Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy stood in front of reporters Saturday afternoon in the auditorium at Lambeau Field following the NFL Draft, fielding questions about the incoming rookie class of draftees.
Most of the comments he made were very McCarthy-esque. Vague, non specific, and generalized. They were the type of answers the Packer faithful have grown accustomed to hearing from the guarded McCarthy.
And then, when no one was expecting it, he dropped the big one. The bombshell statement that was heard ’round Packer Nation:
“We’re going to be a better defense this year. You can write that in big letters.”
With this statement, McCarthy made it public that his Defensive Coordinator, the much maligned Dom Capers, was officially on the clock.
Following a third consecutive season which saw his defense struggle mightily at times, McCarthy very easily could have pulled the trigger and fired Capers. But he didn’t. He stayed loyal to Capers, perhaps out of respect as he was the one who helped orchestrate the Packers transformation into the 3-4 scheme they currently operate. An even more plausible reason could be because the Capers scheme helped bring a Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay a mere four seasons ago.
Whatever the reasons are for Capers staying in Green Bay, McCarthy let it be known to all that Capers’ defense needs to show significant improvement this season. Failure is not an option. Period.
Besides the bold statement about the defense as a whole, McCarthy would go on to make a number of statements that seemed to eliminate all of the excuses that have been piling up as far as the performance of the defense.
It was both refreshing to hear the passion in his voice, and eye opening to hear what he was saying about his defense and his defensive coordinator.
Some have been quick to point out that the health of the players is out of Capers’ hands, and Capers can only do so much with the players as they are injured. McCarthy addressed that:
“Health needs to be better, that will definitely help us.”
Others have mentioned that the Packers’ scheme on defense has become too predictable. McCarthy addressed that as well:
“We’re not a very vanilla, just a line-up-and-play-one-way (team) and draft guys to fit that particular way. We’re a multiple-scheme offense and defense.”
Finally, in the most finger pointing statement of the evening, McCarthy let Capers know, as Defensive Coordinator, it is his responsibility to get the most talented players on the field at the same time:
“When you draft a good defensive player, I always view it as the responsibility of the coordinators to make sure we have room for that guy, within our scheme packages…Our defensive staff has been very diligent in preparing the personnel groups, the expectations and how we’re going to package these guys, so I feel with that going into the off-season program, we have an opportunity to be better.”
McCarthy certainly sounds like he means business on the defensive side of the ball in 2014 with these statements.
There is one caveat to these expectations for the defense in 2014. Capers can only do so much, He cannot go out and play all 11 positions on the field. Ultimately, it is up to the players to perform. But Capers does have the responsibility of scheming properly with the correct personnel groups on the field at the correct times. That falls squarely on Capers.
After spending their first round pick on defense for a third consecutive year, going out and acquiring free agents Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion, and resigning free agents Sam Shields, Mike Neal, and BJ Raji during the off season, Capers cannot use the excuse of not having the quality of talent to succeed. The talent is there-it is now up to him to design the defense which will make all of these moving parts work together.
Mike McCarthy said a lot following the draft. The biggest thing he said (without actually saying it) is Dom Capers is on the clock.
To view the entire post draft Mike McCarthy press conference, click this link.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.