New Packers defense impresses
New defensive coordinator Dom Capers showed off the new scheme against the Cleveland Browns in the opener and it already paid dividends with a shutout victory.
The Packers enjoyed Sunday off after forcing four interceptions, racking up three sacks and holding the Browns to 191 yards in a 17-0 victory on Saturday night.
Two weeks after last season’s disappointing 6-10 finish, the Packers fired five defensive coaches, including former coordinator Bob Sanders, and their strength coach. They brought in Capers and a new staff.
“The decision was made in January. I made it with a clean, conscious mind,” McCarthy said. “I like what I’ve seen so far. I’ve said it before, time and time again as I stood up here: I like the way Dom Capers has come in here. He’s pulled the defensive staff together. The players have responded.”
Right from the start, Browns quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson couldn’t do much against a blitzing linebacking corps that includes A.J. Hawk, Brady Poppinga, Brandon Chillar and Aaron Kampman.
“We threw a decent amount of stuff at them,” Hawk said. “We blitzed a little bit and got pressure and sacks on the quarterbacks. We have a lot of different things we can do in this defense.”
Starting cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris had the night off, and first-round pick, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, signed on Friday and wasn’t ready to play.
Former first-round pick Nick Barnett (knee) also is close to returning to practice, and reserve Desmond Bishop looked sharp, rushing Anderson into a throw that was picked off by Tramon Williams. Bishop also had a sack and an interception later in the game.
The defensive effort satisfied Capers, who said he liked how disruptive the unit was and believed there were opportunities to make even more plays.
Several Browns said afterward that they watched film of Capers’ 3-4 scheme in Miami to try to guess what he might do with different personnel.
It didn’t help much.
“We could try and decipher a little bit about what we thought we were going to see, but you never know in that first preseason if they’re going to be vanilla or they’re going to be bringing the house,” said Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, a former Badger and Wisconsin native. “They definitely wanted to show as much of their blitzing package as they could.”
That got Lambeau Field rocking. After Quinn had an effective opening drive that ended with a missed field goal, Anderson went three-and-out. Anderson and Quinn then threw interceptions to end the half.
The Browns were only on the field for 9 minutes, 29 seconds in the first 30 minutes.
“We can really build off that,” Chillar said of the dominating performance. “It’s a fun defense to play. It allows the players to make plays. The main thing is if we just stay sound in what we’re supposed to do and let the defense play, then we’re going to hit the quarterback and have some turnovers.”