DC search: Where do Packers turn?

With alleged top candidate Mike Nolan reportedly hired by the new Denver Broncos coach, an up-and-coming NFL assistant might be the choice to replace Bob Sanders.

The Green Bay Packers' next defensive coordinator will be ...?

With the Packers' presumptive choice, Mike Nolan, reportedly heading to Denver to be new coach Josh McDaniels' coordinator - neither McDaniels nor the Broncos confirmed the hiring on Monday - Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy might be turning to Philadelphia Eagles assistant Sean McDermott.

Nolan, who interviewed with McCarthy on Thursday, and Gregg Williams, who interviewed on Friday, appeared to be the top candidates. But not only have the New Orleans Saints targeted Williams as their No. 1 choice, but the Tennessee Titans would need a coordinator if Jim Schwartz lands in Detroit or elsewhere as head coach. Williams, who was the Titans' defensive coordinator during their run to the Super Bowl, would be a likely candidate if Schwartz, who is scheduled for a second interview with the Lions, departs.

With Nolan and, perhaps, Williams off the market, McCarthy likely would have to turn his attention to some of the league's budding position coaches. Topping that list would be the 34-year-old McDermott, though an interview will have to wait until the Eagles' season ends.

McDermott, who just completed his 10th season with the Eagles, has worked under esteemed defensive coordinator Jim Johnson since 2001. He would bring to Green Bay the aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme that has been a hallmark of the Eagles' defensive success.

Since 2000, Johnson's defenses have led the league in sacks, and a lackluster pass rush was one of the factors McCarthy cited in explaining the defense's downfall this season. The Eagles have allowed 17.7 points per game during the last nine seasons; the Packers allowed 23.8 under Bob Sanders in 2008.

McDermott played in the same secondary as Darren Sharper at William & Mary in the 1990s and coached Sharper at a Pro Bowl. Sharper, in an interview with Packer Report last week, said McDermott would do a "great job" as a coordinator.

With Nolan apparently off the market, it appears McCarthy and the Packers will stick with a 4-3 defense. Other than Nolan, purveyors of the 3-4 include Pittsburgh linebackers coach Keith Butler and former Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who was coordinator of New England's championship defenses. Neither of them have been linked strongly to the opening here.

"I think Keith Butler is a great coach," Tunch Ilkin, the color commentator on the Steelers' radio broadcasts and a former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, told Packer Report. "He just knows football. Not only is he an X's and O's guy, but he's also a technique guy, so those guys always know what they're doing. It's a complicated defense, and he relates to players well."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.


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