GREEN BAY — If Mike McCarthy is going to hire an outside candidate to be the Green Bay Packers’ next defensive coordinator, the coach might have to turn on the charm and show what an effective salesman he can be.
An NFL source confirmed McCarthy is interested in ex-Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley for his vacant post, but both men are drawing interest from other teams — meaning McCarthy will likely have to woo them with strong financial offers and an appealing situation.
Fangio interviewed last week for the Bears’ head-coaching position that went to ex-Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Reports out of Chicago are that while Fangio didn’t get the job, the Bears want to keep him as their defensive coordinator. But Fangio, who has coordinated five top-10 defenses in the past seven years, figures to have interest beyond the Bears and Packers. Fangio became a free agent on Tuesday.
Fangio’s unit finished ninth in the NFL in scoring defense (20.0 points per game) and 10th in total defense (319.1 yards per game).
Meanwhile, ESPN reported Tuesday the Packers have asked for permission to interview Bradley, the ex-Jacksonville Jaguars head coach whose contract with the Chargers expired. Technically, because he is a free agent like Fangio, the Packers didn’t have to ask the Chargers’ permission to talk to Bradley, but Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has made it clear he wants Bradley to return.
Bradley, who was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2009 through 2012 before getting the Jacksonville job, also has drawn the Seahawks’ interest. The Seahawks’ current defensive coordinator, Kris Richard, is under contract, but he interviewed for the Indianapolis Colts’ head-coaching job last week and the Seahawks could bring Bradley back in a senior defensive assistant role if he’s interested and keep Richard as coordinator.
Bradley’s Chargers defense finished third in the NFL in scoring defense (17.0 points per game) and 15th in total defense (328.4 yards per game).
McCarthy has finished interviewing the team’s three internal candidates for the defensive coordinator job — cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt, safeties coach Darren Perry and linebackers coach Winston Moss — and reportedly began talking to external candidates on Tuesday. According to an ESPN report, McCarthy was set to start his external interviews with ex-Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, who worked under Rex Ryan for much of his career as an assistant, serving as New York Jets defensive coordinator from 2009 through 2012 and Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator in 2013.
McCarthy made it clear when he spoke with reporters last week he would interview both internal and external candidates to replace veteran defensive coordinator Dom Capers, whom he fired after nine seasons.
The Packers finished the season 26th in scoring defense (24.0) and 22nd in yards allowed (348.9). They were 17th against the run (112.1), 23rd against the pass (236.8), 28th in third-down defense (allowing a 42.8 percent conversion rate) and 31st in red-zone defense (allowing a 65.2 percent touchdown rate).
“Each and every year, you look for changes, adjustments, and things you need to continue to emphasize, an opportunity to grow,” McCarthy said. “It’s important to set the course, set the vision, the path to win the next world championship. That’s the same focus I have each and every year. You always look first internally, (to see if) you feel you that you can accomplish that. This year, which is out of the norm over the way we’ve operated particularly the last nine years, we will be adding external resources.”
Wolf visits Browns
A league source confirmed an ESPN report that Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf interviewed Tuesday with Browns general manager John Dorsey, his former colleague in Green Bay. Last week, Dorsey added another ex-Packers personnel executive when he lured Alonzo Highsmith to Cleveland.
ESPN reported Wolf also has an offer to join the Oakland Raiders’ personnel department. Ex-Packers scouting executive Reggie McKenzie is the general manager of the Raiders, who announced coach Jon Gruden’s hiring Tuesday. Ron Wolf was a longtime personnel man for late Raiders owner Al Davis.
New Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, who like Dorsey is one of Wolf’s good friends, said upon his introduction Monday that he wanted to keep Wolf as his “right-hand man.”
But after being passed over for the GM job and blocked from interviewing for other jobs by departed GM Ted Thompson at least twice in past years, Wolf may decide he needs a fresh start elsewhere rather than returning to Green Bay, where his father, Ron, restored the Packers to prominence in the 1990s — leading to his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame two years ago.Gutekunst said Monday that he’d like to get a decision from Eliot Wolf, who is under contract with the Packers, sooner rather than later but that while he would not block him from opportunities elsewhere. That said, Gutekunst emphasized that he wanted his friend to remain in Green Bay as he rebuilds a Packers roster with obvious holes.
“I sure want him to be part of this,” Gutekunst said. “I think the world of Eliot Wolf, not only as a scout but he’s also very close to me as a friend. So yeah, he obviously has other opportunities if he wants them. That’s kind of between me and Eliot. But I’m very hopeful that he’ll be here.”