After the loss vs. Minnesota, I wrote that the Packers had two top priorities; hiring a new defensive coordinator and a new secondary coach. If Bob Slovik accepts his old secondary coach job back this week, then the Packers will have accomplished both priorites.
New defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Bates finished 2004 as the interim head coach in Miami, after leading Miami as their defensive coordinator on an impressive run of top 10 finishes in total defense (according to footballoutsiders.com) in each of the last 5 seasons (2000-2004). Miami's pass defense under Bates never slipped below 9th (footballoutsiders.com ranked Miami's pass defense 9th in 2004), which was very impressive considering the train wreck that was Miami's 2004 season. Looking at the Packers 2004 defensive stats, the weakness in the Packers' pass defense can be seen in its pass defenses in 2004 (68 in 2004, down from 92 in 2003). Although the Packers lost CB Mike McKenzie and his 18 pass defenses in 2003, it was really a team let down. The Packers top 3 corners in 2003 combined for 37 pass defenses, while in 2004 they combined for 35, which shows that it wasn't replacing McKenzie with CB Ahmad Carroll that caused the problem, but that it was a team let down. Miami totaled pass defenses of 79, 84, 78 in 2004 through 2002 respectively, while being led by the unlikely pair of former Badger CB Jamar Fletcher's 12 in 2002 and DE Jason Taylor's 11 in 2004. Miami has had some great individual players on defense over the last 5 seasons, but Miami hasn't relied on any one player for their excellent pass defense. It has been a team effort coached by Bates.
Hopefully new/old secondary coach Bob Slovik. Slovik couldn't figure out how to make the Packers defense work in 2004 as coordinator, but Slovik had a successful run as secondary coach from 2000-2003 with the Packers. The Packers secondary was in the top 10 (again according to footballoutsiders.com) from 2001-2003, while below average only in Slovik's first season of 2000. Some mitigating factors in 2000; it was the rookie season for DE KGB and he hadn't gotten much playing time yet (former DE John Thierry led the Packers with 6.5 sacks in 2000) and McKenzie hadn't yet been established as the starting cornerback (he only started in 2001-2003). Bottom line; the Packers secondary has been good when Slovik is the secondary coach. Hopefully Slovik wants to stay with the Packers and reestablish himself in the NFL as a good coach with a secondary that should be much improved (minus SS Mark Roman) in 2005 after Carroll and CB Joey Thomas got their rookie seasons out of their systems.