Steelers Coaching Fingerprints All Over Packers

Before Super Bowl XLIII, the talk was about former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm.

That story got tired pretty quickly, and the Cardinals haven't been the subject of positive conversation since then.

Similar talk is likely to hit the media in preparaion for Super Bowl XLV.

Ties to Pittsburgh and the Steelers are interlaced throughout the Packers current coaching staff. And obviously, they've done a pretty good job.

The most obvious, former Steelers defensive coordinator Dom Capers holds the same role with the Packers, and has turned what used to be a laughable defense into one of the league's best. In a transition from a 4-3 base to a 3-4, Capers took a defense that finished 22nd in scoring defense in 2008 to second in 2010, allowing just 15 points a game (behind Pittsburgh's 14.5).

Capers' secondary has been outstanding in two years there, guiding 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson to the best season of his career. The Packers have 54 interceptions in the last two years, the highest in the league.

Part of that outstanding turnaround in the secondary is due to safeties coach Darren Perry. You may remember him as the forgotten stud free safety of a dominant Steelers secondary from 1992 to 1998. Perry played with Rod Woodson, a Hall of Fame cornerback, and Carnell Lake, one of the more versatile defensive backs of his generation.

Perry did just fine, though, and currently sits as 7th all time in Steelers history with 32 career interceptions.

He hasn't been a bad coach, either. He helped Steelers SS Troy Polamalu craft his game as a young player in 2003 and 2004, and has a Super Bowl XL ring from 2005. That came a year after he worked with current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau when he was the head coach in Cincinnati (2002).

He left the Steelers when former coach Bill Cowher retired, joining the Raiders as the defensive backs coach. There, he mentored a young Nnamdi Asomugha into an All Pro player.

Packers SS Nick Collins advance to the Pro Bowl in both years he's been there (three overall for Collins).

Along with that, the outside linebackers have been coached by one of the more memorable Steelers players of the last two generations, Kevin Greene.

Arguably the best free agent signing in Steelers history, Greene was the catalyst for the dominant Steelers pass rush of the mid-90s, earning two Pro Bowl trips in his three years in Pittsburgh. He's passing that knowledge on to up and coming sack artist Clay Matthews, who has 23.5 sacks in two seasons under Greene.

Head coach Mike McCarthy isn't the only coach on the Packers staff who hails from Pittsburgh, either. Quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, also a former Steelers coach, is an alumnus of Canevin Catholic High School (incidentally, it's right down the road from where Cowher grew up), and was the Steelers quarterbacks coach under Cowher from 2001-03.

In his time with the Steelers, he fostered the growth of Kordell Stewart, and helped him to the Pro Bowl in 2001. He also took XFL standout Tommy Maddox from selling insurance to the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2002.

Even the Packers defensive quality control coach, Scott McCurley, is from Pittsburgh. A four-year letter-winning linebacker with the Panthers from 1999-02, he's been with the Packers since 2006, starting as an intern before moving up the ladder.

Many fans are probably still heartbroken over the Super Bowl XXX loss, which Perry and Greene played (Capers left that season to be the head coach with expansion Carolina, but still had developed those players).

It almost seems like the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh are in the Super Bowl every year. The question isn't how many, it's who is the best former Steelers player or coach currently with another team. Who's your choice?

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