On Friday, Green Bay landed Mike Trgovac as the defensive line coach for Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme. Trgovac had been Carolina's defensive coordinator since 2003. Of course, there's his connection with McCarthy. The two served as assistants together under Ray Rhodes in 1999. But the ulterior motive is more intriguing than adding an experienced coach to a re-hauled defensive coaching staff.
With 4-3 personnel - that finished 26th against the run, mind you - the Packers will need to replenish their defense. Capers' hiring is a healthy breath of fresh air, but Bob Sanders wasn't the biggest problem. The product on the field needs to reflect Capers vision. It won't improve with second- and fourth-round draft picks, either. The ultrayoung Packers defense is starving for a playmaker to trigger the 3-4 defense.
Trgovac's hiring is the juicy new nightcrawler the Packers needed to hook that playmaker: Julius Peppers. The defensive end said last week that he wants out of Carolina. Peppers, who has registered 70.5 sacks in seven seasons, has openly stated he wants to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Of course, there's a chance Peppers' strife with the Panthers is Trgovac-related. Part of Peppers' angst could root from Trgovac's desire to stay in a 4-3 alignment. But I doubt it. Trgovac's decision to shift Peppers from the left side to the right after the end's worst season (2.5 sacks) resulted in his best season (14.5 sacks).
This single decision will earn Peppers a monumental contract somewhere this offseason. Wouldn't you thank your boss after a position switch netted you a huge new contract? Multiple reports indicate that the two had a strong working relationship in Carolina.
Trgovac gives Peppers a sense of familiarity in the new scheme he craves. Since the Panthers were blindsided by Arizona in the playoffs, defensive coaches have bailed on John Fox left and right. Something about this mass evacuation suggests the deeper underlying problem is Fox and the Carolina Panthers' organization itself.
Peppers has been adamant in getting out of North Carolina - he's been in the state for 11 years (four college, seven pro).
The idea of scraping ice of his windshield in Ashwaubenon probably sounds good to Peppers.
Trgovac's presence in the 3-4 scheme is Utopia for Peppers. The best of both worlds. McCarthy knows this. There's a reason he full-court-pressed Trgovac like Mike Krzykewski merely hours after Trgovac no longer was a candidate for Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator position.
For once, it appears the Packers will be prepared before the start of free agency ... and Ted Thompson won't be left reaching for the B-rate Marquand Manuels of the world.
Trgovac could wind up being the Packers' acquisition of the year if it nets Peppers. This isn't a pipe dream.
The two have worked together in Carolina since 2003. The Panthers' ‘D' finished in the top 10 three of those six seasons, with Peppers' career year last season an exception. Coupled with Capers' "Blitzburgh" defense, the Packers are suddenly positioned first in the horse race for the freakish 6-foot-7, 285-pound pass rusher.
No other NFL team has Green Bay's selling power. A young, explosive offense. A blitz-heavy defensive scheme that'd let Peppers freelance a la DeMarcus Ware. A familiar face. And of course, a you're-set-for-life contract.
So far, the Packers have done everything right. McCarthy didn't make a knee-jerk decision at defensive coordinator. He carefully exhausted all options and made a sound hire in Capers. The Packers could have stopped there and anointed Capers as the cure-all fix for their defense in shambles. But on Friday, McCarthy hinted that there are more major changes ahead. Peppers instantly brings credibility to Green Bay's defense and lifts a 6-10 team into contention.
Of course, there's a catch. The Panthers could tag-and-trade Peppers like Kansas City did with Jared Allen last season. If that's the case, Peppers' hefty price tag would include two first-round draft picks. And then we'd really see how hell-bent the Packers really are at landing a linchpin for their flashy new 3-4 defense.
Tyler Dunne writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org