Sanders named DC

Assistant likely to keep Jim Bates' successful system in place

Bob Sanders, an assistant in former defensive coordinator Jim Bates' successful scheme last year for the Packers, will take over for Bates, head coach Mike McCarthy said today.

Sanders, 52, brings continuity to a defense that ranked seventh overall and first against the pass in 2005, his first season as Packers' defensive ends coach. A coaching veteran of 30 years, Sanders has helped his defenses rank among the league's top eight in four of his five seasons in the NFL.

Sanders is Green Bay's fourth defensive coordinator in as many seasons.

McCarthy interviewed a handful of candidates this past week, including Sanders, who has worked with Bates the last five seasons. Bates declined an offer by McCarthy on Monday to remain as defensive coordinator of the Packers.

McCarthy also has interviewed three others who were defensive coordinators in the NFL last year. They include Jerry Gray (Buffalo Bills), Donnie Henderson (New York Jets), and Vic Fangio (Houston Texans). The head coach for each of the three teams either resigned or was fired at the end of this season. All three coaches employ the 3-4 defense, far different from the 4-3 defense the Packers learned under Bates last year.

"Coming into the interview process for the defensive coordinator position," McCarthy said, "I did not know much about Bob Sanders other than I had been told he did a good job here last season. Bob and I met for several hours every day last week. We talked about everything from defensive philosophies and schemes to our own coaching and personal backgrounds. I was impressed with Bob's football knowledge and, equally, with him as a person and his character. I felt like this is someone I could have a partnership with and who I would have great confidence in to run our defense."

Consistent pressure from both defensive ends in 2005 was a major reason the Packers led the league in passing defense. Under Sanders last year, Aaron Kampman had his best NFL season, recording a career-best 6 1/2 sacks and the second-most tackles (105) by a defensive lineman in team history (Ezra Johnson, 107 in 1983). On the other side, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila posted a career-high 81 tackles and surpassed No. 2 Tim Harris on the franchise's all-time sacks list. Gbaja-Biamila enters 2006 only 10 shy of Reggie White's team record, 68 1/2.

Sanders joined the Packers from Miami, where he spent the 2001-04 seasons as linebackers coach. His Dolphins unit contributed greatly to the overall success of the club's defense, which ranked fifth in the NFL against the run in both 2002 and '03, while his individual tutoring helped Zach Thomas to three Pro Bowl selections (2001-03) and four of the player's top five single-season tackle totals.

Before entering the NFL, Sanders coached 22 years at the collegiate level, including 15 seasons tutoring defensive linemen in some capacity. Seven of those campaigns were at the University of Florida, where three of his pupils, Jevon Kearse, Kevin Carter and Huey Richardson, became first-round selections in the NFL Draft. While Sanders was with Florida, the Gators led the Southeastern Conference in sacks four straight seasons (1996-99).

With the Gators for 11 years (1990-2000), Sanders coached multiple defensive positions, helping the club capture five SEC championships and the 1995 national title. He coached the team's ends (1990, 1994-97), ‘Banditbacks' and ‘Gatorbacks' (1991-93), ends and strong-side linebackers (1998-99) and linebackers (2000). In addition, he served as assistant defensive coordinator (1994-98, 2000), assistant co-defensive coordinator (1991-93) and assistant head coach (1999).

Sanders also coached at Duke (ends/outside linebackers 1985-88, co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers 1989), helping the Blue Devils in 1989 to an 8-4 record and the school's first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship since 1965.

A former linebacker at Davidson College (1973-75), he got his start in coaching at Georgia Tech (part-time coach 1978), then moved to Richmond (linebackers 1983-84) and East Carolina (line/linebackers 1980-82), after three years (1976-77, 1979) in the high school ranks.

One of 11 individuals to hold the title of Packers defensive coordinator, Sanders follows Dave Hanner (1972-79), John Meyer (1980-83), Dick Modzelewski (1984-87), Hank Bullough (1988-91), Ray Rhodes (1992-93), Fritz Shurmur (1994-98), Emmitt Thomas (1999), Ed Donatell (2000-03), Bob Slowik (2004) and Jim Bates (2005).

McCarthy named Winston Moss as linebackers coach on Thursday. Robert Nunn (defensive tackles), and Lionel Washington (cornerbacks) have been held over from Bates staff by McCarthy. Sanders will likely be seeking a safeties/secondary coach to fill the vacancy left by Joe Baker, whose contract was terminated by McCarthy. Sanders also will be seeking a defensive quality control coach, held last season by Charlie Jackson, who left to coach at the University of Buffalo, and possibly a defensive ends coach.


Packer Report Top Stories