Dom Capers is back in the NFC North. A decade after serving as a defensive coordinator on the Packers‘ Super Bowl XLV championship team, the longtime NFL coach was tabbed as the Vikings’ new senior defensive assistant on Monday. Capers, who broke into the NFL coaching ranks in 1986, filled that position in Jacksonville during the 2019 season.
After serving as the Saints‘ defensive backs coach from 1986-91, Capers was named Bill Cowher’s first defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh in 1992. That season, the Steelers went from 22nd to 2nd in the NFL in second defense, as Pittsburgh won at least 11 games in a season for the first time since 1979. The Steelers’ defense continued to be one of the NFL’s best units over the next two years before Capers left Pittsburgh to become the head coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995.
In 1996, Capers led the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game in just their second year of existence. His success in Carolina didn’t last long, however, as Capers was fired following consecutive losing seasons. He quickly resurfaced in Jacksonville, serving as the team’s defensive coordinator in 1999 while helping the Jaguars boast the league’s top-ranked scoring defense en route to an AFC Championship Game appearance.
Capers coached his second expansion team in 2002, serving as the Texans‘ head coach for four seasons. He then spent two seasons as Miami’s defensive coordinator before accepting the same position with the Packers, winning a Super Bowl during his second season in Green Bay. After nearly a decade with the Packers, he was fired by former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy after the 2017 season.
Last season, his only season in Jacksonville, Capers worked with a Jaguars’ defense that included Pro Bowlers Calais Campbell and rookie Josh Allen, who led the team with 10.5 sacks. During his career, Capers has worked with several Hall of Fame/All-Pro defensive players that includes former Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson, former Pittsburgh/Carolina OLB Kevin Greene, Panthers ILB Sam Mills, Dolphins ILB Zach Thomas, OLB Clay Matthews and former Packers/Raiders defensive back, Charles Woodson.
In Minnesota, Capers will work with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who spent 14 seasons as a defensive coordinator before becoming the Vikings’ head coach in 2014. Last season, the Vikings’ defense, led by All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks, Pro Bowl defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, and Pro Bowl defensive backs Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes, finished fifth in the league in scoring, third in interceptions, and second in red zone efficiency.
Minnesota’s defense helped the Vikings earn a wild card spot before upsetting the Saints in the first round of the NFC playoffs. The Vikings’ 2019 season came to an end the following week, as Minnesota surrendered 186 rushing yards in their divisional round loss to the eventual NFC champion 49ers.