Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers has more lives than a cat, but this may finally be the year when his seven-season run of incompetency comes to an end. If, and it’s still a big if, a change is made, here are some possible replacements (today’s focus is on veteran coaches; I’ll look at up-and-comers next week):
VIC FANGIO – He’ll only be available if Chicago fires John Fox, which seems likely. The 59-year-old is a proven commodity who would offer a smooth transition since he runs a similar scheme to Capers. That’s because the two worked together from 1984 until 2005. So what would make things different under Fangio? First of all, he’s evolved since last century – something Capers hasn’t done. He’s also much better at making in-game adjustments. Would Fangio be willing to replace his buddy? Probably only if Capers leaves on his own terms.
MARVIN LEWIS – Multiple reports suggest the soon-to-be former head coach of the Bengals wants to move into a front office position, but if he decides to keep coaching, Green Bay would make perfect sense. Lewis goes way back with Mike McCarthy. The two coached together at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 1990s and have remained close. Prior to his 15-year run in Cincinnati, the 59-year-old Lewis was a very highly regarded defensive coordinator with the Ravens.
GREG MANUSKY – Like Fangio, he’s currently employed (Redskins), but that could change in a matter of weeks. If it does, he’d be a candidate in Green Bay. Manusky played for Kansas City while McCarthy coached there in the 1990s. The 51-year-old didn’t have great success as a coordinator in San Francisco, San Diego or Indianapolis, but he’s done a solid job in Washington and he’s always gotten his guys to play hard. This hire wouldn’t excite anyone, but Manusky might surprise with better talent. That’s something he often lacked in previous stops.
WINSTON MOSS – He’s worked with Green Bay’s linebackers since 2006 and added the title of assistant head coach to his resume in 2007. The 51-year-old, who’s been with McCarthy for the past two decades, has made no secret of his desire to run a defense. He was passed over for Capers in 2009. Those around the league consider him to be more of a motivator than a true Xs and Os guy, and that could be a reason why he hasn’t been hired by another team. It’s safe to assume another reason is the abysmal performance of the Packers’ defense in recent seasons.
MIKE NOLAN – He coached linebackers in New Orleans this season, but he’s been a coordinator for seven teams in his long career. McCarthy was his offensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2005 and tried to hire him to replace Bob Sanders in 2009. Nolan instead chose Denver. Like Manusky, his resume as a coordinator is spotty. But he’s a good motivator who can run either a 3-4 or a 4-3.
MIKE TRGOVAC – If McCarthy wants to stay in house – and let’s pray he doesn’t – the team’s D-line coach could get the nod over other position coaches due to his experience as a coordinator in Carolina. He’s fiery and gets his guys to play hard, but he hasn’t exactly developed a plethora of quality linemen in nine years. Other than Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, the misses have far outnumbered the hits. Whether that’s more on him or GM Ted Thompson is debatable.
GREGG WILLIAMS – He’d bring an attitude, along with some baggage. I didn’t love his game plan against the Packers a few weeks ago, but he’s done a good job overall in Cleveland. He’ll get guys to play nasty – something that we haven’t seen in Green Bay since the 90s. The 59-year-old Williams loves to blitz, but unlike Capers, he can usually figure out ways to get guys to the QB. McCarthy offered him the defensive coordinator job in 2009, but he chose New Orleans instead.