Entering his 32nd season in the NFL, Dom Capers begins his ninth year with the Packers in 2017 as the club’s defensive coordinator.
Named to his position Jan. 19, 2009, by Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Capers is one of the most experienced coaches in the league, spending time with seven different NFL franchises before coming to Green Bay.
Since Capers took over as defensive coordinator in 2009, Green Bay ranks No. 1 in the NFL in interceptions (165), No. 4 in total takeaways (229), No. 5 in opponent passer rating (81.0), No. 3 in sacks (328) and No. 8 in points allowed per game (21.2).
Capers’ defensive formula, pressuring the quarterback and creating turnovers, was evident once again in 2016, as he helped guide the Packers to their franchise-record eighth consecutive postseason berth (2009-16) and fifth NFC North title in six years. Led by LB Nick Perry’s career-high 11 sacks, Capers’ defense ranked tied for No. 6 in the NFL last season with 40 sacks. It marked the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Green Bay finished in the top 10 in the league in that category. The Packers also ranked tied for No. 4 in the NFL with 17 interceptions in 2016, guiding them to a plus-eight turnover margin, which ranked No. 6 in the NFL. Most impressively, during Green Bay’s six-game winning streak to close out the regular season, the Packers forced a league-leading 15 turnovers over that span.
Capers’ unit was also proficient against the run last season, ranking No. 8 in the NFL while surrendering just 94.7 yards per game on the ground. That mark also ranked tied for the seventh-lowest average in franchise history.
Since Capers joined the staff, Green Bay defensive players have made 17 appearances in the Pro Bowl, eighth most in the NFL since 2009. The latest defender to join the list was third-year S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who made his first career Pro Bowl in 2016. His career-best five interceptions last season were tied for No. 5 in the NFL and tied for No. 1 among safeties.
In 2015, the Packers were tied for No. 7 in the NFL with 43 sacks while also ranking fifth in the league in sacks per pass attempt (7.8 percent). Additionally, Green Bay tallied 16 interceptions to rank ninth in the NFL, guiding them to a plus-five turnover margin, tied for 10th in the NFL. LB Clay Matthews made his sixth career Pro Bowl as a member of Capers’ defense in 2015 and first as an ILB. He was joined by LB Julius Peppers, making his first appearance as a Packer and ninth overall.
In 2014, the Packers’ 41 sacks tied for No. 9 in the NFL as six different players registered at least three sacks, which was tied for No. 4 in the league. The Packers also finished the 2014 campaign tied for No. 9 in the NFL with 29 takeaways and No. 3 with 110 points off takeaways. Green Bay’s plus-14 turnover margin was best in the NFL in 2014.
Despite missing Matthews for five games in 2013, Capers’ unit still finished the season with 44 sacks to tie for No. 8 in the NFL. Additionally, the defense finished the 2013 campaign strong by forcing 12 turnovers in the last five games, which was tied for No. 3 in the NFL over that span. The Packers posted two or more takeaways in each of the final five games, the longest single-season streak by the club since a nine-game stretch in 2002.
In 2011, the Packers led the league in INTs (31) for the second time in three seasons (also 2009), and tied San Francisco for most total takeaways (38). Capers’ defense was well-represented in the Pro Bowl with Matthews, NT B.J. Raji and CB Charles Woodson all being honored, the first time since 1967 that the Packers had a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a defensive back earn Pro Bowl recognition in the same season.
In 2010, Capers coordinated a unit that finished No. 2 in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 15.0 points per game en route to winning Super Bowl XLV. That was the team’s best ranking since finishing No. 1 in 1996 (13.1 ppg), and the 24 TDs allowed were the team’s fewest since 1996 as well (19). The Packers also finished No. 5 in overall defense (309.1 yards per game), which, coupled with the team’s No. 2 ranking in 2009, gave the Packers a top-five overall defense in consecutive years for the first time since 1968-69.
That No. 2 ranking in Capers’ first season, when he guided the transition to the 3-4 scheme, highlighted one of the biggest statistical turnarounds in franchise history, as the Packers improved from the No. 20 spot in 2008. They also ranked No. 1 against the run in 2009 after a No. 26 ranking in that category before Capers’ arrival. That top ranking in rushing defense was a first in franchise history, and the average of 83.3 rushing yards per game set a team record. In 2009, the Packers also led the NFL with 40 takeaways and 30 INTs, the first time Green Bay led the league in INTs since 1965.
Under Capers’ tutelage, Woodson posted perhaps his finest all-around season in 2009 as he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press and was selected to virtually every all-pro team. It was the third time in Capers’ career as a defensive coordinator that one of his players earned the top defensive honor from AP, as Woodson joined Miami DE Jason Taylor (2006) and Pittsburgh CB Rod Woodson (1993). Capers nearly had a fourth protégé win the award in 2010, as Matthews finished runner-up in the voting to Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu.
Capers was honored with an award of his own in ’09 as he was named Coordinator of the Year by Sporting News in a vote of 53 current NFL head coaches and league executives.
Capers joined the Packers after one season with the New England Patriots as special assistant – secondary. Prior to that, he had defensive-coordinator responsibilities for two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, holding the titles of special assistant to the head coach (2006) and defensive coordinator (2007). After inheriting a defense that had allowed 317.0 total yards per game (No. 18) in 2005, Capers made an immediate impact as Miami finished fourth in overall defense (289.1 ypg) in 2006.
Capers served as the head coach of the expansion Houston Texans for the first five seasons of the franchise’s history. He was hired in January 2001, more than a year before Houston’s inaugural season in 2002.
From 1999-2000, Capers was the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, where, under his guidance, the Jaguars improved from 25th in the NFL in total defense in 1998 to fourth in 1999. Jacksonville also allowed the fewest points (217) in the NFL in 1999, and Capers was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by Pro Football Weekly/PFWA and USA Today.
Capers served as a head coach for the first time in his career from 1995-98 with the expansion Carolina Panthers, guiding that team from its origin to the NFC title game in just two seasons. In 1996, Carolina won its last seven games en route to a 12-4 record and the NFC West title. The Panthers defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoffs before falling to the Packers at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship. Capers was honored with all of the major coach of the year awards in ’96, including the AP’s honor.
Prior to taking over in Carolina, Capers served as a defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-94, the first time in his coaching career that he ran a defense. His unit ranked third in the NFL in total defense in 1993, second in 1994, and the Steelers won the AFC Central in 1992 and 1994. Pittsburgh finished in the top 10 in scoring defense in all three of Capers’ seasons with the club, including No. 2 rankings in 1992 and 1994.
Capers’ first NFL coaching stop came with the New Orleans Saints, where he served as the defensive backs coach for six seasons (1986-91). He helped the Saints earn their first three playoff berths in franchise history, and he worked under head coach Jim Mora, whom he also assisted with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL from 1984-85 as the Stars won the league title both seasons.
Capers began his coaching career by spending 12 seasons at the collegiate level, beginning with a three-year stint as a graduate assistant at Kent State (1972-74). He went on to coach defensive backs at Hawaii (1975-76), San Jose State (1977), California (1978-79), Tennessee (1980-81) and Ohio State (1982-83).
Capers played safety and linebacker for Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, from 1968-71, and graduated with a degree in physical education and a minor in psychology. He also earned his master’s degree in administration from Kent State. In May 2012, Capers delivered the commencement address at Mount Union and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Capers grew up in Buffalo, Ohio, where he was a star athlete at Meadowbrook High School. He hosted an annual charity golf tournament for 13 years (1995-2007) in the area to raise money for the Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center’s cardiac rehab unit, and for a college scholarship in the name of Dale Dickson, Capers’ former high school football coach who died of a heart attack.
Born Aug. 7, 1950, in Cambridge, Ohio, Capers lives in Green Bay with his wife, Karen.