McCarthy 'very confident' Capers will return as DC


McCarthy 'very confident' Capers will return as DC

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is not going to lose his job over one ugly game.

Even if it did end Green Bay's season.

Three days after the Packers were gouged by the San Francisco 49ers for 579 yards, coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday he will evaluate everyone on his staff but is ``very confident'' Capers will return as defensive coordinator next year.

``I think it's ridiculous that I have to answer the question, frankly. I'm appalled by it,'' McCarthy said. ``I would not do my job, I would not fulfill my responsibility if I didn't look at the job Dom Capers has done, the job Mike McCarthy's done, what (offensive coordinator) Tom Clements has done, all the way down. I can promise you that's what's going to happen.''

``I don't dig the drama stuff, and I get the concern,'' he added. ``We have great fans, but there's no decisions going to be made today. We have never operated that way and never will.''

The Packers were completely overmatched against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in the NFC divisional game. They had no answers for Kaepernick, whose 181 yards rushing were most by a quarterback in a regular-season or playoff game. They had the 49ers in third-and-long several times yet couldn't get off the field. And they were powerless against San Francisco's read-option in the second half.

By the time the game ended, the Packers had given up the most total yards (579), yards rushing (323) and second-most points in the playoffs in franchise history, and fans were ready to take out a ``job wanted'' ad on Capers' behalf.

``I know those are Mike's decisions. My plans are to be here,'' said Capers, who will sit down with McCarthy on Wednesday to evaluate the defense. ``I think we've got a young defense that's ascending. All the statistics point to that. I feel awful about the way we played (against the 49ers) because you want to play your best in that game and we didn't. And I accept responsibility for that. That's my job to make sure that we play better.''

Capers accomplished that during the regular season. After having the NFL's worst defense last year, the Packers jumped to 11th in total yardage and scoring. They were particularly tough against the passing game, ranking in the top five in sacks and opponent quarterback rating - even with defensive back Charles Woodson missing nine games with a broken right collarbone.

Clay Matthews had 13 sacks, second-most in the NFC and a half-sack off his career high, despite missing four games with a hamstring injury. Rookie Casey Hayward tied for fifth in the NFL with six interceptions.

``I've seen us make great strides this year,'' Capers said. ``It didn't look that way the other night, but I've seen us make great strides and I think with the number of young people we've got that we can move forward with this group. Obviously, you always want to add a few things here or there, but what I hope is that game's not a total evaluation of what this group has done this year, because I think there were some very good things that were done.''

But in what is now an ominous sign, the Packers struggled against the run much of the year. Adrian Peterson bulldozed Green Bay for 409 yards in the two regular-season games, and keeping him to just 99 yards in the playoffs was considered a victory. That could be problematic in the future. The spread option is already a staple of the college game, and the success this year of Kaepernick, Seattle's Russell Wilson and Washington's Robert Griffin III is likely to usher in a new era in the NFL of mobile quarterbacks.

``I think that it's something that's here to stay in terms of what we're going to see with these young and athletic quarterbacks because of what it does to you defensively,'' Capers said. ``A lot of that stuff you want to do rushing the passer, it calms you down a little bit because you've got to make sure you're sound if, all of a sudden, the quarterback pulls the ball down and runs with it.''

And that could bring some changes to the Packers.

Woodson can still be disruptive at 36, but he's due $10 million next year and the Packers might decide that's too high. Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who looked as if he was playing in slow-motion at times against San Francisco, is a free agent.

``You've got to put as athletic a team out there as possible because they're going to challenge you on the perimeter,'' Capers said. ``You've got to be able to get us back to assignment football. You've got to be able to play the dive, you've got to have a guy assigned to the quarterback and you've got to have somebody that's fast enough to assign to that quarterback that he just doesn't outrun him. So that affects the type of guy you've got to put out there.''

But Capers is confident he and the Packers can adapt.

``The challenge now is to go back to work,'' he said. ``Make sure we get this fixed so these type of teams we're playing against next year, the same thing doesn't happen.''

This was the second straight year the Packers were eliminated in the divisional round. While some teams would be thrilled just to make it to the playoffs, the Packers, with more NFL titles than anyone else, are not one of them.

``The goal around here is not just to win 12 games, not just to win the division championship,'' McCarthy said. ``Our goal will always be the same here. I do appreciate the support, concern and I understand the disappointment of the fans, but this is the best organization in all of professional sports. We have the resources, we will make the right decisions as we move forward.''

NOTES: McCarthy praised TE Jermichael Finley, who could wind up elsewhere because he has a history of being undependable and is due a big raise. ``I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on. ... I feel very good about the way he finished the year,'' McCarthy said. ``But we obviously have to look at the first half, too, and make sure that's part of the evaluation because we're all judged on 17 games.'' ... While McCarthy wouldn't discuss specifics, he did acknowledge the roster will look different next season - as it always does. ``Change is constant, and I think everybody understands that,'' he said. ``It has been around 20 percent for us, the way your roster changes every year, and that will probably hold true this year.''


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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

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The case for - and against - the Redskins signing Colin Kaepernick

Don't look in this space for an argument that the Redskins - who are reportedly signing Mark Sanchez as Colt McCoy's backup - should, or should not, sign Colin Kaepernick.

This space will lay out reasons why the Redskins should, and should not, consider signing Colin Kaepernick. 

It's not a binary decision. In fact, it's just about the opposite. 

Any debate about Kaepernick often gets bogged down in differing political view points. This is not the place for that. Rather, here is an attempt to make the case for or against Kaepernick from a football perspective. 

The case to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • The Redskins need a quarterback. Alex Smith broke his leg and Colt McCoy needs a backup. Of the available free agents out there, Kaepernick has by far the best stats and resume. As Chris Thompson explained of Kaepernick, "He made it to a Super Bowl." When he last played in 2016, Kaepernick had 16 TDs against just four INTs in 12 starts. 
  • Kaepernick has familiarity in the West Coast offense, and once backed up Alex Smith and played with Vernon Davis. 
  • Redskins QB coach and passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell worked on the 49ers staff with Kaepernick.
  • Multiple Redskins players, including Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, said that the Nike pitchman deserves another chance in the NFL. 

The case not to sign Colin Kaepernick

  • Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL for nearly two full seasons. He hasn't practiced in a professional setting for more than a year. The Redskins are competing for the NFC East title. If they have to go to a backup QB, they want somebody that is game ready. It's hard to think Kaepernick fits that bill today. 
  • Earlier this season, Redskins CB Josh Norman had some choice words for Kaepernick after Panthers safety Eric Reid spoke out against the NFL Player's Coalition. Norman is an active particpant and leader on the Player's Coalition, a social rights group that Kaepernick distanced himself from. Putting Norman and Kaepernick in the same locker room might create some friction for a first-place team. 
  • At 6-4, the Redskins are in first place in the NFC East and should still be able to win games with McCoy at quarterback. Regardless how one feels about Kaepernick's activism, it will create a side show for any organization that brings him in. Cable news outlets like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will descend on the Washington locker room should Kaepernick get signed. 




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    Holtby is back, but Copley will start

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    Holtby is back, but Copley will start

    The Capitals take on the Montreal Canadiens to finish off a four-game road swing on Monday (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). Washington has won two of its first three games on the trip and look to take win No. 3 in Montreal.

    Here are four things to watch:

    Braden Holtby is back, but Pheonix Copley will get the start

    The Caps reassigned Ilya Samsonov to the Hershey Bears on Monday signaling that Braden Holtby will be back in the lineup for Monday’s game, but Pheonix Copley will still get the start.

    Copley has been impressive on the road trip getting all three starts thus far with a .922 save percentage and 2.01 GAA. It says a lot that even with Holtby back, the Todd Reirden is still willing to put in Copley. Per Isabelle Khurshudyan, Reirden said he wanted to get Holtby back into his routine before starting him.

    No Oshie, no Kuznetsov

    T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov were both injured in Wednesday’s game and will be out of the lineup in Montreal.

    Here is a look at the lines from the morning skate:

    Alex Ovechkin – Lars Eller – Tom Wilson

    Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky

    Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Devante Smith-Pelly

    Dmitrij Jaskin – Nic Dowd – Brett Connolly

    Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
    Michal Kempny – Matt Niskanen
    Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey

    It is important to remember that when the Caps finally get healthy, they will have two extra forwards on the roster. While the Caps can afford to keep two, most teams typically only carry one and Washington may look to trim one of those extra forwards in the coming weeks. That makes games like this one where more players are getting into the lineup and getting more minutes because of Oshie and Kuznetsov’s absence critical for those players who may or may not be fighting to stay on Washington’s roster.

    Todd Reirden remembers

    The last time these two teams met, things did not go that well for the Caps. Washington had a 4-3 lead late in the third period, but the Canadiens would score three goals in the final 3:04 of the game to win it 6-4.

    Reirden has not forgotten about that game and called a fake goalie interference challenge late in Colorado on Friday just so he could remind his team to finish strong.

    “It was a situation where a few weeks ago we had the lead and let it go against Montreal and it was something that we discussed with our team,” Reirden said following Friday’s game.”

    Reirden reminded the players about how that game ended as a way to motivate them in Colorado. How much more will he remind them about it on Monday in a rematch against the Canadiens and will it lead to a stronger finish for Washington?

    Max (Power) Domi

    Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin has been widely criticized for many of the moves he has made while with the Canadiens. It appears this summer, however, like he may have done something right.

    Bergevin acquired forward Max Domi from the Arizona Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk. It is a deal that looked decidedly one-sided in favor of Arizona, but let’s take all of the context out of it for one moment and just look at how Domi is performing right now. He looks like a tremendous player.

    Domi has already racked up 10 goals in just 20 and comes into Monday on a nine-game point streak, a streak that started on Nov. 1 in the game against Washington. He has far and away been the team’s top offensive threat this season and leads Montreal in points with 24, seven more than second-place Tomas Tatar.

    Speaking of Tatar, he is also someone the Caps will have to look out for as he has seemingly settled in with his new team and has six goals in his last six games.