The Dom Capers paradox
If there was a theme to Packers Nation the last few days it could be summed up in three words: fire Dom Capers.
Surely the Packers defensive coordinator must be held accountable for a second straight defensive breakdown in the playoffs. Indeed, one cannot turn a blind eye to how poorly the Packers were both in execution and scheme against the 49ers. Yet, the divisional playoff game did not come close to telling the story of the 2012 Packers defense.
As I was pouring through some end-of-year NFL stats today I was reminded that forcing fumbles was not a strength of the Packers defense this year. In fact, takeaways were down by the Packers rather sharply. In 2011 the Packers forced 38 takeaways and that number dropped to 23 in 2012. So the Packers had almost one less takeaway per game.
But here's part of what I call the Dom Capers paradox. Both interceptions and fumble recoveries were down this year yet across the board the Packers improved on defense. The Packers finished 11th in scoring defense, up from 19th in '11. In total defense the Packers improved to 11th from 32nd. Sacks? From 16th to 4th.
So most folks want Capers gone yet the defense not only showed drastic improvement but based on some of the above numbers the Packers were one of the better teams defensively in the NFL. Does that sound like a recipe for cleaning house?
Of course, all these improvements were done while the Packers missed Clay Matthews for four games, C.J. Wilson for five games, Charles Woodson for nine games and Nick Perry for ten games. Oh and Desmond Bishop missed the entire year. Injuries are never an excuse but the Packers showed more depth in 2012 than the previous year and were able to weather the storm far better.
Saturday night's lack of defense cost the Packers. There's no denying it. But it's not enough to make a change either in scheme (from the 3-4 to the 4-3) or coordinator.