3 coordinators, 3 questions: Packers defense up to task
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Coming off of the Green Bay Packers’ third consecutive NFC North title, the team’s three coordinators looked back at the victory over the Chicago Bears and looked ahead to the wild card game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS
1. San Francisco hasn’t run as much zone-read, but how much do you have to prepare for it?
CAPERS: "We spent a lot of time in the offseason working on it. In the opener, one of things we did, we played the run extremely well. I’d like to play the run as well in this game. I think (Frank) Gore averaged like 2.1 and (Colin) Kaepernick like 3.2, or something like that. What we have to do is play the pass better. We have to make sure we don’t give them yardage in big chunks. We weren’t able to get any takeaways in that first game. One of the things that’s been encouraging about our defense over the last four weeks, we’ve taken the ball away more, and in critical situations. That’s what you have to do in all the big games, but especially when you get in the playoffs. It normally comes down to that takeaway-giveaway. When you get your opportunities, you have to convert those opportunities. The very first series when we played them out there, we had a legitimate chance with our hands on the ball, and if we’d have picked it off, we would have scored. Those are the kind of plays we have to make this week."
2. What’s been the common denominator for defenses this season that have been able to contain the 49ers’ offense?
CAPERS: "They depend so much on their run game and their run game setting the tone. They have a big, physical offensive line. If you can run the ball, then it opens up your play-action passing game. It doesn’t put as much pressure on the line to sit and pass protect because you’re not in as many predictable situations where people are just going to pin their ears back and come. I think one of the keys is not let them get the good mix of the run and the pass where they keep you off balance. You have to be able to get them in more predictable situations."
3. Especially without Clay Matthews, are you concerned about your pass rush?
CAPERS: "Uh, not really. We covered quite a bit on Sunday (against Chicago). Our dime defense has been the best phase of our defense. We four-man rushed a lot and thought we had pretty good coverage for the most part. There were a couple times we had a couple breakdowns. Especially in the first half, we were three out of four on third down. Those were critical stops because, like I said, the very first series of the game, we’re starting on the 42-yard line, you’re under adversity, we go three and out. Then we had two three-and-outs and Tramon (Williams) caused the fumble there where we gave the ball back to the offense to kick the field goal there at the end of the half. I really liked the first half we played on defense."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR SHAWN SLOCUM
1. What’s the status of your special teams heading into the playoffs?
SLOCUM: "Well, I think we’re at a point where we need to have production and help control field position. In terms of the health, I think we’re getting to be in a pretty good place. We have an important week of preparation ahead of us and need to be very productive in this game. Probably going to have — we are going to have cold weather, I think it will be very important that we manage that part of the game."
2. What’s been the difference between 2012 Mason Crosby and 2013 Mason Crosby?
SLOCUM: "Well, Mason is doing a great job. I think he’s in a good place in terms of the way he’s kicking the football. He’s got a lot of confidence and that can be a real benefit in terms of these games."
3. With Randall Cobb back, any chance he factors into the return game?
SLOCUM: "It’s something we haven’t discussed at this point. It’s way too early in the week to figure that out yet."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOM CLEMENTS
1. What have you seen on film from San Francisco’s front seven?
CLEMENTS: "They’re very good. It’s the same front seven. Obviously, they’ve played the whole year so they know each other very well. They’re very solid, they’re good fundamentally, they’re good football players. They’re not fancy but what they do, they do very well. We have to out-execute them."
2. What’d you think of the number of snaps that Cobb played in Chicago?
CLEMENTS: "He actually played more snaps than anticipated. I’m not sure the total but going into it we said if we can get him 15-of-20 snaps, that’d be great. It ended up he played more and he felt fine. I’m sure that’s good for his confidence. He didn’t have a problem playing the extended number of plays."
3. Is this a different team now than at the time when Rodgers got hurt?
CLEMENTS: "I don’t know that we’re different because we were all focusing on the run game and we were running the ball pretty well when Aaron was in there. We might have taken a different approach about how we’re running the ball when he wasn’t in there but we always wanted to be a running team — not a running team but be able to run the ball as well as we throw the ball, and we’re running the ball pretty effectively right now."
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