Coordinators: Defense set to improve when injured players return

Published Oct. 29, 2013 9:08 a.m. EDT

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After extending the team's winning streak to four games with Sunday night's victory over the Vikings, the Green Bay Packers' coordinators broke down the major topics from the game.
Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:
1. Do you think this defense will get better once key players like Clay Matthews and Nick Perry return from injuries?
CAPERS: "Well, I hope so. I look forward to the time when we get all of our troops together at the same time. I think what we're going through now is these guys are gaining experience. We'll be able to use that experience over the second half of the season. There's been times where, a week ago, Mike Neal, we were looking at having maybe two outside linebackers to play in our sub package, too: Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer. Nate stepped in and has done a good job the last two weeks. Andy was kind of in and out. Mike Neal, we were talking about Mike Neal during training camp, ‘Can he go out there and play?' He's certainly been a key factor for us with both Clay and Nick being out. So I'm encouraged by that because we've proven we can go out and win with those guys."
2. You mentioned this before the Vikings game, but now the defense once again gave up a lot of late yards and points. Are you worried about this trend?
CAPERS: "Last night was a great example of that. The drive right at the end of the half and then the last two drives of the game, that's 21 of their points. And then the other three came after we had stopped them and had a foolish penalty. Two of those we had the pass interference penalties which helped them out. You just look throughout the league and any time you have a defensive penalty, the chances of people putting points up goes up 2 1/2 times."
3, A. Has Jamari Lattimore continued to improve in each of his three starts?
CAPERS: "We've liked the way he's played. We've been through this before, last year, a couple times. But Jamari has stepped up and played. I think you've seen his athletic ability show up. And so we just think that he's done a nice job in the games that he's been in there. What that does, once we get back and healthy, you have more people that you feel comfortable being able to put on the field. And then if a guy's a productive player, you're always going to work to find your best combination of people to get them out there."
3, B. And Lattimore has done enough to make you think about keeping him involved once Brad Jones is back?
CAPERS: "Yeah, he sure has. He's athletic. With a lot of these spread offenses and they're giving you three or four wide receivers and have real good receiving running backs, that type of thing, he's a guy who can be a match-up guy for us."
1, A. How impressed were you with Micah Hyde's punt return for a touchdown?
SLOCUM: "His punt return was really a dynamic play. I thought he did a great job getting north and south on the play and outran the pursuit and scored."
1, B. Hyde said he thought anyone could have gotten that touchdown. Do you agree?
SLOCUM: "I don't know about anybody. I thought the guys as a whole unit did a good job. We did a nice job blocking and Micah did a great job with the run."
2. Do you think you'll be sticking with Mason Crosby on kickoffs? (Note: Crosby took over in the Minnesota game after Tim Masthay's two kickoffs, the first of which was returned for a Vikings touchdown.)
SLOCUM: "As I've said, we have two guys who can kick off. After the first one, I was anticipating that one being a touchback, and (Cordarelle) Patterson had shown he was going to bring the ball out regardless of how deep it was and I thought at that time it was important to go to Mason because he's really good at directional kicking. I thought that would give us the best opportunity to cover."
3. Does the trickle-down effect with injuries really challenge you with putting lineups together?
SLOCUM: "It's a challenge. That's what makes the job fun, that's what makes it interesting every week, and we've got a good football team. We're playing the games the right way and Chad (Morton) and I are charged with training these guys and giving them opportunity, giving them a game plan that's functional and for them to be able to play fast and play well. That'll continue to be the way we have to deal with it."
1. What does it feel like when your QB and the offense as a whole is clicking like that? What's it like as a coordinator?
CLEMENTS: "It takes a while to actually understand what's happening. That first drive, especially after the way the game started for us, I thought that was an outstanding job by those guys to respond to that and get a touchdown. Then it just kept building and you realized we were playing pretty well. We had talked about protecting the football, which we did, we talked about staying in manageable third-down situations, which we did, and then converting those third-down situations, which we did a good job of converting. Things were working out according to plan, and then the reason is the guys were playing hard, weren't making mistakes and they were executing."
2, A. Would you prefer Aaron Rodgers slide or get down near the goal line, rather than trying to run in once defenders had him tied up like he did Sunday night?
CLEMENTS: "Well, he's a competitor and wanted to get in the end zone and you'd like to see him protect himself. But every once in awhile he's going to do that. He came out OK."
2. B. Are you OK with all of the offensive linemen pushing him forward?
CLEMENTS: "They were trying to get him in the end zone, so that's good."
3. Why was David Bakhtiari able to be so effective against Jared Allen?
CLEMENTS: "He had a very good game. He was playing against an All-Pro, someone who in the past has given us problems, especially up there. He took it as a challenge and he played well. For his first time in that environment against an outstanding player, he has to feel good about himself."

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