Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy did everything but say that Dom Capers would remain his defensive coordinator.
Speaking during his season-ending press conference on Wednesday, McCarthy twice called Capers an “outstanding” coach.
“We’re not even 72 hours away from the game. Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach,” McCarthy said, emphasizing “outstanding.”
“No one will be evaluated today. We’ll go through just like we did last year. I’m not going into this looking to make big changes. … There’s things that you really like about your program (and) it’s important to make sure you’re able to project them into the future. … There’s things that you don’t really like, that you feel need to get better. And with those areas, we’ll either change, we’ll adjust or we’ll emphasize those. And that’s what the process we’re going through right now. I think Dom Capers as an outstanding football coach, and I’m glad he’s on our staff.”
Since the Capers-led defense finished fifth in yards allowed and second in points allowed in the Super Bowl season of 2010, his defenses have ranked 25th in yards and 24th in points in 2013, 11th in yards and 11th in points in 2012, and 32nd in yards and 19th in points in 2011. Takeaways, an overwhelming strength in his first four seasons as coordinator, evaporated in 2013, with the Packers tying for 20th with 22 takeaways this year.
Still, it appears McCarthy doesn’t want Capers to leave, and Capers has no intention of leaving.
“I have no plans of not coaching, I’ll say that,” Capers said on Wednesday.
Capers came under heavy fire at the end of last season after his defense gave up 579 total yards, including 323 rushing, as the Packers got ambushed by the 49ers’ read-option attack and Colin Kaepernick’s scrambling ability in a 45-31 playoff loss. He came under fire again this season, with the Packers allowing the fourth-most points in franchise history.
“It’s part of the business,” Capers said of the criticism. “I don’t get involved a lot what other people say. I tell the players, if you commit every day and you do the very best job that you’re capable of, then you can always hold your head up high and know you’ve done the best you’re capable of doing. That’s what we ask the players to do. There’s going to be times things go your way, there’s going to be times things go against you. If you know that you’ve done everything you can, then you can move on.”
Throughout the last month, Capers’ assistants have defended their boss. Winston Moss, the team’s inside linebackers coach and assistant head coach, joined that group on Wednesday.
“Dom is one of the best men – I’m talking coach on the field and man off the field – that I’ve ever been associated with during my time as a football player and a football coach. It’s not even a question,” he said.
Injuries were a big factor in the defense’s problems this season. In Packer Report’s preseason list of the most important Packers, Clay Matthews was second, Tramon Williams fifth, B.J. Raji sixth, Nick Perry eighth and Casey Hayward ninth. Matthews missed six games, Raji was Mr. Invisible, Perry missed five games and was limited for the final two-thirds of the season, and Hayward missed 14 games.
“I’ve always believed this: to be a real top-notch defense, you have to have two or three guys that basically are what I consider difference-makers, where sometime within a 60-play game you’re going to see two or three plays that really have an impact and influence the game,” Capers said.
Even playing short-handed, the defense kept the Packers in the game. However, Kaepernick and Co. made all the key plays in scoring 10 points on their final two possessions to know the Packers out of the playoffs for a second consecutive season and beat the Packers for the fourth time in two season.
“Stating the obvious, the one common thread is we haven’t stopped the quarterback,” McCarthy said. “The quarterback’s had three big games against us with his three opportunities. We need to do a better job there. I think that’s the one common thread that jumps out at you. But we had opportunities on special teams, offense and defense, and we didn’t get it done.”
Capers, it appears, will get another shot at getting that job done.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.