CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As confetti rained down on the world champion Kansas Metropolis Chiefs Sunday night time at State Farm Stadium, Dom Capers couldn’t assist however take into consideration profitable Tremendous Bowl XLV when he was defensive coordinator of the Inexperienced Bay Packers in 2010.
He additionally couldn’t assist however take into consideration how shut he got here 26 years in the past in his first head-coaching job to serving to the Carolina Panthers have that have of their second season as a franchise.
“There is not any larger feeling than that,’’ Capers instructed ESPN of profitable the Tremendous Bowl. “I might actually wish to expertise it once more.”
That’s why Carolina’s inaugural head coach agreed on Friday to return as a senior defensive advisor underneath new head coach Frank Reich, the staff’s first beginning quarterback. He desires to assist Reich win the Tremendous Bowl the group fell in need of after shedding the NFC Championship Recreation at Inexperienced Bay after the 1996 season.
Capers additionally feels a way of loyalty to new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero after spending this previous season as a advisor to the 42-year-old with the Denver Broncos.
There’s a sense of unfinished enterprise with the Panthers for the 72-year-old Capers, who was fired by then-owner Jerry Richardson after the 1998 season.
Till then, Capers, who complied a 30-34 file in Carolina, had by no means been fired from a job. It damage. And whereas he didn’t fault Richardson for letting him go, it had an influence on the remainder of his profession.
“Up till that point, I’d been on a white horse,’’ Capers mentioned. “Each job was a greater job. “When that occurs, you understand how fleeting issues are.’’
Capers’ profession has taken many twists and turns since his 4 years at Carolina. He was the inaugural head coach of the Houston Texans (2002-05). He was the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1999-2000), Miami Dolphins (2006-2007) and Packers (2009-2017).
In 2000, he practically grew to become the coach of the New England Patriots. He’d already interviewed with proprietor Bob Kraft and was headed again to Florida with Kraft’s son to finalize the deal.
That’s when Invoice Belichick stunningly resigned as head coach of the New York Jets a couple of hours earlier than he was to be formally launched and known as Kraft to say he needed the Patriots’ job.
“My agent instructed me I used to be going to be the brand new head coach of the Patriots, so I went to mattress considering [that],’’ Capers mentioned with amusing.
Capers’ return to Carolina wasn’t that dramatic. He started serious about it the minute it was apparent Evero can be the defensive coordinator.
Past the respect he has for Reich (who he benched as his beginning quarterback after an 0-3 begin with the Panthers in 1995), the connection he’d constructed with Evero after they had been collectively for one yr in Inexperienced Bay (1996) and final season in Denver, made for a possibility he couldn’t refuse.
His arrival with Evero indicators the Panthers want to change from their long-time base 4-3 defensive scheme to a variation of the 3-4 zone-blitz scheme Capers dropped at Carolina in 1995.
That protection helped the Panthers end eighth in factors allowed of their first season, which performed an enormous function within the staff profitable an expansion-record seven video games.
In 1996, the Panthers ranked second in factors allowed and received their division (NFC West on the time) with a 12-4 file. Additionally they led the league in sacks with 60 behind league particular person sack chief Kevin Greene (14.5) and Lamar Lathon (13.5).
Capers’ defenses persistently have been among the many league sack leaders. His 2010 unit at Inexperienced Bay ranked second in sacks, factors allowed and interceptions.
He had comparable success final season at Denver with Evero. The Broncos completed seventh in whole protection, seventh in opponent’s whole QBR (83.1) and second in third-down protection (34.1%).
Capers believes he will help Evero do the identical at Carolina with edge rushers Brian Burns and Frankie Luvu, defensive sort out Derrick Brown and a secondary that features Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson and Jeremy Chinn.
He additionally believes Evero is the perfect individual to comply with within the footsteps of interim coach Steve Wilks, who was the Panthers DC in 2017 and the gamers’ option to get the full-time head-coaching job that ultimately went to Reich.
“It received’t take lengthy for gamers to sense that,’’ Capers mentioned. “He’s a really educated, assured man. It received’t take him lengthy to earn folks’s respect.’’
Capers already has the respect of Reich and Evero. They don’t take a look at him because the coach who was fired at Carolina in 1998 after going 4-12. Neither does Corridor of Fame government Invoice Polian, who was a part of the method to rent Capers in 1995.
“I don’t know what went into Dom’s departure,’’ mentioned Polian, who moved on to develop into the president of the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. “He actually hadn’t forgotten how one can coach. He’s an excellent addition.’’
Capers can’t wait to get to Charlotte on Wednesday to start working with Evero and Reich. He plans to discover a condominium close to Financial institution of America Stadium, as he did within the early years when he usually slept within the stadium.
He additionally plans to construct on a chunk of property he bought three years in the past on Lake Tillery about an hour from Charlotte.
“Wednesday would be the first time I’ve been within the workplaces of that stadium since ’96,’’ Capers mentioned. “I do not forget that first press convention. I do not forget that first win.
“My spouse tells me I’m the one man that may keep in mind each play from 20-something years in the past, however I can’t keep in mind a telephone quantity.’’
However Capers principally desires to be remembered for serving to construct a Tremendous Bowl-caliber protection for Reich, one thing the staff hasn’t had persistently because the 2015 staff reached the title sport. The Panthers ranked nineteenth in factors allowed and twenty second in yards allowed this previous season.
“Carolina has a particular that means to me,” Capers mentioned. “So nothing can be larger than for me to have the ability to end my profession again there profitable a Tremendous Bowl.”