Tramon Williams hesitant to support Dom Capers' defensive scheme
Tramon Williams was asked about coordinator Dom Capers' defense and his lukewarm support belied doubt.
By PAUL IMIGFS Wisconsin
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As the weekly editions of the Packers Mailbag series have shown, defensive coordinator Dom Capers has become a very unpopular person among Green Bay's fan base. That frustration makes some sense, too, as the Packers have fallen from the NFL's 11th-ranked defense to 24th overall in the past six weeks.
Players, however, have stood by Capers at every opportunity. But on Thursday, there was a multiple-second pause from cornerback Tramon Williams that, in reading between the lines, seemed to have spoken to a bit of uncertainty from the team's defensive players.
Williams was asked for his thoughts on Capers' scheme and he offered the following response, which began with a two-second pause.
"Um," Williams said, before again pausing for three seconds. "I mean, it's been good. Obviously we won the Super Bowl with it. It's been around for a while. When you're struggling you don't know what to think about it, and that's anybody. That's just part of the frustration going on with things. We're still buying into what's going on.
"It's going to be a struggle from both points, coaches and players. It's not going to be one of those things where we're going to point fingers at the scheme or it's this. We're not going to do that. We're going to finish it out the way we started. That's together as a team whichever way it goes. We're going to be in it together."
So, what began with some negativity did turn more positive as Williams continued. But the early moments from Williams' answer were the only sign so far that perhaps some doubt has crept into the minds of Capers' players.
Green Bay gave up 40 points and 561 total yards to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. Williams insisted, though, that players aren't looking to blame Capers or anyone else.
"I haven't seen any guys pointing fingers at all," Williams said. "That's the good thing about it. That's the truth. A lot of guys come up in here and say, ‘We're not going to point fingers. We're not going to do that.' Then behind the scenes the first thing you see a guy do is talk about something. But it hasn't been like that around here. Guys still feel that we can get things done.
"We know we're not down and out of it yet. We're probably going to need some help realistically (to get in the playoffs). That could still happen. As long as we have hope, we're going to continue to play hard. And without hope, we're still going to continue to play hard. It's one of those deals to where anytime you step on that field you want to put your best foot forward no matter if you're struggling or not. I don't see how a guy can step on the field and go half at it. I just don't see how a guy could do that, so we're going to go hard every time we go on the field regardless of what happens."
After a poor Week 1 performance on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers' defense began to perform quite well -- with the exception of a lack of interceptions. Before the midway point of the season, Green Bay had played so well that its run defense was on a franchise-best pace and was ranked third in the NFL. Then, Chicago's Matt Forte, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Detroit's Reggie Bush all gashed the Packers for huge gains, sending Green Bay's run defense all the way down to where it currently stands at No. 26 in the league.
"Tackling, staying in the right gap and playing what's called and not trying to do more than what the defense calls for -- things like that," defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. "We've kind of lost touch of that these last four weeks. Then it snowballs and we're where we're at right now."
To entirely place blame on Capers or the players is not realistic. It takes a collective group for things to have gone so wrong this quickly.
Part of the downfall certainly ties to the absence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose ability to better control the time of possession battle is one factor that makes a significant difference on both sides of the ball.
And while it would likely take a major turnaround from the Packers' defense over the final four games this season to have Capers return in 2014, Williams' initial hesitance Thursday was the only time in which players haven't shown complete trust in the defensive scheme being given to them.
"I still feel confident," safety Morgan Burnett said. "I got all the confidence in the world. We got great guys in this locker room with a lot of talent. The scheme is great, because it allows everyone to make their share of plays. The only thing we have to do is make the plays when the opportunity presents itself. Just keep competing, and at this point in time just keep grinding."