When Good Isn’t Good Enough

Rob Demovsky at ESPN breaks down the Packers-49ers game, concentrating upon the defense:

“’I have to give credit to [defensive coordinator] Dom [Capers] because he called a heck of a game,” Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. “I’m sorry we weren’t able to execute for him.’”

“The 63-year-old veteran coordinator, if he indeed returns next season, is in desperate need of more playmakers. Capers’ contract situation remains unclear, although he may have been in the final year of his contract.”

“When asked about his team’s defensive performance, coach Mike McCarthy: “We were probably one play away. We were one play not good enough.”

“General manager Ted Thompson, however, will have to ask himself how many players away his team is from having an impact defense. His best player on that side of the ball, linebacker Clay Matthews, was sidelined with a broken thumb, while starting cornerback Sam Shields and starting outside linebacker Mike Neal were lost to knee injuries on Sunday’s first drive. At one point, the Packers had to play rookie defensive end Datone Jones at outside linebacker, something the first-round draft pick never did in the regular season.

“Those were among the issues on Sunday, but it doesn’t explain why the defense nose-dived in the second half of the season. It would appear Thompson overestimated several of his positions on defense, inside linebacker and safety chief among them.

“Two years ago, Thompson used his first six draft picks on defensive players. Last year, he took Jones with the 26th pick in the draft.

“It wasn’t enough.

“’I think it’s always been close,” Williams said of the Packers’ defense. “It’s just been so inconsistent.’”

I found this article to be surprising. I assumed that the Packers would be happy, having survived eight games without quarterback Aaron Rogers to make the playoffs with a season-defining victory against the Bears.

The Packers defense did, indeed, play well yesterday. They stacked the box with nine men leaving the cornerbacks to cover with no safety help for much of the game. They did a good job, albeit with some help from an officiating crew who decided to let both sides play it rough in the defensive backfield.

Having said that, the Packers have been inconsistent on defense for some time. They’ve had to deal with injuries just like everyone else and, though they’ve done a superior job of getting young players ready to play at times, the defense has let them down on occasion. Now Capers appears to be in trouble and, like the situation in Chicago (with more justification), they are talking about a defensive over haul and the general manager is taking heat for not drafting the players they need.

Yesterday, like the quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears offense a week ago, the Packer defense played well enough to win. Overall, this was a playoff team that I thought played with some heart to get there. But good isn’t good enough. Not anymore.

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