Dear Coach Capers,
Thank you. Thank you for building a Super Bowl-caliber defense in Green Bay. Like the Lombardi champions in the '60s and the Reggie White-led champs in the '90s, this Packers team has assumed a defensive identity. Sure, Aaron Rodgers gets most of the headlines, but the reason the Packers are heading to Dallas is the defensive system you implemented two years ago.
Pittsburgh West, you called it. You'd be bringing the schemes and formations you used in Pittsburgh with Dick LeBeau. The ones you brought to your teams in Carolina and Houston. And you brought with you some great coaches, like Mike Trgovac, Darren Perry and Kevin Greene. You relied on Ted Thompson to provide some youthful talent in the draft and he delivered immediately with B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews in the first round.
There were some pieces in place: especially in the secondary, where Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Nick Collins were already there. You figured Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett could handle the move to the 3-4, but they had to buy in to the fact that they wouldn't get a lot of headlines and plaudits in the scheme.
In 2009, we witnessed some growing pains. We watched a defense shut down the run and take the ball away liberally; but we also saw a defense that got torched by elite passers like Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. This year, the secondary blossomed with the emergence of Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, allowing you to blitz more and present a multitude of different looks and packages to opposing QBs.
There is plenty of appreciation to go around: to Ted Thompson, for building a talented, dynamic, deep team that is poised to contend for years; to Mike McCarthy for developing Aaron Rodgers into an elite QB and pushing all the right buttons as player after player fell by the wayside this season.
But on this day, we tip our caps to Dom Capers for building a tough, fearsome, aggressive, playmaking defense in Green Bay. We know that every time they take the field, they give the Pack a chance to win.
And now Dom brings his "Pittsburgh West" defense to Texas Stadium to meet the Steelers. Just the way it should be.
Programming Alert: There will be a "Packer Preview" broadcast this Sunday at 8am CST on KFAN and kfan.com. We'll look back at the Bears game and ahead to Super Bowl week.
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