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Packers Walkthroughs, Week 1: Could Dom Capers’ job be in jeopardy?

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APC writers weigh in on Dom Capers’ job security, running back productivity, and who’s going to get the most sacks.

Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On this first Wednesday of the 2017 NFL regular season, APC’s staff is back with our first Walkthroughs piece of the season. This week’s prompt has our writers discussing our bold predictions for the 2017 Green Bay Packers. As you’ll see, there are a few hot takes inside.

Shawn Wagner: The Packers register eight or more sacks from the inside linebacker position this season.

After only 4.5 combined sacks from its inside linebackers and safeties a year ago (Morgan Burnett had three alone), I expect the Packers to get a significant boost in production, doubling that total in 2017. With Clay Matthews expected to be lined up both inside and outside and Burnett, Kentrell Brice, and Josh Jones splitting time in the box, there is great potential for Dom Capers to increase his blitz tendencies with the athleticism and speed at the position on passing downs. Pressure from its inside linebacking position will help mask Green Bay’s weakness in the secondary and help get the defense off the field on a more regular basis this season.

Evan “Tex” Western: Packers’ defense leads the NFL in interceptions

If the Packers plan to get back to the promised land with another Super Bowl appearance, the defense will need to step up and play far better than it did last season. Despite the secondary’s struggles in 2016 with injury and overall poor play, the defense somehow still finished in a tie for fourth in the NFL in interceptions with 17, just one away from the three-way tie for the league lead. This year’s cornerbacks group looks to be back to full strength and has plenty of ball skills all over the roster, while the team has one of if not the best groups of safeties in the NFL.

This prediction may be somewhat dependent on the Packers’ edge rushers staying healthy and pressuring the quarterback, but the addition of Ahmad Brooks provides critical insurance behind Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. Combining this rush off the edge with the potential of a fearsome interior pass rush from Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark should keep opposing quarterbacks harried with regularity, which will create more opportunities for the secondary to make plays on the football and give the Packers’ offense a short field.

Last season’s interception leader for the team was Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, with a career-high five picks; he could certainly match that this year and earn an All-Pro honor to build on last year’s Pro Bowl appearance.

Jordan Smith: Kenny Clark will emerge as a Pro-Bowl caliber defender

Kenny Clark was a first-round draft pick in 2016 on the Packers’ defensive line. When they drafted him, my first thought was: ‘Oh great, another UCLA defensive lineman that will hover around average for 4 years, but never be great.’ He played most of last season as Mike Daniels’ backup as a rookie, but towards the end of the year Clark started to show flashes of playmaking ability and increased snaps. My prediction is that Kenny Clark makes a leap. The numbers won’t show that as it’s hard to display for defensive tackles, but Clark will be an indispensable player along the line.

My favorite thing about offseason for the NFL? Players hitting the weight room looking for that edge against their opponents. This past offseason, Clark returned to L.A. to workout with DAG Athletic Group. They focused a lot on making Kenny more lean while increasing his core strength. A big part of his workouts have included improving his hip strength as well in order to help decrease the likelihood of another lower back injury:

Come out the hips! #AlwaysWorkin @winnercircleathletics @ecabildo_wca

A post shared by Kenny Clark (@kclarkjr_) on

Coach McCarthy has said that Kenny is “crushing it in the weight room” and that makes me all kinds of excited. A lot of attention this offseason has been (reasonably) placed on the Packers’ pass rush. Kenny Clark is going to help with that. If the young defensive tackle goes to the next level, I’ll love UCLA more than Childish.

Jon Meerdink: Ty Montgomery will not rush for more than 800 yards this season

This is not a knock on Ty Montgomery. He’s an excellent football player and will be a big part of the Packers’ offense this year.

However, I don’t think his biggest contribution to the offense will be measured in yards.

Montgomery’s most important attribute is his ability to line up just about anywhere on the field. His skill set creates difficult matchups for the defense in multiple ways, first in defending Montgomery himself, and then by the ripple effect of cascading changing matchups across the formation.

In addition, Montgomery didn’t put up consistent volume numbers last year even as a full time running back. He only crossed the 50 yard mark three times, and he’ll need to average 50 yards a game to cross the 800 yard mark on the season.

But even if he doesn’t put up big numbers, Montgomery is going to be a key part of the Packers offense.

Paul Noonan: Jamaal Williams will rush for over 100 yards in a game precisely twice this season.

I’ve been predicting, since the draft, that the Packer run game will start to resemble the Patriots’ run game with more specialized roles, and more matchup work for everyone. Some weeks (quite possibly this week against Seattle) you might not see Williams get more than a few carries, but when the Packers face a good-against-the-pass, bad-against-the-run defense this season I suspect they dial up their one-cut power back for a surprise 20-25 carry performance, making fantasy owners nuts. I might have predicted a bunch of touchdowns for him along the lines of 2016 LeGarrette Blount, but Aaron Rodgers tends to eat all those up.

Also, at least one of these games will come against the Bears.

Kris Burke: Dom Capers will be fired mid-season

Firing any coach mid-season would be a stunning move for the often loyal-to-a-fault Mike McCarthy, let alone the defensive coordinator that has been with the team since 2009.

Once the defense continues to struggle and Aaron Rodgers is forced to put up nearly 35 points per game, the Packers will have seen enough. Ted Thompson has invested far too much in the draft for the defense to continue to hold the Packers back.

Much like 2011, the offense will put up ludicrous if not record breaking numbers but it will be the defense that will doom the 2017 team.

McCarthy and Thompson will have had enough and fire Capers sometime in November.