Sherman tops Cardinals' short list

Ex-defensive coordinator Jim Bates hired by Broncos as assistant head coach/defense

Mike Sherman, who coached the Green Bay Packers from 2000 to 2005, may be the leading candidate to become the Arizona Cardinals' new head coach, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday night.

Sherman is getting a second interview with the Cardinals this week, and is on a short list of finalists, the team said. He was the first candidate interviewed by the team after Dennis Green was fired last week.

Sherman, 52, spent the 2006 season as the Houston Texans' assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He's made clear his desire to return to the NFL or college as a head coach.

The Cardinals didn't say how many other candidates were finalists or identify any of the finalists.

Sherman was fired as the Packers' coach a year ago, after the team went 4-12 in 2005. He had a 57-39 record with the Packers, but was 2-4 in playoff games.

Bates hired by Broncos
Jim Bates, the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator in 2005, was officially named assistant head coach/defense by the Denver Broncos. Defensive backs coach Bob Slowik, who coached Green Bay's defensive backs and was coordinator for a season in 2004, was named defensive coordinator by head coach Mike Shanahan.

Bates, 60, was out of football during the 2006 season, having received a $1.1 million settlement from the Packers, but continued to live in the Green Bay area. His son, Jeremy, is an offensive assistant with the Broncos.

The new defensive structure will be identical to the one Shanahan implemented earlier this year for the offense, with Mike Heimerdinger serving as assistant head coach/offense and Rick Dennison serving as offensive coordinator.

Bates spoke with team officials on Wednesday, and the Broncos announced his hiring this afternoon.

The Broncos fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and defensive line coach Andre Patterson on Tuesday.

Bates, a veteran of 15 seasons as a coach in the National Football League, has six seasons of experience as defensive coordinator at the NFL level. Prior to joining the Packers, he was defensive coordinator for Miami from 2000-04, which included a seven-game stint as interim head coach in ‘04.

As the Dolphins' interim head coach Bates, 60, guided the Dolphins to a 3-4 finish, including a 29-28 win over eventual Super Bowl champion New England on Monday Night Football.

Under Bates' tutelage, Miami's defense finished no lower than 10th in the league in total yards allowed, led the league in passing yards allowed in 2001 (176.8) and was second in the league in ‘04, allowing only 162.0 passing yards per game in Bates' five seasons as defensive coordinator. During his tenure in Miami (2000-04), Bates' defenses ranked fifth in yards allowed (294.8). The defensive unit did not allow an individual 100-yard rusher over the last four games of 2002 and the entire 2003 campaign.

On an individual level, Bates has produced 18 Pro Bowl selections in five seasons.

Before joining the Dolphins, Bates was assistant head coach/defensive line (1998-99) and linebackers coach (1996-97) in Dallas. He started his NFL coaching career as linebackers coach (1991) for Cleveland. He moved to coach the defensive ends for the Browns from 1992-93 before ascending to the defensive coordinator position in Atlanta in 1994. Bates returned to Cleveland as secondary coach in 1995 before joining the Cowboys.

Prior to his NFL coaching career, Bates coached 19 seasons in either college football (15), the USFL (3) or the Arena Football League (1).

Slowik, 52, has been a defensive coordinator for three teams previously in his NFL coaching career, with Green Bay (2004), Cleveland (1999) and Chicago (1993-98). He also was the Packers' assistant head coach from 2002-03, has 15 years of NFL coaching experience – eight as a defensive coordinator – and brings 30 years of coaching experience to his new position. He coached the Broncos' defensive backs for the past two seasons, during which time the team posted its best two-year interception total (37) since 2000-01 (49).

Denver's pass defense was particularly stingy in the red zone last season, allowing just 13 touchdown passes, the fewest by a Broncos team since 1991 (12), and tied for the fourth-fewest in franchise history for a 16-game season.

In 2004, Slowik's Green Bay defense ranked ninth in the NFL in third-down conversions allowed (35.0 percent), the Packers' best percentage in seven years, and led the league in red zone third-down defense (23.8 percent) while producing five defensive touchdowns. He coached a secondary that helped Green Bay post the highest takeaway total (116) in the NFL from 2001-03, including 45 in 2002 for the league's best mark. During Slowik's five seasons in Green Bay, safety Darren Sharper recorded 31 interceptions for the NFL's highest total during that period while earning two Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.

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