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Dom Capers A Head Coach? I Don’t Think So

History says an NFL team would be foolish to hire Capers as a head coach.

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.


Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. John Rehor November 19, 2010

    I speculated on GPN that he will definitely be an attractive candidate for a Head Coach position. The endorsement by McCarthy is the beginning of the Capers campaign.

    I hope he stays where he’s best, at D-Coordinator. But at 60 years old, he may see this offseason as his last chance to get that position.

  2. jeremy November 19, 2010

    Hopefully he has realized what Dick LeBeau did, that his best chance of getting a Super Bowl ring is as a Defensive Coordinator. I only see one winning season out of eight on that list.

  3. bogmon November 19, 2010

    I would hope he would commit at least 3 seasons to the Packers.

    Next year is the real YOTTO….they will stacked and seasoned at every position.

    Although we all know that there are going to be alot of openings after this year I don’t feel like Dom is gonna jump ship just yet…he’s not an up and comer looking for his first head job. He’s been there and done that…this must be a lot less pressure than being the head coach.

  4. Matt November 19, 2010

    he won’t leave. just like everyone else, he wants a superbowl and green bay should have a few coming their way.

  5. ay hombre November 19, 2010

    A few? Really?

  6. jeremy November 19, 2010

    Thankfully, Michael Trgovac will step right in a DC if Capers leaves. There will be no dramatic search or drastic scheme adjustment.

  7. Abe Frohman November 19, 2010

    The real question is how long he has on his contract. We can always refuse to let him speak with another team – like we did with Philbin and the Bears. I don’t get the impression that McCarthy would stand in his way, unless it was to say Chilly’s job in Minnesoooota.

  8. Taryn November 19, 2010

    He was a H-C twice already and I think he prefers D-C and working in the booth…where he can grab a cat nap once in awhile.

    Dom knows this team gets him the RING(s) he misse out on a few times.

  9. david January 25, 2011

    Why is it necessary to always move to the head coaching job. Clearly the NFL coaching staffs are a team effort and he is clearly the best at what he does. Yet somehow, that is not enough in many peoples eyes and if he doesn’t become or end as a successful head coach his career is somehow diminished. It’s like saying Reggie White has done so well on defense lets make him a quarter back.

  10. Brian February 4, 2011

    The Packers better hope he stays – his defense has gotten them to the Super Bowl. Best DC out there. GB better treat this guy like gold and know what they have!!