First off, I am not a Dom Capers apologist. In fact I was one of the founding members of the “Fire Dom Capers” club after the 2011 season. Caper’s worst in the league 2011 defense squandered a great NFL offense that was primed to perform a rare repeat as NFL Super Bowl champions. I have also pointed out how Capers career arch consistently follows the same pattern, a quick turnaround followed by a steady and consistent march to the bottom.
Capers’ schemes are simply too complex and are much more successful confusing his own players than the opposition. I suspect that as he implements his system, season to season, he continues to burden his players with additional complexity. This is how you come to rely on marginal talents like AJ Hawk, because they know “the system”, which is no small feat given the increasing complexity. I also contend that Capers’ reliance on complex schemes is the exact opposite strategy you need for Ted Thompsons draft and develop method of building a team. Simply put Capers is a bad fit for the Packers and in my opinion should have been replaced several seasons ago.
However, this season, at least this early in the season, I can’t place the blame for the defenses struggles on Capers. If, and it’s way too early to know, this defense does not improve this season the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy.
McCarthy was the one who envisioned and championed this new hybrid defensive scheme using slogans like: “less schemes, more personnel”, “smaller, more athletic defensive lineman”, “elephant position”, etc. McCarthy was clear in the off-season, he would present the vision for the revamped Packers’ defense and it was up to Capers and his staff to implement it. This still could end up being a great move over the course of the entire season. By forcing Capers to reevaluate everything, he might force Capers back to “first year mode” where his schemes are simpler and he has had most of his success.
I also strongly suspect McCarthy was the one who insisted on the “cloak and dagger” approach to rolling out the new 4-3 hybrid scheme. In hindsight it appears obvious that the Packers should have been using every opportunity, both in open practices and in preseason games, to give both the coaches and players experience running this new defense. Given this constraint I find it hard to blame Capers for the early season confusion running this new defense.
Capers has let Packer fans down for several seasons and I am as pessimistic as anyone. However, he was presented with a vision from Mike McCarthy to re-design the defense, and we need to give him a time to implement that vision.