Tramon Williams hesitant to support Dom Capers’ defensive scheme

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.”

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