GREEN BAY, Wis. — The injuries continued piling up, but the Packers (6-3) were able to beat the Arizona Cardinals for their fourth consecutive victory Sunday. The rushing offense had a good day, the defense made adjustments to playing without Clay Matthews for most of the second half and Randall Cobb continued showing the type of threat that he is.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum and offensive coordinator Tom Clements offered their insights about how Green Bay was able to get the win and head into the bye week on a positive note.
Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:
1. What do you attribute most to your team leading the NFL in sacks right now
CAPERS: To me, the significant thing is kind of where they’ve come, because we’ve had more sacks on first and second down than we’ve had on third down, which is significant. The two areas of significance is our run defense over the last few weeks. What that does is it lets you control the down and distance a little bit more and then being able to get a large number of sacks – I think 22 of our sacks have come on first and second down.
2. Is A.J. Hawk tackling better this season?
CAPERS: I think he’s done well. I think A.J.’s had his best year since I’ve been here. I like the role we have him in. His reps, I think he’s fresh. And when he goes out there you see more quickness. One of the things that’s maybe improved the most is our Okie run defense significantly from last year, and that’s one of the keys to playing the run better. Somebody put on my desk today that since the fourth week, I think we’re number one in the league in run defense. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what it says. It sounded good to me. I hope we can keep it going because I go back to ’09, the second half of the season we really came on and set the record for run defense. I like the improvement there. That’s a credit to some of those big guys up front. You know, Pickett’s been playing awfully well for us.
3. Is Frank Zombo ready to start playing in games?
CAPERS: I think he’s worked back in well. Frank’s a smart guy, so the mental part of things is not a problem for Frank. I think that he kept himself in pretty good condition, and Frank’s one of those guys who’s normally going to show up where you want him to show up and coach him. It will be interesting to see because he worked in more last week and obviously we didn’t activate him but we felt that we got him more work in case we did activate him. He’ll get even more work now.
1. Has there been any consideration by the coaching staff to take Cobb off special teams so he can focus on offense?
SLOCUM: No. And I think that if you look at the punt return he had there in the first quarter after we held them three-and-out, it gave us the ball on the 20 yard line. Then with the kickoff return he gave us the ball at the 48. Those plays are the first plays of offense. Those are as explosive as any plays he had yesterday.
2. Does the reward outweigh the risk factor with Cobb returning kicks and punts?
SLOCUM: It’s something you have to consider, I think, definitely. One thing we are is, we’re all in. It takes all the guys that are active on gameday to help us win. I think you’re seeing some of the guys that have been pushed into duty as a result of some of the injuries we’ve had, have stepped up and played well. Randall has a role on this team. He’s doing a great job with it.
3. Is this just a rough patch in Mason Crosby’s career after another missed field goal?
SLOCUM: I think it’s a challenge for him. He’s a very good kicker. He needs to make the 44-yarder that he missed yesterday. I’m sure he’ll come back next week and be ready to go to work. I expect him to make the next field goal and that’s the way we’ll approach this. … I want him to clear the cobwebs (during the bye week). He’s a good kicker and I want him to come back next week ready to go and be energized, have positive thoughts and go get it.
1. What did you think of Aaron Rodgers’ post-game comments that he played poorly in the win over Arizona?
CLEMENTS: Well, it’s good. Obviously he’s a competitor, he wants to do well each time that he’s out there. Sure there are some throws he’d like to be able to make again. He missed a few he normally makes. But fortunately he made some big throws when we needed them. He’ll come back and be ready to go.
2. Just how good is Cobb?
CLEMENTS: He’s a very good player and we’re looking for ways to use him. He’s a good pass receiver. He gets the ball in his hands and he can make things happen. We can put him in the backfield and he can run the ball. He can do a lot of different things, we’re just trying to find different ways to do it, get his hands on the ball because he can make things happen.
3. Are you going to continue splitting carries between James Starks and Alex Green?
CLEMENTS: We had the two of them and our plan yesterday was Alex was going to play no-huddle and third down and James was going to get normal down and distance. It just worked out that James got a few more carries than Alex. We’ve got two good backs and we’re going to try and utilize both of them.