Dom Capers 2014 Report Card – Packers Grades

Green Bay Packers Report Cards, Player Grades
dom capers
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers

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.

2) Profile:

Dom Capers

  • Age: 64
  • Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 29 years

Biography and more

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 .


36 thoughts on “Dom Capers 2014 Report Card – Packers Grades

      1. No, with respect, he is not nuts. Every game Packers lost was because of the poor offensive performance… Seattle, Lions (were offense gave 9 of 19 points!), Saints (remember Lang and Sitton injuries, remember Aaron injury?) and Bills were the games where offense played poorly (16 points, 7 points + 9 points given to the opponent!, 23 points against terrible Saints defense, 13)…
        Even in the Championship game Packers offense scored just one TD. All other points goes to ST… So, poor offensive play means losing the game. And when we are talking poor it means really poor! In those regular season 4 losses Packers offense scored just 1 TD, 1 TD, 2 TD, 1 TD! Make your calculation with this data!

        1. Good point. With the exception of week 1 and the Saints Game, the defense looked average to good all year.

          The problem is that we count on the offense to put up 30+ every week to win. Some days, that’s just not going to happen. When in the past year did the D actually WIN us a game? I personally can’t think of a low scoring, turnover laden game that we won….

          Just saying. Putting up 30 on offense is equivalently impressive to holding the opposition under 17 in a close game. We never did that…

          1. We did. Against Lions in week 3, D gave just 10 points. O was not able to place eleven on the board… Contrary to that, O gave additional 9 points to the Lions…

            1. Defense needs to give up 0 and the Packers win 12-9. Sometimes the defense needs to win a game for the team. The Packers defense has not won a game for the team since 2010. Case closed. Thanks, Since ’61

              1. No. If was the situation that Packers O kept Lions at zero, Lions would still win the game 9-7 because our elite O was not able to put more than 1 TD to the score… Just gave 9 points to opponent… So, you see, even when our D gave the opportunity to Packers to win the game, our offense show up as a problem..

                I do not want to say that our D was excellent. They were not. I’m not going to defend them for any of their weaknesses. But I feel it is not right to put all the glory to the offense and all the dirt to the defense. Packers team are one team, and they should win and lose as team, not as offense or defense…

                I can also argue that D gave us legitimate shot to go to SB, offense was the part that was missing their best game in the second most important moment.

                You all knows I respect all coaches and Packers organization as well. But, as much I like Mike McCarthy, I will put that loss to Seattle on his shoulders. He had to stop the team, to give them 30 sec to 60 sec to re focus their brains and efforts. Not to be carried by the wave of desperation.

                I will not post about 2014 season any more. I respect all of you here. I think that you truly knows and understand football. But, very often, I see lot of emotion, which I can understand, because I was disappointed after that Seattle game. But, I learned from my life that the best healer is not time, but understanding what happened. With that, you may go on. You may correct things to prevent future failures and to put your sight to future. I’m not trying to defend anyone. My sole intention here was to try to give the view from the side. Someone who is not so deep in the forest and do not know that much about forest. As someone who, because of that, is able to see that ill tree…

                I may be wrong, but what I say and write here is my honest opinion. I did not want to make any of you uneasy or angry… That was never my intention… If I did so, please, forgive me…

        2. I agree. In the last two years, the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs due to poor offensive play. The defense played great in the 2013 and 2014 playoff runs, but the offense has been less than spectacular. This needs to change if the Packers want to win another Lombardi trophy, and it all starts with the QB.
          AR has been spectacular in the regular season since 2011, but has failed to perform consistently well in the playoffs. He is becoming like Peyton Manning, and its starting to scare me. I want to see the AR of the 2009 and 2010 playoffs return.

            1. Bearmeat – that’s true. But the fact is that we can’t depend on the defense when the offense falters and that’s the problem. I can’t think of one game that the Packers defense has won for the team since 2010. That’s a consistent problem with the defense and why Capers needs to go. Thanks, Since ’61

              1. I’m in complete agreement with you 61. The offense isn’t going to put up 30 a week against good defenses – especially on the road. We need the D to get a little better this next year – especially against the run, and we’re golden. Or rather, we’re going to be celebrating Lombardi #5 in 12 months. 🙂

              2. Bearmeat – correct as usual. If we can improvement from ILB and the DL our run defense can get better. I think too many fans think the offense should always score 30 – 35 points + per game. That’s not going to happen on the road, especially in bad weather and against strong defenses which the Packers face in the playoffs. Sometime the defense needs to carry the day, make a stop and win a game for the team. That’s football. I don’t have confidence to have our current defense on the field at the end of a close game, especially against a good team. Thanks, Since ’61

        3. Croat – the problem with your argument is that you want the offense to play perfect and score a TD every time they have the ball. That’s ridiculous. The Packers led the league in scoring in 2014, what else are they supposed to do? How about leading the league in defense? How about making a stop when it matters? How about playing like it’s not illegal to tackle? Yes, the offense played poor in Detroit and Buffalo. When that happens the defense needs to play like the score is 0-0 and keep the other team team off the scoreboard or god forbid score on a turnover and create some points. That’s what they should be doing. They only gave up 10 points to the Lions. You know what that was too much on that day. If they keep the Lions off the board the Packers win 12-9. Same thing in Buffalo. In New Orleans they gave up 44 points. Guess what the Packers lost. Unless you think that the Packers should score 45 points per game. Ridiculous!!! Finally, 23 points in less than 6 minutes in Seattle Championship game, again ridiculous. Make a stop win a game. You cannot mention one game that the Packers defense won for them since 2010. That needs to change and so does Capers. Thanks, Since ’61

          1. I will expect from elite offense to put more than 50 points against the 2nd worst defense in the league…. Also Aaron had 2 interception and Matt Flynn has one fumble for lost… Also Saints had 28 first downs, Packers only 23, despite Packers had more passing yards, they scored just 2 TD (I really do not see relation between how good D plays with number of TD in the game when O had 100 passing yards more than opponent and in total yards they were -4 to opponent!). Our elite offense had 14% per cent third down ratio! 14%! Against 2nd worst D in the whole NFL. I would expect from elite O to do what the 9th O did against Packers D. They putted 44 points at the moment when Packers D was somewhere around 25th, 26th place in the NFL.
            Anyhow, more our elite O is on the field less opportunity opponent O has. Our D will have better stats. And wan’t be the reason to fire cannons. Also, the question is, why the 1st D in the league did not won the SB? Because, without elite O you can not go there. If you are interested, that 1st D in the NFL has very weak schedule during 2014 season and has Panthers in the divisional round who basically do not have O. Just very good D. I know that you understand what I want to say with this…

            1. Croat – you have just made my case for me. If the offense is expected to score 50 points in a game in order to win then we don’t have a very good defense. Also, this expectation that the Packers should score 50 points in a game against any opponent regardless of how their defense is ranked is unreasonable. The rankings of offenses and defenses once a game begins is completely irrelevant. Football is a game of one on one match ups and execution. Rankings and statistics don’t win games, players winning their one on one match ups over 60 minutes win football games. From 1960 to 1967 Vince Lombardi’s offense average 25.7 points per game and the defense allowed an average of 14.7 points per game. But in the playoffs Lombardi’s defense only up gave up an average of 10.4 points per game. This figure does not include 17 points scored on turnovers by the opponents defense when the Packers defense was not on the field. That’s championship defense. Now you say that was a different era. OK. Mike Holmgren’s defense gave up 21 points per game in the playoffs. More passing in the ’90s and more plays run per game. But 21 points is right about at the border line for a championship defense even in this modern pass happy era. However, Dom Capers defense has given up average of 25.2 points per game in the playoffs. Yes, the Packers have a very good offense but not an elite offense as you think.
              The Packers have a very good offense with an elite QB. Asking any offense to score 25+ plus points per game in the playoffs against better defenses, sometimes on the road and/or in bad weather is asking a lot Croat. The defense needs to be better. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. The Packers offense led the league in scoring. What else are they supposed to do? What did the defense lead the league in? They were 23rd against the rush and they were usually playng with a 2-3 score lead by halftime. If the Packers offense does not score at a prodigious rate this defense gets swept off the field. They play like it’s illegal to make a tackle and then cannot be depended upon to pick up the offense when the offense struggles as in Detroit (on the road) and in Buffalo. How about making a stop and the end of the game to win the championship in Seattle. The Packers defense has not won a game for them since 2010. Case closed. Thanks, Since ’61

      1. CroatPackFan made my case for me.

        Regardless, the defense has no one near as good as Aaron Rodgers on it and that includes Clay Matthews. Rodgers covers up a lot of inadequacies.

        When the offense has needed to show up particularly in big games and the playoffs, the defense has been the superior unit.

        Get a quick running back, throw him the ball. Profit. I miss Brandon Jackson, at least he was good on 3rd downs.

        1. Actually, Croat made the case for me. 1. His expectation of scoring 50 or more points in an NFL game against any opponent is unrealistic. 2. Packers do not have an elite offense. They have a very good offense with an elite QB. They are 2 OTs, a least 1 TE and depth at WR from being an elite offense. 3. Games are not won by where teams are ranked or by their stats when they play. Football is a game of match up and winning the one on one battles. If you can’t win the one on one battles against a particular opponent you will lose to them regardless of where they are ranked when you play them. 4. Just stating that the offense should score 50 plus points to win a game if necessary confirms the lack of a good defense or any defense. 5. Lombardi’s defense gave up an average of 10.4 points per playoff game. Including 2 shutouts and 7 games under 14 points allowed. That’s championship defense. Different era, OK fine. Holmgren’s defense gave up an average of 21 points per playoff game in the modern pass happy era. More plays per game and more passing. Border line for a championship D. Capers defense has given up an average of 25.2 points per playoff game. Too high. Not championship defense. To expect your offense in the playoffs, against better defenses, sometimes on the road and/or in bad weather to consistently score 25+ points per game is unreasonable and will not get done. Also allowing 3 TDs in less than 6 minutes in a championship game does not qualify as good championship defense or any defense at all. 6. If the Packers defensive unit reaches the point where they are half as good as the Packers are on offense we will have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately for the Packers and us as fans the defense is no where near as close to being as good as the offense. The Packers defense needs to play better for the Packers to win in the playoffs. That’s my case and I need no help. Thanks, Since ’61

  1. While the defense did play better in second half of the season, I will be happy when they hold opponents to under 300 points in a season. They did that they year they won the Super Bowl, 2010. If the offense is having a bad day they need to be able to win a 10 -3 game like they did in 2010.

    1. Absolutely agree. The defense has not won a game for the Packers since 2010. Thanks, Since ’61

  2. B? You have got to be kidding!? The Packers weren’t even ranked in the top 10 fo the NFL. They gave up record amount of rushing yards during a 3 game stretch and collapsed in the NFC title game! The Packers have the defensive talent. I give Capers a very generous C. Most other coaches would have replaced him.

    1. Funny… when I look at more than one statistic, Capers ranks in the top half of the league for most of them. In fact, there are a few where he ranks in the top 10.

      1. Chad – Capers defense hasn’t won a game for the Packers since 2010. They still play like it’s illegal to make a tackle and they don’t make bi stops when they are needed. End of Seattle game is proof. Case closed. Capers should be gone. Thanks, Since ’61

        1. I think you go too far there. Capers had the personnel across the secondary for the first time since 2010 and he came up better-than-average overall.

          His defense is predicated on creating chaos, and to less-than-great-QBs, it does. (Why else have we dominated Chicago since Jay showed up and Minnesota since Brett retired for real?)

          However, it ultimately comes back to man-on-man football. Our defensive players haven’t won enough of those battles since 2010. CM3, Daniels, Peppers, Sam, Morgan, HHCD, and (hopefully) D. Jones and Neal/Perry need to win their 1v1s. They haven’t. So the D has been mediocre this year and bad the previous 2.

          Capers is a good coach. Not a HOF coach. But a good one.

          1. Bearmeat – Capers is a good coach. However, I don’t have confidence that the defense can close out a game when necessary, at least not since 2010. Part of that is attitude. The defense plays too soft with a lead and cannot get off the field in a big spot. This is the problem in the playoffs when we play against better defenses. Our offense will probably held to around 20 points given the quality of the opponent, being on the road and/or weather conditions. Our defense cannot hold opponents to under 20 points. That is a problem in the playoffs and the lack of a seek and destroy attitude on the defense. That needs to come from the DC. Thanks, Since ’61

  3. not sure who graded this but he has not had a top 10 defense since 11 even last year he was 15th a tie with 6 other teams meaning still at the bottom of the nfl . do you have the same man crush on him mccarthy does lol

  4. Everyone is going to have an opinion on Capers. I’d give him a B for expectations. I assumed that tackling, communication and diagnosing misdirection would improve. It did a little, quite a bit, and a little. Still too much cushion given by the CBs, probably a by-product of having such poor run defense production from the front 7, requiring Burnett to live at the LOS. I would give Capers a B- for contributions during the season. Many of us wrote that CM3 should be moved to the middle long before it was done. I’d give him a C+ for the postseason. I am okay with giving up 21 and 22 points in regulation to Dallas and Seattle, given all the turnovers they created. Overall grade of C+. Never thought I would write that about Capers.

  5. …”God, I’m sick of writing about that game.”
    I think you will writing about that game for a long, long time. Because all your reasons for the last less the 4 minutes collapse are not holding water. You are floating from offensive play calling to defensive play calling over the ST performance and play calling and all the way back. You try to convince yourself that the problem was play calling… But there is so many not logical reasons to blame play calling. OK. If play calling was the reason, why, in the name of God, Mike and Dom did not return to “aggressive” play calling to save the game? If not earlier, than in over time? There was no advantage any more. It was like new game… Why, do you think, they did not go back to the planned and beautifully executed plan?
    You may answer this, but again, you will coming back to writing about that game and stay sick because of it. And that will be because you do not want to accept obvious. There was nothing wrong with play calling neither on offense nor on defense or for the last ST play in regulation. The wrong was that Packers players were not executing any more. They thought game is over! They stop playing…

    Why it is so hard to see obvious. That was the wrong thing that happened! That is the reason why Mike McCarthy delegate his play calling duties. He noticed that he did not understand state of mind of his players because he was in his play calling sheets… And that is the only wrong thing that cost Packers attendance at SB this, past season!

    1. The reason is the defense collapsed, utterly and completely. I don’t care why. They are not supposed to stop playing, they are supposed to play. They needed to make a stop and they didn’t. In less than 6 minutes they allowed Seattle to score 3 TDs and they committed suicide on the field. They had no injuries, no excuses and worst of all no heart. They quit and they lost. Case closed. Thanks, Since ’61

  6. Dom did fairly well given the personnel. He still had to cover for a weak ILB position until he robbed Peter to pay Paul. And, our DLine was average at best. Despite this, he had the defense playing good ball down the stretch and into the playoffs. A little better play by the offense would have been the difference in almost all our losses, particularly the last loss.

    Unless we address those talent holes in our defense, teams will continue to take advantage of these weaknesses and our lack of depth. Unfortunately, the playoff grade is all too accurate. The 3rd and 19 prevent call is a refresh of the Philly 4th and 26. My worry is that the defensive lapses that plague this team might be rooted in positional and coordinator coaching. I am starting to worry that many of these players don’t really understand their defense.

    1. Agree completely!!! His defense quit in Seattle, committed suicide on field and lost the season. Capers defense is as guilty as Slocum’s STs. Thanks, Since ’61

  7. Capers defense had a much better season in 2014 than they had in 2011, ’12 or ’13. Having said that they could not make the critical stops in big games on the road. They were chewed up in the first Seattle game, in New Orleans and of course during the last 4 minutes and in overtime in the NFC championship game. They played well in the road losses to Detroit and Buffalo and probably deserved a better fate in both of those games. I wanted Capers gone after 2013 and now after a few weeks to contemplate the 2014 season results I still want him gone. Why? Because although the defense improved they still do not play defense in a seek and destroy mode. If not for the Packers offense and their ability to score almost at will this defense gets swept off the field. The New Orleans game and the end of the NFC championship game are proof of that. The idea that the offense does not play well or score enough points to win is totally inane. The Packers led the league in scoring in 2014, what else are they supposed to do? How about the defense making a stop when it matters? At times the defense still plays like it is illegal to make a tackle. A big time attitude adjustment is still needed for this defense to make an impact in games. 23rd against the run when you are usually leading games by 2 or 3 scores doesn’t cut it and neither does Capers. It’s time to move on and get a new DC. Thanks, Since ’61

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