Starter Pack: Explaining defensive miscues

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Thirteen points won’t be enough to win many games in the NFL, especially with a defense that is hemorrhaging like the Packers’.

So while much of the focus has been on quarterback Scott Tolzien’s uneven performance, which included 339 yards passing but only one touchdown drive and three interceptions in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the New York Giants, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has some issues that need to be addressed, too.

Capers’ unit was again vulnerable to big plays, which proved to be costly against the Giants.

Playing without two of their top cornerbacks -- starter Sam Shields and nickelback Casey Hayward -- the Packers' secondary had what Capers called communication problems against the Giants.

Those problems cost the Packers on Rueben Randle’s 26-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter against cornerback Micah Hyde (who played in Hayward’s nickel spot) and again on Hakeem Nicks’ 35-yard catch in the third quarter, when cornerback Tramon Williams and safety Morgan Burnett got crossed up.

“That’s the switch route where they switch lanes, and you have to communicate in that,” Capers said. “They ran that route, I think two or three of their big plays came off of the switch routes.”

It’s one thing for Hyde, a rookie, to make a mistake. But it’s problematic when veterans like Burnett and Williams can’t get the coverage communicated correctly.

“Well, hey, that’s one thing about this game, all right, you emphasize it day in and day out and you get out there in the heat of the battle and we’ve got not only verbal communication but hand signals,” Capers said.

Capers said there was another error on a switch route when safety M.D. Jennings failed to come down to cover tight end Brandon Myers on a third-and-5 play late in the third quarter that resulted in an 8-yard completion that led to a touchdown two plays later.

The Packers allowed Eli Manning to complete a season-high 71.4 percent of his passes while throwing for 279 yards.

“I liked all the things we did in the game except the way we played the switch route,” Capers said. “And three of their big plays came off of that.”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:

  • With the news that Tolzien will start again Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers will spend this week trying to get him to minimize his mistakes and take advantage of his accuracy on deep throws that he displayed against the Giants.

  • While there’s still no official timetable on Aaron Rodgers’ return, he knows he has to wait long enough for his broken collarbone to heal in order to minimize the risk of a more serious collarbone displacement.

  • Without Rodgers, teams have been loading the box to stop the run. The Packers have seen extra defenders in the box on nearly twice as many snaps over the past two games, when they have struggled to run the ball like they did earlier in the season.

  • And finally, we looked at four key issues from the loss to the Giants in our weekly Upon Further Review feature.


  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote that no matter who’s playing quarterback, the Packers need to get their running game going again and their defense taking the ball away.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz noted that the Packers are still waiting for their investment in safety Morgan Burnett this offseason to pay off in the form of big plays.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob McGinn didn’t give many high marks in his review of the Packers’ performance against the Giants.