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LeRoy Butler and JS reporter Tom Silverstein discuss what went wrong with the Packers’ defense and how much blame should be put on Dom Capers. Bill Schulz

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GREEN BAY - When it comes to assigning blame for various warts attached to the Green Bay Packers, fans everywhere have dumped their vitriol in predictable places ever since Feb. 6, 2011, the last time this franchise won the Super Bowl.

It all starts with general manager Ted Thompson, a man some people feel is too cautious, too stubborn and — at age 64 — too old for the post he maintains. He is wasting the prime of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to Twitter, and thus the fans have fired him several times.

Yet it can be argued that the most poisonous of barbs are reserved for a man with far less responsibility than Thompson. This man is skewered every Sunday and dismembered for six days in between. He is defensive coordinator Dom Capers, and social media has harpooned him for years: #FireCapers.

“Yeah," nose tackle Kenny Clark said. "I’ve seen that stuff."

Which begs the question of what it’s like to play for a coach with a timeshare on Twitter’s chopping block, a coach whose defenses have worsened in recent years despite an influx of first- and second-round picks. And perhaps most damning, a coach who has been torched in playoff losses that each have seven or eight months to linger. 

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It's a question that breeds similar answers from players throughout the locker room. At a time when the Packers are flailing, the defense still believes in its coordinator. 

“You can’t pay attention to none of that stuff, man,” inside linebacker Joe Thomas said. “Everybody has got an opinion. We know what we have in this locker room and what we have here from the coaches to the players. We can get it done. We’ve proven we can get it done. What people say on Twitter, comments and (expletive), that don’t mean nothing. Just opinions.”

As Thomas noted, the magnitude of displeasure with Capers is best measured through a Twitter search for the coach’s name. The following is a very, very small sample of what can be found:

@EBrooksUncut: I (expletive) loathe Dom Capers with every fiber of my being

@aaron_korber: This defense has been garbage for the better part of a decade. No matter who the players are, the one constant is Dom Capers.

@MiltownBucky: Just. Fire. Dom. Capers. Just. Effing. Do. It.

@SconnieSports: Matthew Stafford just read Dom Capers defense like an elementary school book for 60 minutes. A clinic by Stafford, embarrassment by the de.

@CoryWalloch: If this season lands us a good draft pick and a Dom Capers firing then it’s a successful year

The exact origin of their ether is difficult to pinpoint, but an embarrassing playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers is a good place to start. In the 2012 season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick undressed the Packers' defense with 263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. The Packers lost, 45-31.

That defeat laid the groundwork for an unfortunate storyline that has unfolded two more times in the last four years: The defense, led by Capers, disintegrating in the playoffs to volcanic degrees. In 2015, the Packers gave up 349 yards and three touchdowns to quarterback Carson Palmer, who capitalized on a mental error by cornerback Damarious Randall to set up the winning score in overtime. In 2016, the Packers rotted in the NFC championship game as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw four touchdowns and came within a whisper of 400 passing yards.

Through it all, players say Capers never wavers.

“Coach Capers, he’s calm, cool and collected,” Clark said. “He’s always the same way, and that’s the biggest thing I respect about him. Whether we have a good performance or we have a bad performance, he’s always the same way, and that’s coming from the last two years I’ve been knowing him and seeing him.”

“Dom is Dom,” safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “Dom is our defensive coordinator, man, and he’s been doing a great job since I’ve been here. He runs a scheme that I like to run, so it’s just about guys being held accountable and stepping up and making those plays.”

An examination of defensive statistics since the Packers won the Super Bowl indicates a significant decline the last two years, especially in the category of opposing quarterback passer rating. After cracking the top 10 in the league four times in that area from 2011-15, the Packers ranked 26th in 2016 and 25th through the first half of this season.

Here is a year-by-year look at the rankings:

2011

Total defense: 32nd.

Opponent points per game: 19th.

Opposing QB passer rating: 10th.

2012

Total defense: 11th.

Opponent points per game: 11th.

Opposing QB passer rating: 4th

2013

Total defense: 25th.

Opponent points per game: 24th.

Opposing QB passer rating: 25th.

2014

Total defense: 15th.

Opponent points per game: T-13th.

Opposing QB passer rating: 7th.

2015

Total defense: 15th.

Opponent points per game: 12th.

Opposing QB passer rating: 7th.

2016

Total defense: 22nd.

Opponent points per game: 21st.

Opposing QB passer rating: 26th.

2017

Total defense: 25th.

Opponent points per game: 22nd.

Opposing QB passer rating: 25th.

Consecutive poor performances against the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints have inflated the 2017 numbers after quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees combined for 698 yards and three touchdowns the last two games. That the defense wilted at a time in which more is expected of it after the loss of Aaron Rodgers only worsened the social-media rage.

Nonetheless, numerous players praised Capers for both his approach to the game and his defensive scheme. Representatives from all three levels of the defense — defensive line, linebackers and secondary — took the blame themselves for recent issues.

Twitter may be ready to #FireCapers, but his players still believe.

“We know what we have to do,” Thomas said. “It’s not on the coaches, it’s on each individual, it’s on everybody to get better. (Dom) is the same guy, the same guy. Everybody is just locked in even more.”

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