Bates Revered In Green BayJanuary 23rd, 2009
By BOB FOX
JoeBucsFan.com analyst Bob Fox takes a look at Jim Bates’ success as defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. Fox writes for numerous sports publications.
Jim Bates is a guy who gets the most out of his players. Bates proved that in Miami where he led one of the best defenses in the NFL and also in Green Bay where he turned around a defense ranked near the bottom and made them one ranked near the top.
Can he do the same in Tampa Bay? It will be difficult because of the legacy of Monte Kiffin. But the 2008 Bucs defense was not the same late in the season, especially defending the run. I bet Bates will figure out how to improve the defense, based on his track record, especially looking at the job he did in Green Bay in 2005. After that season, many in the Packers organization were calling for Bates to be named head coach.
The Packers finished 4-12 in 2005, but it wasn’t the fault of Bates. A very bad year by Brett Favre, who threw 29 interceptions, plus the loss of key free agents and key injuries doomed the Packers. Bates established a defense that year that was a major improvement over the defense of 2004.
A little history:
In 2004, former Packers coach and GM Mke Sherman then brought in Bob Slowik to be the defensive coordinator on the heels of two consecutive NFC North titles but a major collapse in the 2003 playoffs; the Eagles beat the Packers 20-17 in overtime thanks to converting a famous 4th-and-26 play late in the game. That loss cost Ed Donatell his job as defensive coordinator. Somebody needed to be a scapegoat after that, and it wasn’t going to be Sherman.
The Packers still won the NFC North in 2004, but the defense was torn to shred at times, especially in the passing game. The Packers were 25th in total defense that year in the NFL, as well as 25th in passing defense. Slowik was shown the door after the 2004 season.
Bates then took command in 2005, and he also brought a couple of defensive assistants with him from Miami, Bob Sanders and Robert Nunn. Bates had the defense ready to play EVERY week. The defense improved to 7th overall in total defense, including being No. 1 against the pass.
Ted Thompson took over as Packers GM in 2005 and after the season he decided to make a change at head coach. Bates was one of the favorites for the job. The players absolutely loved him and his high energy, and most players (including Brett Favre) lobbied on his behalf to Thompson. Thompson also interviewed coaches Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Wade Phillips, Maurice Carthon, Ron Rivera, Russ Grimm and Tim Lewis.
McCarthy got the job, and Bates was stung by not being named head coach. There had been strong speculation that he would be named head coach, and when he wasn’t, it hurt a lot. McCarthy thought so highly of Bates, that he wanted him to remain. But Bates decided to move on, although he still kept a home in the Green Bay area.
McCarthy ended up hiring Bob Sanders, one of Bates’ good friends that he brought to Green Bay from the Dolphins.
Bates in the NFL: Bates started his NFL coaching career with the Cleveland Browns (1991-1993 and 1995) as a defensive line coach. Bates moved on to the Atlanta Falcons as defensive coordinator (1994), the Dallas Cowboys as linebackers/defensive line coach (1996-1999), the Miami Dolphins as defensive coordinator/interim head coach (2000-2004), the Green Bay Packers as defensive coordinator (2005) and then as the assistant head coach/defense for the Denver Broncos (2007).