GREEN BAY – With a win over the Chargers on Sunday, the Packers will sail into their bye week with a 6-0 record and something even better.
Do you think your defense has another gear left?
“I do,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said. “I feel better right now that there’s more there.”
“More there” might be the best way to describe the Packers through five weeks in the 2015 season. As good as they’ve been through five games, they appear to carry the promise for even a higher level of performance in what’s left of the season, and it’s Capers’ defense that’s leading the way.
“We’ve gone through being short in a couple of games. You saw in the Seattle game Clay (Matthews) rushed three times. He’s never rushed three times,” Capers said, explaining how suspensions and injuries have forced creative game-planning.
They’ve also forced young players to step up, and it’s the rapid development of those young players that’s providing promise for the rest of the season.
“We brought Joe Thomas back and Clay’s back to rushing the passer. Nate Palmer has progressed. Chris Banjo has contributed. You saw what Quinten Rollins did last week. A year ago, when Morgan (Burnett) wasn’t in there, our communication wasn’t what it should be,” Capers said.
“To answer your question, I just think we need to keep this group getting repetitions.”
This week, Capers’ group will be tested by Philip Rivers and a Chargers offense that’s No. 3 overall and No. 2 in passing.
“We’re dealing with a crafty, veteran quarterback who’s going to call most of the game at the line of scrimmage,” Capers said of Rivers.
The Packers offense will be trying to get back on track after a lackluster performance against the Rams, though it was good enough to produce a 24-10 win.
“You have to give the Rams credit. They played well. We didn’t play as well as we can. You can’t turn the ball over against good opponents,” Packers Associate Head Coach and play-caller Tom Clements said.
The Chargers defense is No. 29 against the run, but No. 6 on third down. It’s No. 9 against the pass, but only has eight sacks. It’s difficult to get a handle on the Chargers defense, which was suffocating for three quarters against the Steelers on Monday night, but allowed the Steelers to drive the length of the field at crunch time.
“Statistics are out the window when you play,” Clements said. “If we lost a game (Steelers) like that, we’d probably be angry and coming in here to rectify the situation.”
Packers Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook likened Chargers special teams to his own: “They’ve got a lot of young guys like we have a lot of young guys playing well. On special teams, there’s no second down, no third down. We have to get better.”