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Vikings hire Dom Capers as senior assistant coach

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Two years after his firing, the former Packers defensive coordinator is back with a divisional rival.

NFL: AUG 01 Packers Training Camp Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the hours after the Green Bay Packers’ 2017 season came to an end, head coach Mike McCarthy fired Dom Capers, who had been the team’s defensive coordinator for nine seasons. It was an inglorious end to Capers’ tenure, which started with a sudden turnaround — he led the Packers to the second-ranked defense in yards allowed after the team finished 20th the year before.

After a pair of tremendous seasons to start his tenure, however, Capers’ units began to slip. The team never again ranked in the top ten in points or yards allowed after 2010, finishing in the 20s of both categories in 2016 and 2017. That led to his dismissal and McCarthy’s hiring of Mike Pettine to replace him.

Now, McCarthy is headed to coach the Dallas Cowboys, while Pettine is set for his third year as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, his second under McCarthy’s replacement, Matt LaFleur. Capers, who spent a year away from football in 2018, returned to the game as a defensive assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2019 season.

But in 2020, Capers is joining a team with much more history with the Packers. On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings announced that they are hiring Capers for a senior defensive assistant position.

The Vikings have a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Zimmer, but the team had a bit of a shakeup on the defensive staff as a whole. Former coordinator George Edwards departed this offseason to join McCarthy in Dallas, as the team made defensive line coach Andre Patterson and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer their co-defensive coordinators. (And yes, Adam Zimmer is Mike’s son.)

With the two position coaches now holding co-DC titles as well, Capers’ role may be to help consolidate the overall defensive game plan. Furthermore, Capers has nine years of head coaching experience and spent 16 years as a defensive coordinator, so the Vikings will surely lean on the knowledge he has gained in those roles over the years.

Time will tell whether Capers is any help defending against Aaron Rodgers, whom he faced every week in practice for nine seasons in Green Bay.