I write a post comparing the four veteran coaches the Packers have interviewed for the defensive coordinator opening, and half an hour later it's leaked that they've hired Dom Capers.
Of the four veteran coaches Mike McCarthy interviewed, Capers is the oldest, has the most experience in the NFL, and the most experience as a head coach. He's been a head coach for many more seasons (nine) than McCarthy (three).
Capers made himself known with a 3-4 defense but he has worked with other defenses as well and probably will employ a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense. This season, Capers was a special assistant with the New England Patriots, coaching mostly in the secondary...
In Capers, McCarthy would be getting a coach who cut his teeth in the 3-4 system and used it consistently, sometimes with great success and other times with little. During his three years as head coach of the Houston Texans, his biggest failure was getting the defense established. Twice it ranked 31st in the league.
Capers, 58, has some experience running the 4-3, too, and undoubtedly picked up some wide-ranging concepts from Bill Belichick during his year with the Patriots. Part of his interview with McCarthy presumably was to see how compatible their defensive philosophies are.
When Carolina played the Packers in the 1996 NFC Championship game, Dom Capers was the head coach for Carolina and they used a 3-4 scheme. He also loves the zone blitz:
“For us,” said former Carolina Panthers head coach Dom Capers, a generous user of the zone blitz, “it’s a way to put pressure on the quarterback and yet not have as much risk involved as if you’re locked up with a man. It’s not as defined for the quarterback to read because you’re passing receivers [from defender to defender], as opposed to being clearly locked up on a receiver. We think it gives us some ability to create confusion and indecision on the part of a quarterback.”
I've never seen the Packers run a zone blitz under any defensive coordinator. It would be a brand new world for most of the defensive players who return next season, but maybe that is what Mike McCarthy is trying to do. It's time to shake up the defense. Since the Packers defense was outstanding in 2006, pretty good in 2007, and had an excellent pass defense in 2008, I'm not sure a complete overhaul is in order. But an overhaul is coming.
Ironically, I just watched a replay of the Tuck Rule Game from the 2001 AFC Championship. The famous play happened on a zone blitz, Oakland's defensive end dropped back to take away the slant route and CB Charles Woodson came untouched on a blitz to force
a fumble an incompletion. So at least Woodson is familiar with how the zone blitz should work.
I think it really comes down to whether DE Aaron Kampman can become an outside linebacker. If Capers believes Kampman can become an outside linebacker, like OLB/DE hybrid Terrell Suggs, then they'll switch to a 3-4. It will be interesting to see what Capers says when he's introduced at a press conference.