Gameday Notebook: Defensive Domination?

The Packers' injury-ravaged defense should have its way with Jacksonville's anemic offense. Just don't tell that to Dom Capers. That and 20 more items in our 21-point preview that is guaranteed to be the biggest and best in the world.

We could rattle off numbers all day to demonstrate the ineptitude of the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense and why the injury-ravaged Green Bay Packers defense should have its way on Sunday.

Nothing, however, is more illustrative than this: The Packers have four players with at least 26 receptions. The Jaguars have nobody with more than 17.

Throw in the fact that the Jaguars will be without running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the terrific all-around player who represents 35.3 percent of the offense — only Marshawn Lynch at 35.8 percent represents a larger share of his team's attack — and it's clear Jacksonville faces an almost overwhelming challenge.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, however, wouldn't buy the notion that the Jaguars' offense is "terrible" — our word, not his.

"All you have to do is watch the tape now," Capers told Packer Report on Friday. "I'm sitting there this morning and I'm watching the opener against the doggone Vikings and they score (a touchdown) with 27 seconds to go and they're going to win the game. Last week, they're up 17-6 on the Raiders at halftime. They moved the ball right down the field – touchdown, touchdown."

Without Jones-Drew, it will be up to quarterback Blaine Gabbert and his underperforming wideouts to keep the Jaguars in the game.

The 10th pick of last year's draft, Gabbert has completed 55.7 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns, three interceptions and a 28th-ranked passer rating of 77.1. He's been pretty good on the road, with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 98.4 rating.

However, in six games, he's completed just 15 passes thrown 10 yards down the field. The Jaguars haven't scored a second-half touchdown since Week 3. The worst third-down offense in the league at 26.6 percent moved the chains on just 1-of-15 chances last week against Oakland.

"I think he's a young guy that's ascending," Capers said. "Like most young quarterbacks, you'll see some good, you'll see his ability. He's a good athlete, has a strong arm. There's a reason why he was picked in the first round."

The receivers haven't done much, catching just 46.7 percent of targeted throws. The No. 5 pick of this year's draft, receiver Justin Blackmon has caught 14 of 37 passes for merely 126 yards. High-priced free agent Laurent Robinson, who had 11 touchdowns last year with Dallas, has caught just nine passes and hasn't scored. The one threat has been Cecil Shorts, a fourth-round pick in 2011 from Division III Mount Union. He has 12 receptions for 284 yards. Five of his catches have gone for 20-plus yards, and all three touchdowns have been from 30-plus yards. The Jaguars had just three 30-yard completions all of last season.

"In this league, you better be ready to take care of business because they've been in most of their games," Capers said. "All you've got to do is go back and look at our Colt game. We're up 21-3 and we're looking pretty good and we lose the doggone game. You can't ever relax. To me, the challenge every week is more about us and what we do. What I'd like to see out of our defense is to be able to go out and play four quarters of very good football. I felt last week, we went three quarters giving up two field goals. Houston, I thought we finished off and played four good quarters there. But we didn't finish it off last week against the Rams. That always leaves a sour taste in your mouth."

Preseason No. 2?

The Packers will have to remodel their defense on the fly without Charles Woodson. Woodson wasn't the team's best defender but it could be argued that he was its most important. He was tough, smart and a playmaker, and Capers could turn to Woodson to fill whatever role needed to be filled that week.

How will the Packers move forward for the next several weeks? Games against offense-impaired Jacksonville and Arizona, then the bye, should help Capers sort out what might and might not work headed into a pivotal stretch. Detroit and the Giants await after the bye, followed by NFC North teams Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago.

"What I look at is this: Each and every week, with all of the new people we have in there and the young people, it is critical for us to show improvement each week," Capers said. "We can't take a step back. We've got to really press the envelope in terms of improving. I've said from the beginning that I think as we work these young guys in there, that we'll get better as the season goes on. It's going to be important for our football team for us to be playing our best football in the second half of the season. I think we're capable of doing that. You've seen us play some very good football but we've got to do it with consistency, and that consistency has to show up in the second half of the season."


Two weeks change everything.

As the first quarterback since Tom Brady in 2007 to have nine touchdowns and no interceptions over a two-game span, Rodgers is back atop the league's quarterbacking pecking order.

So much for those "What's wrong with Rodgers?" questions.

A year after his league-record 122.5 rating, Rodgers leads the NFL at 109.6. He also leads the way with 19 touchdown passes and a 4.75-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Only Robert Griffin III has a better completion percentage than Rodgers' 69.8.

"The confidence," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said of the difference in Green Bay's offense the last couple of weeks. "Aaron's playing at a high level right now, like he's capable of playing. He's been very consistent in his play. I was a big Randall Cobb fan coming out of Kentucky. I've watched a lot of film on him. He's stepped up and become a threat. There's just so many threats that it's hard to eliminate any one guy and think you're sound. They're playing good right now. Especially on the road and having a chance to come home, that's big for the team. We've got our work cut out."

Mularkey's defense, however, has a fighting chance. Greg Jennings is out and Jordy Nelson might miss the game, too. Inconsistent tight end Jermichael Finley is battling a shoulder injury. The running game has been sporadic, at best, since Alex Green replaced Cedric Benson.

That puts added pressure on James Jones and Randall Cobb, and it puts seldom-used Donald Driver and Jarrett Boykin in the spotlight.

Said receivers coach Edgar Bennett: "The way we go about it, week after week, with our preparation – in the classroom as well as on the field – we feel like we've had two really good weeks of practice and it's showing up on gameday."

The other sideline

— Remember "The Boz"? Because of injuries to starters Daryl Smith (groin; injured reserve) and Clint Session (concussion), the Jaguars are going with two undrafted players as their outside linebackers. Kyle Bosworth is the nephew of Brian Bosworth. Kyle Bosworth, who entered the league in 2010 out of UCLA, has five career starts — all this season. He shares time with undrafted rookie Julian Stanford of Wagner College. Russell Allen, who entered the league in 2009, has made 21 career starts. He's got 81 tackles in six games, including 22 against Houston in Week 2 — second-most in franchise history. They flank the one standout, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who piled up a whopping 192 tackles last year and has 85 this season.

"Paul Posluszny has had a very good year," Mularkey said. "He's a really good football player. You don't hear a lot about him because of the lack of success down here in Jacksonville. He's playing with two linebackers that are filling in for our two starters that have not played a game this year. He's just carried these guys along and made sure that they're in the right place. He's had a good year – a very good year."

— Lewis leads the team with 17 receptions. With 19 receiving touchdowns for his career, he's one behind Stacey Mack for sixth place in team history. With 237 career receptions, he's four behind Kyle Brady for most by a tight end. This will be the 100th career game for the 2006 first-round pick.

— The Jaguars have drafted just two offensive linemen in the first round in their history. An expansion team in 1995, they grabbed Tony Boselli. If not for injuries that shortened his career to seven seasons, he might have landed in the Hall of Fame. The other was Eugene Monroe in 2009, who's developed into one of the top left tackles in the game. He's allowed two sacks while playing every snap of the team's six games.

— The Jaguars' starting cornerbacks, Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis, are listed as questionable. Mathis, a 10-year pro, has a team-record 30 interceptions — including two against Brett Favre in Jacksonville's win at Green Bay in 2004. Cox, a 2009 third-round pick out of William & Mary, has 10 career interceptions, including one in each of the last two games. Nickel corner Aaron Ross is married to 400-meter gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross.

— The Jaguars have two excellent specialists. Kicker Josh Scobee has made 17 consecutive field-goal attempts. He's 19-of-30 for his career from 50-plus yards, including a game-winning 59-yarder that beat Indianapolis last season. That was the third-longest game-ending kick in NFL history. Rookie punter Bryan Anger, a third-round pick, ranks fifth with a 49.3-yard average, third with a net average of 42.9 and leads the NFL with 20 punts of at least 50 yards.

History lessons

— When Rodgers threw his 150th career touchdown pass last week, it was his 76th career game. Only Dan Marino (62 games) did it faster. Rodgers, however, did break one of Marino's records. At the time of his 150th touchdown pass, Rodgers had thrown 42 interceptions. Marino held the old mark with 69 interceptions.

— The teams have split the four games, with Jacksonville winning the last two. Their only trip to Lambeau Field was 2004. The wind chill was minus-3 but Fred Taylor rushed for 165 yards as Jacksonville won 28-25. At Jacksonville in 2008, Maurice Jones-Drew scored the second of his touchdowns with 1:56 to go and Reggie Nelson picked off Rodgers with 40 seconds remaining to ice a 20-16 win.

— The Jaguars' offensive coordinator is Bob Bratkowski. His father, Zeke, played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons. He was Bart Starr's backup from the end of 1963 through 1971, going 4-4-1 as the starter during that span. In 1965, he relieved the injured Starr in a 13-10 playoff victory over Baltimore. He completed 22-of-39 passes for 248 yards, driving the team to a 22-yard field goal to force overtime and a 25-yard field goal to win the game.

— The Jaguars' playoff drought is four years and going on five. That's a long time in the NFL, where teams rise and fall like escalators. Only Buffalo (12), Cleveland (nine), Oakland (nine) and St. Louis (seven) have longer non-playoff streaks.

Key numbers

— 24: Green Bay's league-leading sack total, led by Clay Matthews' nine. Jacksonville has a league-low five sacks.

— 65.9: Rodgers' career completion percentage is a shade behind Chad Pennington's 66.0 for the best in NFL history for a minimum 1,500 attempts.

— 69.8: Rodgers' completion percentage this year. That would set a franchise record. He already owns three of the top five: 68.3 percent in 2011, 65.7 in 2010 and 64.7 in 2009.

— 76.2: The Packers' touchdown efficiency in the end zone ranks No. 1 in the NFL. The Jaguars are terrible by almost every statistical measure but they are a solid 10th in red zone defense at 42.9 percent.

Four-point stance

— The Jaguars haven't scored an opening-possession touchdown since Oct. 9, 2011. Doing so this week will be a challenge. The Packers and Bears are the only teams in the league to have not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter.

— Green Bay's offense, which finally is showing some of its big-play production after a slow start, will be challenged by Jacksonville's defense. Jacksonville ranks sixth with 20 plays allowed of 20-plus yards, including a seventh-ranked 16 completions.

— Last season, Green Bay and Indianapolis tied for tops in the league with just 76 accepted penalties, with Jacksonville next with 77. This year, Jacksonville is second with 34 penalties. Green Bay, on the other hand, is tied for 24th with 47 penalties

— Jacksonville's record is bad but the competition has been good. Their first six games have come against Minnesota (5-3), Houston (6-1), Indianapolis (3-3), Cincinnati (3-4), Chicago (5-1) and Oakland (2-4). That's a combined record of 24-16, a .600 winning percentage. The Packers' seven games have come against San Francisco (5-2), Chicago (5-1), Seattle (4-3), New Orleans (2-4), Indianapolis (3-3), Houston (6-1) and St. Louis (3-4). That's a combined record of 28-18, a .609 winning percentage.

Quote of the week

Or the best quote that we didn't work into a story ...

Rodgers, on sustaining the success of the last two weeks: "We have to keep it going. We've got two home games. Looking at the schedule before the season the home games, regardless of your opponent, you want to win those because you have the homefield advantage, you have the snap count, your defense with that crowd noise. We have to play well these next two weeks and go into the bye 6-3."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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