Missed tackles piling up at alarming rate

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are on pace to miss more tackles on both defense and special teams than in any other season since coordinators Dom Capers and Shawn Slocum took over their respective units.

Both took over their squads in 2009, when coach Mike McCarthy brought in the veteran Capers to install his 3-4 defense and promoted Slocum from assistant special-teams coach.

With 95 missed tackles on defense and 20 more on special teams through 12 games this season, according to ProFootballFocus.com, the Packers almost certainly will surpass their highest totals under each coordinator – 101 missed tackles by the defense in 2011 and 22 by the special teams in 2010.

A day after their humiliating 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving, McCarthy estimated his team missed 20-plus tackles even though he had only reviewed the special-teams film, not the defensive tape yet.

It wasn’t quite that bad, according to PFF, but it was the worst tackling performance of the season on special teams with five missed tackles. Including the eight missed tackles on defense, it was the second-highest missed tackle total of the season behind only the first game against Minnesota on Oct. 27, when the Packers missed a total of 17 tackles (12 on defense, five on special teams).

“You get above 10 missed tackles in a game, that’s a long day,” McCarthy said Friday. “That’s a combination of special teams and defense.”

In eight of 12 games this season, the Packers have been in double figures in missed tackles. With an average of 7.9 missed tackles per game on defense, they are on pace for 126 for the season. With an average of 1.7 missed tackles on special teams, they are on pace for 27.

The most glaring missed tackle on Thursday might have been on Jeremy Ross’ 35-yard punt return that set up the Lions’ go-ahead touchdown late in the second quarter. Ross fielded the punt at his own 32-yard line. Packers cornerback Davon House had a chance to tackle him immediately, but missed, allowing Ross to jet up the field.

The Lions averaged 5.9 yards per rush on designed rushing plays, which excludes kneel downs or quarterback scrambles. They caught the Packers completely off guard when Ross ran an end-around for 24 yards in the second quarter. According to PFF, safety M.D. Jennings missed a team-high three tackles on defense, while John Kuhn missed a special-teams high two.

For the third time in four games, Capers’ defense gave up 200-plus rushing yards. The Lions ran for 241. In a five-day span against the Lions and Minnesota Vikings, the Packers allowed 473 yards rushing. In the first six games of the season, they allowed a total of just 474.

“It’s not [Capers’] fault we’re letting them run down our throat,” Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “It’s us. We’re the players. We’re on the field. You can’t sit there and blame the coach for us. Yeah, we’re behind him 100 percent – all of our coaches.”