I opined before the start of the 2012 season that the Packers would not win another Super Bowl with Dom Capers as their defensive coordinator. The bad news is I’ve been right. The team hasn’t even reached the big game since winning it all in 2010. The good news is Mike McCarthy’s stubbornness has made this annual prediction easy – not to mention accurate – for the past five years.
As long as the great Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, the Packers should win their usual 10 or 11 games and make the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. But can the defense then play well enough for three or four games against quality offenses to make the season end in raucous celebration rather than bitter disappointment? The answer has been no for the past six Januarys, and unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing this time around.
With 13 of the past 18 premium draft picks being spent on the defensive side of the ball, and with general manager Ted Thompson finally using free agency to add competent veterans like Ahmad Brooks, Davon House, Ricky Jean Francois and Quinton Dial, it’s difficult to imagine the defense not being better than it was a year ago. That said, there are still areas of concern – starting with the legendary (on paper only) coordinator.
It’s true Capers hasn’t had the greatest collection of talent to work with recently, but he certainly isn’t doing more with less. After eight years, it’s pretty obvious he needs a bevy of star players to have any chance of slowing down the better offenses. Give him B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews at their disruptive best and three Pro Bowlers in the secondary and things will be fine. Well, that kind of talent won’t be around in 2017.
And while many see the offense as being unstoppable with the additions of tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, there are concerns on that side of the ball as well. One injury on the line could cause major problems. The Packers don’t have a backup like Lane Taylor or JC Tretter ready to step in. Plus, it’s fair to wonder if there’s a legit NFL running back on the roster behind Ty Montgomery, who was a wide receiver at this time a year ago and who hasn’t shown much in the way of durability either in college or the NFL.
It says here the best chance the Packers have of returning to the Super Bowl is by earning home field advantage and thus reducing the number of required wins in the postseason from three to two, getting a very favorable matchup – something akin to facing the Bears in the 2010 NFC championship – and being ready to put up over 35 points at least once. Can this be done? Sure, but the odds are against it. Just the way the odds have been against it ever since that glorious night in Arlington, Texas six and a half years ago.