Trgovac Excited About Return To Green Bay

(Continuing the profiles of some of the new members of the team's coaching staff, today's feature is on defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.)

When Mike Trgovac decided he wanted to coach a position after running the Carolina Panthers' defense for the last six seasons, he had a couple of options for his next job, but two aspects of the defensive line coach opening with the Packers made it the most appealing.

One was the opportunity to coach again with Head Coach Mike McCarthy, after the pair had worked together on Green Bay's staff in 1999 under Ray Rhodes -- Trgovac as defensive line coach and McCarthy as quarterbacks coach.

The other was the chance to work with longtime NFL coach Dom Capers, who was hired in mid-January to run Green Bay's defense.

"I knew Mike, and when I decided to make that decision he called me up and wanted to know if I was interested," Trgovac said. "I had talked to some other people, and I knew Mike from working with him here in the past. There is really nothing more than that into it. I just wanted to get a fresh start, and this was a perfect opportunity for me to get with Mike, who I respect a lot, and I've always wanted to work with Dom."

That feeling was mutual with Capers.

"Mike is a guy that I have held in high esteem as a defensive coach for a lot of years," Capers said. "As a head coach, I had Mike on my list and just was never able to get him because he was under contract."

Trgovac, who brings 14 years of coaching experience in the NFL and 11 at the college level, spent the past seven seasons (2002-08) with the Panthers, the last six as their defensive coordinator. During his tenure running the defense, Carolina finished in the top 10 in overall defense three times, including the 2003 campaign (No. 8 overall) when the Panthers advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Carolina won the NFC South in 2008 with a 12-4 record, good for the No. 2 seed in the NFC as they earned a first-round bye before losing to eventual NFC champion Arizona in the Divisional round. Despite being offered an extension to stay on as the team's defensive coordinator, Trgovac made the decision to take a step back and coach the defensive line with the Packers.

While it may have looked like an unusual move to some, Trgovac felt he needed to make a change.

"My goal is to someday be a coordinator again," Trgovac said. "I don't want to want to do that right now. One of the things that my wife said to me, if you work for a defensive head coach it is a little bit harder than when you work for an offensive head coach. She said, 'You haven't seemed happy the last year.'

"When she said that to me, it just made me realize that my kids are growing up and maybe I was taking my work home with me. That's why I wanted to just take a step back and coach a position again. That's one of the things you miss as a coordinator, just the day-to-day interaction that you have with one specific position group. I wanted to get back into that again."

Trgovac's line will be making the transition to Capers' 3-4 scheme from the 4-3 one that has been in place. Like all of the defensive coaches, Trgovac is in the very early stages of evaluating personnel to determine where players can contribute best.

"You look at which guy you want on the left side, which guy you want on the right side, who you want in the middle," Trgovac said. "You play maybe a bigger guy on the left side than you do on the right side. There are guys that feel much more comfortable just rushing from the left side.

"I've had defensive ends that don't care which side they line up on. You've kind of got to talk to the players, look at the tape, and see if there is a problem with that."

With McCarthy saying last week that Aaron Kampman will line up at outside linebacker in the Packers' base defense, Trgovac's line group will include veterans like Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins.

One of the key positions in the 3-4 front is the nose tackle spot, where stoutness against the run and the ability to tie up blockers is key. Having played in the scheme himself as a defensive lineman at the University of Michigan in the 1970s, Trgovac said the transition is one that can be made for someone like Pickett.

{sportsad300}"We're going to find out, but that is a very key position in this defense," Trgovac said. "Knowing the techniques that Dom has played in the past, he's played a lot of them. He has played a lot of these techniques. I can't answer that right now, but (Pickett) is going to get a great shot at it.

"I have played in this defense. I know these techniques. It's really not as different as everybody makes it out to be. A three technique is a three technique. A four is a four. It's just different people coming from different angles when you do it."

Like many of the other new assistants, Trgovac emphasized the importance of staying flexible enough with the system to highlight players' strengths.

"(Capers) has taken two expansion teams," Trgovac said. "When you do that, you are starting from scratch. He has also been a guy that has gone to places and has done this before, put in a new defense. You always have to have the ability to adapt to what your personnel can do best."

Although it is too early to know which players he will be working with come next fall, Trgovac said effort and fundamentals will be critical to the front's success.

"The number one thing is that they play hard, play their responsibilities," Trgovac said. "We're going to be guys that are very fundamentally sound. I don't think particularly up front that you have to outthink your opponent. You have to outplay your opponent with great fundamentals.

"(Former NFL head coach) Marty Schottenheimer, one of the greatest quotes he had was if you have two evenly matched players, which you do a lot in this league...the player with the better fundamentals is going to win. That's one of the things, when I left college I said I'm never going to lose as a pro coach is the teaching aspect of the fundamentals."

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