January 5th, 2009 will go down as a day of infamy for Packer fans. That was the day the hatchet man cometh with pink slips in hand.
By the end of that fateful day six coaches were terminated including five defensive coaches and the strength and conditioning coach.
Despite a successful debut season as starting quarterback by Aaron Rodgers and a top 10 overall offense, the Packers limped to a 6-10 record. In eight of the ten losses the team had chances to tie or take the lead in the second half only to come up short after the final tick of the clock.
It was clear to Packer Head Coach Mike McCarthy that his defense was in shambles. He wanted a tougher defense that could play tough late in games. So he made up his mind to go out and get a brand new defensive coaching staff to restore the toughness he felt the team lacked.
After hiring respected coach Dom Capers to be his defensive coordinator, Mccarthy set out to fill the staff under Capers with experienced coaches... with TOUGH coaches.
They don't come any tougher than former all-pro linebacker Kevin Greene. With an NFL linebacker record 160 sacks on his resume Greene will coach the outside linebackers.
While in college Greene not only walked on to have a great football career at Auburn, he also graduated from their ROTC officer training school. he became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air National Guard. he also became a paratrooper after he completed training at Ft. Benning, GA.
And while he is most remembered for his 15-year-career that saw him play in a Super Bowl and multiple pro-bowls; he also had a 19-year-career in the Army Reserves finishing as a Captain.
His high energy and intensity is already evident as the "rookie" coach embarks on teaching vets like Aaron Kampman the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. Greene should know, he underwent the transition himself during his playing days.
1st round draft choice Clay matthews III will also be a prized pupil as Greene will work to mold him into a versatile right outside linebacker combining pass rushing and pass coverage.
Though this is Greene's 1st season as a full time NFL coach, his experience in his career combined with his discipline and intensity developed during his 20 years in the military should bode well for the Packers linebackers as they seek to learn the new 3-4 alignment while also looking to thrive off of Greene's love of the game.
Just behind the linebackers you will find a new face coaching the safeties. The new face belongs to Darren Perry, a former teammate of Greene's who is pretty tough in his own right.
Perry played with Greene in Pittsburgh for the Steeler team that went to the Super Bowl in 1995. Perry combined solid tackling with ballhawking skills. Perry played in the 3-4 alignment for both Dom Capers as well as Capers' fellow 3-4 comrade coach Dick LeBeau.
Perry honed his coaching skills under LeBeau in Cincinnati before becoming an integral part of Steeler's coach Bill Cowher's staff. Perry is credited with developing all world safety Troy Polamalu for the Steelers.
Perry will try to hone the skills of Packers pro-bowl safety Nick Collins, who will be expected to call the defensive plays on the field while playing back and looking to create turnovers. Returning from injury, Atari Bigby will also look to Perry to become a feared "in the box' safety.
Having played in a Super Bowl as well as having won a Super Bowl championship as a coach Darren Perry looks to be the right guy to bring fear to opposing quarterbacks.
After five years as the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, Mike Trgovac needed a change. His resume showed that in those five years the Panthers were 5th overall in least amount of total yards allowed by his defenses.
His face is not completely new to Packer fans. In 1999 Trgovac coached the defensive line for Ray Rhodes. On that same staff, on the offensive side, was a young assistant Mike Mccarthy. Evidently Trgovac made a positive impression on coach Mac.
Another truly tough guy, Trgovac won the 1976 Michigan High School Wrestling State Championship before becoming a captain while playing for coach Bo Schembechler's Michigan Wolverine squad from 1977-1980.
Like Darren Perry, Trgovac has also coached in a Super Bowl as his Carolina Panther defense went to the Super Bowl in 2003. Trgovac is credited with developing Julius peppers into the complete player he is today.
Trgovac will now get to put his experience into a "new toy" in Packers 1st round draft pick BJ Raji. He will also have a great challenge in melding the Packers defensive line into the new scheme and making sure the defensive line doesn't wear down late in games and give up big chunks of rushing yardage like the 08 Packers did.
There seems to be a theme to the new Packers defensive coaches,Super Bowl experience, and toughness. Capers, Perry, and Trgovac have coached in a Super Bowl. Greene and Perry have played in the Super Bowl.
It is this experience and toughness that is the blue print for the Packers potential success this upcoming season.
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