A quick look on various social media outlets is all that is needed to know who the majority of the Green Bay Packers faithful blame for the team’s defensive woes. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers appears to be the most wanted man in Green Bay, outside of Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin. However, is it fair to be put the Packers’ poor defensive play solely on Capers?
Depending on how the rest of the season goes, there is no question head coach Mike McCarthy may be looking for a new defensive coordinator in the offseason. With that being said, for fans to call for the firing of Capers with plenty left to play this year is ridiculous.
Sure, Capers’ incredibly complex defensive scheme is hard for the next man up to grasp right out of the gate. On the other hand, no one expected the Packers to suffer the amount of injuries that the team has dealt with. As great of a player Jarrett Bush is on special teams, it’s never a good day when he suits up in the secondary for an entire game as he did against the New York Giants.
Injuries are a huge reason why Green Bay’s defense has yet to have any sort of a major impact this season. Cornerback Casey Hayward, defensive end Jerel Worthy and outside linebacker Nick Perry are three examples of three players who have seen little to no action this season due to injuries. Meanwhile, outside linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett are examples of how play is affected when star players are unable to consistently suit up. Remove cornerback Sam Shields from the lineup and the Packers have a secondary that will have a very difficult time stopping the pass.
The two injuries that have proved to have the biggest impact on defense for the Packers are Shields and Matthews. Shields is an unbelievably underrated player. There is no doubt that his loss 90 minutes prior to kickoff played a huge role in Green Bay’s defense looking lost on Sunday. Matthews still doesn’t appear to be the same player since he suffered a thumb injury that has forced him to wear a cast in the last two games.
The defense looks soulless with only a couple of players willing to step up to try to make a difference. Unfortunately, the stellar efforts by Tramon Williams and A.J. Hawk simply isn’t enough. What Green Bay needs is for everyone to play as if they belong. There is no room for players to make mistakes and then chalk it up as inexperience. If the organization’s mentality is the next man up then the players better play like it, even if the task is larger than life.
At this point, the only hope is that the Packers realize that giving up 27 points in three straight contests is unacceptable. The expectations that the defense must raise their level of play without quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center must be acted on. Unfortunately, the entire team has appeared to lose the will to play without their leader by their side.