This is not a #FireCapers article. I want to make that clear. The Packers were 9th in defensive DVOA in 2015. I promise you that should have been good enough. The Packers had the #1 offensive DVOA in 2014 and were supposed to return all 11 starters. That obviously went a different direction when they lost Jordy Nelson to injury, but it continued with nagging injuries to Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Andrew Quarless and the entire offensive line. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s something physically wrong with Aaron Rodgers after the season ends.
The #1 offense and the #9 defense would have been good enough for another deep playoff run. That’s not what I am anticipating this postseason. The Packers will more than likely win their game in Washington against the Redskins and go no further in 2015. But that is not Dom Capers fault. He’s held up his end of the bargain in 2015.
At the same time, Dom Capers is 65 years old. He’ll be 66 before the beginning of the 2016 season. Whether or not he’s fired or quits there is going to be a different defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers at some point during the Aaron Rodgers era. It’s certainly possible that there will be a different General Manager as well, but that’s not the road we are currently going down.
Speaking of the General Manager, Ted Thompson has been supplying Capers and the defense with talent for quite a while. The Packers have used six of their last eight first round draft choices on defenders. Thompson has also added three second round picks on defense during that time. The Packers have invested in their defense.
The good thing about those investments is that I feel like they are versatile. I mean versatile in the sense of the front seven. It doesn’t matter what front you play as far as the secondary is concerned. Some of this is already on tape. Clay Matthews can both defend the edge and play off the ball.
In this piece from Bob McGinn, an executive maintains that Datone Jones (who had his best season in 2015) would be best served at defensive end. Mike Daniels is also scheme versatile. Nick Perry never even wanted to play linebacker. BJ Raji has maintained that he would love to play NT in a 4-3 scheme.
Take a look at this:
LE: Datone Jones
NT: BJ Raji
DT: Mike Daniels
RE: Nick Perry
WLB: Clay Matthews
MLB: Jake Ryan
SLB: Sam Barrington
CB: Sam Shields
SS: Morgan Burnett
FS: HaHa Clinton-Dix
CB: Damarious Randall
NB: Casey Hayward
It would be fine. Maybe not right away but it would be fine.
Often times players are drafted from schools that run a “40” front and converted to fit into a “30” front (like the one that Capers plays). In fact, of the front seven, only Datone Jones played in a 3-4 defense during his entire career. Jake Ryan played in one a little bit at Michigan. Raji was a 4-3 DT, so was Daniels. Perry a right end. Barrington and Matthews were 4-3 OLBs.
What I’m mostly getting after is that the Packers, like their defenders can be “versatile” moving forward. They don’t have to pick from Capers’ assistant tree to find a new defensive coordinator after he goes. They don’t even need to stick with “30” front coaches. If the Packers want to switch to a 4-3 base defense with their current personnel, it would certainly be possible.