GREEN BAY—Brandon Marshall’s appeal for less intensive coverage schemes would seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
“I don’t listen to a lot of things that go on before or after games,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said on Friday. “A lot more is said than is actually done.”
The Bears’ star wide receiver, who leads the NFL in receptions with 101 and has gained 1,342 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns, has been a willing contributor to the hype for this Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. Early in the week, Marshall complimented Capers on the coverage schemes he used in the Week 2 game between the two teams, when Marshall was held to two harmless receptions for a mere 24 yards.
“I probably won’t do much different than I normally do,” Capers added. “I hope our guys are ready to put their best foot forward. Now is the time to step up. We know we’re going to get the Bears’ best effort.”
Capers’ defense has been masterful against the Bears since Capers joined the Packers in 2009. His defense has been especially hard on quarterback Jay Cutler, who has thrown eight touchdown passes, 16 interceptions and owns a 58.9 passer rating in games against the Packers as the Bears’ quarterback.
“They’ve had a good scheme against us. I haven’t played my best ball against them. I have to play better,” Cutler said earlier this week.
Again, Capers was being credited for his scheme, which has likely been received by Packers defenders as a snub of their performance against the Bears. In Week 2, the Packers’ scheme and the men who executed it sacked Cutler seven times, intercepted him four times and pitched a 28.2 passer rating at him.
On paper, the Bears have the kind of offensive trio found on most top offenses. Marshall, Cutler and running back Matt Forte, who’s on pace for a thousand-yard season, are formidable, but the Bears have struggled to protect Cutler – he’s been sacked 31 times – and the Bears have scored a total of 44 points in four losses in the last five games.
“Forte is one of the real impact players in the league,” Capers said of a back that is also the Bears’ second-leading receiver. “You add Brandon Marshall and you have a little bit more of a two-headed monster. You’re always concerned about (Devin) Hester’s ability to run with the ball. Cutler can make all of the throws.”
Capers’ defense will welcome the return of linebacker Clay Matthews, who leads the Packers with nine sacks – three times the next-leading sacker – despite having missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. A healthy Matthews makes a defense that has allowed only one of its last seven opponents to score more than 20 points even more formidable than it already is.
“I like the impact plays we’ve been making. Those are the kinds of plays you have to make. Chicago does a great job of taking the ball away. When they’ve taken the ball away, they’ve won games,” Capers said.
So what is it about Capers’ Packers defense that has allowed it to be so successful against the Bears?
“We’re very familiar with their schemes. Our defense is built to stop the run and be disruptive to the quarterback. When we’ve been efficient, we’ve been able to do that,” he said.
Despite Marshall’s appeals, the Packers’ game plan isn’t likely to change. Additional coverage - Dec. 14