DC search: Ready for the next step

See what NFL assistant coach gets the seal of approval from Michigan legend Lloyd Carr in this Packer Report exclusive.

Mike Nolan, Jim Haslett, Romeo Crennel, Gregg Williams, Rod Marinelli. Those five all have experience as NFL defensive coordinators and head coaches.

Today, Packer Report introduces you to some of the position coaches who could be darkhorse candidates in Green Bay to replace the ousted Bob Sanders. We continue with New York Giants linebackers coach Bill Sheridan.

When Sheridan becomes an NFL defensive coordinator, he'll owe the esteemed Lloyd Carr a thank-you note.

Sheridan, who recently had completed his playing career at Division II Grand Valley State, was a high school football coach in suburban Detroit and was attending a game when he noticed Carr, who was an assistant at Michigan under the legendary Bo Schembechler.

"He and I, we just happened to be one of the few people there," Carr recalled this week in an interview with Packer Report. "He came over and introduced himself. I was an assistant coach at the time, and we got talking and he had indicated he'd like to get into college football. So, we stayed in touch. Eventually, I recommended him to Bo."

Sheridan spent the 1985 and 1986 seasons at Michigan as a graduate assistant before landing at Maine as linebackers coach in 1987. After stints at Cincinnati, Army, Michigan State and Notre Dame, Sheridan returned to Michigan in 2002 to be Carr's linebackers coach. He moved to the defensive line in 2003 before making the leap to the NFL as linebackers coach for the New York Giants in 2005.

Today, the 49-year-old Sheridan is one of the hottest coaching prospects in the league because he works under one of the hottest coordinators in the league, Steve Spagnuolo, who perplexed the Packers in last year's NFC title game.

"He's been in a system in New York that I think a lot of people are interested in. He's been an important part to that success," Carr said.

Carr, who retired as the Wolverines' coach following the 2007 season but remains active in the athletic department, has kept tabs on him by reading the New York newspapers daily and through Sheridan's son. Nick Sheridan recently completed his redshirt sophomore season by playing eight games at quarterback for Michigan.

"Bill has come up through the ranks and he's paid his dues. He's worked at some great programs," Carr said.

Spagnuolo came to the Giants in 2007 after eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he learned the blitz-heavy 4-3 scheme used successfully by longtime coordinator Jim Johnson.

As Spagnuolo's linebackers coach in New York, Sheridan has assembled one of the league's more unheralded linebacker corps. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce is one of the best in the business. Outside linebackers Danny Clark (seventh round, 2000) and Chase Blackburn (undrafted, 2005) are relative unknowns who were pressed into larger duties when Kawika Mitchell bolted to Buffalo in free agency and Mathias Kiwanuka was moved to defensive end to make up for the injury to Osi Umenyiora and the retirement of Michael Strahan.

Many around the league believe Sheridan is ripe to become a coordinator. With his background in the Johnson/Spagnuolo system, he'd be a good fit in Green Bay in allowing the Packers to stay in the 4-3 while getting the increased pressure coach Mike McCarthy desires. However, if Spagnuolo becomes a head coach this offseason, Sheridan would be the logical choice for a promotion, insiders say.

"He's an outstanding individual with great character and integrity," Carr said. "I think if I had to describe him, I'd say he's extremely bright. He's very intense, very focused. Even-keeled. He's a teacher. He's going to be one of those guys that I think will have a good plan."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.

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