GREEN BAY, Wis. -- What do a once-struggling kicker and a defensive coordinator who has been a punching bag for the Green Bay Packers' fan base have in common?
Coach Mike McCarthy has stuck with both of them.
In the case of Mason Crosby, his slump of 2012 didn’t cost him his job, and he’s turned into one of the most reliable kickers ever since.
McCarthy appears to have applied that same line of thinking with Dom Capers, the 66-year-old who is returning for his ninth season in charge of the Packers' defense despite coaching a unit that ranked 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season and had another playoff meltdown.
“Well, going back to the Mason Crosby comment, and obviously applying that to the question about Dom, I think it’s important to recognize, as for answering your question about it being easy to make that change, it would give everybody a breath of fresh air,” McCarthy said during an interview that aired Thursday on ESPN Milwaukee.
“I think all of us in life have always gone through experiences in our past that you may have quit on something just to get that fresh, new start, and it feels good, but in hindsight it was not the best thing for you. I know I have personally. So I’ve always held true to that in my decision-making process.”
McCarthy faced questions about Capers’ future in the days after the Packers’ 44-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game this past January. But if McCarthy didn’t make a change after the 2014 NFC title game loss at Seattle or the overtime playoff loss at Arizona in 2015, then why would he have done so this time around after a year in which injuries ravaged the cornerback position?
“You’ve got to make right decisions,” McCarthy said in the radio interview. “Results don’t always prove to be the answer to the right decision. It’s no different than the way we view plays, and this is a conversation Dom and I have all the time. … To me, it’s the team, because you have to be realistic. Every team is different. Some teams have different strengths and weaknesses and it depends on the time of year. That’s why you have to be realistic about your approach.”
The only major change on McCarthy’s coaching staff after last season came on the offensive side, where former quarterbacks coach and coordinator Tom Clements left the team. All of Capers’ position coaches returned.
General manager Ted Thompson gave Capers another infusion of talent in the draft, when he used his first four picks -- cornerback Kevin King (second round), safety Josh Jones (second round), defensive tackle Montravius Adams (third round) and outside linebacker Vince Biegel (fourth round) -- on that side of the ball. It was the sixth straight year Thompson has gone with defense with his first pick.
“I think it’s impossible to win without a process,” McCarthy said. “We’re not throwing money into a hat and trying to buy a lottery ticket here. You have to go through the process and the steps to get things right. And it’s no different with our defense. Will we be better than last year? Last year is a comparable. But the reality of who we play, when we play them, how we play them, who’s healthy and so forth, I mean, you never make excuses for the health of your football team, but it’s a pretty important variable in being successful.”