Montgomery ready to be Capers' 'right-hand man'
Jerry Montgomery reported for his second day of work in Green Bay on Thursday morning, one week after a phone call changed the course of his career.
It came from Packers coach Mike McCarthy, placed to Montgomery's boss. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had just promoted Montgomery to co-defensive coordinator last month.
Now, the NFL was knocking.
"He just said, 'We'd love to have you, but I understand the opportunity in front of you,'" Montgomery said of Stoops. "And he said, 'How are you going to pass up one of the greatest organizations in the NFL?'"
This is what happens when the door to an NFL job opens. You drop everything, move across the country, get ready to start life anew.
So Montgomery sat on the fourth floor Thursday, overlooking the cavernous Lambeau Field Atrium, passing up his future in Oklahoma for a shot at professional football.
The Packers' new "defensive front assistant" had yet to meet his new players. He had no time to brush up on the intricacies of his new defense. Over and over, Montgomery said he would figure things out on the fly.
He also admitted the past week has been bittersweet.
There were some "hard" goodbyes when he left Norman, perhaps none harder than his farewell to Ricky DeBerry. Montgomery spent three years recruiting DeBerry, a four-star defensive end who signed with the Sooners on national signing day. That was Feb. 3.
One week later, Montgomery had to tell DeBerry he wouldn't be coaching him in Norman.
"To have to call him two days ago and tell him I'd be taking off," Montgomery said Thursday, his voice trailing off. "A lot of the kids understood, and they said, 'If we were in your shoes, we'd be doing the same thing.' Because, ultimately, their goal is to be at this level also."
The decision may have been difficult, but Montgomery said he knew it was right. When his coaching career began 13 years ago as a student assistant at Iowa, he said his goal was to be a defensive coordinator at the highest level. To get there, he needed a jump to the NFL.
He couldn't resist the chance that awaited in Green Bay. Montgomery will assist with the Packers' front seven, working closely with linebacker coach Winston Moss and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac. He'll report directly to defensive coordinator Dom Capers, perhaps the primary lure to Green Bay.
McCarthy said Montgomery will be Capers' "right-hand man" on the defensive staff.
"Jerry brings a lot of energy and did a great job in the interview process," McCarthy said. "He's someone we've kind of been looking at for a couple of years. These are things that you don't just make decisions on in a week. These are types of decision and things you're looking at over the long term.
"Jerry will be a great for fit for us, especially coming from such a great program there at Oklahoma."
On Thursday, Montgomery was cautious not to share too much of his defensive philosophy. It's up to him to buy into Capers' system, he said. Not the other way around.
Montgomery admitted this new job feels like an apprenticeship. He wasn't content with merely landing an NFL job. He wanted the chance to advance his career. In Green Bay, he's excited to learn from Capers.
"It's a chance to grow," Montgomery said. "I was a co-coordinator, and now I'm going to have the opportunity to work with one of the best coordinators in the history of the game, and learn and develop. It's a chance for me to get better as a coach.
"It's an opportunity to learn from one of the best and figure out how I want to run my defense when I get the opportunity to be a defensive coordinator."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood