Bates Brings Aggressive Approach


Dec 15, 2004
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Lambeau Midwest
(Still a great article....)

New Defensive Coordinator Bates Brings Aggressive Approach

by Jeff Fedotin,
posted 06/29/2005

Jim Bates
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"Get off the spot!" "Get off the spot!"

No matter where you stood on Ray Nitschke Field, defensive coordinator Jim Bates' voice could be heard urging his linebackers to explode off the ball during organized team activities. The defensive coordinator would follow these commands by crouching down in a two-point stance, instructing his players the proper way to bend their knees.

"He has such a passion about what he's trying to do," defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said. "He's very hands on. Most coordinators I've had just sort of tell you what they want, but he can get down and show you exactly."

There's definitely a new sheriff in town on defense. Bates has made his presence known with a demanding style, trademarked by his active coaching technique, attention to detail and booming voice.

"That's the way I coach," Bates said. "I'm going to be after them and pat them on the back when they make plays and get after them when they don't."

He not only brings a high intensity to each practice but also has installed a new, attacking defense.

"There's a different attitude," linebacker Paris Lenon said. "It's a little more aggressive. It allows you to play fast."

And that's a good thing. The Packers know they must improve on last year's 25th-ranked defense if they want to repeat as NFC North champions in a division that features playmakers like the Vikings' Daunte Culpepper, the Lions' Roy Williams and the Bears' Muhsin Muhammad.

Bates has the credentials to upgrade the unit's performance. He served as the Dolphins' coordinator the last five years, and the defense never ranked below 10th in the league during that time. From 2000 to 2004, only four teams allowed less yardage.

Overlooked in Miami's disappointing 4-12 season last year was the fact that Bates led them to a respectable 3-4 record. He assumed interim head coaching duties after Dave Wannstedt resigned in Week 10.

Bates even led the Dolphins to a 29-28 win over the Super Bowl champion Patriots in Week 16, perhaps capitalizing on his familiarity with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. He served under Belichick with the Browns as linebackers coach in 1991, defensive ends coach from 1992 to 1993 and secondary coach in 1995.

The system Bates uses in Green Bay focuses on speedy linebackers.

"It's probably the hardest position to play within the scheme," he said.

In that aggressive scheme, big-bodied defensive tackles like Grady Jackson primarily occupy blockers, leaving athletic linebackers free to roam from sideline-to-sideline.

"It's designed for linebackers to run, to be able to flow and make plays," undrafted rookie linebacker Zac Woodfin said.

Bates wants the linebackers to make quick pre-snap reads, determining what the offensive players will be doing based on their formation. They will cover receivers closely, often using their bodies to impede the opponent's progress.

"It's asking for us to be a lot tighter in coverage -- even in zone coverage," Lenon said.

The new coach employs that same attacking style in the secondary. The defensive backs will primarily play man-to-man and shove the receivers with their hands, position their body to force them one way, or do anything else to bump the wide receivers off their route.

"The emphasis is on contact at the line," said Patrick Dendy, an undrafted rookie cornerback who impressed during training camp.

The Packers also hope to improve their pass defense, which ranked 25th in 2004, by getting more pressure on the quarterback. In Bates' defense, the defensive ends will line up wide and at an angle against offensive lineman instead of lining up directly over a tight end or offensive tackle.

"We have a little more freedom," said defensive end Aaron Kampman, who had 4.5 sacks last year. "Sometimes you have better leverage taking on a block. You can play a little faster because you don't have guys right on top of you right away."

Gbaja-Biamila said this scheme has containment responsibilities on the edge but involves fewer restrictions than last year's defense. He likes lining up at an angle toward the offensive line, something that will help the defensive ends against both the run and the pass.

"It will allow me to be all over the field," he said. "I can chase a play from the backside or tail off on the backside and make a play down the field."

Bates said he has already installed 85 percent of the plays, and despite the changes implemented in this defense, the players said the system is not difficult to understand.

"It's more complicated from the standpoint that it's totally new," Kampman said. "I don't think it's more complicated than anything we've ran before."

Lenon knew a new coordinator would install a new defense. So when he heard of Bates' hiring, he contacted friends around the league. All spoke highly of their former coach and mentioned his zeal for the game.

"I talked to people and heard the Dolphins' players really like him," he said. "I was expecting energy but not somebody to run around like he does."

That high-energy coaching style has left Bates open to imitation.

"I'm still studying him," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I've just noticed he has a unique posture and way of doing things. It's more out of admiration."

Gbaja-Biamila expects to have his impression honed by training camp - just about when the defense should have mastered the new defense.


I am so hyped.... I can't wait!


Jul 17, 2005
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Here's another good article on Bates

The bottom line is that Bates needs to get these guys to create turnovers. The Pack was -14 in that category last year.


Bates key to Packers' D

By Bob Fox , [email protected]
Date: Jul 12, 2005

Bart Starr won five NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana each won four Super Bowls. Tom Brady has already has won three Super Bowls, as did Troy Aikman.

What do these quarterbacks have in common besides being cool under pressure in big games? The answer is that their teams had outstanding, if not dominating defenses.

Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl. Do you recall any of the teams he played on having powerful defenses? That takes us to Brett Favre. In 1996, the Packers had the best defense in the NFL. Guess what? They won the Super Bowl. In the Favre era, the Packers have had some teams with solid defenses, but nothing as dominating as that 1996 crew. The 1997 Packer team had a good, but not great defense. The Packers scored 24 points in Super Bowl XXXII. 24 points will usually win a Super Bowl. However, the Packer defense allowed the Broncos 31 points and the Packers lost.

As the Packers approach the 2005 season, Favre's window of getting back to the Super Bowl is shrinking. The team definitely has the offensive weapons to get to the big dance, but the defense looks a lot like Wisconsin swiss cheese. Lots of holes. Head coach Mike Sherman brought in former Dolphins defensive coordinator Jim Bates to run the defense in Green Bay. Bates has an outstanding track record. His Miami teams were regularly a top ten defense in his tenure there. The Packers will need that this year if they realistically want to get to Detroit for the Super Bowl.

Bates' task is daunting. The defensive line has many questions. At defensive end, Bates needs to find a steady pass rushing threat to go with DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. DE Aaron Kampman plays the run very solidly, but the Packers would like to see his pash rush improve. At defensive tackle, there is major concern. DT Cletidus Hunt has yet to prove he was worth the big money the Packers gave him a couple of years back. Hunt's work ethic is very questionable, but it appears that Bates will give him one final chance to succeed in Green Bay. Hunt may even see some time at DE to help the pass rush. Massive DT Grady Jackson is threatening a hold out as he just hired the infamous Drew Rosenhaus to be his agent. The Packers need both Hunt and Jackson focused and motivated for any success this year. Bates has plenty of young potential on the defensive line to push the veterans. Cullen Jenkins, Corey Williams, James Lee, Donnell Washington, Kenny Peterson and others will need to elevate their game to help make Bates' scheme work.

At linebacker the Packers also have many questions. MLB Nick Barnett makes a ton of tackles, but he often is out of position in pass coverage and needs to be more consistent. The OLBs just need to start making plays. OLB Na'il Diggs and OLB Hannibal Navies combined for 1.5 sacks, 0 interceptions and 0 forced fumbles or recovered fumbles in 2004. That is unacceptable in Bates' defense. OLB Raynoch Thompson was brought in to push Navies at his position. Thompson appears to have the edge at this point. Paris Lenon brings depth and special teams expertise, while the Packers are really excited about rookie OLB Brady Poppinga, who can also rush the passer.

The defensive backfield was atrocious in 2004. Gone is S Darren Sharper. The Packers will miss Sharper's ability to make a big play. They won't miss his ability to give up a big play. The safety position is wide open for competiton. Bates brought S Arturo Freeman with him from Miami. Freeman knows Bates' scheme and that would appear to make him a front runner as one of the starters. The Packers also brought in free agent S Earl Little to compete. The team also has S Mark Roman back from last year. Roman missed too many tackles, but Bates has wiped the slate clean for any of the DBs in 2005. Green Bay also has two rookies that will vie for playing time, if not a starter's job. Nick Collins and Marviel Underwood both are fast, hard hitting players that seem to have a nose for the football. At CB, the Packers bring back one very solid player in Al Harris. Harris doesn't have great speed, but has excellent technique. The other CB job is wide open. CB Ahmad Carroll commits too many penalties because of holding problems. CB Joey Thomas appears to have moved ahead of Carroll on the depth chart because of this issue. The Packers like CB Jason Horton and are also very excited about rookie CB Michael Hawkins, who is very raw, but also very talented and quick.

The bottom line is that Bates will have his hands full this year as he tries to improve the Packer defense. Bates has a non-stop motor and that will hopefully motivate his players into making the next step in their NFL careers. The Packers were somewhat quiet on the free agency market this year as they brought in a few modestly priced players. The biggest prize in free agency this year might just be the hiring of Bates. For Favre to see another Super Bowl, the Packers will need Bates to do his magic. The job will be difficult. But Bates seems ready for the challenge with his steady optimism. Time will tell, but if Bates can turn around the play of this squad, the results could be Super.



Mar 8, 2005
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An agressive D is more fun to watch and root for - if it works. Slowit tried to play aggressive and all that happened is the opponent scored aggressively. I don't care what kind of D we have at this point, I just want one that works.


Jun 5, 2005
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To play aggressive defense effectively, you have to have talented players. I'm not sure we have enough of those. But I also believe that you can't be a great defense without being aggressive. Players need to know their assignments and be able to execute. The biggest problem with the defense last year was missed assignments and poor tackling and those are two areas that can be fixed with good coaching. I expect Bates will make a difference, how much is yet to be seen.