Charles Woodson’s comments following the Packers’ hold-on win in San Diego would seem to have brought the defense’s pass-rush struggles to a head.
“We have to find ways to get Clay to the quarterback, whatever that may be,” Woodson said of Packers star pass-rusher Clay Matthews. “We have to find ways to get him to be the ‘Clay-maker.’”
Monday afternoon, Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers was asked to interpret those remarks.
“For all guys, we have to find a way to play better. That’s what it means to me. We want to coach better. We all have to raise our standard. We’re not happy the way we’re playing right now,” Capers said.
A Packers defense that was fifth in the league last season is ranked 30th through eight games this season. The main culprit is a bulky pass-defense that is ranked 31st in the league. It also should be noted that the Packers are ranked 22nd in sacks per pass play, after being third in that category last season.
Is it scheme or is it a lack of execution? The players are largely the same, and so is the scheme.
“There are times you have to be able to rush four and win. If you have to depend on scheme, you’re not going to be a very good team,” Capers said.
In the Packers’ 45-38 win over the Chargers, Capers relied more heavily on scheme than he has in most games this season. The Packers sacked Philip Rivers twice, but failed to apply consistent pressure, which aided Rivers in throwing for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Miscommunication was also a culprit.
“I think we might’ve pressured more yesterday than we have this season,” Capers said. “We try to be as creative as we can be with Clay. There aren’t many players in the league that move around as much as Clay.”
Despite having allowed the Chargers to post 460 total net yards, the Packers defense intercepted three passes and returned two of those for touchdowns. This season has largely been feast or famine for the Packers defense.
“We’d like to keep the takeaways and eliminate the big plays,” Capers said. “I do like taking the ball away. If you take the ball away and score two touchdowns, you’re going to win most games.”
In meeting with reporters on Monday, Capers broke his defense’s performance down into what he liked and didn’t like.
“I liked the way we played at two critical points at the end,” he said.
“The thing I didn’t like was the way we started the game. That’s been our trend. I didn’t like the way we responded after the onside kick,” Capers said.
Capers also credited the Chargers for having made the Packers’ task difficult.
“They give you a lot of shifting and motion, which requires a lot of communication. Norv Turner is one of the better play-callers in the league,” Capers said.
The Packers will have an extra day of preparation for next Monday’s game against visiting Minnesota. Improving the defense’s pass-rush is likely to be a subject of focus.
“None of us are happy with the way we’re playing right now. I like that attitude,” Capers added. Additional coverage - Nov. 7