The Defensive Savior: Dom Capers

James LittleContributor IMay 29, 2009

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Dom Capers of the Houston Texans watches the game agaisnt the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 19, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Texans 28-16.  (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)

It is amazing what a 6-10 season and a second half collapse of the defense can do to the team personnel and defensive coaching staff.  January was very busy for Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson.  The best news any Green Bay Packers fan could have hoped for was hiring of Dom Capers as Defensive coordinator.  I know Bob Sanders was an okay defensive coordinator, but I strongly believe that the 2007 defense (which was very much like the 2008 defense) overachieved greatly to get the Packers as far as they did in the playoffs.   Because of that over achievement and seamless collapse in 2008, Bob Sanders lost his job.

Carl Hairston, defensive ends coach; Kurt Schottenheimer, secondary coach; Robert Nunn, defensive tackles coach; Lionel Washington, cornerbacks coach were all fired on defense as well.  The 4-3 defense was good, but not good enough to compete with the teams that can easily watch the film and prepare for it.  That is why the 3-4 is the needed change that will allow the Packers to compete with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.

When you think of Dom Capers as a Head Coach, you think of mainly failures.  He had one winning season out of eight.  That was back in 1996 when his Panthers lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship game.  That loss would allow the Packers to get to the Super Bowl and defeat the New England Patriots.

When you think of Dom Capers as a defensive coordinator, you think of genius.  He has great success instituting his version of the 3-4 defense over the last 15 or so years.  Some notable examples include the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early 1990s, Jacksonville Jaguars defense of the late 1990s, and the Miami Dolphins defense a couple of years ago.

The changes to the defensive playbook will be great this season.  As long as you have the right personnel to play in this exotic defense, it can be successful.  The Packers drafted well with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews.  Raji fits the perfect nose tackle roll that is needed and will be a starter.  Former first round draft pick of the packers, Justin Harrell, just won’t cut it.  They may move him to a rotation of the outside end position to get him playing time.  Matthews probably won’t be starting, but has the skills and ability to eventually be a starting linebacker.

The 3-4 defense itself will allow one or two of the linebackers to blitz while allowing the other two to drop back in zone coverage.  The Packers failed to get pressure on the quarterback last season, and that is what hurt them when they played man coverage.  Drew Brees just ripped the Packers apart last season because they couldn’t put pressure on the quarterback.  Hopefully with this, they will be able to get pressure on the quarterback.  And like I said before, as long as you have the right personnel to run the 3-4, you should be able to get pressure on the quarterback.  Those guys include Nick Barnett (who was hurt last season), A.J. Hawk, newly moved Aaron Kampman, and Brady Poppinga.

There is no guarantees that this will work for the Packers.  Fans will need to understand that.  I do think it is better than 4-3.  Sure, the 3-4 has some problems.  When going to this system, you gain mobility, but what happens if you come up against a dominate power rushing team?  Will you be able to stop them?  We will see.