Green Bay DC Dom Capers Focuses on Making Quarterbacks Uncomfortable
In 2011, the Green Bay Packers began the season with an impressive 5-0 record and secured 15 wins in the regular season.
However, in the divisional round, their playoff run was cut short by a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants.
Fast forward to this season, and again, the Packers find themselves at a promising 5-0 start.
What sets this year’s team apart from the 2011 squad? The key distinction lies in their defense.
After the Packers’ triumphant 30-25 victory in Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I had the opportunity to sit down with the team’s defensive coordinator, Dom Capers.
He delved into his fundamental coaching philosophy, which differed from other defensive coaches.
While some coaches prioritize stopping the run to put offenses in predictable passing situations, Capers believed in placing a greater emphasis on disrupting quarterbacks.
He argued that if a defense can successfully disrupt and pressure a quarterback, it can lead to inefficiencies that affect the entire team.
During a week in which Aaron Rodgers experienced an unusually challenging performance, turning the ball over three times, the Packers managed to overcome the Rams by creating even more issues for St. Louis’ offense, culminating in a significant four interceptions.
Capers employ various formations and blitz packages to befuddle and exert pressure.
In the opening play of Sunday’s game, the St. Louis Rams fielded a lineup with two running backs and two wide receivers—a formation geared towards a potent running attack.
In response, Capers opted for his nickel defense, typically viewed as more susceptible to the run (see screenshot).
The nickel package proved effective in defending against the run and demonstrated its prowess when Rams QB Nick Foles attempted play-action passes.
The Packers applied pressure dynamically and imaginatively, leading to swift three-and-outs or turnovers.
At times (as shown below), the pressure was deceptive, as they sent only four rushers while dropping defensive linemen into coverage, creating confusion about “who’s coming?” in the opposing offense.
As a result of their efforts to disrupt Foles, the Packers conceded only 10 points despite the Rams missing out on several field goal attempts.
Nonetheless, Capers’ emphasis on creating QB confusion effectively kept St. Louis in check.
Throughout the game, Green Bay successfully disrupted Foles, even though they did give up over 200 yards on the ground. Nevertheless, with a two-score lead at the end, the Packers can rest easy knowing their mission was accomplished.
Facing the Chargers at Lambeau on a compressed week following an emotionally charged late-game loss to the Steelers on Monday, it’s reasonable to expect that Dom Capers will strategize to keep Philip Rivers on his toes, aiming to elevate his interception rate of one per week.
This presents valuable openings for a Packers offense eager to rebound and seize the advantage.
If the Packers can sustain their current level of disruption to the opposing quarterback, this 5-0 start could potentially result in a much more successful season finale than both 2011 and any year since their last championship.
It’s reasonable to expect that games with multiple turnovers by Rodgers will be a rare occurrence.
However, a defense that consistently ranks among the Top 10 in takeaways and the Packers’ characteristic style of offense form a winning formula that’s exceptionally challenging to overcome in this league.
In three out of the four years following their Super Bowl XLV victory, Rodgers faced challenges in the playoffs, often requiring significant support from the defense, which the Packers could not provide.
Now, in 2015, if the Packers can effectively execute Dom’s strategy to disrupt the quarterback at their current level, this 5-0 start could set the stage for the kind of finish that Packers Nation has longed for.