3 Coordinators, 3 Questions: Packers pass rush improving

Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) and linebacker Nick Perry (53) combine to sack Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder last Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. — It was a mini bye weekend for the Green Bay Packers after their 42-10 Thursday night win over the Minnesota Vikings. That allowed the Packers’ coordinators plenty of time to review the film and address some of the key aspects of their groups.

Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS

1. Were the 16 QB hits against Minnesota among the most you ever recall your defense having in a game?

CAPERS: "Well, I’ll say this: I think we’re getting better pressure out of a four-man rush, which is what you want from a defensive standpoint. The really good defenses that I’ve been associated with can disrupt the quarterback with a four-man rush, and you’ve got the extra guy to cover with. I think you’ve seen that show up in we’ve given up fewer big plays, and the fewer big plays ends up with fewer points on the board because people have a hard time scoring a lot of points on you if they don’t get big chunks, and we’ve been able to do that more effectively."

2. Has Morgan Burnett thrived in recent games by being able to play closer to the line of scrimmage?

CAPERS: "I like what I see out of our safety position right now. We’ve got three big, physical safeties. And, of course, Micah (Hyde) continues to come along and he gives us a good coverage guy at that position. I thought Morgan played his best game of the year. He was involved. Had a lot of production. Was around the line of scrimmage. You saw him finish off the Bears game with a couple real physical tackles and I thought that carried over into this game. He played a physical game, so I like where he is right now. I think Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) continues to make progress. And he has the same types of physical capabilities."

3. There’s rarely been a good player opposite Clay Matthews at outside linebacker in recent years; have you found that guy now with Julius Peppers?

CAPERS: "I think what you’ve seen out of Julius in almost every game, and certainly these last three games, you’ve seen him make an impact play that you can say would influence the game. You just go in every game that he’s made impact plays, which is what you expect out of a guy like Julius. He’s been an impact player and I think as he gets more comfortable, he’s obviously doing some things that he hasn’t had to do a whole lot of. You saw him drop and make the interception and return it for a touchdown. I think we know he can rush the passer. He’s a good matchup, he’s a good guy to have on the other side of Clay to complement him, and I like the rotation with Mike Neal and Nick Perry. You saw Nick Perry have two sacks in the game. Mike Neal had some really good rushes. I think Mike Neal and Clay working together in some of the sub-packages run in games, they had some really good games that they were in. I think those are things that if we can continue to generate pressure on the quarterback, that leads to more takeaways. A big part of that is people, I’m sure when they play us, they don’t want us to get in those definite passing situations, and a big part of our objective is to make the game more one-dimensional where we can get into more of a one-dimensional game. It certainly helps if you get up like we did in the game, because now you know the percentage of passes are going to have to go up when people get into a catch-up mode."

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR SHAWN SLOCUM

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1. What do you think when you see the struggles that the Detroit Lions are having with their kickers this season?

SLOCUM: "I appreciate being able to come out of a difficult situation. Making field goals is not easy. Mason’s done a great job here the last couple of years now with his consistency. It’s not just on Sundays. It’s during the week in his practice regimen. He’s doing a good job of it."

2. Why release Ryan Taylor now?

SLOCUM: "I’ll say this: In an ideal world, tacklers tackle and blockers block, so if you can do that, your coverage teams would be defensive players and your offensive players would play on the return game. We’ve been pretty fortunate having a number of safeties up and active each week and those guys have been really productive for us. We’ve played a number of our starters on special teams and I think that’s helping us. What it does, it makes our roster seem bigger on game day because we’re getting more work out of everybody."

3. Any chance of using Jeff Janis on kickoff return at all?

SLOCUM: "I’ve been pleased with DuJuan (Harris) and what he’s done. Jeff is definitely a viable candidate. Last week, we didn’t have any opportunities; the guy kicked three touchbacks. That has nothing to do with who’s returning the ball."

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOM CLEMENTS

1. Is Corey Linsley playing well enough to keep the starting center job once JC Tretter returns from the temporary Injured Reserve list?

CLEMENTS: "Corey’s played well. I’ll leave it at that."

2. What is it about Randall Cobb that’s helped him produce so many touchdowns (6 — second in the NFL) this season?

CLEMENTS: "Well, he’s gotten different kinds of touchdown receptions. He got one (on) a scramble, he’s gotten one just running a route, he’s gotten one against a blitz. He’s a smart player. He’ll run precise routes, and if we’re buying time back there he has a knack for getting in the open area."

3. Has the pass protection been solid recently?

CLEMENTS: "Guys are just playing their positions well. They’re using good fundamentals and finishing the play and allowing us to extend (the) play, allowing Aaron (Rodgers) to extend plays and move around the pocket and let the receivers work in the secondary. So they have done a very good job pass protecting, and we hope to keep it up."

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