1) Introduction: Many expected 2012 to be a rebound season for the Packers defense. The unit was the team’s Achilles heel in 2011 and it cost them a shot at a second straight Super Bowl. Ted Thompson reloaded the team with talent via the 2012 NFL Draft, so it was up to Dom Capers to turn the defense around. Capers was expected to get the unit closer to 2010 form when it was one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Ernest Dominic “Dom” Capers
- Age: 62
- Born: 08/07/1950, in Cambridge, OH
- Rookie Year: 1986 (defensive backs coach with the Saints)
- NFL Coaching Experience: 36 years
Biography and more
(3) Expectations coming into the season: In a word: improvement. The defense was bad in 2011, but a lot of those flaws were covered up by the record-setting offense the Packers had that year. When the offense finally had a bad game, in the playoffs of all times, how bad the defense really was became clear.
Thompson infused the defense with youth via the draft and Capers was expected to get the youngsters ready to push some of the veterans. The defense was not expected to be the liability it was in 2011.
4)Overachievements/Underachievements: If we were to go by players, Capers got a lot out of rookie Casey Hayward. In fact, Hayward has done the impossible and made it likely the team can survive without the recently released Charles Woodson and in fact maybe even thrive. Hayward also made Tramon Williams a better player and Williams improved over his atrocious 2011.
The linebacking corps would be considered an underachievement, but injuries took their toll with Desmond Bishop, DJ Smith and Nick Perry all finishing the season on injured reserve. Clay Matthews had another stellar season, but the linebackers struggled overall.
Perhaps the biggest failure the defense had (in the regular season anyway) was giving up over 400 yards to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson had a great year and is a very talented back, but anytime a running back gains roughly 20% of his season total on your defense in two games, something is wrong.
5) Contribution to the overall team success: The Packers were in some close games, but that was not always because of the defense this year. The offense had some trouble in spots too. However, blowing as big of a lead as they had against the Colts is simply inexcusable. A win there would have meant a first round bye and the 49ers playing at Lambeau Field instead. The defense kept the team in a lot of other games however and the unit did statistically improve over last season.
6) Contributions in the playoffs: Before getting into the debacle against the 49ers, the Packers did a wonderful job containing Peterson in the wild card game at Lambeau Field. As mentioned above, the Vikings running back gashed the Packers badly in the regular season but Capers was ready for him in the playoffs.
Capers was not prepared however for Kaepernick in the next round. It’s never a good sign when you’re hoping that your defense holds the quarterback to under 200 (yes 200) yards rushing. The Packers said all week they would be ready for the pistol and read-option that the 49ers ran but it was clear they weren’t.
That falls on Capers, though the players could have made a stronger effort too. The end result was a second straight embarrassing defeat in the playoffs and questions about Capers’ job status arose quickly.
Capers will be back in 2013, but his seat will be very warm if not engulfed in flames.
Season Report Card:
(B) Level of expectations met during the season
(B-) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(D-) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: C-——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke