Starter Pack: Defending Dom Capers

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

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers' defense is a mess.

We established that on Sunday, when they couldn't get enough stops to allow Matt Flynn to finish his remarkable comeback against the Minnesota Vikings.

When they needed their defense the most -- over the last four games without injured starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- it couldn't come through.

What once looked a top-tier rushing defense -- which allowed an average of just 79 rushing yards per game over the first six games -- now looks like it can't tackle. In the last three games, the Packers have allowed an average of 171.3 rushing yards per game.

“That's why they're season stats,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday after reviewing the film from Sunday's 26-26 tie with the Vikings. “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.”

When a coach talks about execution, that's usually code for being fine with the scheme and play calling.

Translation: Don't blame defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

“We went through every call,” McCarthy said after watching the game tape with Capers and the defensive staff. “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.”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:


  • On ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde recalled that adage that if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don't have one -- as it pertained to Flynn and Tolzien.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty pointed out that in addition to being noncommittal about his starting quarterback, McCarthy spoke of preparing both quarterbacks in case there's the need for another in-game change.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal, Tyler Dunne handicapped the NFC North race.