Bates is first in line

Former Miami Dolphins coach Jim Bates reportedly is the top candidate to replace Bob Slowik as defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. Coach Mike Sherman has yet to publicly decide Slowik's fate for the upcoming season, but The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Bates is the leading candidate to become the Packers' new defensive coordinator.<p>

Slowik has been under fire after the Packers finished 25th in the league in defense last year, down from 17th in 2003.

The man who replaced Slowik at defensive backs coach, Kurt Schottenheimer, reportedly has been fired, though the Packers have not made such an announcement. Slowik and Schotteneheimer were listed in their current posts on the Packers' Web site.

No news was forthcoming on the reported changes, according to Packers spokesman Jeff Blumb, who told The Associated Press, "to this point, I've gotten no indication that we'll being hiring a new defensive coordinator."

There is speculation Slowik will be moved back to defensive backs coach, where he served under Sherman from 2000-03 before being promoted to replace Ed Donatell at the end of last season.

Sherman also is seeking a replacement for defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, who left to take the same job at the University of Southern California.

Miami's defense under Bates in 2004 was ranked eighth in the league (second against the pass and 31st against the rush). The Dolphins forced 25 turnovers and ranked 23rd in the NFL overall in that category. The Packers finished with a franchise-low 15 forced turnovers.

Bates, 58, concluded last season as Dolphins interim coach, taking over for Dave Wannstedt. He took over a 1-8 team and steered it to a 3-4 finish, including a victory over the AFC champion New England Patriots. Miami's defenses have ranked among the best in the league in the last four seasons. In 2003, the Dolphins did not allow an individual to gain 100 yards rushing. In 2002, the Dolphins ranked No. 3 in total defense in the NFL. In '01, the Dolphins led the league in pass defense.

Contacted by the Sun-Sentinel, Bates said only: "There have been a lot of things going on in the past week that I'm not free to talk about. I wish I could tell you, but I can't."

Bates recently interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns, but it appears that the Browns will head into next season behind Romeo Crennel, the New England Patriots' defensive coordinator. Crennel is expected to be named head coach of the Browns after the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If Crennel gets the Browns job, he likely will hire Terry Robiskie as offensive coordinator and Pepper Johnson as defensive coordinator, the Plain Dealer reported.

The Dolphins hired Louisiana State University coach Nick Saban earlier this month to lead the Dolphins. Bates decided not to join Saban's staff and has been seeking a job as an NFL head coach since.

Before joining Wannstedt in Miami in 2000, Bates was an assistant coach in Dallas from 1996-'99, serving the last two seasons as assistant head coach/defensive line. He was also defensive coordinator in Atlanta in 1994. Bates also has coached linebackers and defensive line in the NFL.

Ray Sherman denied

The Dolphins hired former Packers assistant coach Charlie Baggett instead of Ray Sherman to coach the wide receivers, according to reports. Sherman, who has coached Green Bay's wide receivers since 2000, interviewed with Saban last week.

Former Dolphins wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan agreed to become the receivers coach in San Francisco, and Miami hired Baggett, who coached Green Bay's receivers in 1999. Baggett has been Minnesota's wide receivers coach since 2000.

Sherman has coached in the NFL for 17 seasons with seven different teams, beginning with the Houston Oilers in 1988. He has been a receivers coach or offensive coordinator for 12 seasons, and a running backs coach for five seasons.

Sherman's contract with the Packers expired after the 2004 season.


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