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Nine DC candidates to watch if the Packers part ways with Dom Capers

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Green Bay could have experienced and up-and-coming options to choose from internally, as well as from across the NFL next spring.

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Though respected around the National Football League, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers has been a hot topic of debate among the Green Bay Packers fan base over the past several seasons. After articles from yours truly as well APC’s Peter Bukowski documenting Green Bay’s horrendous situational defensive stats the past two seasons, this offseason might finally be the one in which the Packers make a switch.

Adding new energy and concepts to the Packers’ defense, whether through the current 3-4 scheme or another style, may be the most important move Green Bay makes this offseason. Before the flurry of coaching moves begins across the league and new names emerge, here is a list of top options for Green Bay to choose from.

Internal Candidates

Joe Whitt, Jr.

If the Packers cut Capers loose, they could opt to maintain a certain level of continuity of defensive scheme with their current personnel. In that case, Whitt, Jr. may be Green Bay’s top assistant for a promotion. In his 11th season in the NFL and 10th with Green Bay, Whitt was originally hired as a defensive quality control coach by Mike McCarthy. While the Packers’ cornerbacks have been a glaring weakness the past two seasons, Whitt has been charged with developing a number of undrafted free agents and has actually led a unit that, coming into this season, ranked first in the league since 2009 with 165 interceptions and held top five marks in passer rating, completion percentage, and touchdown-to-interception ratio. Despite the secondary’s struggles, Whitt has continued to be a popular name among assistant coaches and would certainly be one to watch.

Mike Trgovac

Another insider candidate for Green Bay would be defensive line coach Trgovac, who has 23 years of NFL experience, including a stint as the coordinator of Carolina’s defense from 2003-2008. With impact players such as Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins on his unit, Trgovac’s Panthers finished in the top 10 in yards and points allowed three times. Since Trgovac came to Green Bay in 2009, the Packers have finished top 10 in sacks in six of the last seven seasons. Stopping the run has also been a staple of Trgovac’s lines in Carolina and Green Bay, and the Packers’ defensive line has been one of the team’s true strengths in 2017. At age 58, could Trgovac get another shot as a DC?

External Candidates

Brian Flores

Flores is regarded among the best up-and-coming assistant coaches in the NFL. Serving the past two seasons as linebackers coach of the New England Patriots after spending four as leader of their safeties, the 36-year old may be in position for his first coordinator opportunity. Although the Pats’ defense is having a down year, they finished eighth in total defense in 2016 and ranked first with just 15.6 points allowed per game. Flores would bring prior knowledge within a successful 3-4 scheme to Green Bay, as well as a wealth of postseason experience.

Vic Fangio

A few weeks ago, it was revealed that Fangio may not be part of the Chicago Bears’ coaching plans this offseason after serving the past three seasons as Defensive Coordinator. With Fangio in the last year of his contract and the Bears appearing ready to part ways with Head Coach John Fox, it is likely the 59-year old will be on the move. Although Fangio’s name has come up for potential head coaching positions, his age may be a deterrent for many teams. But with his success in transitioning the Bears’ defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and directing an incredibly successful San Francisco defense during its NFC Championship season in 2012, Fangio might be a more proven commodity for Green Bay to target.

Paul Guenther

With Marvin Lewis’ days in Cincinnati numbered, Guenther may be available this offseason. The Bengals’ coordinator took over the defense after Mike Zimmer’s departure in 2014 and helped lead Cincinnati to top 10 rankings in points allowed in 2015 and 2016. Guenther was blocked from interviewing for the DC job with Washington last offseason, but may have more flexibility this time around including interviews for head coaching positions. Guenther would likely bring a switch to a 4-3 defense predicated on similar principles of his predecessor Zimmer, whose defenses have been a nightmare for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Many writers, including some of ours at APC, believe Green Bay may have the pieces for a 4-3 scheme.

Steve Spagnuolo

The front office has been a mess for the New York Giants this season and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo might be in line for a new job. Like Guenther, Spagnuolo would bring the 4-3 to Green Bay and has been one of the better defensive coordinators over the past decade in two stints with the Giants. It was his Giants defense that helped lead the team to the Super Bowl in 2007 and knock off the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Spagnuolo has developed a medley of notable pass rushers including Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck, and has head coaching experience with the St. Louis Rams from 2009-2011 that could benefit the Green Bay defense.

Best of the Rest

The Ryan Brothers

Rex (3-4)

Rob (3-4)

Adam Zimmer (4-3)

  • Assistant Linebackers Coach for New Orleans Saints (2006–2009)
  • Assistant linebackers coach for Kansas City Chiefs (2010–2012)
  • Assistant linebackers coach for Cincinnati Bengals (2013)
  • Linebackers coach for Minnesota Vikings (2014–present)