Analysis: Slowik deserves chance

'Thumbs down!' The first caller through on a Green Bay radio station minutes after a press conference was held to announce the hiring of Bob Slowik Wednesday clearly voiced his opinion on Mike Sherman's coaching decision. Others followed with similar opinions, though, some gave Slowik a 'thumbs up.' Whether you agree or disagree with Sherman's decision, promoting a coach from within the staff was the only way he could go to fill the Packers defensive coordinator's position.<p>

While Bears and Browns fans may be chuckling at Sherman's decision to go with Slowik, the fact is he has learned from his past experiences which should make him a better coordinator this time around. Plus, he takes over a defense that he has helped coach for the past four seasons. He knows the Packers' one-gap scheme, which will not change that much, and he knows where the defense needs the most help.

"I know the players and they already know the terminology that will remain the same," Slowik said. "Just knowing the players is the biggest benefit. You don't have to come in for a week, or two weeks just trying to learn what kind of talent you have to work with. For the most part, we know the kind of talent we have to work with and where we're going to go with that talent."

The situation now for Slowik is totally different than when he began in Chicago and Cleveland. When Slowik was named defensive coordinator by Dave Wannstedt with the Bears in 1993, Chicago was coming off the end of the Mike Ditka era and the retirement of linebacker Mike Singletary. The Bears had back-to-back winning seasons in 1994 and 1995, but stumbled from there. Slowik never had a Pro Bowler on the Bears defense to build around. In 1999, he took over as defensive coordinator for the expansion Browns, which was a nightmare.

"You have all new players. You don't even have a nucleus of players that you can tap in to and know your system," Slowik said. "You're usually a little bit undertalented in that regard. You've got to find and figure out ways to overcome that. ... It's a difficult task, but it also allowed me an opportunity to grow because you have to find creative ways to stay in the game, to try to win a game. Not a number of games, just a game."

Slowik joined Sherman's staff as defensive backs coach in 2000 and has slowly climbed the coaching ladder. He was promoted to assistant head coach last year and it's easy to see why. While most coaches and players race off the field at the close of practices, Slowik often will remain to "coach up" younger players. Remember when Le Roy Butler suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2001? It was Slowik who was responsible in a very short period of time for getting then-rookie Bhawoh Jue ready to step in and start for Butler for the remainder of the season.

From watching Slowik during in practices, it seems he has the respect and attention of his players. Now, it will be up to him to gain the respect of Packers fans who no doubt feel that he will not be any different than Ed Donatell. But the difference between Slowik and Donatell will come in calling the defensive alignments during games. With his past experience calling the shots and his knowledge of the current defensive personnel, Slowik is in a position to succeed as Green Bay's defensive coordinator. Donatell came to Green Bay as a novice defensive coordinator, and he was quickly signed by the Atlanta Falcons less than two days after he was fired by Sherman.

Remember, the Packers defense improved greatly over the second half of last season, especially against the run. With a few new additions in the defensive backfield and defensive line, the Packers should be able to finish off opponents in crunch time a little better than they did last year.

If Sherman would have gone with a coach from outside of his current regime, it probably would have meant a number of changes with assistant coaches, scheme and player personnel. With Brett Favre nearing the end of his career, the Packers cannot afford to do that at this time.

"I don't want to just blow up our defense and start over again," Sherman said. "I think there are some things that we do well. I think the players understand what we want to get done."

Slowik understands, too. That's why Sherman's decision to promote Slowik deserves a 'thumbs up' in this corner.

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report. You can contact him at

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