Capers' 3-4 scheme remains, tweaks coming

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
4:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There are alterations coming to the Green Bay Packers’ defense but nothing dramatic like a switch from the 3-4 as their base scheme.

Despite changes to the structure of defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ coaching staff that seemingly could have made it easy to transition to a 4-3 scheme, the Packers are not headed in that direction.

“Our defense is going to change some,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “You don’t ever stay the same. I’ll set the vision for the defense. Dom Capers and the defensive staff will carry it out.”

[+] EnlargeDom Capers
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsDom Capers' defense struggled at times last season amid a rash of injuries to key players.
The biggest change -- so far -- is how the linebackers will be coached. Last week, McCarthy announced that assistant head coach Winston Moss, who previously coached inside linebackers, will add outside linebackers to his duties following the resignation of Kevin Greene.

Under that coaching structure, it would have made it possible for McCarthy to integrate more 4-3 principles into the defense.

While not all of the defensive changes have been hammered out, that will not be one of them.

“The only thing that I’ve been instructed is basically the structure’s going to stay the same as far as the 3-4,” Moss said. “If anything changes there, then that has not been made available to me so I’m moving forward that we’ll be structurally the same. Obviously my approach will just naturally bring some different philosophies and different approaches from the standpoint that I like to have a sense of those guys just doing a lot of things well.”

The Packers slipped to 25th in the NFL in yards allowed last season, down from 11th in 2012, and reverted to the form of 2011, when it finished last in the league. In Capers’ first two seasons as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, his units ranked second and fifth.

Injuries to key defensive players -- most notably outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry and cornerback Casey Hayward -- prevented Capers from using some of the myriad packages and concepts in his playbook last season.

From the sound of it, McCarthy wants to get back to being more versatile on defense.

“We were not as multiple maybe this year as we’ve been in prior years really because of the stress of injuries on that unit so we want to get back to some of the things that we did very well in the past and make sure we’re carrying enough packages to utilize all of our players,” McCarthy said. “We obviously need to get better on defense, and I think these moves that we’ve made on defense will definitely put us on that path.”

McCarthy said Capers, who has run a 3-4 system his entire NFL coaching career, has previously utilized one coach to oversee both the inside and outside linebackers even though he has never done so in Green Bay. Plus, Moss will have an assistant, Scott McCurley, who was promoted from defensive quality control coach.

While the responsibilities of the inside and outside linebackers differ significantly in Capers’ scheme, the voice in front of the position meeting room will be the same.

“You know, Winston, he’s really going to be the leader of the group,” McCurley said. “I think the players have a huge amount of respect for Winston’s leadership, and what he brings to the table there, and from there, I’m there to assist him, whether it be inside guys or outside guys.”

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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