Green Bay Packers Defense Must Step Up to Save Dom Capers' Job

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Green Bay Packers and their fans are no doubt currently celebrating an unlikely berth in the 2013 NFL playoffs.

After the Chicago Bears knocked Aaron Rodgers out with a broken collarbone in Week 9, the Packers' franchise quarterback returned the favor in Week 17 by knocking the Bears out of the postseason.

The Packers converted three fourth-down opportunities in the closing minutes of the game to seal a 33-28 victory and the de facto NFC North championship. After missing eight weeks due to injury, Rodgers returned and played well enough to catapult his team into the postseason.

The way in which the Packers crushed the Bears' hopes in Chicago, it's clear that with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the team's offense can be amongst the elite units in the league.

The problem for the Packers is that their defense still doesn't appear to strong enough to legitimately contend for a title. After a so-so regular season in which they secured the league's 26th ranking in total defense, the unit will be under pressure to perform against the San Francisco 49ers next weekend in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The 49ers embarrassed the Packers last year in the playoffs in an effort that often resembled a road grader flattening fresh gravel. If the 49ers repeat that performance in Green Bay next weekend, Dom Capers' future with the Packers may jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Intriguingly, league-wide rumors indicate that a couple competent replacements for Dom Capers may soon be available.

I wrote several weeks ago that Ray Horton and Wade Phillips represent a couple of the top potential defensive coordinator candidates if Green Bay decides to part ways with Dom Capers after the 2013 season.

Ray Horton is currently the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, a team with a poor overall record, but possessing the 10th-best overall defensive ranking in the league. reported on December 30 that the Cleveland Browns had fired head coach Rob Chudzinski. The release of Chudzinski mean's that his defensive coordinator's services are now likely available to the Packers and the rest of the NFL.

Wade Phillips may similarly be an option for the Packers, as reported recently that Bill O'Brien and the Texans are working on a deal. Phillips is currently the interim head coach of the Texans and his future would be fairly uncertain in Texas if O'Brien officially takes the reins.

Both of these reports mean the Packers could soon have the chance to sign multiple coordinators with successful track records in the NFL. However, the Packers would surely need to act fast in order to land one of these highly-sought coaches.

The Packers will obviously prepare for the 49ers this week with the strongest focus they are able to muster. The team will likewise hope that their somewhat inconsistent defense can produce one of their most complete performances of the season against the 49ers next Sunday.

However, if the team's defense struggles once again in the playoffs, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see the Packers move quickly to acquire some new coaching talent -- especially if Horton, Phillips, or another capable coordinator is still available.

Andrew Prochnow is a derivatives trader by day and a Green Bay Packers fan by night. He is a regular contributor at Yahoo Sports and The Bleacher Report. Tweet him @AndrewProchnow.

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