In the past 25 seasons, the Packers’ best season defensively, arguably, was in 2005 under Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates.
“In his first year as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, Bates engineered a modest turnaround after Green Bay was ranked 25th in defense in 2004 and coping with the loss of veteran safety Darren Sharper to free agency. Despite injuries to key players, the Packers under Bates allowed an average of 293.1 yards per game, seventh-best in the league.”
Coach McCarthy unfortunately was not able to retain the jilted Bates as Defensive Coordinator.
“It’s my job as head coach to find the best person who fits in the coaching staff,” McCarthy said. “I was hopeful it would work (with Bates) but it’s not there. It’s not a negative — it’s two people being mature about the situation.”
It’s unfortunate that McCarthy and Bates were not able to work together back in 2006. Even though Dom Capers was able to put together enough of a defense to get us a Super Bowl win, I can’t help but wonder if a Bates-led defense would have been even better.
Now that it appears that current Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers’ job is in question, if he should be let go during or after this season, I wonder if McCarthy would be willing to extend an olive branch to Bates one more time.
Prior to Dom Capers’ hiring in Green Bay, he had been a head coach. When that didn’t work out, he went back to what he was most successful at, coaching a defense. When Matt Flynn tested the market and tried to become a starting QB with several teams and that didn’t work out, he came back to Green Bay to what he did best, back up starting QB Aaron Rodgers.
Since we last saw Bates with the Green Bay Packers, he has gone on to coach with several different teams including the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he met with limited success. Why not return to Green Bay where he has had success previously?
One obstacle is that since Bates’ departure, the defense has been reformed into a 3-4 scheme. Bates coached a 4-3 in 2005, and changing back to a 4-3 would mean a certain franchise player in Clay Matthews would likely be displaced. Another (and perhaps one that cannot be overcome) is that the man that was given the head coaching position over Bates is still with the team. And the GM who passed on him for that position is still in charge.
Realistically, I’m sure this would never happen. But if the stars should align, I think Bates would be an interesting candidate to consider.