Dom Capers and Monte Kiffin will go down as two of the most innovative defensive minds in NFL history, but both long-time coordinators have often found themselves defending their units in 2013.
Things went a little better for Capers’ 26th-ranked Packers’ defense than Kiffin’s league-worst Cowboys on Sunday, but the two still combined to allow 899 yards on Sunday in a 73-point Texas shootout.
Capers’ 3-4 defense recovered after allowing 26 points and 332 total yards of offense in the first half while Kiffin’s Cowboys did the exact opposite. Staked to a 23-point lead, Dallas’ defense conceded five consecutive touchdowns to Matt Flynn and the Packers’ offense in the loss.
Both defenses have been hit by injury at various points this season, but Kiffin’s struggles at the University of Southern California prior to arriving in Arlington have put him under fire for Dallas’ shortfalls.
“I’ve known Monte and competed against Monte, and I go back to when Monte was in college ball and I was in college ball - he’s one of the very best in the business,” said Capers of Kiffin, who’s unit is allowing 427 yards per game this season.
“I know this: he’s been one of the very best for a long time and he knows what he’s doing. They’ve gone through a lot of different combinations of people and it doesn’t take much. A little bit is a lot in this league.”
Offenses have evolved and rule changes tend to favor offensive players. This past weekend, NFL teams combined to register more than 800 points in consecutive weeks for the first time in league history.
The key for coordinators like grizzled veterans like the Capers, 63, and Kiffin, 73, is making adjustments to your scheme.
“Let’s face it – fans like high-scoring shootouts,” Capers said. “If you’re a defensive coordinator, I’d rather it be 3-0 than 37-36, but there’s been a lot of adjustments made. I’m not saying that’s the only reason because these offenses are very skilled and very in sync. To look over the last 25 years, it’s changed tremendously but the rules have changed tremendously, too.
"Now, guys have to pick their spots in terms of hitting receivers and receivers in vulnerable positions and those kind of things. It’s a little bit different game but you adjust as you go along as you try to make the adjustments you think it’s going to take to win the games.”