Charles Woodson inches his way up to the line of scrimmage. His eyes flash a hunger to blitz and put the quarterback on his back. On the other side, Al Harris bounces back and forth hinting at the possibility of attacking the signal caller.
The quarterback surveys the field only to find an edging Aaron Kampman and A.J. Hawk pacing the line like lions stalking their prey. The quarterback finds himself in a complex bind of whose going to blitz? And what routes are my receivers running again? He snaps the ball anyway, and with blazing speed, Cullen Jenkins beats his matchup off the block.
The QB scrambles into his pass protection just to see linebacker Brandon Chillar hurdle his fullback and only hope from being eaten alive. Without question, the QB narrowly escapes the sack by lobbing the ball up to his number one receiver. But like a swarming hawk in the sky, Safety Nick Collins dives in front of the receiver to pick the ball off as Atari Bigby and Tramon Williams check the receiver to the ground. Meet Green Bay’s new and improved defense.
Coming into the off-season, Green Bay had many pieces in place to have a good defense. But it was obvious something had to be done after losing seven games by four points or less. Exit Bob Sanders, Enter Dom Capers. Arguably one of the biggest off-season acquisitions, Capers comes to the Packers entering his twenty-fourth NFL season.
Widely renowned as a defensive guru across the sport, Capers is one of the most experienced coaches in the league, spending time with seven different franchises. When head coach Mike McCarthy brought Capers in, the new defensive coordinator instantly looked at the roster and quickly decided a scheme switch from 4-3 to 3-4 was in order. Position changes and thicker playbooks were installed and a new threat was born.
Many critics were skeptical about some of the position changes like pro-bowler Aaron Kampman moving from defensive end to outside linebacker, bump and run corners Woodson and Harris blitzing off the edge and linebackers matching up with quicker receivers. All was silenced Sunday night in a convincing defensive win against the hated rival Chicago Bears. Green Bay combined to disrupt touted Bears QB Jay Cutler into throwing four interceptions while sacking him a couple times as well.
Seemingly after every play, the Packers were putting Cutler on the ground with or without the ball. Maybe the most compelling aspect of the 3-4 scheme is the shear unpredictability of the defense. The zone blitzing allows a different defender to blitz each time with the defensive line while virtually not leaving any corner or defensive back in single coverage.
It was this very system that helped give Jay Cutler a warm Lambeau welcome, sending all Chicago fans into disarray as they now contemplate who the new favorite in the black and blue NFC North is.