Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy held his end of the season press conference on Wednesday and made it unofficially clear to reporters that the Packers wouldn't make any significant changes in the coaching staff before next season, specifically with Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers.
"Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach," McCarthy said. "When I go through this process (of evaluation), there's things you really like about your program. I think Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach and I'm glad he's on our staff."
Capers, who has been criticized often throughout the entire 2013 season after the Packers repeated lack of success on the defensive side of the football, would be entering his sixth year as Green Bay's defensive coordinator if McCarthy officially decides to keep him on staff in 2014.
In 2013, Green Bay's defense allowed 372.3 yards per game (25th in NFL), 26.8 points per game (t-24th) while forcing 22 turnovers (t-21st). In Capers' defense (no pun intended), the defense sustained numerous injuries during the season to key players such as safety Morgan Burnett (missed 3 games), linebackers Clay Matthews (5 games), Nick Perry (5 games), and Brad Jones (4 games) and cornerbacks Sam Shields (2 games) and Casey Hayward (13 games).
Capers' complex 3-4 scheme is built on putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which the Packers were successfully able to accomplish during the season, as the defense registered 44 sacks (t-8th) on opposing quarterbacks.
The Packers, who stole the division away from the Chicago Bears in the final game of the regular season, will certainly be able to rebound from an 8-7-1 season after winning the division even without MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Randall Cobb for eight-plus games during the regular season with a broken collarbone and leg injury, respectively.
McCarthy said he believes the Packers could have the best offense since 2011 next season, especially with the incredible showing from rookie running back Eddie Lacy. Lacy led all Packers and rookies in total yards from scrimmage (1,435) and total touchdowns (11) and he is the favorite to win the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Even without Rodgers for nearly half of the season, the Packers' offense averaged 400.3 yards per game (3rd) and 26.1 points per game (t-8th). In 2011, Green Bay's offense averaged 405.1 yards per game (3rd) and 35 points per game (1st). "I'd put our offense up against anybody's," McCarthy said.
In 2014, Rodgers, Lacy, wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Cobb and Jarrett Boykin, offensive linemen David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay and Derek Sherrod will return, as well as a pair of key pieces who were placed on the season-ending injured-reserve (IR) list before the 2013 season had even begun– offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and running back DuJuan Harris.
With many offensive starters returning next season, the same unit could lose just as many pieces, as tight end Andrew Quarless, running backs John Kuhn and James Starks, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and wide receiver James Jones are set to become free agents. Defensively, defensive tackles Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and B.J. Raji, outside linebacker Mike Neal and cornerback Sam Shields are set to become free agents as well.
There will likely be significant roster turnover on both sides of the football, which should make for one interesting offseason before the 2014 season.
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