Dom Capers returns to NFC North to bring 'fresh ideas' to Vikings' defense

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was already planning to make adjustments to his defensive staff toward the end of last season.

On a conference call Tuesday, Zimmer said he mulled over the idea of bringing in another defensive mind "that has a background in a lot of different things" as a way of improving his defense in the offseason.

That led Zimmer to hire Dom Capers this week as a senior defensive assistant.

After spending the 2019 season in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Capers returns to the NFC North, where he spent nine seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers and won a Super Bowl in 2010. In 25 seasons as a head coach or defensive coordinator, Capers was known for his 3-4 defense and led one of the NFL's most frequent blitzing teams in Green Bay.

Zimmer praised Capers' defensive concepts, including his expertise in generating pressure on quarterbacks, and sought to bring in the 69-year-old coach as an "idea guy," involving him in the overall defensive game plan.

"There's some things that he's done that intrigue me that I'd like to know more about," Zimmer said. "It's more about just having another set of eyes in there -- you see things -- and also being able to say, ‘Hey, we used to run this pressure, what do you think about this?' Or as we're putting the defensive package together, being able to discuss different things and go from there."

Zimmer said Capers' role will be similar to the one Gary Kubiak held last season as an adviser to the offense, in addition to Kubiak's title as an assistant head coach.

"We won't change defensively, terminology or really -- his role will be more of kind of an overseer, an idea person. Maybe the corners should play this way or maybe we should play defensive line a little differently," Zimmer said. "Just things like that, really. It's more of another guy, like a consultant that can come in and -- we've been running this defense for a long, long, long time and I just thought it'd be good to get some new, fresh ideas."

The Vikings recently made several changes to the coaching staff, including the promotion of linebackers coach Adam Zimmer and defensive line coach Andre Patterson to co-defensive coordinators.

Since he arrived in 2014, Mike Zimmer has been responsible for calling defensive plays. Whether that will change with two coordinators presiding over the defense along with their position groups is still to be determined.

"We're still in the process with all that," Mike Zimmer said. "We'll figure all that out as it goes. I can always call the plays. We'll just see how it goes in the spring. We've got a plan that we'll stick to, and we'll just see how it goes. If I feel like the best thing for the team is for me to call the defenses, I will, and if I feel like it's not, then I won't. We'll just kind of work through that process as we continue to move forward."