Dom Capers

Packers Shake Up Coaching Staff

The Packers have decided to make dramatic changes in their coaching staff, the team has announced. Among the bigger news released today was that defensive coordinator Dom Capers officially been fired. It was already reported that the longtime coach was going to be let go a few days ago, but the news just confirmed by team officials today. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and linebackers coach Scott McCurley were also officially relieved of their duties.

“I want to thank each of these men and their families for all that they gave to the Packers during their time here,” head coach Mike McCarthy added. “We enjoyed a lot of success together and they directly contributed to our accomplishments. These are difficult personal decisions and we hope for the best for their families moving forward.”

Tom Pellisero of NFL.com has also reported that current offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett will be reassigned to another post and that the Packers will allow quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt‘s contract to expire this offseason (Twitter link). It should be noted that both of these reported decisions are still awaiting confirmation from the team.

Edgar Bennett (Vertical)

Bennett had been on the Packers staff for awhile, serving in many roles, including the team’s player development, running backs, wide receivers coach since he joined the organization in 2001. He had been promoted to offensive coordinator at the start of the 2015 season. His role change will allow the team to hire an offensive coordinator from outside the organization.

Van Pelt was hired as the team’s running backs coach in 2012 was promoted to handle the team’s quarterbacks in 2014.

Both coaches have had the benefit of working with All-pro signal caller Aaron Rodgers over the past few years. But the offense showed significant flaws when Rodgers went down with injuries for a much of the 2017 season. Today’s news essentially confirms the speculation that the Packers could drastically alter their coaching staff in the weeks ahead since they missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching News: Packers, Cowboys, Giants

Earlier in the day, the Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They continued to clean house on the defensive side of the ball later in the day, letting go of inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports.

McCurley joined the Packers in 2006 as an intern but quickly moved his way up the ladder. For the last four years, he served as assistant linebackers coach and helped oversee the transition to young linebackers like Blake Martinez. An NFL coach since 1995, Trgovac had been with the Packers since 2009 following an extended stay as the defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Here is more from around the league on the coaching front:

  • The Broncos fired outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac on Monday, reports NBC 9 in Denver’s Mike Klis (Twitter link). Klis cites the lack of a pass rush following the departure of DeMarcus Ware as grounds for the dismissal. Shane Ray provided just one sack on the opposite side of Von Miller. The team also let go of defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn.
  • New Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told the team’s assistant coaches they are free to look for other jobs without the Giants blocking the search, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). Among the names expected to draw interest from other teams includes interim head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson is expected to be let go, sources tell the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Marvez notes that more changes to the team’s offensive coaching staff are expected to come, one of which could be wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, who is reported to not being returning to Dallas by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Dooley denied the report, saying he has yet to meet with head coach Jason Garrett, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. The coaches have been with the team since 2007 and 2013, respectively.
  • After firing head coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions continued to overhaul its coaching staff by letting go of assistant head coach and offensive line coach Ron Prince, the team announced. Prince had been with the team since 2014.

Packers To Fire DC Dom Capers

Dom Capers‘ nine-season tenure as the Packers’ defensive coordinator looks to be over. Green Bay will part ways with Capers, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports.

This was the expected course of action for a Packers team that saw its eight-year playoff streak end this season. Demovsky adds there will be more changes on Green Bay’s defensive staff. Packers safeties coach Darren Perry is expected to receive consideration, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.

The 67-year-old Capers has been a DC since his stellar work with the Steelers in the early 1990s. Twice a head coach, Capers could well be in demand by other teams as a defensive leader despite this dismissal. He’s been on an NFL sideline since the 1986 season.

Capers, though, has had the task of leading a defense for a franchise that largely eschews free agent help. He’s mostly coached players Ted Thompson‘s brought in through the draft, and the results have not been especially solid in recent years. Both the 2016 and 2017 Green Bay defenses have ranked 22nd in total defense, while the 2015 unit ranked 15th.

This marks just the third time Mike McCarthy’s fired a coordinator in 12 years as Green Bay’s HC. His ouster of Bob Sanders after the 2008 season brought Capers to Green Bay.

Capers’ units have been tasked with operating on a team led by Aaron Rodgers and have naturally been viewed as the weaker part of the Packers during the All-Pro-caliber quarterback’s run. Thompson, though, has used steady draft resources to aid the unit in recent years, using first- or second-round picks on the likes of Kenny Clark, Damarious Randall, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kevin King, Quinten Rollins and Josh Jones. Injuries have also limited Green Bay’s defenses in recent years.

Due to the franchise’s continuity-centric ways, almost none of the team’s defenders has played in a different defensive system than Capers’ version of the 3-4, so it will be interesting to see how Thompson and Co. go about filling this vacancy. Demovsky notes Vic Fangio, who also runs a 3-4, could be a candidate.

A former Steelers defensive back under Capers, Perry has coached the Packers’ safeties throughout Capers’ tenure as DC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Expected To Part Ways With Dom Capers

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but the Packers are expected to part ways with longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. Capers, 67, has been with the team since 2009, but it appears as if his ninth season will be his last.

Capers’ unit will finish outside the top-15 in league rankings for the sixth time in the past seven years, and the last time it enjoyed a top-10 ranking was in 2010, when the Packers won the Super Bowl. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Capers could step down or retire to avoid the ignominy of a firing.

Silverstein opines that Green Bay has the makings of a solid defense, but that moving on from Capers is essential. He also believes that the team needs to bring in a new coordinator from outside the organization to provide the defense with a completely fresh start. He looks at some of the top names that could be available, including current Bears DC Vic Fangio and current Lions DC Teryl Austin, though it does not appear that there are currently any substantive rumors linking the Packers to the names on Silverstein’s list.

Capers, meanwhile, is probably prepared to call it a career. He broke into the league with the Saints in 1986 and has twice served as a head coach (for the expansion Panthers in 1995 and the expansion Texans in 2002). He has one Super Bowl ring, which, as noted above came as Green Bay’s DC in 2010.

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Keenum, Packers

The Vikings still have not opened extension talks with pending free agent quarterback Case Keenum, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Previous reports have indicated general manager Rick Spielman & Co. won’t discuss contracts with any of their free agent signal-callers until the season concludes, and that stance has not changed, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Indeed, Keenum may require a franchise or transition tag in order to not hit the open market, several executives tell La Canfora. Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next spring, meaning the Vikings will have several decisions to make over the coming months.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • While the Packers have certainly struggled without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the club isn’t expected to make wholesale changes during the offseason, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. However, defensive coordinator Dom Capers could take the fall after leading a defense that ranks just 19th in DVOA. If Capers is fired, one candidate to take over Green Bay’s defense may be current Bears DC Vic Fangio, per Pelissero. Fangio, whose contract expires after the 2017 season, has Chicago’s defense at 14th in DVOA (with arguably less talent than the Packers possess).
  • Capers isn’t the only Packers staffer who could leave the team this offseason, as director of football operations Eliot Wolf is once again drawing general manager interest. While Wolf has long been viewed as an in-house replacement for current GM Ted Thompson, Wolf is reportedly growing impatient and is ready to “branch out,” sources tell Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Wolf, who was tied to the 49ers and Colts general manager vacancies a year ago, was most recently linked to the Giants GM gig.
  • Although Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott‘s dislocated shoulder is likely to sideline him for the final game of the regular season, he’s expected to be available for the playoffs, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter links). McDermott, who will not require surgery, had his shoulder popped back in place last night. Meanwhile, Minnesota will need a long snapper for their Week 17 contest against the Bears, and the club plans to audition free agent Justin Drescher on Tuesday, per Tomasson. Drescher has appeared in 110 career games, including eight with the Cardinals earlier this year.

North Notes: McCarthy, Abdullah, Browns

The Packers are struggling, and head coach Mike McCarthy has predictably come under fire as a result. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that McCarthy is not likely to lose his job, and while there has been significant conversation about McCarthy’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers, La Canfora writes that the two men share a great deal of mutual respect and that Rodgers would not support a coaching change.

That does not mean, however, that the Packers will not shake things up elsewhere. Given the overall decline in talent on the roster, GM Ted Thompson is not immune to review, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers could also be coaching for his job over the second half of the season. Some team officials also believe that the offense has become stagnant and that the offensive coaching staff could use an overhaul. Further complicating the issue is that director of football operations Eliot Wolf, long considered to be the heir apparent to Thompson, could pursue outside options this offseason, as he remains one of the more sought-after young executives in the game and he may want to capitalize on that status in case the Packers should start to fade.

Now for some more notes from the league’s north divisions:

  • The Lions‘ running game could get a boost down the stretch, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Per Rapoport, Ameer Abdullah, who is currently on IR with a foot injury, will meet with Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday to see if he can begin practicing. There is a realistic chance that Abdullah could be active in three weeks.
  • The Lions are no lock to win the NFC North, but they are certainly looking like the favorites at this point in the season. However, if Detroit collapses and fails to win its first division title in 23 years, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press does not believe head coach Jim Caldwell would keep his job.
  • Although much has been made of the turmoil in the Browns‘ front office, cornerback Joe Haden does not believe those negative vibes have trickled down to the players themselves. Per Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network (Twitter links), Haden said that although he has been in locker rooms where the players have quit, the Browns’ current roster remains engaged. Haden believes head coach Hue Jackson is a big reason for that, as the players believe in him. Haden also says the team is generally too young to have developed the cynicism that a more veteran group might harbor.
  • Yesterday, we took a dive into the latest notes on the AFC North.

 

Coach Notes: Capers, Fangio, Bills, Kubiak

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is not planning on retiring anytime soon. The 64-year-old has had to work some overtime since he joined the organization in 2009, as the team’s made the playoffs in each of his six seasons. However, the former Panthers and Texans coach isn’t tiring.

“I would like to coach as long as I enjoy it and feel I have something to offer,” Capers told Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel“If I didn’t feel I have something to offer I wouldn’t do it anymore.

“I’m enjoying it. My health’s excellent. You can talk to anybody here… who spends the most hours here? And I’d like to think (I have something to offer).”

Other coaching notes from the around the league:

  • Following reports that the Bears had requested permission to interview Vic Fangio, Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 in D.C. tweets that the team will indeed meet with the former 49ers defensive coordinator. Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee tweets that Fangio will then travel to meet with Washington this evening.
  • In the same tweet, Barrows notes that former 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell will likely follow the coordinator wherever he goes.
  • Aaron Kromer has signed a two-year deal with the Bills to become the team’s offensive line coach, according to ESPN’s John Clayton (via ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak on Twitter). The former Bears offensive coordinator was fired in late December.
  • Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post says Gary Kubiak is the right choice for the Broncos head coaching opening. The writer believes the coach’s communication abilities will allow him to flourish with Peyton Manning. Reversely, if Manning decides to retire, the coach would also be the “perfect man” to groom a young, developing quarterback.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Donald, Seahawks

With his scintillating workout numbers and collegiate accolades, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald is viewed as the preeminent three-technique defensive tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Cowboys seem to be a perfect landing spot for Donald’s services, argues Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News.

Donald was a first-team All-America selection and garnered every award save for the Heisman Trophy. Sabin contends that Donald could pair with recently signed defensive tackle Henry Melton in 2014 — who signed a one-year deal — then take over as a cornerstone on the defensive line going forward.

More news and notes from the National Football Conference…