Dom Capers has long been a coordinator mindful of the yardage rankings, but the smile on his face when he met with reporters on Friday suggested that Capers was happy to trade yards for points not scored on Thursday.
“We’d like to allow less yards. The end result is what’s it going to take to win? So far, we’ve found a way to do that. It’s been my experience that the way to win is to not give up many points,” Capers said.
It’s becoming the Packers defense’s identity this season: Give up yards, not points. Heading into this week’s action, the Packers were 30th in the league in yards allowed but 15th in points allowed, a ranking that’s likely to improve following a 27-15 win in Detroit.
Capers designed a bend-but-don’t-break scheme his players executed to near perfection against a Lions team that had been scoring points in bunches. The Lions were third in the league in points scored per game, but were held scoreless through three quarters by the Packers.
“The thing I liked is that we always have 3-4 points that are critical to the game. The No. 1 must was to start fast. We got off to a good start. We deferred and put the defense on the field first. The next thing is we needed to take away their big-play guys. The first guy that comes to mind is (Calvin) Johnson. (Matt) Stafford is a guy that gets hot from time to time. Our goal was to not give them big chunks of yardage. If you can accomplish your first two (goals), you’re in pretty good shape,” Capers said.
The Lions’ longest pass completion of the game was for 23 yards and their longest run of the game was a 22-yard scramble by Stafford.
Is it a game plan the Packers can use for the rest of the season?
“In this league, once you put something on tape, they study that and have an answer for that,” Capers said.
Despite the changing game plan, the constant in the Packers’ performance on defense this season has been its ability to deny points and take the ball away. Having intercepted Stafford three times on Thursday, the Packers increased their league lead to 22 interceptions on the season.
It would’ve been four interceptions and another pick-six for the Packers had cornerback Tramon Williams not dropped what appeared would be a certain interception. Had Williams held onto the ball, it would’ve crowned a stellar performance against Johnson.
“He did a very nice job on one of the best receivers in the league,” Capers said of Williams.
Capers’ players returned the compliment to their coordinator for a game plan the Lions were unable to solve. Instead of the attack-style plan Capers unleashed on the Vikings a couple of weeks earlier, his game plan against the Lions was much more sedate.
“If you’re going to be aggressive, your corners are going to have to cover. Our plan was a little different yesterday,” Capers said.