GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers’ defensive staff is not yet complete, but it’s getting closer. And it will include one of the three coaches initially dismissed when defensive coordinator Dom Capers was fired after the season.
ESPN.com reported Friday that Scott McCurley, who coached inside linebackers as the assistant linebackers coach the past four seasons and has been on the Packers’ staff for the last 12 years, is among the coaches returning to the staff despite being let go after the team’s season-ending loss at Detroit on Dec. 31.
A league source confirmed McCurley, who started his Packers tenure in April 2006 as a coaching administrative intern, was promoted to coaching administrator in 2007, and was promoted again to defensive quality control coach in 2009, is coming back, though it’s unclear exactly what McCurley’s role and title will be. McCurley was elevated to assistant linebackers coach in 2014.
Capers, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and McCurley were all let go after the season. Packers coach Mike McCarthy tabbed ex-Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine to be his new defensive coordinator, though McCarthy is holding off on any announcements about his staff until all the coaches are in place.
Trgovac accepted a job Thursday to coach the Oakland Raiders’ defensive line. Capers, 67, indicated at the end of the season he wanted to continue coaching but has not surfaced with another team as of yet.
McCurley’s return -- evidently in a different role -- is part of a remaking of the defensive staff which includes cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt being given a new title and greater responsibilities. Whitt, safeties coach Darren Perry and linebackers coach Winston Moss were the three in-house candidates who interviewed for the coordinator job that went to Pettine.
Two league sources said McCarthy was seeking a coordinator with previous experience, which certainly helped Pettine, who coordinated the New York Jets (2009 through 2012) and Buffalo Bills (2013) defenses before becoming the Browns coach.
With Whitt’s promotion, the Packers reportedly are moving assistant special teams coach Jason Simmons to the defensive side of the ball. Simmons, a former NFL cornerback and special teams standout with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans, could easily fill Whitt’s role as cornerbacks coach while Whitt handles his increased responsibilities overseeing the pass defense as a whole.
The Charleston (S.C) Post and Courier, meanwhile, reported Maurice Drayton will fill Simmons’ old position as the assistant special teams coach under coordinator Ron Zook. Drayton, a former player and assistant coach at The Citadel (which is located in Charleston), spent the past two seasons as the assistant special teams coach for the Indianapolis Colts.
Drayton would be the third ex-Colts staffer set to join the Packers, along with offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who was the Colts’ offensive line coach and assistant head coach, and wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who held that same role with the Colts. Philbin was the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2007 through 2011 before becoming the Miami Dolphins’ head coach.
It's unclear whether Perry or Moss will be back on the defensive staff or not. Two league sources said earlier this month Moss was not expected to be retained, and another league source said earlier this week Perry might return because McCarthy is very fond of him and his coaching ability.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week the team was hiring Patrick Graham to coach linebackers or the defensive line, but his role has not been clarified, either. That would mean that at least one of the defensive line coaching spots or one of the linebacker coaching positions would still need to be filled.