In the 2010-2011 season, the Packer defense was ranked 2nd in scoring and 5th in total yards, leading them to a championship. Since then, holes in the defense caused falls that have prevented the team from reaching the Super Bowl since. But this year through three games, it looks like the championship defense is back.
In 2010, Dom Capers was in his second year as the defensive coordinator and all of us fans were ecstatic over what he had done. He seemed to be the next great defensive mind in Packer history, following the likes of Phil Bengtson and Fritz Shurmur. With great assistants like Kevin Greene, Joe Whitt, Darren Perry, and Mike Trgovac, Capers’ defense was a turning point in that magical playoff run. Tramon Williams’ interceptions in the first two rounds, BJ Raji’s pick-6 in the NFC Championship game. Nick Collins Super Bowl Pick-6. Everyone remembers those moments. But a short year later, people were calling for Dom’s head.
Following that season, the Pack roared to a 15-1 record despite struggling on defense. That defense got exposed by the Giants in the playoffs and fans wanted someone to blame. It was Ted Thompson’s fault for letting Cullen Jenkins leave to some fans, but most of the fan anger went toward Capers. He was seen as aging and losing his touch, despite his success the previous year. That trend continued throughout the following few years, until now.
Throughout the first three games, the Packer defense has shown signs of absolute dominance, causing turnovers, getting pressure, and holding offenses to one dimension. Chicago could only run the ball, Seattle couldn’t do anything, and the Chiefs couldn’t either until garbage time.
And this is all despite not ever having a full lineup of starters in either of the games. Morgan Burnett missed two of the games, and Sam Barrington was lost after opening weekend. But Capers has shown the ability to get the most out of his reserves, using their versatility and singular skill sets to help. Name another coordinator who can get as much out of guys like Micah Hyde and Nate Palmer as Dom Capers. Chances are you can count the names on one hand.
Looking game by game, there are moments that get fans to put Dom in the Hall of Fame, and five minutes later calling for his head. Looking at examples of each game, it’s easy to see. Against the Bears, people were furious about the struggles against Matt Forte, but once Clay Matthews made his interception, praise was heaped on Capers.
Against Seattle, the fans were giddy about stopping Marshawn Lynch, but once the Seahawks made adjustments and they began the read option, calls of “Fire Capers” started again. Never mind the stopping of Jimmy Graham completely and bottlenecking a great running back. And even against the Chiefs, holding to under 100 yard through almost 45 minutes of play wasn’t good enough once the yards piled up during garbage time.
This season the Packers have given up 68 points through three games, not a stellar number, but looking at tape and looking at the situations of each game paints a beautiful picture for the defense heading into the this next stretch run. The Packers have a true championship defense this year, and when they come out healthy in a week or two, the proper phrase is “look out.” They can place in the Top 10 again and bring another title back to Green Bay.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.