Dom Capers confident in defensive scheme, not retiring

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Dom Capers remains very confident in his

defensive schemes. Though Capers’ Green Bay Packers have dropped to 26th in the

NFL in run defense, 22nd in pass defense and 30th in interceptions, the

63-year-old coordinator is not listening to any negativity that exists outside

the walls of Lambeau Field headquarters.

“If you’ve known me for my whole career, I don’t get

caught up in a lot of those things because I know you’re going to go through

periods like that,” Capers said Friday. “I’ll just tell you: If I

didn’t think I could do it as well now as I did 20 years ago, I wouldn’t do it.

That’s just me. I’ve got to feel as though I’ve got something to give, and I

feel that way. I don’t feel that’s changed one bit.”

Asked directly if he plans to retire after this season,

Capers replied, “No.”

With a 5-6-1 record, the Packers are under .500 for the

first time since 2008. While the losses have piled up in the absence of star

quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay’s defense has fallen apart over the past

month. The Packers were ranked third in the league in run defense after Week 7

and were No. 11 in total defense a week later. Then the Chicago Bears,

Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions

torched Green Bay’s defense to send it plummeting down the NFL rankings.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, and I learned a

long time ago that in this game you can’t get involved with all the

periphery,” Capers said. “So I focus on what I can do to try to help

this defense get better. I tell the players all the time that any energy you

spend on something you don’t have control over is wasted energy. If they see

something different in me, then my words will ring hollow in their ears.

“You’ve got to go back to work. You’ve got to fix the

things that you know, that you know work. I’ve seen them work for 28 years, and

there’s going to be tough stretches, and what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to

get things taken care of that you aren’t doing. And that’s a matter of focusing

in on what you have control over.”

Capers responded “I would hope so” when asked if

he felt like players still believed in him.

“I can’t speak for them,” Capers added. “But

I think we’ve got a number of guys there that have seen us go win a Super Bowl

with this defense. We’ve won a lot of games here and played pretty good

defense.”

As the defensive coordinator, a lot of responsibility for

the Packers’ recent failures ultimately falls on Capers. However, the players

also need to make plays. The sacks have been there (Green Bay is ranked third

in the league), but interceptions and playmaking-type moments have been

lacking.

“You always want to try to get guys in situations to

make plays,” Capers said. “I just mentioned here that the basis of

our defense starts with stopping the run and if you don’t stop the run then

you’re fighting an uphill battle the whole time. When we’ve been at our best,

you guys have watched us go through that transition the first year when we

didn’t play the run real well early in the season, but then the second half of

the season we start playing the run well and start seeing all those takeaways

come because people couldn’t run the ball, and we’d make the game one-dimensional.

“The down-and-distance factor makes it a lot easier to

call that game, and same thing our second year in our Super Bowl run, you saw

how many big plays that we made then. It’s hard if, let’s just take for example

last week (against Detroit), when we go out there and we turn the ball over

three out of the first four series and score a defensive touchdown and end up

getting four takeaways in a game but they got their run game going on us and

now you’re having to get extra people up in there to stop the run and now

you’re one-on-one on Calvin Johnson and they’re running those slant routes. It

all fits together.”

Not having much success stopping the run, along with the

lack of big plays from his defense, has forced Capers to alter his in-game

decisions.

“Believe me, the game situations always change how you

call a game,” Capers said. “You can’t just sit there and stay with

it. You guys have seen it. For me, if something’s going, I’m going to ride that

horse until it’s not working anymore; whether it’s pressure or whatever.

Certain games where all of a sudden they don’t run the ball, and I’ve always

felt that if you could discourage people from running the ball early, a lot of

times they get away from it. Now, you can start doing a lot of those things and

create problems.

“I don’t think the pressure for us really (is a

problem). You look at our sack numbers, they’re probably as good as they’ve

been. Our third down until this last week was good, our dime defense has

probably been our best area of our defense. Last week, our third down was one

of the poorest of the season because they had all those third-and-1,

third-and-2s. You’re not going to win a lot of those. Hey, we have to get back,

and this week we have to go out there and shut down their run game. If we can

do that, then normally you can find ways to put pressure on the quarterback,

and that’s when normally, that’s where the turnovers come from.”

Whether Capers returns for a sixth year with the Packers

remains unknown, but he made it very clear that he plans on spending a 29th NFL

season somewhere in 2014.

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter