Super Bowl

Packers vs. Steelers: Green Bay Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers Finally Heading to the Super Bowl

We’re still over 10 days away from Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game has all sorts interesting matchups — from the quarterbacks, to the Packers pass rush vs. the Steelers offensive line, to the teams’ outstanding defensive coordinators. Dom Capers of the Packers is a good friend of Pittsburgh’s Dick LeBeau, and the two honed their craft together while in Pittsburgh in the early ’90s. Both love to blitz, players all love to play for them, and you can count on both having a new wrinkle or two to show on Super Bowl Sunday. Capers joined KILT in Houston to talk about Green Bay getting hot down the stretch and carrying it over into the postseason, how the Packers have been able to play at a high level defensively despite all the injuries they’ve suffered, B.J. Raji’s touchdown last Sunday, the outstanding ball skills of his defensive backs, preparing for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, and going up against his good friend and former colleague Dick LeBeau in Super Bowl XLV.

On the Packers getting hot when it matters most:

“Well it’s been a challenge. It’s basically been five playoff games in a row because we had the Giants and Bears come in here to Lambeau the last two games of the season. We knew we had to win both those games to get into the playoffs, and we responded well in those two games and were able to carry that momentum into Philadelphia, then Atlanta, and of course this last weekend to Chicago. So we’ve kind of found a little niche here and we’ve been playing our best football really the last five games.”

On how the Packers have been able to play at such a solid level defensively despite all the injuries:

“Well we’ve had our fair share of injuries. I think we’ve had like 15 or 16 guys on injured reserve, and the fortunate thing is we’ve had to play a bunch of young players, they’ve gained a lot of experience. At the right outside linebacker position, I think we’ve started six different people over there. But we’ve got a number of good veteran players, our two No. 1 picks from a year ago — Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji both of who have turned out to be outstanding for us — Charles Woodson of course who was the Defensive Player of the Year a year ago, and we’ve had a couple of young corners — Tramon Williams and Sam Shields — kind of step up and fill the void outside.”

On the play call where he had behemoth defensive lineman B.J. Raji drop into coverage, only to see the young DL pick off the pass, rumble into the endzone, and proceed to do a great endzone dance:

“Well I was doing a little dance because I was real nervous when I saw him stick the ball out there on the 10 yard line and I saw that quarterback coming to strip it. All I could think about was Don Beebe and Leon Lett back a few years ago. No, that was one, when you draw them up sometimes, you hope certain things happen, and that one kind of played right into our hands because we had played the Bears in the last regular season game, and we had blitzed Woodson a whole lot in that game, and we knew they’d be prepared for it. So we decided to blitz our corners a little bit more and have B.J. Raji just try to use up a block and pop out into the throwing lane. And he did and the young quarterback didn’t see him, and it worked out well for us.”

On the great ball skills of his defensive backs:

“Well it’s one of our strengths. When Charles Woodson first came in and I watched him play, and you’re sitting there and evaluating your talent, he reminded me so much of another Woodson that I had back in Pittsburgh in the early ’90s — Rod Woodson. Basically if you would go back and put on tape of the Steelers back in ’92 to ’94 and you put on our tape here, you could see that we use these two guys almost exactly the same. Rod Woodson was the player of the year back in ’93, and Charles Woodson was the player of the year last year. So he’s just been a very productive guy for us. And we do have a number of guys with very good ball skills, and one of our strengths…and it kind of ties back to our philosophy that we try to discourage people fro running the ball and we can make them a more one dimensional team, then we have a good change to go get the football.”

On if he ever looks back at his decision to take David Carr with the No. 1 overall pick when he was the coach of the Houston Texans:

“Well one thing that I’ve found in this business is hindsight is 20/20. The key is to have that 20/20 foresight. So I really don’t ever look back. When you make those decisions, hey, you make ‘em and you try to make the best of them. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. That’s just the nature of our business.”

On the challenges that Ben Roethlisberger poses:

“Well I’ve just spent the whole day probably watching about six games of him. Trying to play for him, he just improvises so much. You can have people free, and he’s so strong, and he does a great job of extending the play, and then his receivers have a chance to uncover, and then he has the arm to get the ball to any place on the field. They really do a nice job with their speed in the vertical passing game, and they’ve got a runner that runs well. but he makes them extremely tough to defense because he’s so hard to get on the ground. We had five sacks, and we should have had 10 sacks because he came off so many of them and he made big plays, and they ended beating us by one point in our game in Pittsburgh.”

On going up against Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau in the Super Bowl, a friend a colleague he worked with in Pittsburgh:

“Well I’ll say this, Dick LeBeau is one of my closest friends. We roomed together for the first six months. Just the things that he’s done…I mean, you think about how long he’s been in the NFL, over 50 years as a player and a coach. He really deserved to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this past year. I’ve got so much respect for him, I just enjoyed working with him for three years. His home area is not that far from my home area, we had similar backgrounds growing up, and again, I consider him a very close friend.”

On what concerns him most about the Steelers offense as he gets ready to dig into his preparation for the Super Bowl:

“Well what you don’t want to do is give up the big play. They’ve got a lot of speed at receiver. Hines Ward is their veteran receiver, but they’ve brought in some young receivers starting with [Mike] Wallace who can really run and go vertical up the field.  Again, Ben can improvise so well that you could play great for 20 plays, and on that 21st play he throws the ball the length of the field and gets a big play on you. So we’ve got to try to make him work for everything and not give him anything easy.”

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