Joe Whitt chose his words cautiously – out of respect for Dom Capers as a person, coach and mentor.
Whitt had just been asked how the Green Bay Packers defense has changed in the wake of head coach Mike McCarthy’s January decision to hire Mike Pettine to replace Capers as the team’s defensive coordinator, and Whitt wanted to be careful not to say anything that would disparage Capers, who’d held the job for nine seasons.
Nevertheless, a picture of the biggest difference between Capers and Pettine is emerging from players and coaches alike this offseason After some obvious confusion and miscommunication on defense last season – and, at times, in prior years – Pettine’s KILL Keep It Likable and Learnable philosophy has been a hit, because everyone involved believes it’ll eliminate those moments of uncertainty that too often resulted in big plays by opposing offenses.
“I don’t want to get into comparisons of what we did in the past and what we’re doing now,” Whitt, who was promoted to defensive pass game coordinator this offseason, said. “What I will say is, what we’re doing right now, we’re trying to make sure that everything is as simple as possible so when they run through that tunnel https://www.packersgbstore.com/kenny-clark-jersey-c-15.html, we remove doubt out of the equation. If we can remove doubt out of the equation as coaches, that allows them to play fast and now you can see the true athletic ability and play making ability of the players.
“If they’re out there thinking, that’s problematic . You cannot tell the difference between a confused player and a coward – because they both move slowly. If you take that doubt out of the equation, now they’ll play fast, they’ll play with an edge, and we’ll play with a tilted field. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Before the offseason program kicked off in mid April, third year defenders Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez said Pettine reached out to all the defensive players to explain to them his expectations. At that point https://www.packersgbstore.com/michael-clark-jersey-c-16.html, the players hadn’t even been in a meeting room with Pettine, whose message to players had been about his commitment to reducing mental errors and being more demanding of players.
On April 17, Pettine met with the players for the first time, and he admitted on Thursday that first meeting “lasted a long time. There were a lot of points I wanted to make sure I covered.” The most important? Mindset is more critical than scheme.
“We want to make sure we have a cutting edge playbook and we do some things that we gear toward the opponent, and you have some graduate level stuff. But, at the same time, it shouldn’t matter,” Pettine explained. “It’s more important how we play and not what we play.
“I told them, ‘We can line up in one defense, but as long as we play with great passion, great technique that we should be able to stop people if the call sheet’s very limited.’ I think that we’ve got the buy in from that.”
Last year, the Packers defense finished 26th in scoring defense 24.0 per game , 22nd in yards allowed 348.9 , 17th against the run 112.1 , 23rd against the pass 236.8 , 28th in third down defense allowing a 42.8 percent conversion rate and 31st in red zone defense allowing a 65.2 percent touchdown rate . They also finished tied for 17th in sacks with 37 and tied for 20th in interceptions with 11.
It’s hard to say how much of that was because young, inexperienced players didn’t understand their responsibilities, how much was just poor execution of Capers’ calls and how much was a lack of top tier defensive players on the roster. Last month, longtime cornerback Tramon Williams, who played for Capers earlier in his Packers career and for Pettine in Cleveland when he was the head coach of the Browns, said Capers’ scheme had become antiquated while Pettine’s is a more “modern day” system.
Even so, Pettine said he spent the two years he was out of football after his firing in Cleveland reexamining his system to make sure it hadn’t become too convoluted. That streamlined approach, he believes, will benefit his guys this season.
“I was fortunate in the time that I had off that I was able to break the scheme down to nothing and then build it back up and take out a lot of things that didn’t make sense,” explained Pettine, who has never coordinated a defense that finished outside the NFL’s top 10 in fewest yards allowed. “Over time, you start adding exceptions or you add something new or you add a tweak and then it just starts to accumulate, and you always want to be able to go back to that foundation.
“It just made it a lot cleaner.”
For instance, Whitt explained, Pettine wants simple terminology that eliminates any confusion with what a play call might be. Thus, Whitt said, each word used in a play call – whether a pressure https://www.packersgbstore.com/ha-ha-clintondix-jersey-c-17.html, coverage or defensive front – has only one meaning.
“If we couldn’t make it fit and it wasn’t easy for them to learn, we didn’t want it in the package,” Whitt explained. “ We’d say, ‘OK, what are we going to call this? Well, if we call it this, down the road are we going to want to use that term for something else?’ Because every term means one thing in Pettine’s scheme . So when they hear it, they can get right to it.
“At the end of the day, like my dad always says, ‘They’ve got 11, we’ve got 11. Once they start playing with 12, it makes it a lot more difficult. But as long as we’re playing 11 on 11, football is football.’ There’s only so many fronts and coverages that you can play.”
And in Pettine’s game plans, the idea is to not have more than the players can master in a given week.
“I think you have to prioritize what defenses you’re going to play, that you have to be confident as a coach that I can go into this game with like 25, 30 defenses as opposed to years ago when we were taking 50 Taysom Hill Jersey, 55 calls into a game,” Pettine said. “You just don’t have time to rep those anymore, especially with so many young guys on the defense.”