GREEN BAY—Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is counting on a second-half-of-the-season revival of his run defense. It happened once before.
“One of the things we’ve been able to do is improve our play in the second half of the season,” Capers said. “The first year we were here (2009), we were 4-4 and struggling to stop the run. In the second half of the year, nobody ran the ball on us. Guys just got more comfortable with their gap fits and leverage control. I think we set an all-time Packers record for run defense.”
The 2014 Packers are last in the league in run defense through eight games; they are 30th in rushing yards per attempt. They are stats that must improve for the Packers to have realistic hope of chasing a Super Bowl title.
“I think we can turn it around. You try to make whatever adjustments you can and get that arrow pointing up,” Capers said.
The first chance to improve will be this Sunday against the rival Chicago Bears, a team with one of the best backs in the league, Matt Forte. In Week 4, Forte rushed for 122 yards in a 38-17 loss to the Packers.
“We kept it simple. We ran basic run plays. It was nothing special,” Forte said of that Week-4 game.
Meanwhile, Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements wants to unleash running back Eddie Lacy on the Bears, either in the running game or as a receiver. Lacy caught eight passes for 123 yards in the Packers’ loss in New Orleans two weeks ago.
“He’s usually running against smaller defenders. It’s hard to bring him down,” Clements said of Lacy.
“We have to take care of the football. It hurt us in New Orleans. We want to be able to run it and throw it and score points,” Clements added.
The major issue confronting the Packers offense heading into Sunday’s game is the status of guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe).
“We’re hopeful they’ll be able to play,” Clements said.
Sunday’s forecast promises to make this the first cold-weather game of the season for the Packers, and that usually impacts special teams play.
“The ball doesn’t fly like it does when it was warmer. I think we’ll see some return opportunities and it’s our goal to take advantage of that. I feel like it’s time to return one,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said. ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 7