The Packers were hoping a defense that once looked good against the run could sustain them during quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injury absence.
That hasn’t been the case, but head coach Mike McCarthy defended defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his staff against recent criticisms, after reviewing the tape of their tie with the Vikings with them.
“We went through every call,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s a very talented, organized defensive staff. I really like the teaching ability, the demand and their personality. . . .
“I’m very comfortable in our coaching staff. I think it’s definitely one of the strengths of our program.”
It hasn’t looked that way lately.
Over the first six games, the Packers were allowing 79 yards a game. That’s swollen to 171.3 per game over the last three, when they’ve been without Rodgers and thus have a much smaller margin of error.
“That’s why they’re season stats,” McCarthy said. “We’re in a valley right now. We need to get out of it in some aspects of our team. Going through the grades, going through every call, every assignment, it really comes down to leverage, fits and tackling and tenacity of the finish of the play was a little up and down. Time and time again, we had excellent leverage but then we don’t complete the play.
“They had two excellent runners that extended runs and that’s the part you’ve got to win. When you create leverage and fit in run defense, that’s where the play starts, that’s not where it ends. We just didn’t do a very good job finishing once the leverage and the fit was established. You can go all the way through it, double teams and this and that, but it really came down to execution.”
Talking about execution means that McCarthy sees it as a problem of players as opposed to scheme, which is a harder problem to solve over the last month of the season, since he has been dealt a certain hand of cards.