Detroit Lions add veteran coach Dom Capers; pieces lining up for 3-4 defense

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions are getting their young head coach and first-time defensive coordinator some experienced help.

The Lions added veteran coach Dom Capers to their staff Friday as a senior defensive assistant.

Capers, 70, has spent 34 years in the NFL in a variety of roles. He was head coach of the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and Houston Texans (2002-05), and spent nine seasons in the NFC North as defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers (2009-17).

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Capers worked as a senior defensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, and for the Minnesota Vikings this season.

The Lions have a relatively young staff, with Dan Campbell a full-time head coach for the first time in his career and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn having never called plays before.

Glenn, a former NFL cornerback, played three seasons for Capers in Houston.

Capers has long run a 3-4 defense, and his hire could be another clue to the type of scheme the Lions will play this fall.

Glenn has experience in both odd- and even-man fronts, but the Lions have hired an inside linebackers coach, Mark DeLeone from the Chicago Bears, and are expected to add an outside linebackers coach as well.

The Lions have some personnel in place for a 3-4 defense, including defensive end Trey Flowers, nose tackle John Penisini and linebacker Jamie Collins, after running a hybrid scheme for three seasons under Matt Patricia.

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Capers also had stints as defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins, after starting his coaching career in college and the USFL.

Campbell, a former NFL tight end who had a 12-game run as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins, has put together an impressive staff with a number of former players in key roles, some experience on both sides of the ball and two holdovers expected to stay on as assistants.

Former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn will call offensive plays, longtime Philadelphia Eagles assistant Dave Fipp is special teams coordinator, and ex-Eagles running back Duce Staley will coach running backs and serve as assistant head coach.

Hank Fraley (offensive line) and Ben Johnson (tight ends) are returning from Patricia’s staff, and the Lions added Mark Brunell to coach quarterbacks and Aubrey Pleasant to coach defensive backs.

They still need to hire a defensive line coach, outside linebackers coach and wide receivers coach.

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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