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Mike McCarthy: Packers' defense needs to improve

A string of late-season defensive meltdowns continue to eat away at Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

He can't get his mind off Colin Kaepernick's 181 yards on the ground in the Packers' ugly playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adrian Peterson's 409 rushing yards over two games was an equally distressing sight.

"Adrian Peterson and the San Francisco game were our two black eyes," McCarthy told the Green Bay Press Gazette on Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. "And that's where we've got to be better. Those are big games. We've got to play better defense in big games."

McCarthy recently dispatched his assistants to talk with the coaching staff at Texas A&M about solving the read-option offense. The Packers figure to see plenty of it next season in games against the 49ers, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman also hinted this week that Chicago is looking into running option concepts with quarterback Jay Cutler.

On the personnel front, the Packers re-signed linebacker Robert Francois to a one-year contract and asked A.J. Hawk to accept a sizable pay cut. The team on Wednesday met with free agent Brad Jones, who is considered one of the NFL's top available inside linebackers after playing 801 snaps for the Packers over the final 12 games of the season.

McCarthy doesn't believe his players are the problem, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers is under the microscope. Green Bay's defense ranked 22nd in the NFL last season against the pass and 17th against the run, but the central problem was a tendency to collapse when it mattered most. The high-octane offense continued to rain points, but McCarthy -- after defending his team's toughness -- wants to see something new on defense in 2013.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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