“You know, once those (injuries) happen, you don’t even think about them because you know if you don’t have them, you’ve got to focus in on the guys you have to go out there,” Capers said in early December. “As we’ve talked about many times, we talk in that defensive meeting room, you’ve got to be ready to step up and I think you’ve seen it all season. To me, that’s the benefit of having that mentality. You can’t sit around and invest a lot of time in guys that you’re not going to have out there. You’ve got to focus all your attention on the guys you do have.
“That’s what you have to have to be a good football team, and fortunately we’ve been able to do those things to win the games. The one game we haven’t been able to do it on defense was the Giants game (on Nov. 25). Other than that, I think we’ve been able to make some impact plays to change course (of games).
“They know there’s an expectation level with that, that they’ve got to be not only accountable to themselves but accountable to everybody in that room. So if their number’s called, then they owe it to the guy sitting next to them to be ready to go out and do their job.”
That’s true of the coordinator, too. The biggest area of frustration last year was tackling, as the Packers had 109 missed tackles in 17 games, among the worst in the NFL. This year, they had 80 missed tackles in 18 games, and 27 of them came in their three games against Minnesota and NFL MVP-favorite Adrian Peterson.
“I think that, obviously, it was a glaring need a year ago. You can’t play defensive football if you can’t tackle. That’s where everything has to start,” Capers said on Nov. 23. “We weren’t very good a year ago. In our offseason study, we talked about, ‘What are we going to do to improve it?’ It influences the kind of guys you take, too. Some people are termed just ‘cover guys’ or whatever, but in this day and age, good offenses are going to make everybody on that field tackle and they’re going to try to go at your weakest link tackling. You’ve got to put guys out there that they all can tackle. I think we’ve made good strides. We’re not where we want to be yet but we’re a lot better than we were a year ago, I know that.
“I’ve always believed this: As a coach, if you believe there’s a deficiency, then you need to emphasize it in any way that you can because my experience tells me that you normally get what you emphasize.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.