Aaron Nagler talks the Packers' decision to fire Dom Capers.
GREEN BAY – Now that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is officially in the market for a new defensive coordinator, it’s a good time to look at the field of possible candidates.
With a half-dozen head-coaching changes already in progress, the market is rich with coaches seeking a new spot to land. In addition, there are assistant coaches employed around the league looking to advance into a defensive coordinator’s position.
Here’s a look at some possible candidates to replace Capers:
» Vic Fangio, Chicago Bears defensive coordinator: Everywhere Fangio has been, defense has been his team’s calling card. From Baltimore to San Francisco to Chicago, he has built strong 3-4 teams who rush the passer without a lot of blitzing and swarm to the ball. Fangio, 59, may get head-coach interest and will be a hot item for defensive coordinator positions if he doesn’t.
» Paul Guenther, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator: A disciple of Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, the 46-year-old Guenther’s units are tough and aggressive. McCarthy would probably love to have a defense that can mirror what the Vikings have built. Since the Marvin Lewis situation is still fluid, Guenther’s future is, too.
» Jack Del Rio, former Oakland Raiders head coach: If Jon Gruden hadn’t been available, Del Rio, 54, still would be the Raiders' coach. In addition to being coach in Jacksonville for nine seasons, he was defensive coordinator in Carolina (2002) and Denver (2012-’14). He has been part of numerous top-10 defenses over the years. He ran a 4-3 in Oakland and Denver, but has experience with the 3-4.
» Chuck Pagano, former Indianapolis Colts head coach: As expected, the Colts fired Pagano. Defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens in 2011, a year in which they finished third in fewest yards and points allowed. Pagano, 57, worked under Rex Ryan and Fangio and knows 3-4 defenses. However, he has two years left on his contract and might just collect his salary.
» Mike Nolan, New Orleans Saints linebackers coach: Nolan was McCarthy’s first choice back when he hired Capers in 2009, but Nolan, 58, accepted a job with the Denver Broncos. He lasted only one year and after that was coordinator for two years in Miami and three years in Atlanta. He coached linebackers in San Diego in ’15, took a year off and returned to coach linebackers under coordinator Dennis Allen.
» Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants defensive coordinator: It’s likely Spagnuolo, 58, won’t be hired as head coach and will be let go. He developed his blitz-heavy system under Philadelphia Eagles legend Jim Johnson and won a Super Bowl with the Giants under Tom Coughlin. However, his defenses have been mostly poor ever since, finishing 32nd in 2015 and ranking 32nd heading into this weekend.
» James Bettcher, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator: With head coach Bruce Arians stepping down, Bettcher may be available. He learned under current New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles in Arizona and current Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky in Indianapolis. Bettcher, 39, likes players who can play multiple positions and has shaped his scheme to fit the talent.
» Lou Anarumo, Miami defensive backs coach: Anarumo, 51, coached with Joe Philbin at Harvard and should get a good recommendation. After eight years coaching defensive backs at Purdue, he joined Philbin’s staff in Miami to coach the same position. He served as interim defensive coordinator when Kevin Coyle was fired and then returned to coaching defensive backs when new coach Adam Gase was hired.
» John Fox, former Bears head coach: He has one more year left on his deal and may just sit out a year and get back into it in 2019. He has been a head coach for 16 straight seasons, so there’s little reason to think he’d step back to being a defensive coordinator. But if Fox, 62, wants to get back at the Bears and not have to take on all the stress of being a head coach, Green Bay might be the place for him. He and McCarthy get along well.
Marvin Lewis, Bengals head coach: Lewis’ 15-year run apparently is about to end. At age 59, he probably never will go back to being an assistant. But he and McCarthy talk often and have great mutual respect. Lewis reportedly wants his next job to be in the front office, so it would take a lot of convincing – and money – to lure him to Green Bay.