Mike McCarthy finally broke the silence.
Talking to reporters for the first time since convincing Mike Stock to retire as special teams coordinator 17 days ago and firing Bob Sanders and most of the defensive coaching staff 15 days ago, McCarthy explained those decisions and announced he had hired veteran NFL coach Dom Capers to replace Sanders.
"Really, what it came down to, is I just didn't feel that we were headed in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball," McCarthy said on Monday afternoon. "It was really an evaluation of our last three years. It was a three-year process. I felt a number of things that occurred in Year 1 showed up again in Year 3."
McCarthy informed Sanders of the decision on Sunday, Jan. 4, and immediately began the search for a replacement. He interviewed Mike Nolan, Gregg Williams and Jim Haslett before talking to Capers on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, McCarthy selected Capers, the 3-4 defensive guru who has run seven top-10 defenses in his 16 seasons as a head coach or coordinator.
"His vision of playing defense and my vision of how we're going to move forward in Green Bay, I would say is a big part of why he's an outstanding fit for our organization," McCarthy said.
McCarthy had never met Capers until the interview but had led offenses against his defenses a few times. "We really started from scratch on the telephone," McCarthy said.
Capers will meet the press on Tuesday morning.
In other coaching news:
Moss expected to rejoin staff
Unless Winston Moss becomes head coach in Oakland, McCarthy expects his linebackers coach/assistant head coach to return to Green Bay and work under Capers in the same capacity.
"I think he's a big part of our staff, the future of our staff, and I think this will be an excellent pairing with Dom Capers and Winston Moss on defense," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said there is no timetable to complete the coaching staff. He and Capers — who hadn't arrived in Green Bay as of Monday afternoon because of travel problems — will work together in assembling the defensive group. Interviews have been ongoing, he said, including Monday and in the coming days.
Shawn Slocum might have been Stock's assistant for the last three seasons. But that doesn't mean it will be status quo for the Packers' poor special teams.
"I think that's such a misconception of any assistant that's promoted for his coordinator-type position," McCarthy said. "It's important for anybody to step into a new chair and be himself and put his blueprint on the group. I'm not looking to hire an assistant that wants to do it like the coordinator that was there before. That's not the intent, because the game of football in the NFL it's always revolving. It changes. People do different things schematically every year."
McCarthy said he interviewed other candidates, but, "Time and time again, frankly, it just kept coming back Shawn. I think Shawn Slocum's an excellent coach."
Strength and conditioning
McCarthy hopes to have a strength and conditioning coordinator in place in the next few days. He said there are five candidates, including assistant Mark Lovat.
The dismissal of Rock Gullickson was a surprise, considering he was named the NFL's top strength and conditioning coach after the 2007 season. But a laundry list of injuries was an issue — the Packers lost 46 games from their preferred starters in 2008 — and McCarthy hinted that attendance in the weight room wasn't what he wanted.
"It was about making progress," McCarthy said. "It's important for everybody that's part of our program to make sure there's growth and improvement, and I did not see that. There's an environment that existed that was not what I was looking for, frankly."
Gullickson is a major proponent of using free weights rather than machines. McCarthy is open to free weights or machines, and said that is just part of the equation along with nutrition and injury prevention.
"I don't care if we're lifting free weights or flipping tires or whatever we're doing. We need to do a better job in there," McCarthy said.
McCarthy didn't waste time in hiring Capers. He could have interviewed one of the up-and-coming assistants in the league, such as the Eagles' Sean McDermott after Philadelphia lost on Sunday in the NFC championship game, but quickly decided to go with Capers.
Good thing, too. With Steve Spagnuolo going to St. Louis as the Rams' head coach, the New York Giants need a coordinator. Capers was believed to be the favorite, in part because he had been coordinator under Giants coach Tom Coughlin for two seasons in Jacksonville. Dallas also needs a coordinator, and owner Jerry Jones thinks highly of Capers.
"Dom Capers had a number of different options," McCarthy said. "He was definitely somebody that was well sought-after. But, at the end of the day, the Green Bay Packers have a lot to offer Dom Capers, and Dom Capers has a lot to offer to the Green Bay Packers."
Asked if the deal was wrapped up quickly, McCarthy said, "It didn't go fast enough for me."
For more on the hiring of Dom Capers, read Packer Report's story from Monday morning.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.
DC search: Coach breaks silence
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