1) Introduction: Finally given a defense that wasn’t ravaged by injuries, Dom Capers silenced a few of his critics (at least for now) and helped the Packers defense take a major step forward in 2014. Too bad few people will remember it after the longtime defensive coordinator went into a conservative shell in Seattle and contributed to the Packers blowing their chance at the Super Bowl.
- Age: 64
- Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
- NFL Coaching Experience: 29 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: Don’t get fired during the bye week. I think most people had their fill of Capers before the 2014 season kicked off. They were sick of watching the offense march up and down the field, only to see defensive collapses fail to pick up the slack if the offense struggled in the postseason, or cancel out whatever success the offense had.
Capers’ defenses seemed outmatched, ill-equipped to tackle, and unable to make the necessary adjustments to cover the middle of the field and handle misdirection plays.
All of that improved during 2014. The Packers didn’t grow into a dominant defense, but they became pretty damn good.
4) Season Highlights/Lowlights: I really liked what the defense did in the second half of week four against the Bears. Chicago torched the Packers in the first half, then Ha Ha Clinton-Dix stopped Martellus Bennett just short of the goal-line at the end of the half, and the defense seemed to steadily make progress the rest of the season.
When the Packers were trying to lock down home-field throughout the playoffs, the defense did its part, holding their final three opponents to 20 points or less.
Lowlights include a failed attempt at a hybrid version of the 4-3 defense that was scrapped after a season-opening loss in Seattle. The other obvious lowlight came, you guessed it, in Seattle during the NFC title game. With the Packers’ defense dominating, Capers went conservative, only rushing two and sitting back in a soft zone on a critical third-and-long play in the third quarter. The Seahawks converted, and it was all downhill from there.
5) Contribution to the overall team success: For a while, Capers’ defense was rolling like it was designed to roll. When Aaron Rodgers and the offense gives Capers a lead, he starts sending all sorts of blitzes, creating chaso and forcing turnovers. A lot of the Packers midseason blowouts happened because Capers was so aggressive and relentless when the Packers were in front.
Capers also helped his flailing run defense by asking Sam Shields and Tramon Williams to work solo on the outside while Morgan Burnett crept closer to the line in run support. That, and moving Clay Matthews inside, helped patch up the leaky run defense.
6) Contributions in the playoffs: For 56 minutes of the NFC championship game, Capers looked like a genius. Then he got conservative on the aforementioned third down, the defense collapsed late in the fourth quarter, and…..God, I’m sick of writing about that game.
7) Intangibles: For as aggressive and innovative as Capers is, he has a tendency to turn conservative at just the wrong times. When crunch time hit against Seattle, Mike McCarthy went conservative. I think he may have learned a lesson and won’t do it again. Capers? I’m not sure he’ll every pick up on that lesson.
Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):
(A-) Level of expectations met during the season
(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .