Nothing against Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, but the guy isn’t an NFL head coach, despite the support he seems to be garnering around Green Bay.
On Wednesday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Capers was worthy of a head coaching job.
I respectfully disagree, Mike.
Capers is a great defensive coordinator, something he initially proved in Pittsburgh and has proven again in Green Bay. In fact, Capers may go down as one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time.
That does not a head coach make.
Capers was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers from 1995-98 and of the Houston Texans from 2002-05. His combined record is 48-80.
I understand both teams were expansion teams when Capers held the head job. I understand that Capers 7-9 mark in his first season in Carolina is the best ever for an expansion team. I understand Capers went to the NFC Championship game, won coach of the year and finished the season 12-4 with Carolina in 1996.
However, Capers has always been a defensive guy and he’s never been able to develop a consistently good offense during his time as a head coach. In fact, Capers’ offensive philosophy is notoriously conservative.
That won’t work in today’s NFL.
Capers’ teams have never finished higher than 19th in the league in total yards. Other than the 12-4 1996 season in Carolina, Capers’ teams have never finished higher than 20th in point differential and 22nd in yardage differential.
The one aberration — the 1996 season — Capers’ Panthers finished second in point differential and 13th in yardage differential. They also finished third in takeaway/giveaway ratio, throwing the fewest interceptions in the NFL and finishing second in points allowed, which certainly had something to do with those numbers.
The point being, if Capers’ team isn’t buoyed by a dominant defense, they aren’t going to be very good because you can’t expect much more than three yards and a cloud of dust from the offense.
Here’s a look at Capers’ teams’ final offensive ranking (yards) while he was head coach, along with overall record.
1995, Carolina: 26th (7-9)
1996, Carolina: 23rd (12-4)
1997, Carolina: 26th (7-9)
1998, Carolina: 20th (4-12)
2002, Houston: 32nd (4-12)
2003, Houston: 31st (5-11)
2004, Houston: 19th (7-9)
2005, Houston: 30th (2-14)
Perhaps the only scenario in which it makes sense to make Capers a head coach is if he keeps his hands off the offense and let’s someone else call the plays.
No one has ever questioned the guy’s work ethic. Legend has it, Capers has been known to work 17-hour days and then sleep on the couch in his office.
Similarly, no one will ever question Capers’ ability as a defensive coordinator.
What can be questioned, however, is his ability as a head coach and his failings in that area are primarily related to the iron fist he uses to control the offensive game plan.
If Capers wants another head job, he’s going to have to step into the new NFL and cede some control to someone who can develop an explosive offense.