COMMENTARY | With just two games remaining in the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers are in charge of their own destiny.
Win the next two games, and not only will the Packers be in the playoffs, but they will be the NFC North champions once again, even though they've been without Aaron Rodgers for almost half of the season.
The offense hasn't been great, but for not having their star player, the Packers have gotten by recently. Matt Flynn has been solid over the past two weeks, while Eddie Lacy has made an incredibly strong case for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The other side of the ball, however, has been a different story.
Including the Week 9 matchup against the Chicago Bears, the Packers have given up at least 27 points in all but one game without Rodgers, and that came against a banged up Atlanta Falcons team. The Detroit Lions put up an embarrassing 40 points on Thanksgiving, and even the Dallas Cowboys put up 36 and simply ran all over the Packers' defense.
This season, the Packers rank 22nd in pass defense (252. yards per game), 25th in rush defense (123.4 yards per game), and tied for 21st in points allowed (25.9 points per game). Pro Football Focus has the Packers as the sixth-worst graded defense in the league, with teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders ahead of them. Football Outsiders has the Packers as the third-worst defense in terms of defense DVOA, ahead of only the Cowboys and San Diego Chargers.
With all of that in mind, should defensive coordinator Dom Capers still have a job with the Packers in 2014?
The man that brought the 3-4 defensive scheme to Green Bay has a very successful background. He was the head coach of both the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans as well as the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers.
As soon as he joined the Packers' coaching staff in 2009, the team saw immediate results. They allowed just 18.6 points and 284.4 yards per game, making them one of the best defenses in the league. Despite all of the injuries during the 2010 season, the Packers still were near the top defensively, allowing just 15.0 points and 309.1 yards per game.
But things took a turn for the worse in 2011. They gave up the most yardage in the NFL, allowing 411.6 total yards per game, while also giving up 22.4 points per game. In 2012, things turned around a bit, giving up just 336.8 yards and 21 points per game.
The biggest different over the past few seasons has been the amount of takeaways, which has hurt things significantly. The team ranked first in takeaways (40) in 2009, sixth (32) in 2010, tied for first (38) in 2011, 18th (23) in 2012, and now just 26th (18) so far this year.
It's certainly frustrating considering the amount of talent on this team. Players like Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels, and Sam Shields are great players, but there are serious holes in the defense. The secondary is hurting without Casey Hayward, and arguably the biggest need on the team is at safety, as Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett simply haven't gotten the job done.
Meanwhile, A.J. Hawk is arguably having one of his worst seasons of his career, as he's been unable to close rushing lanes and stick to his assignment. B.J. Raji hasn't had the impressive season that we're used to seeing from him, and even though he moved on the defensive line this season, he's still not played well.
A numbers of players haven't played well, and that shouldn't be put on Capers, but what should be put on him is the fact that he hasn't given others opportunities over these struggling players. Despite the poor play in the secondary, Sean Richardson, who many have wanted to see get more playing time, has only recorded 102 snaps on defense.
Despite having the second-highest overall grade on defense for the Packers from Pro Football Focus, Jamari Lattimore has failed to see the field more frequently, playing in less than 10 snaps in each of the past four games he's played in.
Lattimore has even proven to be a leader in the locker room. According to Rob Demovsky from ESPN.com, both Lattimore and Raji led a fiery halftime speech in the locker room this past week that helped inspire the team to that incredible comeback. Still, Capers won't find ways to get this young linebacker on the field.
At some point, if things aren't working, you have to start looking at others to step up. Capers has failed to do that at this point in the season, and the Packers are seriously struggling because of it.
At the end of the day, will the Packers keep Capers after this season? Probably. Should they keep him? At this point, it's really hard to support him based off of the recent numbers, even if the players still support him (h/t Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
Maybe Capers will prove otherwise with a healthy roster in 2014, but if he doesn't, it may be time for him to go.
Tyler Brooke is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, focusing primarily on the Packers, Colts and the NFL in general. His work has featured on ESPN.com, SI.com, CNN.com, and a number of other great sites. Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerDBrooke
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