Paul Imig's Nov. 21 Packers mailbag
NOV 21, 2013 8:56a ET
Q: The defense is in a rut as of late, this is no secret. Do you think this stems from a lack of talent on the field at key positions like safety or a lacking on the part of the position coaches? Or do you think this could boil down to overall scheme shortcomings from Capers?
-- Eric, Oconto
Q: Who is blamed for the poor defense, T.T. or Dom Capers? I personally think Dom needs to go and a younger more in tuned coach should take his place.
-- John Waters, Del Rio, Tx.
Q: What is up with giving up so many big passing plays on defense? we look like we are so lost back there!!!
-- coachazure, North Dakota Packers fan
Q: Why do we continue with the 3-4 defense? We have drafted heavy on the defensive side the last few years and gotten worse since the Super Bowl year. If TT is such a guru at picking players with talent, why aren't they developing and getting any better? Coaching?? Otherwise TT really doesn't have as good an idea who to draft as everyone gives him credit for. Why can't our DB's tackle?? Is this something that is not practiced/coached anymore? ELacy/RCobb have been great additions, who else in the three years, maybe the OT Bakhtiari
-- George Gray, Avondale, Arizona
A: There's no doubt that the Packers' defense has not been performing well in recent weeks. To answer Eric's question, I think there is a lack of talent at starting safety -- Morgan Burnett needs a more dependable partner in the backend to team up with -- and there hasn't been consistent play coming from the outside linebackers group or the cornerbacks. Clay Matthews' broken thumb and the multiple issues ailing Nick Perry (broken bone in his foot, plus an ankle injury) certainly haven't helped the production at that position. Sam Shields has had a very good season, but not having a healthy Casey Hayward on the field much this season has hurt the secondary's overall production.
To John's question, I think all parties involved (Ted Thompson, Dom Capers, the defensive players as a whole) deserve blame when things aren't going well. I wrote before the 2013 draft that Green Bay needed to add a safety in the early rounds and it didn't happen, and that position has been a problem area. From a talent perspective on defense, I think that's Thompson's one area of weakness in the current roster building. There are five talented cornerbacks, but it's just not clicking often enough with them. The defensive line is so stacked that the Packers had no reason to rush Jerel Worthy back and have had C.J. Wilson and Josh Boyd as healthy inactives for multiple games. When things aren't working, Capers needs to change it up a bit. The lack of forced turnovers is proof that there is clearly something missing. But the players also have to just do a better job at what they're supposed to do.
As far as the 3-4 defense, even if Capers does not return as defensive coordinator for the 2014 season, I'd be surprised if the coach brought in to replace him institutes a 4-3 scheme. The team has been built for years around a 3-4, and while it's far from being perfectly executed, it'd be a more drastic move than I think a team in the Packers' situation would want to go, even if it is done during the offseason.
Additionally, George, yes, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy and David Bakhtiari have been good draft picks in recent years, but you definitely have to include Mike Daniels and Hayward in there, too.
Q: How come our defense got even worst when Brad Jones and M.D. Jennings came back into the starting line up? What happened to Chris Banjo and Jamari Lattimore. The defense was a whole lot better (Ranked 11th Then and Now 24th) when they were in the line up!!! At least they were around the ball most of the time. They really need to something the special teams coach. Like firing him!!
-- David (OZZI) Osborne, Hartfield, WI
A: I don't understand or agree with the lack of playing time for Jamari Lattimore in recent weeks. He played so well while Brad Jones was injured that to have Lattimore on the field for just nine plays in the Giants game seemed like not nearly enough to me.
Chris Banjo played 20 snaps against New York, but I think he's earned the opportunity to play more often than that. The Packers have pretty much given up on Jerron McMillian this season, but they continue to stick by M.D. Jennings.
Q: At what point will management begin to evaluate McCarthy and his coaching staff since for the past 2 years they have failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs and this year is also wasted even with the best quarterback in the NFL.
-- Julio Feliciano, Edinburg, Texas
A: It depends on where expectations are set for the Packers. Winning one Super Bowl certainly doesn't guarantee another appearance in the years that follow, but that Green Bay has been blown out of the divisional-round game of the playoffs the past two seasons is not a good follow-up to the 2010 season triumph. McCarthy doesn't get a pass from management just because of winning that ring, but in the grand scheme of things, most franchises would do anything to have their past three seasons conclude with a Super Bowl victory and two trips to the divisional round. When Aaron Rodgers turns 33 years old in 2016, if the Packers still haven't been back to the Super Bowl, then the team no doubt wasted a lot of their star QB's prime without enough success to show for it.
Q: Why wouldn't you start Matt Flynn who already knows the offense vs. Scott Tolzien who doesn't know it that well? I think Scott has what it takes in the long run, but we need wins now. I think Flynn should be the guy. Thanks
-- Marc, Wisconsin
Q: will m flynn get a chance to play if scott can not get it done
-- S Campshure
A: Packers fans: Is the version in your head of Matt Flynn of the quarterback who set franchise records in Week 17 of the 2011 season, or of the quarterback who got traded by the Seahawks and recently released by the Raiders and Bills? In a professional sports world of 'What have you done for me lately?,' it's difficult to think that Flynn can just pick up right where he left off from that record-setting game nearly two years ago.
Scott Tolzien's five interceptions in the past two games is too many, but coach Mike McCarthy is happy with several things that have been happening in the passing game, especially on the deep throws. I think the only way that Flynn replaces Tolzien in the coming weeks is if the former Badgers QB is either injured or if he plays significantly worse than he did against the Eagles and Giants.
Q: What's up with Derek Sherrod? Is he figured to ever play. It looks like he is on the active roster.
-- Jim Harden, Hudson, wI
Q: Why in the world dose MM. not let Sherrod play at least a little. He is supposed to be suited up. I would like him to get a chance. Also is there a chance that the giants could have been able to hear the packers huddle.-- Wayne Dantoin, Sturgeon Bay, WI
A: Sherrod is indeed on the active roster, and he actually played a few snaps against the Giants. With starting right tackle Don Barclay still injured and Marshall Newhouse not performing well in relief, it's telling that Sherrod still isn't seeing the field much. This seems like more of a feeling-out process for Sherrod this season while the Packers evaluate a larger role for him going forward.
And no, Wayne, I don't think the Giants could hear into the Packers huddle. But, in the case of Jason Pierre-Paul's interception touchdown, he did a perfect job of reading the play.
Q: I just can't believe in the defense. While they can not stop the pick 6 - could we ever hold a team and not be trailing with the 3rd string quarterback? They have held us back long enough. Massive overhaul is needed for the staff and players. Two questions. 1 - should we give Raji the big money he will want? What do you think our defense needs?
-- Tom K, La Crosse
A: 1. If Raji wants more than $8 million per season, that seems too steep. With the massive contracts paid to Rodgers and Matthews last offseason, and with Sam Shields a major priority for the Packers this upcoming offseason, there's a cap on what Green Bay would realistically consider spending on Raji.
2. The defense needs to start forcing interceptions and turnovers, but it's easier said than done. They're not going to completely change everything at this point in the season, Matthews' thumb isn't going to magically heal, nor is Hayward's hamstring, so Capers needs to find a way to get his healthy players into position to get the job done. There's not one simple answer to get it corrected. If there was, Capers & Co. would obviously do so.
Q: I guess it looks like someone woke up Tramon Williams, Do you think they can get the rest of them going?
-- Alex, River Falls
A: The game in New York was the best I'd seen Williams play in years. It will be interesting to see if he can continue performing at that high of a level throughout the rest of the season, but it doesn't seem likely that it'd be quite that good. Williams is one of the defense's veterans, so perhaps the way he played will be the start of something positive for a few other players.
Q: Earlier in the season the offensive and defensive lines seemed to be playing with a lot more intensity. In the last few games intensity and production has faltered considerably. Can all of that be attributed to injuries and changes in personnel? How fragile is the psyche of this team?
-- Buzz Flint, Phoenix, AZ
A: Injuries are certainly a factor. The defensive line has been mostly healthy, but the linebackers and cornerbacks have been banged up, which has played a big role in the recent struggles there. The offensive line functions better with Aaron Rodgers behind them, because a former NFL MVP just makes everyone's job easier. The running game is going to struggle more when the threat of Rodgers throwing downfield isn't there for defenses to worry about, allowing opposing teams to focus on stopping the run and making Green Bay's offensive line look bad in the process.
The psyche of the players hasn't been tested like this since the 2010 Super Bowl year. With the Packers having lost three in a row and not knowing when Rodgers will be back from his broken left collarbone, it'd be easy for players to lose some sense of hope. It doesn't seem that the team is ready to call it in and plan their January vacations yet, but a loss to the Vikings might send things in that direction.
Q: My question is- what would be the biggest thing the Packers should focus on in order to get a win against the Vikings? Tackling gets addressed, then another problem seems to pop up. The turnover differentials this year are like culture shock to most Packer fans (we are used to seeing us create turnovers, not give them away). What do you think the coaches will do to address this?
-- Amber, Green Bay
A: Turnover differential has been a major problem. At minus-6, the Packers are ranked 13th in the NFC out of 16 teams. Tackling has been an issue, as has communication in the secondary. The fourth-quarter woes were corrected for at least one game, but it has to continue like this now for Green Bay to start collecting wins again.
To beat the Vikings, the Packers have to first stop Adrian Peterson. Green Bay's run defense was on pace to be the best in franchise history a few weeks ago, and now it has fallen apart. Peterson could really test that group to see where things are at with them. Tolzien can't throw interceptions, Peterson has to be contained and the Packers have to force a couple turnovers. If that happens, Green Bay could end its losing streak.
** Thanks for all the questions this week. With the Thanksgiving game next week, we'll do this a day early (Wednesday, Nov. 27), so get your questions in after the Packers-Vikings game as we look back on that one and look ahead to Packers-Lions.
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