3 coordinators, 3 questions: Packers’ defensive run calls forced Cowboys to pass
GREEN BAY, Wis. — After being part of one of the two biggest comebacks in the history of the franchise, the Green Bay Packers’ three coordinators discussed what led to their improbable victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Here are three question-and-answer highlights from each coordinator:
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DOM CAPERS
1. How surprised were you that the Cowboys only ran the ball seven times in the second half?
CAPERS: "Well, we were in some run calls, which I think probably took them out of it. (Tony) Romo is a veteran guy now, so one of the things going into the game, I think they were No. 3 in the NFL on first down of four-yard plus gains, and they did a nice job against us on first down of mixing the run and the pass. Like I say, we adjusted a couple things front-wise and we were in some run calls probably when they might have had runs called. They certainly did a nice job in the first half of running the ball against us."
2. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game that Romo optioned out of a run call to throw it on the pass that was intercepted by Sam Shields. Were the defensive looks you were giving Romo leading him to take that risk?
CAPERS: "Those are always the things that you always weigh the pluses and minuses of, taking yourself out. We had nine guys standing right there in the box because, at that point of the game, if they run the ball for four or five yards, we’re not getting it back and we don’t have a chance to win the game. So you’re going to stack them up in there, you saw Clay (Matthews) come off the edge and actually he missed the sack, and I’m kind of glad that he did because we wouldn’t have had the interception and flushed Romo out of there — and of course it disrupted his rhythm and he threw the ball over the middle, and Sam made an amazing play undercutting that thing to get the football. It was a real key play at crunch time by Sam. Anytime you could go to throwing the ball in those situations, you flip a coin. If you hit it, the game is probably over because you’re making big plays because we’re committed to stopping the run at that point."
3. Has Tramon Williams been playing better now compared to earlier in the season, or do you think he’s been pretty consistent?
CAPERS: "I think Tramon’s play is a little bit of a reflection of our play on defense. We went through a period, as you guys well know, where we had the hardest time getting a takeaway. You’ve got to find some way, and it’s something we’ve done a great job of around here. If you look over the first four years I was here, our opponent quarterback rating is in the top three or four in the league because we’ve been able to take the ball away. You combine that with Aaron’s quarterback rating and it’s been a winning formula. (Sunday in Dallas) was somewhat the same thing. You look at our last three games, you’ve seen more takeaways than you did probably in four, five, six games prior to that. That’s part of what we need to do. Those last two takeaways, and even Tramon’s that he ran down that we thought we had, that was a big time play. Those plays change the whole momentum of the game around where it looks like they’re in control of the game. The next thing you know we have the ball on the 50-yard line and we have the ball to close it out. Like I say, your concern always in that situation is you can’t play soft because all they need to do is get into field goal range. You’re up by one and the way the field goal kicker was kicking, we were going to reach a point where we were going to have to start coming after them to make sure we held them out of field goal range.
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR SHAWN SLOCUM
1. After seeing Mason Crosby’s 57-yard field goal, how far did you think he could have connected from in that game?
SLOCUM: "Well, any time we’re indoors like that with no weather conditions, he’s plus-60. I thought he hit a very good ball and had quite a bit of distance left."
2. What has Micah Hyde given you in the punt return game?
SLOCUM: "He’s done a good job with it. He stays within the scheme, he does a very good job of tracking the ball and catching the ball, first of all. Very good ball security. I thought that was an impactful play (in Sunday’s game)."
3. What was it like on the sideline during the game, first when down by 23 points and then as the comeback was in place?
SLOCUM: "Yeah, I thought initially there was some disappointment in how the game started, but there was a concerted effort to continue to get things right. I never saw anyone blink. There was good energy on the sideline throughout the ball game. I think that once we got the momentum going in the second half, even when they scored again in the fourth quarter, I think in our guys’ mind there was no doubt that we were going to get this done.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TOM CLEMENTS
1. Was Matt Flynn better with his reads in the second half?
CLEMENTS: "I think he kind of got stuck on maybe a guy, anticipating that he’d be open and hung onto that guy a little too long in the first half. In the second half, he just reacted to what we saw and made good decisions. And you get into a little bit of a groove. Guys made some great plays for him. He made some nice throws. Protected very well in the second half. We had a couple sacks early, but we overcame those. But you hit a couple passes, you start feeling good and you start moving the ball, everybody feels good. It’s a snowball effect.
2. Garrett said after the game that he let the Packers score on the late touchdown in which Eddie Lacy jumped over the top. Did it look to you like they let you score?
CLEMENTS: "Um, it didn’t look like it when I was watching it. I heard that comment after. I take him at his word."
3. Was there any conversation at halftime about benching Flynn?
CLEMENTS: "No. We were focused on trying to get everyone to play better and I think it was a great credit to them that they stuck together, just went out and fought hard and kept fighting and eventually got the win."
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