Packers Playbook Wrap-Up: All Defensive Sub-Packages and Personnel All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Packers Playbook LogoWell, that concludes the look at a lot of the defensive packages used by Dom Capers and the Green Bay Packers. This was obviously not an exhaustive list, but it does highlight some of the most important formations used in the Packers’ defense. As you watch the games this upcoming season, hopefully you can start to recognize what Capers is doing and how it responds to the opposing offense.

For those of you who haven’t read all of the installments, here are some final links to them:

Before we conclude this series, though, I just want to wrap up a couple items. First and foremost is the terminology I’ve been using. In honest confession, I have tended to use some general terms interchangeably, even when there are slight technical differences. Words like “defense,” “formation,” and “package” aren’t exact synonyms.

In reality, anything outside of the base defense for a team is considered a “sub-package.” Hence, the nickel, psycho, dime, bat, etc., are all sub-packages, because the Packers run a 3-4 as their base package. That said, the modern day NFL seems to be forcing out this concept. When teams like the Packers are running a 2-4-5 set more often than a 3-4-4 set, can it truly be considered a “sub” package?

The terminology will stick in football jargon, but it’s something worth considering. The 3-4 base does help to drive the overarching philosophy for what Dom Capers does, but when it comes to defensive packages, it’s taking a backseat. We’ve all seen how the passing game is evolving among offenses, and it’s only logical that the defenses change to scheme against it.

Finally, we can’t ignore the impact that players have on which defensive packages are used. Outside of things like the opposing offense’s personnel grouping, down and distance, and field position, the defensive coordinator picks his packages to best suit the strengths of his roster. Ted Thompson works to pick players that fit the scheme, but Dom Capers works to create defensive packages to fit the personnel.

Even within single packages, Capers may substitute personnel based on the situation. For example, instead of adding an extra cornerback in the dime package, he might instead add an extra safety. Or if he thinks there’s a strong chance the offense might pass out of a 12 personnel group (1 RB–2 TE–2 WR), then he might substitute the defensive linemen in the nickel. Instead of a run stuffer like Ryan Pickett, he might replace him with a better pass rushing option like Mike Neal.

So now it’s time for some critical thinking on your part. Based on what you’ve learned about Dom Capers’ defense and what you know of the Green Bay Packers’ current roster, what do you think the 2013 defense will look like? Will they continue to ride the nickel trend? Will they continue to increase their use of dime packages? Or might we see some completely new looks? And how will certain players fill these roles?

Feel free to share your thoughts, and hopefully you enjoyed this series!


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


8 thoughts on “Packers Playbook Wrap-Up: All Defensive Sub-Packages and Personnel

  1. I’m gonna be so smart when I sit down to watch the games this year.
    Mrs. Steve Cheez gets so hot when I can bandy about phrases like Hippo and Okie and sub-package.

    1. Mrs. Oppy, on the other hand, uses theterm ‘sub-package’ to berate Mr. Oppy after a poor outing.

  2. Great series! If you missed any of the previous pieces, go back and read them. Most of our content is news-related or promotes discussion/debate. This is some excellent, down and dirty analysis of the X’s and O’s. A real treat! Thanks, Mr. Toporski!

  3. Great series! Now I can put names to some of the formations. I would be curious to know how often the Hail Mary works. It has to be a plus play for the offense because I’ve only heard of a couple of times when the defense intercepted the pass and ran it back.

    Thanks for a fun spring diversion.

Comments are closed.