Even in the long off season, the focus never shifts off the struggles the Green Bay Packers have experienced on defense over the past several seasons.
Following another season which saw his team suffer through incredible peaks and valleys on the defensive side of the ball, speculation regarding the future of Dom Capers ran rampant through Packer Nation. Would this past season-one which saw the Packers make an early playoff exit for the third straight year-finally be enough to give Mike McCarthy enough reason to make a change on defense?
When Kevin Greene walked away from his Outside Linebacker Coach position, it set off a flurry of speculation. Was this the beginning of major moves on the defensive side of the ball? Were the changes many had hoped for actually going to come to fruition?
The answer is yes-and no.
The Packers coaching staff changes were minimal on the defensive side of the ball. Most notably, Winston Moss would now be responsible for all of the linebackers, including the OLBs formerly coached by Greene. What this does is create a more streamlined structure as far as coaching goes.
Not exactly the sweeping changes many were hoping for on the coaching staff.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, McCarthy did offer a little hope as far as what he hopes the defense will look like in 2014:
“Our defense is going to change some. You don’t ever stay the same. There will be some adjustments. I don’t know if you’ll notice them. (They’ll be) based on personnel, too. That obviously plays into it. We’re going through scheme evaluation.”
“We weren’t as multiple as we were in prior years, really because of the stress of the injuries on that unit. We want to get back to doing some of the things we did well in the past, make sure we’re carrying enough packages to utilize all of our players.”
“We also need to get better on defense. I think these moves on defense will definitely put us on that path.”
This sounds all well and good in February. The real question is will these changes actually take place once the players put pads on.
McCarthy could very well be letting the league know that there will indeed be changes on the defensive side of the ball for his team next season. Or he could be doing nothing more than continuing to perfect the art of coachspeak.
What is apparent is that something has to change as far as the Packers approach their defense. It is painfully obvious that this must take place if the Packers want to compete for a Super Bowl again. While many are quick to target Dom Capers, he may not be the only reason for the Packers struggles, but he is definitely not free from blame. There is an underlying problem, and that is what the coaching staff is determined to fix.
What McCarthy has done is set the tone for the 2014 season. He wants to see changes on defense. He wants to see the best players on the field at all times, and has put the onus on the coaching staff to make sure that happens.
But is all of this a real indication of changes, or just coach speak for the off season?
That remains to be seen.