Longtime NFL defensive coordinator Dom Capers‘ name has been “kicked around” by the Cardinals and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).
Kingsbury is just 39 years old and has never coached at the NFL level in any capacity, leading Arizona general manager Steve Keim to remark that landing a veteran DC would be an “ideal” outcome (Twitter link via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com). Moreover, given their history and personnel on defense, the Cardinals are interested in hiring a coordinator who will primarily deploy a 3-4 front.
Capers would fit both of those parameters. At age 68, he’s nearly 30 years older than Kingsbury, and he’s been coaching in the NFL since 1986 (with ample collegiate experience dating back to 1972). Not only has Capers served as a defensive coordinator for multiple clubs, but he’s been a head coach at two stops (Panthers, Texans), meaning he could presumably offer counsel to Kingsbury as the latter enters his first pro job.
Capers also runs a 3-4 scheme, and did so during the duration of his most recent NFL gig, a nine-year stint as the Packers’ DC. Green Bay’s defense admittedly struggled near the end of Capers’ run: in 2017, the Packers ranked just 22nd in total defense and 20th in defensive DVOA.
Arizona’s defense, meanwhile, ranked 17th in DVOA last season, and that figure may be even more impressive that it initially looks. Opposing offenses — on average — started their drives against the Cardinals on their own 29.5-yard line, the seventh-easiest starting position in the NFL. Additionally, Arizona’s offense’s drives were the shortest in the league in terms of elapsed clock (two minutes, sixteen seconds on average), meaning the club’s defense was constantly on the field.
Kingsbury will be calling offensive plays, tweets James Palmer of NFL Network, so he’ll need an established defensive mind in place. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Kingsbury’s collegiate background could mean he doesn’t have the pro connections required to build out a staff. With that in in mind, Kingsbury says he’ll lean on Keim as he formulates his inaugural coaching group, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.