Saturday, January 15, 2005

Playoffs?! PLAYoffs?! I'm just trying to win a game. Oh, if Jim Mora (Sr.!) was the Packers' coach during last week's debacle. I can only wonder what the tirade would have been. I'd been an advocate of Mike Sherman's before, touting his ability to be able to handle the dual role of Head Coach and General Manager better than Holmgren did in Seattle. This year I, as many other Packer fans, began to have second thoughts. I'm thinking the death of Mark Hatley last summer may have had a factor. Hatley probably handled many of the duties that a GM would normally handle, giving Sherman the final say. But he died right before the preseason started so it would have been foolish to find a replacement mid season.

In a twist of irony, at least considering my post about Sherman v. Holmgren, Bob Harlan has brought in Ted Thompson, Holmgren's "Hatley" since '99. Thompson comes highly regarded from Ron Wolf, so we'll see. My good friend Jason's dad was privy to a rumor about the defensive shakeup this past year, stemming from the 4th and 26 debacle at the Philly game last year:

Donatell actually strongly objected to the call that was made on that play, but Sherman overruled him and then fired him for insubordination. This pissed off McKenzie, who felt Donatell was taking the fall for Sherman's error. I don't know about all of that, situations of the kind are rarely as airtight as this rumor would suggest, so I'm not buying it. However, losing McKenzie did to our defense on a smaller scale what Ricky Williams' abrupt departure did to the Dolphins' offense.

Everybody wants their new defensive coach to say things like "we're going to be aggressive," but you don't want to tip the pitch. Slowik's scheme shot it's wad in the Carolina game, and then it took five games for our team to recover, and at that point we were running more of a base defense, with Al Harris playing man to man against the #1 receiver for the rest of the season. We had three rookies rotating in and out, and I think either Darren Sharper's been playing hurt or is past his prime. Losing Grady Jackson during those five games after Carolina, and the back up nose tackle, didn't help matters, but KGB's not effective at anything except the occasional pass rush. God I miss Reggie White! Oh, and Santana Dotson, an unsung hero on the front four.

Where am I going with this? Well, for starters, I hope Thompson doesn't waste too much energy in trying to find an eventual replacement for Favre. Brett had a shitty game last week, but he's allowed one of those on occasion. I think Craig Nall is a sleeper, like Billy Volek (who looks good but doesn't always win games), and would do fine if Favre went down or retired. Certainly better than Tim Couch! Point is, we need to bring in maybe one Vet who can lead the team on D, and rethink the defensive strategy, probably starting with canning Slowik and Kurt Schottenheimer.

As for the rest of the playoffs, I'm gonna call it Indy v. Philly with Indy taking it. Pittsburgh looks tough, New England looks a little gimpy. The AFC championship game is where it's at this year. As for the NFC, I'm going with Philly as the safe choice (wouldn't it be ironic with T.O. out), but I'm very tentative in that choice. This has all the makings of an 80's superbowl, where the 49ers or one of the other dominant NFC teams would end up facing a Cinderella story in the AFC. Watch out for the Rams. Forget about the Vikes. Philly's gonna tear up that secondary and porous run defense. I predict Philly will beat them as badly as they did to the Pack a few weeks back. I'm thinking Atlanta can be contained by checking the receivers and putting pressure on Vick.

By the way, the mooning thing is much ado about nothing. The Vikings just existing is more offensive than anything Randy Moss could pull.

That's all!

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