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New Defensive Coaching Staff Shaping up (01/28/2009)
By Dave DeLano

Mike McCarthy added another high profile coach to his new defensive brain trust this past week by hiring Mike Trgovac as the Packers’ defensive line coach. Trgovac has been the Defensive Coordinator for the Carolina Panthers for the past six years during which time the Panthers boasted pretty stout defensive units. Seemingly a demotion for Trgovac, he publicly stated he wanted to get a fresh start in Green Bay, but apparently he was miffed that Carolina delayed their offer to extend his contract to continue as Defensive Coordinator.

At any rate, Cheeseheads should loudly applaud this move. The Packers are getting another highly-regarded, experienced defensive coach to assist new Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers deal with an area that was a huge problem for the Green and Gold last year. Trgovac also brings to Green Bay an intriguing working relationship with the Panthers’ star defensive end, Julius Peppers. Like Trgovac, Peppers wants out of Carolina and will become an unrestricted free agent in another month. According to reports, the relationship between Peppers and Trgovac was quite positive, which has fueled speculation that Peppers just might follow Trgovac to Titletown.

The Packers’ interest in free agency players has been all across the board. The signing of Reggie White in 1993 was likely the best free agency signing in the history of pro football, while the signing of Joe Johnson during the Mike Sherman era was one of the worst. Since Ted Thompson became Packer General Manager his free agency signings have been few, with the best being Charles Woodson in 2006. The Packers have a lot of money under the salary cap limit and Thompson has been harshly criticized, especially this past year, for not being more free agency proactive. The Packers’ recent investments in elite defensive coaches seem to signal that there might be investments in elite defensive players as well. Perhaps.

Peppers is no Reggie White, but he is a very, very good football player. At 29 he is in the prime of his career. His outstanding talents seemingly would blend beautifully with the type of hybrid pass rushing linebacker-lineman that the Packers will be looking for as they convert to the 3 – 4 defensive schemes. The Panthers will likely invoke their franchise tag on Peppers next month. That means that Thompson would then have to work out a trade and a new contract, both of which would be very pricey. If it were to happen, however, Peppers would give immediate help to a unit desperately in search of such.

The Packers may go another direction by concentrating on defensive talent in the collegiate draft in April. Thompson and staff are now evaluating the talent on that front. As it stands, the Packers will select the ninth player chosen and they should be able to get a very good starting-caliber player with a draft class stacked with talent.

The draft has long been one of my favorite things to look forward to and this year will be no exception. I’ll have some thoughts on the 2008 collegiate draft in next week’s column.

Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?

Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season. 


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