Dom Capers has been the defensive coordinator in Green Bay for the past four seasons, and in those four years, the team finished second in the league in 2009, second in 2010, 32nd in 2011, and 11th in 2012 in yards given up and seventh in the league in 2009, fifth in 2010, 19th in 2011, and 11th in 2012 in points allowed.
Mostly, the defense has played well, except for that horrendous yardage total in 2011 (though that was also the year that the Packers went 15-1 in the regular season). But the reason Packers coach Mike McCarthy hasn't immediately made clear Capers' status heading into next season is because Green Bay's defense has been atrocious in its playoff losses.
Witness last weekend when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led his team to 579 total yards (the most the Packers have ever allowed in the postseason) in the 45-31 loss. Or the 37-20 loss to the Giants last year while giving up 420 yards. Or the 51 points allowed to Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in 2009.
Thus, even though Capers' defenses have played well for the most part, it's still not completely assured that McCarthy will retain him for 2013 (though, to be clear, it is probable). McCarthy said he had “confidence” Capers would be back, but that's also not the same thing as saying, “Oh yeah, Capers WILL be back next year.”
"There's a lot to look at, like there is every single year," McCarthy said Tuesday, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's important for us as a coaching staff and particularly the leadership part of our football ops to look at everything, like we always do.
"Take the emotion out of it and make the right decisions as we move forward."
McCarthy might not arrive at his decision immediately. He reportedly met with Capers on Wednesday to discuss the defense's performance this season, and the Journal Sentinel speculated that McCarthy likely would wait to make his move until after talking to the players in one-on-one meetings.
“There's little doubt McCarthy listened to what the players said to see if there were any hints that Capers was no longer the man for the job,” the newspaper wrote.
What do the players think? At least one wants him back.
"Absolutely," Packer linebacker Desmond Bishop said, also via the Journal Sentinel. "Coach Capers is a great coach. You can't have a great defense and win the Super Bowl one year and then be kicked out the next year, or a year or two later. I don't think it should work like that at all.”
But should the 49ers game -- that one awful, terrible loss -- impact Capers' tenure with the team? Maybe. The team didn't look prepared to face Kaepernick and the read-option offense San Francisco has run, and the Packers couldn't make the right adjustments to slow down the 49ers in the second half. Capers, meanwhile, said the real trouble was not in the defense responding to the designed quarterback runs from the 49ers but in the way Kaepernick scrambled.
"It didn't look that way the other night but I've seen us make great strides, and I think with the number of young people we've got that we can move forward with this group," Capers said. "Obviously, you always want to add a few things here or there, but what I hope is that game's not a total evaluation of what this group has done this year, because I think there were some very good things that were done."
Now, we will wait to see whether McCarthy agrees with him.
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