Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy got noticeably upset when asked today if defensive coordinator Dom Capers will be back next season. Unless this is the vote of confidence that sometimes comes before the firing, Capers is his man. So how do the Packers improve enough to make an honest run at another Super Bowl?
The first stop I guess is Ted Thompson’s office. Apparently the defensive players he took in last year’s draft weren’t good enough for Capers. It might be time to invest in some veteran help this offseason via whatever means possible. The Packers’ young defense wilted under pressure in New York, Minnesota and worst of all San Francisco. Had Christian Ponder played the wildcard game in Lambeau we could easily have been having this discussion last week.
On the defensive line I think Ryan Pickett might have hit the end of the road. C.J. Wilson is just a guy. B.J. Raji has nobody to help him out. Raji by all accounts had an excellent year but he can’t do it all by himself. Mike Neal made a few plays here and there as did Mike Daniels, but nobody grabbed the job when Wilson went down. Better than nothing, but not much.
It will help to get Desmond Bishop back at linebacker, but the other guys are just guys. A.J. Hawk and Eric Walden probably wouldn’t start on any other team. Maybe Nick Perry can be a force. He showed signs of it before it he got hurt. He can definitely get to the QB and he is a beast physically. Another training camp learning the position could be huge in his development.
In the secondary I can’t see any scenario in which Charles Woodson is back. Not going to pay ten million for a 37-year old guy with two broken collarbones. I would hope that nobody wears 21 for the Packers for a long time, if ever.
The other safety, Morgan Burnett is just a guy. Certainly need improvement there. The one place I think the Packers will be strong at is cornerback. I doubt Tramon Williams hangs on to his job. His drop off from 2010 continued all year. Compound that with the stupid penalties born out of frustration and his days in Green Bay may be numbered. Sam Shields will be starting on one side or another, that is for sure.
The only thing that worries me about the Packers offense is the play caller. McCarthy says he wants to run the ball, but two carries by DuJuan Harris in the second half last Saturday tell us otherwise. Ndamukong Suh was right when he said the Packers needed Football 101 for Dummies. If your defense can’t stop ’em, you better keep ’em off the field. Two incompletions and line plunge doesn’t give the defense much rest.
The Packers will be what they are on offense, and defense for that matter, until McCarthy changes his ways. They are currently a team that relies on Aaron Rodgers and only Aaron Rodgers to win games. Unlike the Patriots for example, the Packers have not been able to adjust to the way teams play them and the result is too many three and outs. It’s no wonder McCarthy deferred every time he won the snap, he was afraid to take the ball first.
At wide receiver I’m not so sure Greg Jennings is gone, but if he is Jordy Nelson has to find a way to stay on the field. He was never in sync all year because of injuries. Thankfully James Jones and Randall Cobb picked up the slack. If Jennings is gone the Packers will need to replace him and that person isn’t on the roster right now. Boykin or Ross? I don’t think so.
The Packers will need to add some bulk to the offensive line at some point. They were manhandled more than once this year and Rodgers took a beating because of it. Rodgers will be 30 next year and that simply has to stop. Both tackles and the center should be upgraded. Maybe getting Bryan Bulaga back will help at right tackle, but he wasn’t exactly playing lights out before getting hurt.
After 2011 this year was in a way a rebuilding year considering the turnover on defense. Year two of that process began Sunday.
The Packers overcame a slow start and the replacement refs and still found a way to win 11 games and garner a playoff win over the Vikings.
Not a bad season. Just a really bad ending.