It was an ugly game, but Carolina beat Philadelphia with a bit of luck. Carolina's luck was most prominent last week when St. Louis's Jeff Wilkins missed an OT field goal, a kick I would imagine Wilkins makes 49 out of 50 times, but Carolina created their luck this week when they knocked Donovan McNabb out of the game. Philadelphia was a 4th quarter team in 2003 and both times they played the Packers, McNabb led Philadelphia back in the 4th quarter. Without McNabb, Philadelphia didn't come back in the 4th quarter vs. Carolina, although maybe Koy Detmer would have led a late touchdown drive if Duce Staley hadn't run the wrong route near the goal line. With the exception of Dallas, who Carolina clobbered in the first round, all the NFC playoff games were close, and it easily could be the Packers in the Super Bowl. The Packers weren't robbed of a Super Bowl appearance, they deserved to lose to Philadelphia, but they could have won that game on numerous plays. Although I don't know if any NFC team could beat New England right now, and I'm expecting Carolina to get crushed like Atlanta in 1998 or the New York Giants in 2000.
Speaking of Atlanta, Ed Donatell has a new home in Atlanta where he will be the defensive coordinator in 2004 for new head coach Jim Mora, Junior. Donatell has his work cut out for him because Atlanta will switch from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense this offseason and will try to improve from a 30th ranked defense. Donatell is a good coach, but when you coach an average performance out of a talented defense with few injuries, you are likely to be fired. Maybe Donatell is being fired for having a young Packers defense. Comparing the Packers defense to New England's defense, player by player, both defenses have comparable talent, however, New England's defense has far more experience and much better results. However, some teams rely too much on veterans, for example Oakland in 2003, and have bad results. I don't think Mike Sherman needed to fire Donatell, but it might be a good idea to bring in a new coach to get more production out of a solid defense on paper.
I didn't know Jeff Jagodzinski was the tight ends coach until Sherman fired him. Jagodzinski had one thing in common with Donatell this season, he coached an underachieving unit, and both men were fired. Just as with the defense, maybe bringing in a new tight ends coach will make that group more productive.