Dom Capers: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Dom Capers
Dom Capers

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.

2) Profile:

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 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


24 thoughts on “Dom Capers: 2012 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

  1. Seems about right. I don’t know what happened to the defense on third-and-long vs the 49ers, but the result was infuriating!

    A quick question about the following quote:

    “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.”

    Would they have been playing the 49ers at home, or would they have been playing the Falcons?

    1. What team they played was only part of it. I think that between MM and DC there aren’t any “firebrands” on the coaching staff to light these guys up when they’re getting their asses handed to them. No one on the coaching staff to shock the defense into playing with some attitude. When was the last time you saw a Packers defensive coach go postal over the way these guys were playing? (and there have been plenty of opportunities)

      I know they’re pro’s, but they are human beings first, and can be motivated to higher achievement if they have a coach that has insights into basic psychology.

  2. By beating the Vikings, I think they would have played the 49ers since Seattle won their wild card game. If Seattle lost, then I think the 49ers would have played the Falcons.

    When Capers was fired by the Panthers, then the Texans, his defense played poorly each season following his first season with each team. If Capers was the head coach instead of the DC, I think he would be fired. Since the defense did improve with him as the DC, he gets another chance. If he does worse in 2013, I expect him to be fired.

  3. Progress was made from 2011 to 2012. That is with one exception. The defense can’t handle the big aggressive front lines, a strong running game, and a QB that takes advntage of the middle of the field. That is a problem that if left unresolved will prevent any Super Bowl talk next year.

    Most of the teams GB will face can be handled by the existing D scheme. Those four or five mean physical teams will be the obstacle.

    DC knows where the problem lies. The question will be can he get the talent to move the D up another notch?

  4. The last three playoff losses were mostly because this defense got KILLED! SF beat the Packers twice, once with a second year QB with 7 starts! The game has passed Capers by. He use to confuse QB’s with very little experience, but not anymore. He keeps putting the DB’s in bad situations, they are horrible at zone yet everytime there is a third and long, there is Capers soft zone getting destroyed once again! All his experience, and he still doesn’t know that you need expepienced DB’s to play zone! I don’t care what he does in the regular season, if his defense gets run over again in the playoffs, he needs to go!

  5. You know… If you look at Capers time with the Packers, the defense was only good 1 out of 4 years. I don’t know what that say’s. All though I do know this…The Packers better draft some more outstanding talent on Defense.

  6. Off topic:

    Did I miss the news about Jerel Worthy’s injury or something?

    I keep seeing articles or comments about players who are available who can help fill the void left by Worthy next season..?

    Did the Packers announce that he’s out for all of 2013?

    1. I know of no such announcement. However, the consensus seems to be that the situation is dire enough to plan for the worst regarding Worthy’s injury.

      ACL injuries aren’t the kiss of death that they used to be, but the prudent thing is to plan for the worst by getting a proven guy in there that can contribute right away without using on a high draft pick. The reasoning being that the draft picks should be the long-term solution with the FA acquisitions being the band-aids.

    2. Unless he has a remarkable rehab and recovery, I would expect him to land on PUP to start the season and with how conservative the Packers are when it comes to injuries, i wouldn’t count on him for help in 2013. At least until we know more about how he’s progressing…

      1. I would like to see the Packers draft Jesse Williams to beef up the D-Line plus add a bit of height. I can’t figure out where he sits in the draft. Any thoughts Al?

    3. Thanks for the replies, I didn’t even know it was an ACL tear.

      LOL that I got a thumbs down for asking a question!!

  7. While I was upset with what seemed the lack of in game adjustments in the Viking & 49er games (I don’t pretend to be an expert) and the soft zone on 3rd downs (that teams exploited again & again), it was clear that we did not have the players we needed to stop the running games of the Vikings & the 49ers (Our injuries surely took a toll). It is also clear that most teams also had the same problem (that’s why Peterson gained so many yards & the 49ers were in the Superbowl).

    Hopefully with another draft, another opportunity to get a key free agent or two, another year of experience for our young defensive players, & another year to devise some strategies, the Pack can get to the Superbowl. TT will give Capers every opportunity to succeed, & hopefully, he will. But if Capers continues to use the soft zone & allows quarterbacks to be superstar running backs, TT & MM may look elsewhere for a DC.

  8. Gary, Capers has had every chance to succeed. Look at the track record, after his first year at every place he’s been, they have regressed. He gets that first year bump, because teams can’t prepare for what his new players do in the scheme. Then the next year, the downward spiral starts. HIs stupid soft zone, his inability to make changes during the 49er game, his inability to stop Peterson. I know they only gave up 95 yards in the playoff game, but he got that yardage without an actual QB!

    1. Scott 1956 is exactly right about this. Everywhere he’s been his entire career he does just fine through the first two seasons or so. By year 3 it’s all down hill. The Packers were definitely hurt by all the injuries on the defensive side of the ball. With that said I’m not so sure I’m ready to say the defense improved much from 2011. Sure they moved up to the middle of the pack but look how they played this year! Jacksonville, St Louis, and Tennessee. Didn’t they give up over 400 yards to the Jags? What would have happened had Christen Ponder played instead of Joe Webb? I’m not so ready to give the defense so much credit for holding Peterson to 99 yards with Webb at QB. Did you see him TRY to throw the ball? Capers defense was pounded by teams above 8-8. I’m one that thinks the game has passed him by. Dick LeBeau is able to keep Pittsburgh at the top year after year. Why? Because he seems to be able to do the one thing Capers has showed us time and again. ADJUST!

  9. I was on the “fire Dom” wagon after S.F., just sick of getting done like that in the playoffs, defensive players looking lost. It looks like Dom will be back, so I want to see what a healthy Bishop (fingers crossed) and Perry do for the unit. They could make a world of difference IMO.. especially Bishops’ presence in the middle.

    FYI, this doesn’t pencil out :
    “Rookie Year: 1986 (defensive backs coach with the Saints)

    NFL Coaching Experience: 36 years”

  10. The grades given Capers were overly generous. He deserves an F on all counts. I think 2010 was an aberration. The defensive players out-performed their coach.

  11. If the ultimate goal is winning a Super Bowl, and the pitiful display the Packers defense had in the game against the 49ers in the playoffs was the reason they did not win the Super Bowl, that alone is a reason for an “F” grade in the playoffs.

    For someone who is supposed to be some sort of defensive genius, he was schooled in the playoffs. Grade school coaches would have been better prepared then the Packers were against the 49ers

  12. I don’t care who you put in as DC, the results would not have been much different. Too many guys hurt, not enough depth and not enough talent. We go into a playoff against SF who have a great O-line and get manhandled. We have linebackers who are UDFA trying to play against pro-bowlers. By the time we got to the third quarter, Pickett was out, our DLine was gassed and SF just ran over us.

    Capers made a decent salad out of the chicken crap that he had. The regular season record against the other less talented lines and offenses bear this out. Against a good offense with a superb OLine the result should not surprise any of us.

  13. I just think GB won’t see much more improvement on defense unless some great players are added or returning players show us something they didn’t last year-we’ve seen Capers defense for 4 years now and it’s STALE–the Niners staff KNEW every move and every defense Capers used against them and he was never able to adjust to any scheme they threw at him. The “pistol” offense is here to stay for a while and Capers will get a belly full of it since his defense has shown it can’t stop it yet. His defense faces TWO great running QB’s this season–Griffin and CK again–bet’s are Capers won’t do much adjusting and will look bad again, GB struggles to another playoff berth and fans get disgusted with a one or two game appearance and get sent home again short of SB.

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