Mike McCarthy thinks Dom Capers has the hardest job on his coaching staff.
Not because a segment -- even if it's a small but vocal one -- of Green Bay Packers' fans love to gripe about the veteran defensive coordinator's scheme and play calling.
"Well, I'm really not aware [of that] at the level obviously that you are," McCarthy told reporters Wednesday during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings in Orlando, Fla.
No, the Packers coach thinks Capers' job is difficult for other reasons.
"Dom Capers has the toughest job on our staff; I can tell you that from experience," McCarthy said. "Anytime you're a coordinator for a head coach that is predominantly on the other side of the ball, there's a lot of responsibility there. His responsibility with his assistant coaches is a lot higher than with the offensive coordinator, and obviously his background of being a head coach was a big part of why we went that direction. You know, he has a lot of responsibility, and I'm very in tune with the way he goes about it."
Questioning Capers' future in Green Bay has become something of an annual rite ever since his defense finished last in the NFL in 2011, the season after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. But McCarthy's support of the 63-year-old Capers, who is believed to be one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL with an annual salary of around $2 million, has never wavered.
"He's definitely the right man for the job," McCarthy said.
Capers' defense rebounded to finish 11th in 2012 before plummeting to the bottom third of the league last season. In his first two seasons with the Packers (2009 and 2010), his defenses ranked second and fifth, respectively.
Capers said during an interview last month at the NFL scouting combine that the Packers' defense can get back to that level.
"Yeah, I always believe that," Capers said. "If you've been doing this as long as I have, you believe it. What we did the first year when we came in, I think it's just a matter of getting a group and figuring out what they can do the best and adapting what they do to what we do best."
That's what McCarthy and Capers have spent the better part of their offseason meeting time doing. McCarthy, who has admitted to taking on a larger role in the defense this offseason, characterized those initial meetings after the season as difficult.
"Our conversation was harder than other years, a lot of hard topics that we had to talk about," McCarthy said. "But as far as approach and belief and how we go about it, I never questioned the direction we were moving forward. So we spent the time, diligently, going over all the things we need to improve on, and I think we've made excellent steps so far with building our 2014 defense -- schematically and now with some player addition -- and I'm sure now the draft will bring even more pieces to the puzzle. I'm excited about a number of things that will change, and I know the players will be excited about it when they get back."