Bates Q&A

Here are some of defensive coordinator Jim Bates' responses to questions by the Wisconsin media on Jan. 24:<p>

Opening statement to media:

"First off, I'm excited about being a Packer. I grew up in Michigan. A big Detroit Lions fan. Back in the '50's and '60's, I used to follow Packers and Lions games with a lot of attention. I've always, always, throughout my coaching career, have had the utmost respect for the Green Bay Packer organization. When the opportunity came about last week ... I had several, several opportunities to pursue. I had several offers, and when Coach Sherman called me, I was very excited about Green Bay.

Number one, following Coach Sherman over the last five years, winning 11 football games a year on the average, and getting so close to where everybody wants to get was exciting to me because it's hard to win on a consistent basis in the National Football League.

Number two, just watching the offense and Coach Sherman, and Coach Rossley and the offensive staff, and knowing a lot about the offensive ability and the youth in that offense was exciting to me that they were number 1 in the NFC last year in total offense. When I looked at the defensive side of the ball and went through the personnel and saw the youth involved, and the ability of several guys that I knew first-hand, it was even more exciting to me. I love to go into an opportunity where guys are hungry, have the ability and are willing to work and improve with the offensive side of the ball set and moving the ball as well as they do."

On his philosophy toward defense:

"The number one thing that we will do is we will be a solid, sound foundation football team that will play excellent technique and will be a good, open-field tackling, swarm the football team. That's one thing I can promise you – foundation, technique, swarm the tackle, and be a good tackling football team."

On what he feels Packers players regarded former coordinator Bob Slowik:

"He has been there and they know his ability. I don't think it was a reflection from what I've heard as far as the players feeling it was all Bob's fault. When you have a rough year and everybody was counting on defense doing some things, and they came up short. I don't think that was a reflection on how the players feel about the defensive coordinator. They feel how he is as a man. From what I've gathered, they respect Bob Slowik. I feel good about it."

On how he developes relationships with players:

"I coach with a lot of passion. I have passion towards the team. I had passion as a player, and it's real. Players can recognize when there's a clear effort involved in trying to help players and players trying to help coaches. There's a total respect. I think I've gained that every place I've been. I think the Miami Dolphin players, every man ... I think we had that respect built. "I think you gain respect through who you are, what you do, how you help the football team improve individually and collectively. Then you bring the bond together with the strength of everybody working together."

On if he feels LB Nick Barnett should play a different position:

"That guy in college looked like he could play all three positions. We would have drafted him as a ‘Will' linebacker because we had Zach Thomas in the middle. But I didn't see anything in that tape with our 4-3 defense that he couldn't learn any one of the positions where we wanted to put him.

"I have to get in there, see where we're at, see what the ‘Mike' linebacker, ‘Sam' linebacker, ‘Will' linebacker are in our mind, and see if we'll have to add people, or whatever. Looking at the Green Bay personnel, we're fortunate to have a couple big guys in the middle. Zach Thomas, and I've done this for five years, when I check (player's) weight on Friday before Sunday games, weighs 223 pounds. He's 5-10. People say he's too small to play. It's hard to find the great big linebackers anymore. The New England Patriots are one of the rarities to have such size at their linebacker position. When we go through this draft year in and year out, there are not the big 250-pound linebackers that can run 4.7, 4.6 (seconds in the 40). We've had to rely on speed, athleticism, big guys in the middle as far as our front, and good sound defensive end play. We're very flexible with our linebackers and where we put them."

On Green Bay's lack of creating turnovers in 2005:

"Turnovers ... it's really weird at times. We started out down here and we've been a big turnover team over the (first) four years, but in (2004) we got off to a slow start. We work hard on turnovers right from the get-go. We have turnovers drills every period, trying to get that ball out. We really stretch it. Sometimes you get in a rut where you cannot force a turnover. You coach the same way, you even start coaching harder, and those turnovers just don't happen. ... We've got to talk it, we've got to communicate it. It's got to be an unconscious consciousness as far as us in so forming habits of getting the ball out and making the interceptions. That's something where we have to get off to a good start because we all know that turnovers determine wins and losses more than anything."

On his other coaching opportunities:

"I had five other opportunities but didn't let it go any further than that. I'm not going to get into the teams involved, but when I saw the opportunity with the Green Bay Packers, working with Mike Sherman, Tom Rossley and the offensive staff, and the ability level of the offense, plus the history of the Packers and the fans ... Football in Green Bay is one of the most special events in the country. I'm getting towards the end of my career. For me to go to Green Bay, Wisconsin, with everything in place, the coaches that I want to work with, the opportunity on the defensive side of the ball with some young players that will be hungry to play and prove that they're good football players ... just everything about the situation. There's good fishin' up there, too. I'm ready to fish a little bit. I love fishing for Walleye Pike and Perch. My wife's family is up there. It was a marriage for me.

"The other places ... the football opportunities did not match what I think are opportunities in Green Bay. That's when the decision was finally made."

On if he would like to be a head coach again in NFL:

"Definitely. I had as much fun in coaching as I've ever had in my life. The last seven weeks of the season with the Miami Dolphins is rich of thoughts, memories that I'll ever have with a group of guys that were just written off to not do anything. We had 17 on injury reserve. We lost the bulk of our football team, and the way they played, the way they practiced, the way everybody gathered, and they were playing for a purpose. I'll never forget these guys. I'll never forget the experience. It's something I'll always treasure. If I do get the opportunity to be a head coach, I will jump all over it."

On motivating players:

"Every place I've ever been, the role that I've had, I feel like the guys will step up and play. I know Mike expects that out of me and the defensive staff. That's what we're going to bring forth. We're going to bring forth excellent play, big-time effort, and make it fun for Green Bay Packers fans. The fans are so close to the situation up there, that they're going to proud to watch the Green Bay Packers play defense. I promise you that."

On challenges of improving Green Bay's defense:

"It is exciting for me to come in and get this defense playing at a high level. ... Winning 10 football games is hard to do in the National Football League. If we play better defense and really get these young guys playing together, playing hard and playing with technique – being good, solid tacklers – shoot there's no reason we can't win 12, 13, 14 (games) just with improvement in that area of the football team."

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