GREEN BAY—Dom Capers plans to be the Packers’ defensive coordinator next season.
“My plan is to be here,” Capers told reporters during final coaches interviews on Tuesday. “We have a young group that’s ascending. All the stats say that.”
Capers took the Packers defense from last in the league in 2011 to No. 11 in 2012, but it’s the 579 yards of offense the Packers surrendered in Saturday’s playoff loss to the 49ers that has made Capers the target for blame by fans.
“The challenge is to make sure we get this fixed,” Capers said.
Capers’ critique of his defense’s performance on Saturday focused on having allowed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to scramble for too many rushing yards in the first half, and for having defensed the read-option unsuccessfully in the second half. Kaepernick finished the game with 181 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Kaepernick’s ability to convert third-and-long plays was a game-long issue. It resulted in the 49ers owning a 16-minute time of possession advantage.
“We had a third-and-10 and he threw the ball over the top of us. On third-and-eight he ran for a touchdown. We blitzed them on third-and-10 and he pulled it down and ran for 18 yards,” Capers said. “Tried to go to a three-deep zone because of the zone read play. We overpursued a zone read and they ran a dive for 26 yards.
“When you play a quarterback like him, you have to adjust your rush lanes. The adjustment we made was we went to a spy technique and he juked us on the spy call,” Capers said in explaining the various adjustments he made in an attempt to stop Kaepernick. All of them were unsuccessful.
“It stings because it’s when you want to play your best. This defense made great strides this season,” he added.
Asked what his defense needs going forward, Capers said: “We’ve made strides in terms of rushing the passer. We have to find ways to make plays on the ball and we have to find ways to make the game one-dimensional.”
Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements offered this critique of his unit’s performance this season: “We were a little inconsistent early on. We started to run the ball a little better. Unfortunately, we weren’t good enough to get it done in the last game.”
A struggling rush offense camouflaged a flagging yards-per-reception average. The Packers averaged 13.7 yards per reception in 2011. That number fell to 11.6 this season.
“A lot of teams played (cover two),” Clements said of a double-high safety coverage that focuses on denying the deep pass. “Consequently, we were throwing a lot of short passes.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times, which is tied for next to last in the league.
“We obviously want to reduce that,” Clements said, but added that they don’t want to restrict Rodgers from extending plays with his mobility. “We don’t want to limit him. It’s something we’re willing to live with because those can be big plays.”
Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum coached the most consistently productive unit on the Packers team this season, but a fumbled punt by Jeremy Ross that was recovered by the 49ers at the 9-yard line led to a 49ers touchdown and it was a turning point play in the game.
“We were consistent on special teams this year. That’s what’s disappointing about the San Francisco game,” Slocum said. “I thought (Ross) was overly aggressive. He committed the No. 1 error. You have to catch the ball before you run. That play really hurt us.”
Tuesday was a day for talking about hurt. Additional coverage - Jan. 15