Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Long View

I must say this season is not getting to me in quite the same way that it seems to be getting to other Packer fans. What I don't understand is why. Did anyone think we were going to win the NFC north this year? Sure that's the goal, but did you really think that was realistic?

I don't know what I think of Mike III and his staff. I don't know why I haven't seen him comment on the secondary's weekly penchant for blowing coverages. I don't know why the play of the safeties hasn't been discussed more thoroughly. But I do know this. Mike II wasn't going to win any championships so he had to go.

Staying with a guy because you haven't discovered anyone better is a great way to stay mediocre. There are many examples of this every year in pro and college sports. If you can't think of any you're not trying. So is Mike III the best coach for the job? I don't know. But I do know I'd rather go with an unknown than stick with a proven mediocrity.

I think the coaching staff has cost us a game or two this year, specifically at Buffalo and last Monday against Seattle. That's nothing new. Most coaches blow a few games every year. That's just part of the job and only a small handful of guys really know the art of play calling and how to use momentum. I've seen glimpses that show Mike III does get it (see: throwing the ball late against Minnesota to preserve the victory) and the examples above showing that he still doesn't trust himself fully.

The schedule gets easier now. Gone are the preseason superbowl picks like New England and Seattle. What we have left should give us a good idea of where we're at. The team is clearly not in the upper echelon. A good team will beat this Packers squad every day of the week and twice on Sunday (at least that's what that 35-donut job against the Pats felt like). They are no longer among the worst in the league however. The Packers have handled the bad teams on their schedule as they should.

With 5 weeks remaining we face the Jets, 49ers, Lions, Vikings and the Bears. Only the Bears can claim to have an obvious advantage in talent or coaching ability. I don't think Lovie Smith is a great coach mind you, he's just not a rookie or 2nd year guy like the rest of our opponents. Also, that Bears game will be the last of the year and they will have had the division and homefield advantage wrapped up well before that time.

All of these games are winnable for this Packers team. Due to youth and what I've seen out of the coaching staff I would not be surprised if we dropped 1 or 2 games though. That being said we're looking at 7-9 or 8-8. I can live with that this year. I realize that 8-8 is the definition of mediocrity, but I also know the expectations this year were 4-5 wins.

Can this team close strong? Can the o-line get everyone healthy and show some improvement (they were improving before Tauscher and Clifton got dinged up)? Can the defensive staff finally man up and fire Kurt Schottenheimer? We shall see. I don't know what's going to happen. That's why I'm excited. I always knew what we'd get out of Mike II, and it wasn't enough.


Anonymous said...

I think part of the reason that this season has been so hard to take--even though we knew it was coming--is that it means there's another year gone from Brett Favre's career. And it may be the last one.

Rebuilding would be a lot easier to take if I knew Favre would get to reap the benefits of it. That's why I'm so bummed out about each loss. Hopefully he'll hang around and after another good draft and another few FA acquisitions we'll be right there again.

Great site, I just found it!

Anonymous said...

For me , one of the worst things abut this season is that the Pack just isn't doing anyting to get better...and I'm not sure that there are any of the young guys who are going to be ready to step up and be a hero next year and the year after that.
MM is in a no-win situation--'tight teddy' thompson is giving him very little to work with, but micky M isn't doing himself any favors by not directly responding to criticisms of his team and especially his staff. Schottenheimer has to go--I personally think also "Jags" needs to go.
Somewhere somehow--this team needs to find some talent. Are the special teams awful?? Yes, of course they are--why?? because the guys who play on ST (the guys on the bench and the 2nd stringers just don't have much talent....
Al Harris and Chuck Woodson are OK, although their skills have markedly declined this year, but they are getting paid a lot for "pretty good" corners--although they would probably look a lot better if they had ANY safety help....Manuel alone should get tt fired...For the money spent on Manuel and Woodson, there could have been at least a couple professional O-linemen signed and probably STILL had enough left over to replace KRobinson (who-again, should be leading Packer fans to wonder just where thompson's alleged brain is...)
So while the Packers are watching Favre play out his string--the end of the career of the most-recognizable, most loved QB of all time...they are doing NOTHING to help go out gracefully--or to help reach some milestones...Look, this season is in the dumper--why not just focus on gettng Favre some TDs, giving him some protection and someone to throw TO, and someone to let him have the time TO throw....

Instead we have a coach/oc who are "committed to the run", leading to things like Monday night when out of 18 carries, 13 were for 2 yards or less.....
And fans and the press keep throwing around words like "rebuilding"--when they are doing no such thing. They have fallen into a couple of pretty talented players--but most of what they have accumulated sure haven't worked out very well...and to rebuild means to me that you have some sort of a plan of what you want the team to look like in a couple of years. As it is Favre is almost done, Green is almost done, Hendu is on the way out--how long can Driver continue to take the punishment this team sets him up for? Who is going to step into those roles?? What WILL this team look like in three years??
If the Packers would be willing to make some steps to improve, or the coaching staff would at least be somewhat accountable ("communication problems ten-twelve weeks into the season--that alons should get some coach fired) I'd feel a lot better. As it is--I think this may be as good as this team will be for the foreseeable future--and while I will always love this team and what it stands for--sometimes they are a lot easier to watch than others.....

MF said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I'll try to make some sense of my position on the whole deal.

I agree that it's terrible Favre's career is ending with him basically nursing along the kiddies. That being said, how much is he accelerating their learning curve by being out there? You think Jennings has learned a thing or three about running routes and being a pro from #4? You think College, Moll and Spitz feel a little better knowing they only have to hold a block for 3 seconds because their QB knows not to hang onto the ball like a rookie might?

One thing to consider when watching the special teams and whatnot. Special teams are a great indicator of depth and we have none. That's not TT's fault, that's Mike Sherman's fault for being Millen-esque as a GM. It takes some time to make up for 3-4 years of terrible drafting. I mean, we traded up for a punter and still have Robert Ferguson on the team despite no production.

I don't know if TT's the man for the job but I like Collins, Jennings, Hawk, Poppinga, Colledge and I even liked Murphy before he hurt his neck last year. That's 5 young starters with some talent in 2 drafts. And we've improved depth with Hodge and Moll/Spitz as well. Compare that to any of the Sherman years. Other than Barnett there wasn't much gold in the draft when Mike II was doing the digging.

I think the team will improve dramatically if Favre sticks around next year. I think we'll see a few victories here at the end and if he comes back I would expect 10+ wins next year. Keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree. If Favre comes back I really do think that next year could be a good one. We've got some pieces in place. Another offseason with some high draft picks and a buttload of cap room should do wonders.

Remember, all our big FA signings last year had their contracts front-loaded, so Woodson and Kampman are signed for VERY nice salaries the rest of their deal.

Make another couple smart FA signings (and hopefully none like Manuel :-P) and we could very well be right there next year.

Sherman the GM screwed this team. We have almost no players left from his drafts. Those players should be entering their prime and making up the bulk of our roster. Instead there's a gaping hole. We've got good veteran talent (Favre, Driver, Green) and we've got some good young talent (Hawk, Jennings, Colledge, Collins). There's just no good players in that 25-28 year old range.