Packers coaches know they must shore up leaky run defense
Green Bay's coordinators talk about a struggling defense, reuniting with Jeremy Ross, and a short week.
By PAUL IMIG FS Wisconsin
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With a short week separating the
Packers' tie on Sunday and their Thanksgiving game, Green Bay's three coordinators spoke outside the locker room Tuesday to look back and to look ahead.
Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS
1. After such a good start to the season, what's happened to your run defense over the past month?
CAPERS: "Listen, this has been one of those deals where you plug one hole and another one opens up over here. The last few weeks I've been talking about getting off the field at the end of the game, end of the half, end of the game. The last couple weeks we've done an excellent job of that. At the end of the game this week, we had a four-minute stop where we went out there and in three plays we got off the field and they had minus-two yards. We had a two-minute stop at the end of regulation to get our offense the ball back. We got into overtime and had a two-minute stop. And we had two series where it looked like we didn't know how to play run defense. Unfortunately, those were critical series for us. I thought we started the game not bad against a good runner, a good running team. But those two series, we just have to eliminate them. That's where the consistency comes in. I still feel like we can get this thing all pulled together. We haven't played our complete game yet. But I see some areas that I think we're improving in and doing more consistently. Obviously run defense was not very good from a leverage standpoint, run fits, gap control and we picked a tough time with those two series against a good running team. If those guys can get the run going on you, they're going to continue to pound it in there until you get it stopped."
2. What factors have played into the run defense going downhill like this?
CAPERS: "We were playing the same defense, we were just playing it better. That's the way this thing goes. It's a fine line in this league in terms of whether you're on point or if you just miss him a little bit, things start to roll downhill on you. That's no excuse. We have to play better run defense. And you think about in those two series I'm talking about, we had them third- and 4 or 5, third down where we were free coming on pressure and we missed a sack. They move the ball down and score. In the overtime, we had them third and 9. Quite frankly, I was not in a very good call on that draw play because I wasn't thinking they were going to run a draw. So that came out of there, gave them momentum and they got to running the ball again. Our red-zone defense has improved because we've had to make some stops down there."
3. Will you always need a second player paying full attention to Calvin Johnson in Thursday's game?
CAPERS: "You have to mix it up. Now, they have Reggie Bush. If you're sitting out there with two guys on Calvin Johnson, then you're going to be short inside with the run, the screen game, that type of thing. They have a pretty good mixture now of personnel. It's one of the reasons why yardage-wise they're in the top 5."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR SHAWN SLOCUM
1. a. What was the thought process on putting Johnathan Franklin on the opening kickoff return?
SLOCUM: "Obviously he's been working there for a while and has done it and has gotten better and better.
Micah (Hyde) had some health issues, so we were trying to take a little load off of him, as well."
1. b. Would Franklin have been the kick returner throughout the entire game if not for the concussion he suffered? Or would it have gone back and forth with Hyde?
SLOCUM: "More than likely he would've been, but we would've had the ability to go to Micah if we would've needed to, which we did."
1, c. Was Hyde going to be on punt return either way?
2. a. Jeremy Ross is the returner for the Lions now. How does he look on film?
SLOCUM: "Yeah, he's doing well. He's covering for them also."
2. b. Does your knowledge of Ross help with scouting against him?
SLOCUM: "Well, their scheme is a little different and we try to educate ourselves on what they're doing scheme-wise. We're familiar with Jeremy and he's a good, strong runner."
3. Was Sunday one of Tim Masthay's better games, considering the cold weather and two punts being downed inside the 5-yard line?
SLOCUM: "He did a great job with it. I thought he and
Jarrett (Bush) were really in sync on the first one and then
Chris Banjo made a nice play; it was an excellent punt on the second one that bounced sideways, and that's really the nature of the kick that gives you a chance to down it."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOM CLEMENTS
1. What's it like playing five quarters on Sunday and then having to be ready for a Thursday early afternoon game?
CLEMENTS: "Well, it's harder. We played a lot of plays, and we're coming back and playing four days later, so it's difficult. Players are taking care of themselves. They're doing everything they can to get ready. We're being smart with them in practice. I'm sure when game time comes they'll be ready to give their best effort."
2. a. You couldn't have put any other backup quarterback into the game 12 days after signing him like you did with Matt Flynn, right? Flynn's history with the team is what made it possible?
CLEMENTS: "Well, his comfort level, he's comfortable in the offense even though he's been away for the last couple of years in other schemes. He was here for four years, and that's the first pro offense he learned. It sticks with you, and you could tell that. We're thankful to have him back."
2. b. That's a big reason why you signed Flynn then, right? As opposed to some other quarterback to be the temporary backup?
CLEMENTS: "That's part of it. He knew us and we knew him. Anytime you have some familiarity with a player and you know what he's about as a player and as a person and you have a chance to get him back into the fold and he wants to come back, it's all positive."
3. Any concern late in the season with Eddie Lacy being able to keep running the ball effectively considering how many carries he's had already?
CLEMENTS: "He's a powerful back; he's a hard runner. We factor in a lot of things as to how we go about rotating guys. That's a consideration. But I think he likes getting the ball, and he's doing a great job so far."