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June 22, 2017

Defending The Indefensible

Mike McCarthy was a guest on ESPN Milwaukee’s Wilde and Tausch Show last week, and much to the credit of the hosts, he was asked why he’s stuck with beleaguered defensive coordinator Dom Capers for so long. Here was his answer:

“Well, going back to the Mason Crosby comment, and obviously applying that to the question about Dom, I think it’s important to recognize, as far answering your question about it being easy to make that change, it would give everybody a breath of fresh air,” McCarthy said during the 45-minute long radio interview. “I think all of us in life have always gone through experiences in our past that you may have quit on something just to get that fresh, new start, and it feels good but in hindsight, it was not the best thing for you. I know I have personally. So I’ve always held true to that in my decision-making process.”

That’s one of the worst analogies I’ve ever read or heard, and that’s coming from someone who’s taught high school English for over two decades. Back in 2012, Crosby was an extremely talented young kicker going through the first bad season of his career. To compare that to sticking with a 66-year-old assistant coach who’s had only two good seasons – and I’m being quite generous – since arriving in Green Bay in 2009 is patently absurd. Then again, it’s also not very surprising. After all, how can you defend the indefensible?

Is Capers totally to blame for the consistently poor play of the defense? Of course not. General manager Ted Thompson hasn’t drafted well enough and the players haven’t played well enough, but at the end of the day, the coordinator is the one ultimately held responsible. Well, at least that’s the case in 31 other places.

One more thing about McCarthy’s analogy – the 28-year-old Crosby still had the potential to get better in 2012. That’s not the case with Capers. He’s not going to become a better motivator. He’s not going to make better and faster adjustments during games. And he’s not going to come up with better blitz packages.

So unless Kevin King, Davon House, Damarious Randall and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix morph into Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields and Nick Collins circa 2010, and 31-year-old Clay Matthews plays like 24-year-old Clay Matthews, Capers is going to continue to be like Hemingway’s Santiago – an old fisherman who tries his very best but is simply unable to get the job done. See Mike, now that’s an analogy.

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16 Responses “Defending The Indefensible”

  1. Scott
    May 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    It is so frustrating. Wasting AR’s best years with an inept D Coordinator. I know many think MM is a quality coach but just because you can guide a good offense, with maybe the best QB of all time, does not mean you can make sound, logical decisions. Keeping Capers has, and will, cost this team at least two Super Bowl championships. It’s so frustrating that we can do nothing about it.

  2. Nerd
    May 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Agreed, but Dom isn’t what cost us in ’14 (ST) in 15 (injuries, Aaron being a diva) or in ’16 (injuries, Aaron being a diva.)

    We need a QB who will hit the open guy consistently, BEFORE we end up 4-6 and are forced to run the table.

    And we need a training staff that doesn’t make the players prefer to seek out local yoga teachers and infomerical dudes.

    But yeah, I agree that Dom could be improved upon.

  3. Scott
    May 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Loyalty is commendable. Stubborn loyalty is detrimental to growth and winning. Championships are won with defense. That is indisputable. The Packers defense has been average to terrible for years. The common theme here is Dom Capers. When things are this bad, how does it hurt to make a change? You cannot do any worse so why not try something new? There is nothing to lose by making the change. There is only upside. It defies all sense of logic and practicality.

  4. TJV
    May 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    [sarcasm]Right Nerd. Aaron Rodgers is one of the Packers biggest problems[/sarcasm]: Good God man, have you lost your mind?! Yes, Rodgers went through a period in which he under-performed and was very ‘un-Rodgers’ like. But that was a very short period in his nine seasons starting as one of the best QBs in NFL history.

    What McCarthy said was extremely cringe-worthy: I was almost embarrassed for him it was so stupid. Thompson mentioned that perhaps the roster has gotten stale and he’s right (perhaps a more consistent infusion of free agents would have prevented that?). At least one other aspect of the team has also gotten stale and that’s obviously Capers. If I remember correctly when Capers came to the Packers he had a reputation of turning defenses around in a hurry but then seeing them fade after a couple of seasons. Too bad McCarthy didn’t fire him after the 2011 season – maybe it would have made sense to bring him back now (just kidding).

  5. Descartes
    May 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Not to be missed, however, is the tacit agreement with the premise: Capers’ performance deserves to be questioned. McCarthy seems to have done that, at least. Maybe one more year?

  6. CJS
    May 20, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    One of the best posts you’ve ever written Michael.

  7. Saguaro
    May 20, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Somewhere there has been a real disconnect on defense. I do not know if it is Capers and his defensive scheme, TThompson and his ideas about who to draft and keep on defense, or just bad luck with players (when CMIII is the only noteworthy player for years, something with the players or their fit or their coaching is clearly wrong). I have to think that Dom has a defense that needs veterans and TT insists on a constant process of development. 2015 almost worked. 2010 did work. What went wrong in other years I don’t know.

  8. Nerd
    May 20, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Dom keeps asking for these tweeners. They don’t fit the system, but they can be adjusted on the fly. That way Dom never has to win the chess match.

  9. MT
    May 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Blows my mind he’s not held partially responsible for the meltdown against Seattle in the NFCG for the horrible defense on 3rd and 19 when GB was up 16-0 as all of Seattle’s momentum stemmed from scoring on that drive with the fake FG.

  10. Chuck
    May 21, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Think back to defensive side in 2010, what coordinator could not have had a good defense. Raji, Pickett, Matthews, Jenkins. Collins, Willams, Woodson, Sheilds, Bishop. Don’t forget we had the fire of Kevin Greene coaching!

  11. CJ
    May 21, 2017 at 10:30 am

    The basis of the argument seems to be that Capers does not have great players, and he is already getting the best out of what he has been given to work with. The scheme we work under is only designed to work with a lead. It is crazy that teams do not just keep running on us, because we are incapable of consistently stopping the run and we rely on poor QB play and laws of averages to stop the pass.

    Thompson gets a pass too frequently for whiffing on defensive picks in the early rounds.

  12. Michael Rodney
    May 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Thanks CJS. It had to be written.

  13. AJ
    May 23, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Yet we let Casey Hayward walk… possibly one of the best corners in the league last year. Guess that analogy does not apply there.

  14. Nerd
    May 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    No way Hayward stays healthy in Green Bay.

  15. AJ
    May 26, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Or any CB on the GB roster? Hayward had a full year last year at least, but not with the Pack.

  16. Jeremy
    May 29, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Capers absolutely should have been fired after 2011. But, as the saying goes- in for a penny, in for a pound. Too late to turn back now.

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