in 2012 also. In 2011 he had 166 (approx 80 defensive snaps a game ) snaps at ILB and graded out at 33. Considering there are 47 starting ILB positions, not bad. Much better than Hawk who graded out as the 13th worse ILB in football. Please stop the madness! I am guessing that returning from a torn Achilles is next to improbable, and he never will be the same, and the Packers have enough injured players, so he probably should not be signed.

    Of the 59 3/4 OLB that played at least 1 game, Neal was the 3rd worse. When Neal was drafted in the 2nd round by Thompson, he was considered by many experts as a 6th or 7th round pick and many had him as a rookie free agent. This was a drafting mistake by Thompson. I consider Thompson to be a good drafter, especially lately, earlier in his career he took to many gambles with higher round picks. This was one of them. If Neal can be signed for close to the Min, go ahead and do it. If not, no loss.

    Of the 89 HB that played at least 1 game, Starks grades out as the 24th best HB in football. It seems that he ran better when fresh, although I do wish McCarthy would have given him a few more snaps with Lacy’s ankle hurting him so. Starks coming in with speed after Lacy beats the hell out of the defense is a good game plan. Do more of it. I think Starks also played so well because of contract motivations. By the way, Dujuan Harris’s 71 snaps in 2012 graded out as the 48th best running back in football, not the greatest, but good for an in season free agent, really, he does not deserve all the excitement and high hopes that Packer fans have dropped on him. Starks should be signed at a salary no more than twice the Min. Again, save money for defense. Franklin will be back and another late round draft pick or rookie free agent can be signed, plus Harris.

    OF the 62 3/4 DE, Wilson grades out at 41. Are you sensing a pattern here, Raji 3rd worse, D. Jones 6th worse, Jolly 15th worse, Boyd 18th worse, Wilson 21st worse, Hawk 8th worse, B. Jones 31st worse, Pickett 32nd worse, Neal 3rd worse, Mulumba 8th worse, Palmer 9th worse, House 58th worse, McMillan 10th worse, Jennings 21st worse, Burnett 28th worse, Banjo 50th worse. In a previous analysis I tried to prove that the Packers has failed in there philosophy of “Draft and Develop”. Going back to 2008 I could find no significant consistent improvement of young players. The Philosophy is really “Draft and Play”, which seems to work alright on offense with Rogers running the show, but is a complete and utter disaster on defense. There is a reason why no past or present team has wanted to play only the most supremely talented young, experience players on defense. They leave too many holes that are exploited by NFL QB’s and Offensive Coordinators. Like taking candy away from a baby. Stubborn Ted needs to admit his horrific defensive mistakes and plug the starting and backup holes with judicious lower cost free agent signings, or waste one more year of a finite Roger’s career. After Rogers we may be back to the 30 year no QB Abyss that we are all to much familiar with. Even more so now, the NFL is a QB driven league. Don’t waste even 1 year of the best QB in the leagues career. We will be sorry. If Thompson doesn’t change his ways and sign some or many defensive free agents this year, I believe he should be fired. Schneider from Seattle is an incredible GM, both at drafting and free agents. He cedes power to Carrol at Seattle and might love a chance to come to GB and have complete control.

    Jennings is a restricted free agent and is the 21st worse safety in football. I don’t see the Packers ever being an average defense with Hawk or Jennings on the team.

    Of the 77 ILB who started at least 1 game, Lattimore graded out as the 20th best ILB. He ended the season with two bad games in week 16 and 17. Before those games he was ranked even higher. A keeper at a reasonable price. Pair him with a high draft pick, cut or bench Hawk, and we may see immediate improvement on the defense.

    Of the 116 safeties who played at least 1 game, Banjo was the 52nd worse. Better than Jennings or Burnett but not very good. I like Banjo as a young player. Just don’t give him important playing time. Min contract.

    That’s it. That’s the 17 free agents. If you noticed that not many should be resigned, that is a result of an incredible horrible defense over all. Makes sense doesn’t it, if most of the defense is horrible, you probably don’t want to resign many of them. This defense needs a complete rebuild, and, “Draft and Play” will never solve the problem.

    I don’t think Thompson is a bad drafter. His picks lately have made logical sense and he has not reached or gambled with the higher picks. Stubborn Ted is a horrible GM at plugging holes in the defense with lower cost free agents. I hope he sees the error of his ways but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    On offense Ted has done an incredible job. 1 QB grades out as a starter and 2 HB, 1 FB, 4 WR, 2G, 1C do also. The two tackles weren’t Teds fault. Bulaga has graded out as a starter in the past, and Sherrod probably would have also. Ted did hurt the team by not having veteran backups at Tackle though. Of the 97 Tackles that played at least 1 game, Bahktiari graded out as the 19th worse in football and Barclay the 29th worse. The praise these two received, especially Bahktiari, confounded me. In their defense, Barclay graded out as the 38th best pass blocker and Bahktiari the 43rd, not bad considering their are 64 starters. Its the run blocking that was a complete failure, Bahktiari was the 5th worse in football and Barclay was the 8th worse. Given that Bahktiari is a rookie, one can hope that he builds up strength in the off season and becomes a complete tackle. In Barclay’s case, he did have an off season to get stronger but didn’t improve his run blocking. It may never happen for him, this next year will be the test.

    Hope you enjoyed this.

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    • Stroh says:

      PFF is a basic guide nothing more. Certainly wouldn’t take anything they say as gospel. They don’t even know the responsibilities of each player on any given play, so how the hell can you take their grading seriously! Your giving PFF way too much credit for knowing how to grade a player. Its a very basic tool, and shouldn’t be used as anything different!

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      • Since '61 says:

        Stroh – as usual you are correct. In fact PFF is irrelevant. If the Packers went on to win the SB this year who would care where our players are ranked by PFF? All you need is to watch the games to know the Packers defense has played poorly over the last 3 seasons. A blind man could tell us that. We don’t need PFF to tell us that the SF and Seattle defenses have played better than ours. When one of those teams loses this week will it matter to the team or their fans that PFF ranked many of their defensive players as 1, 2 or 3 or whatever higher rankings they have? The only differnce is they’ll be saying “but PFF ranked our guys #1, how did we lose?” It is a system of arbitrary but biased parameters by people who proboably have never seen a football but who have figured out if marketed properly they could sell their data output to people who don’t realize that they already have all of the same information for free. John, please note that my comments are not directed at or meant to be critical of you. I appreciate the time you spent to put the PFF info out there, but ask yourself, does it really matter if Raji, or Burnett or Hawk are ranked 30th, 40th, 50th or 100th? We know they are not getting it done and more importantly, would we care if even with those rankings we went on to win the SB this year? Probably not. Thanks, Since ’61

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        I agree, but again PFF is a good starting point and since no one will ever know the responsibilities of the players this will be a confounding factor for all analysis. Also this issue is luckily a confounding factor for all players, so in the end at least it cancels itself out. This also does not mean however you should not try to analyze the performance of a player, just accept that your assessment will not be perfect.

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        • Dobber says:

          Well-said. The media is a whipping boy for so many things, but in this case I think sportswriters like to lean on PFF simply because it’s a metric that they don’t have to design themselves or really to truly understand. In essence, it allows them to be lazy, but it also makes PFF out to be more than it really is.

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          • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

            It’s also unbiased (at least that’s the intent), since regional media will typically bias their statistics to cater to their readership i.e. “The 2011 Packers defense was awesome because they had so many interceptions and key plays”

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Arguably, the defensive coordinator does not make the player any more so than the players make the defensive coordinator. The question really is not whether Capers is a good defensive coordinator or not (he was not in 2011 and 2013 but was in 2010 and 2012), it’s could any other defensive coordinator done better? If the answer is yes, then Capers should be fired, if no then Capers should be retained. The big issue I have is that everyone that wants Capers fired has no answer to the next step which is to hire a new defensive coordinator.

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    • Bedroske says:

      Again, the word you want to be using is “worst” not “worse”.

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  18. Big T says:

    No one has to be fired at the moment. All I would ask is that they have to be accountable. When they screw up cut their pay or have a public showing of them getting kicked in the ding ding. Just be accountable…

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      I don’t think getting kicked in the nuts would really be all that useful for anyone, unless perhaps you are on the staff of Rex Ryan. Secondly, why would any organization degrade their own staff in public? Would that make them work harder? Would that somehow make them do a better job? If anything it would have the opposite effect.

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  19. JeffN says:

    I love the article but I think you can consider 4-3 defensive coordinators for the job as well. We have personel for either scheme in my opinion. Nick Perry and Mike Neal can plan DE in a 4-3 and Claymaker and Hawk can play any LB position in a 4-3. All the other linemen could play interior. I would like to see Lovie Smith as our DC. That’s right Lovie Smith and his 4-3 scheme. Doubt it will happen but would love to see it.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Lovie Smith is now the head coach of Tampa Bay so you can forget about seeing him as a DC in Green Bay. Also I’m not convinced that the players the Packers have now would be able to transition to a 43. You think Matthews could play 43 DE, but no one really knows. In fact there’s more data to prove players can’t make the switch; see Aaron Kampman, Mario Williams and Darelle Revis.

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      • JeffN says:

        I said Mathews can play LB in either system. Mike Neil and Nick Perry could play DE in a 4-3 and probably would be better on the line than at LB. Lovie is not going to last in Tampa and like the article says. You can’t fire Capers until there is a better plan B. Lovie’s best place is not at Head Coach but I really think he would be an elite DC. My point is whether a team runs the 4-3 or 3-4 doesn’t really matter all that much. It’s more about how well the players are coached and how well the players execute. All this scheme stuff is blown out of proportion to a degree.

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          My mistake, but I don’t think Matthews would be paid that much to be a 43 OLB, so you have stick him at 43 DE to justify his contract (which cannot be realistically be renegotiated since it was just signed and Matthews has all the leverage). Furthermore, Matthews best asset to the team is his pass rushing ability and from a 43 this typically comes from the DE.

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  20. tim says:

    In reality the defense issues are more the result of TT. The GM is charged with bringing in quality talent. Look at the DBs he has – low round and undrafted free agents. No veteran help. Same at LBS. This is mostly on Thompson. Great teams mix in veteran talent with draft. Remember Ron Wolf? Thompson does not even compare. Look at his last few drafts. No defensive help. No offensive line help. One bust after another. Time to look at free agency AND draft! Or time to let TT go!

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    • Since '61 says:

      Both Wolf and TT have one SB victory. Both have about a .640 winning percentage, at least with GB. Both found their HC after their first season in GB and then both acquired their franchise QB. Wolf by trading a #1 pick to Atl, TT by drafting Rodgers. Both added FA’s to their defense; Wolf added Reggie and Eugene Robinson and Sean Jones, TT added Woodson, Jenkins, Pickett. Very similar approach and results for both. Wolf, 6 seaons for an SB win, TT 5 seaons for an SB win. In Wolf’s time the CBA, the salary cap and trades were more liberal than they are today. Both have been successful and good for the Packers during their tenures. We have been very lucky compared with almost every other NFL franchise since 1991 when Wolf was hired. Thanks, Since ’61

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      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        I’m not surprised really considering Thompson is a Wolf protege. I’m a little more surprised that their careers have risen roughly the same way and at the same speed.

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      • Bedroske says:

        Awesome!

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      • Barutan Seijin says:

        Wolf gets the edge. I say this because the 1996 team was a much stronger team than the 2010 team. Also, the ’97 team at least won a conference title. The 2011 team didn’t even get as far as the ’98 Vikings.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      With that same argument, the Packers offense should be just as terrible, a lot of players are low round and undrafted free agents with no veteran help per say. This is also mostly on Thompson.

      Casey Hayward almost made defensive rookie of the year award last year and Bryan Bulaga was starting caliber linemen when active.

      Finally, I should point out “one bust after another” is the norm, not the exception. The hit rate for a starting caliber player is about 50-50 and the hit rate for a star player is probably somewhere around 15% Every team has flops, Ron Wolf famously drafted punter BJ Sanders in the 3rd round and in his words considers Terrell Buckley, John Michels, Wayne Simmons, George Teague, Aaron Taylor, Craig Newsome, Ross Verba, Vonnie Holliday, Antuan Edwards and Bubba Franks all disappointments.

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      • Barutan Seijin says:

        BJ Sander was a Shermie pick in 2004.

        What’s interesting is that the Shermster got Corey Williams & Scott Wells with his next two picks. So even with the big whiffs like Ahmad Carroll in the first & the punter in the 3rd, it was arguably better than the 2010 & 2011 drafts (= Randall Cobb, a bunch of stiffs & IR specialists).

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  21. Bedroske says:

    It’s not unheard of for a team switching schemes to enjoy immediate success. Going to a 43 could potentially have that same effect as our change to a 34 did. I am not willing to risk it, however, without having a coach come in with a record of success.

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  22. Herb the Bitter says:

    I guess I’m not a big fan of doing nothing and hoping things get better. Remember the guy that oversaw our 25th ranked defense this year also oversaw the worst packers defense ever two years ago. At this point it’s not knee-jerk wanting a change.

    The 49ers defense made Rodgers look average or merely good. The Bears under Lovie sometimes did it too. I have no recollection of a Capers defense ever making an elite QB look average. 2009 when the regular season game was meaningless to the kurt warner cardinals? Before he eviscerated us the next week? Sorry, but good QBs regularly have their way with our Capers defense, and unfortunately you get more of those in the playoffs. Was 2010 a fluke where Roethlisberger was the best we saw?

    I guess I just want a defensive coordinator who will always use at least three down linemen when both Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson are in the same backfield. Down and distance be damned.

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  23. larry valdes says:

    Coach perry mention of md jenninis being a solid player tells me he does not know much about safety playing.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      What do you want him to say in public? Do you want him to throw his potentially starting safety under the bus for no reason whatsoever?

      Also Darren Perry was the 1994 All-Pro selection at free safety so presumably he does know quite a bit about playing safety. Coaching safety is a different issue, which is debatable.

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  24. […] The list of potential candidates is both unimpressive and underwhelming, so odds are Capers is staying put. […]

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  25. WKUPackFan says:

    I don’t understand why people criticize GB for “converting” Perry or any other college DE to OLB, This happens across the NFL in a 3-4 defense. Go check out CHTV’s article on their all-bowl players. You will find at least two presumably talented DEs where it is assumed they will be OLBs in the NFL.

    The same is true for drafting LTs to move to the interior. College LTs tend to be the best linemen, but many do not have the elite skills necessary for a pro LT. What they do have is the talent to play the interior. Such switches are really not a huge leap.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Obviously there’s an added layer of risk involved in converting players, on top of the general crap shoot that is drafting overall. This is one of the inherent weaknesses in the 34 defense that no NFL team really has influence on. Luckily college defenses play all sorts of random alignments, philosophies and styles so hopefully scouts can pick up on traits that would be useful in a 34 defense.

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