Dallas Cowboys 2011 Defensive Coordinator Options: Dom Capers?

Jonathan BalesAnalyst IJanuary 13, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - 2009:  Dom Capers of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
NFL Photos/Getty Images

At the request of some readers, I wanted to take a quick look at the Cowboys’ search for a defensive coordinator. We’ve heard the names Vic Fangio and Greg Manusky a lot recently; both guys are Dom Capers disciples with 3-4 experience.  Fangio was the defensive coordinator for Stanford last season, while Manusky ran the 49ers’ defense.

Anyway, DMN recently posted the stats for Fangio, Manusky, and current Cowboys coordinator Paul Pasqualoni (in terms of final PPG, sacks, and takeaways for each season).  Note that these numbers can be misleading due to the talent on each team, but I’m more concerned with each coordinator’s progress, NOT the actual defensive ranking.  We see the following:

  • Manusky took the Niners’ defense from 20th to 16th in PPG over his four seasons, with two of the three non-initial seasons being an improvement over the first.  The average improvement for his squad was 5.7 games over those three final seasons.  His best finish was fourth.
  • In my opinion, Fangio has been sub-par everywhere he’s been. He’s left the three teams he’s coordinated at 27th, 31st, and 32nd in the league in PPG.  The average decline for his defenses in his three stints as defensive coordinator is 5.8 games worse than his initial season with the team.  Only three of his eight non-initial seasons have been improvements over the first.
  • Pausqualoni was a defensive coordinator for only two seasons in Miami, but his ranking dropped from ninth to 25th in one year.  More importantly, we’ve seen Pasqualoni’s scheme (or close to it) in Dallas, and it doesn’t suit the team well.

So who is my favorite of the bunch?  Manusky I suppose, but I’m not really high on any of them.  Fangio has a proven track record of failure, and Pasqualoni’s approach seems too old-school to excel today.  At least Manusky is still relatively fresh as a coordinator.

Other defensive coordinator candidates include:

  • Dom Capers
  • Rob Ryan
  • Dave Wannstedt
  • Mike Nolan

Of that group, Capers is the best fit in Dallas.  His experience with the 3-4 and unique use of blitzes, coverages, and pre-snap alignment would help the ‘Boys immensely. While his departure from Green Bay may be unlikely, perhaps it isn’t impossible. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is a known fan of Capers, and Dallas’ hesitancy in signing a coordinator could be a sign that they are waiting for the Packers’ season to end; a Green Bay loss to Atlanta this weekend could be a blessing for the Cowboys.

Update: There are rumors that Fangio has followed Jim Harbaugh to San Francisco.