Sanders the logical choice

Assistant coach will give improving defense continuity

As you read this, Mike McCarthy is probably writing down the pros and cons of the type of defensive coordinator he would like on his staff this year. The Packers' new head coach has the option of going with a proven NFL coordinator, or taking a chance on the leading candidate among the existing Packers defensive coaches – Bob Sanders.

The vote from this perch near Lambeau Field goes to Sanders. Sanders has only five years of NFL experience and just completed his first as defensive ends coach. He coached 22 seasons at the college level, and has experience as an assistant defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. But if you go by his NFL credentials, Sanders doesn't appear to offer much. His trump card, however, is Jim Bates, the ex-coordinator that turned the Packers defense from woeful to wonderful in one season.

Sanders, 52, has coached under Bates all five seasons in the NFL. He has a very good understanding of a defensive scheme that the Packers adapted well to in 2005. Before working with Aaron Kampman, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Mike Montgomery this season, he coached the linebackers while in Miami. He also worked closely with defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn this season. Both of them combined to coach the defensive linemen.

Sanders might seem like a stretch, especially with a 42-year-old rookie head coach, but if probably has a better chance of keeping the Packers defense headed in the right direction than a coach who will rip apart the old scheme and start over. For a team going on its fourth coordinator in four seasons, continuity is a big "pro" in Sanders' favor, perhaps the only one that counts in this case.

Green Bay's offense will be different this season under McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. Special teams will get an overhaul under Mike Stock, who reportedly was hired on Tuesday. Sanders can give a team some stability by continuing to implement a scheme that was one of the brights spots of the team's forgettable 2005 season.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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