Monday, January 30, 2006

My last post discussed QB Brett Favre and his potential retirement. I mentioned the potential of cap savings if Favre retires. I don't know if Favre will actually save the Packers anything in 2006, which is possible because his prorated signing bonuses might catch up to the Packers on retirement. Assuming Favre's retirement creates cap savings that the Packers could use to sign free agents, none of the free agents available would make the retirement worth it. There is no 1992-era DE Reggie White available. The best the Packers could do is sign one of the available quality offensive lineman like OG Steve Hutchinson, C LeCharles Bentley, or T Kevin Shaffer. Shaffer may be the most likely signing since new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodiznski coached Shaffer in Atlanta. The article also mentions LBs Hunter Hillenmeyer and Julian Peterson, but I agree with Michael David Smith that they would probably cost more than they are worth. If Favre does retire, then GM Ted Thompson better use his cap room to improve the offensive line, but he better not force Favre out the door just so he can have money to spend on 2006 free agents.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm a couple of days behind on the hiring of Bob Sanders as defensive coordinator. Sanders had worked with previous coordinator Jim Bates since 2001 as his linebackers coach and interim defensive coordinator when Bates was Miami's interim head coach in 2004. Mike McCarthy wanted to keep Bates, but Bates felt it was better for him to move on. Now McCarthy, apparently, has the next best man to Bates himself. It seemed like a no-brainer that the Packers would hire Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator of the league's worst defense in 2005. Also, Fangio would have brought the problem of converting the defense to a 3-4 when the Packers don't have enough quality/healthy linebackers to play in a 4-3 defense. Instead, McCarthy went with consistancy and made the best hire so far this offseason. Any excitement about hiring Sanders is offset by the fact he coached the defensive line in 2005, and the same group of lineman (plus a more healthy NT Grady Jackson) actually played better in 2004 than in 2005 despite the defense as a whole played better last season.

Plus the Packers are &*$%ing around with QB Brett Favre. This is starting to remind me of the first retirement for DE Reggie White in 1998, when the Packers had a coaching change and didn't keep in touch with White during the offseason. White hadn't made up his mind whether to return and actually had planned to retire the season before he won the 1998 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, but the Packers couldn't wait because White's retirement provided so much salary cap relief. If White wasn't coming back, then the Packers wanted to know so they could plan for it and have more money for free agency. White would have probably stayed on for two more seasons, and this miscommunication was probably Ron Wolf's biggest mistake. White wouldn't have pushed the Packers into the playoffs during either 1999 and 2000 (the two seasons when QB Brett Favre was dealing with all his thumb/elbow/addiction problems), but two more seasons from a Hall of Fame player is always worth watching.

I don't know what impact Favre has on the Packers 2006 salary cap, but it must be huge. If Favre retires, then the Packers must be looking at either a huge cap hit (like Dallas after QB Troy Aikman's retirement) or a huge cap savings. John Clayton said on ESPN that Favre wants to see what McCarthy has planned for 2006 before making up his mind, but McCarthy hasn't talked to Favre yet. It seems likely that Favre will not be back in 2006; Ted Thompson probably thinks its time for a change (apparently for the sake of change) plus Favre should not want to come back to the mess that will be the 2006 Packers.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Although "McCarthy had promised to hire a defensive coordinator first before hiring position coaches" he went ahead and hired Winston Moss to coach the linebackers in 2006. McCarthy said "[Moss] was highly sought after as an assistant by several teams." He must be a great guy, because he hasn't coached too many good linebackers in his five seasons in New Orleans. In the last five drafts, New Orleans had drafted a linebacker in the 2nd or 3rd round in each season. In 2005, New Orleans was led in tackles by LB Colby Bockwoldt, a 2004 7th round pick, and veteran free agent LB Robert McKinnon. I don't follow New Orleans, but no matter if it was because of injuries or ineffectiveness, none of the five first day draft choices selected have emerged into the team's top linebacker under Moss's coaching. Maybe Moss has developed Bockwoldt into a linebacker beyond his 7th round status, but somehow I doubt it. Despite McKinnon's status as second leading tackler, his 2005 stats were far below his best seasons in Arizona. None of the players coached by Moss in 2005 excelled and overall New Orleans had a pretty crummy defense, so of course McCarthy had to have Moss for 2006.

The article also mentioned former Houston defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was interviewed for the Packers defensive coordinator job. The article said Packers defensive line coach Bob Sanders is the front runner, but the Packers have to hire Fangio. Fangio led the worst defense in the NFL in 2005. The Packers current philosophy is to hire the worst available candidate and hope for the best; so Fangio, the coordinator of the worst defense in 2005, has to be the "best" candidate. Accept no competent substitute!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another quality hire by Mike McCarthy. At least the Packers have never fired Mike Stock before. Stock has been around forever and got his first coaching job with the legendary Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame back in the 1960s. He was special teams coach of the year in 1987 and apparently he has been coasting off that past success plus his relationship with Marty Schottenheimer ever since.

Special teams is very important. The special teams coach is like the 3rd coordinator. Last season, K Ryan Longwell can take blame for at least the Tampa Bay loss and was one of the worst kickers in the NFL. The Packers were killed all season long by poor field position due to bad kicks, bad kick coverage, and bad kick returns. WR Antonio Chatman had a late season punt return for a TD and CB Ahmad Carroll was a good late season kickoff return man, but they were the only positives from a unit that was a drag on the Packers all season long. The Packers should replace or provide a serious challenger to both Longwell and P B.J. Sander next season.

Stock has not had a lot of success in the NFL despite his longevity. Stock sat out the 2005 season while recovering from hip replacement surgery and supposedly"you can't gauge him by what happened in St. Louis" during 2004 because "Martz never let (Stock) coach there" according to one unnamed personnel director. Football Outsiders goes all the way back to 1998 with ratings for special teams and special teams coached by Stock (Kansas City 1998-2000 and Washington 2001-2003) have never done better than Packers special teams during that season. Frank Novak is one year older than the 66 year old Stock and Novak has been working with Packers special teams since 2000. Novak's special teams have been better than Stock's special teams in every season, but the Packers are attempting to bring in a less competant coach at every position this offseason; so Novak is out and Stock is in.

Improved play out of Longwell or the new 2006 kicker will go a long way to improve the special teams in 2006. The Packers have not paid enough attention to special teams over the last few seasons and there is no reason to believe that they have changed. Stock will probably receive a lot of credit for the likely improvement from the second worst special teams unit in the NFL during 2005, but it probably won't be his to take because he hasn't proven that he can do a better job than any Packers special teams coach in the last several seasons.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Huh? Detroit's Matt Millan didn't hire someone from San Francisco? He hired someone who has coached on one of the best defenses in the league? Someone who has worked with one of the most respective defensive coaches in the league for the past 10 seasons? The tide has turned in the NFC North; Detroit hires a successful assistant coach as their new head coach while the Packers hire from San Francisco.

Tampa Bay's defensive line has been one of the best in the league for the last few seasons. Detroit's NT Shaun Rogers is arguably the best in the NFL at his position, but his play is inconsistent. Hiring Rod Marinelli may be just what Detroit's good but inconsitent defense needs. Detroit still has to rebuild their offense, which was awful in 2005 despite the fact that Detroit has used their last six first round picks (since 2001 with LT Jeff Backus) on offensive players, including four picks in the top 10.
Now Joe Philbin, the assistant under fired offensive line coach Larry Beightol, is hired as the new offensive line coach. Plus James Campen will stay as the assistant line coach. Although new offensive coordinator Joe Jagodzinski will introduce a new zone blocking scheme next season, Mike McCarthy has kept two of the previous coaches that coached an assignment blocking scheme. Coaches should be able to teach a variety of schemes, but don't they usually have a preference? If Beightol wasn't good enough to be retained, then why did his assistants get promoted? It is not a problem that Philbin and Campen were kept on with the Packers. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be any plan or philosophy in action. The Packers philosophy, from Ted Thompson on down, is to change everything and see if that improves the team. It doesn't matter if the philosophy fits the current players' abilities. It doesn't matter that every possible candidate for the job is interviewed or if that person is right for the current players.

Although Mike Sherman was fired because Thompson thought it was time for a change, that change does not include the defense. McCarthy wanted Jim Bates to stay as defensive coordinator. McCarthy might even hire defensive line coach Bob Sanders as defensive coordinator. Established mediocre coaches like Dick Jauron and Dave McInnis are expected to interview. Ex-Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson led an average defense in New York last season and runs a "hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense". Nothing against Henderson, but the Packers don't have enough quality linebackers to run a 3-4 defense. Ex-Buffalo defensive coordinator Jerry Gray wouldn't be a bad choice either, although the defense in Buffalo collapsed against the run in 2005. The same could be said of Henderson too. The reasons both Buffalo and the Jets struggled was because they both lost their starting nose tackles (Pat Williams and Jason Ferguson) after the 2004 seasons. If the Packers lose NT Grady Jackson this offseason, then Henderson and Gray would have experience playing without a nose tackle because there is no replacement for Jackson currently on the roster. Keeping Sanders and cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington might be good no matter who is hired, because both the defensive linemen and cornerbacks improved in 2005.

In the end, it looks like Jim Bates left the Packers for the same reasons he left Miami a season ago; he didn't want to stick around a team that passed him up for the head coaching job. Bates will either be hired as a head coach or defensive coordinator within the next two months.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

And then defensive coordinator Jim Bates was shown the door. The defense was inconsistant under Bates, but it seems unlikely that the Packers will find a more qualified defensive coordinator to replace him. But with the worst offensive coordinator in the NFL as the Packers new head coach, it is likely that less qualified is what GM Ted Thompson wants as he wrecks the team. I would suggest hiring Emmitt Thomas as the old-is-new-again defensive coordinator. The Packers fired Thomas after the 1999 season, just like Mike McCarthy, and he spent the 2004-05 seasons working in Atlanta, just like new offensive coordinator/former Packers tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski.

Jagodzinski already realizes that his number 1 priority is fixing the running game. Jeff Fedotin wrote "To bolster a Packers running game that ranked 30th in the league in 2005, Jagodzinski will implement much of the Broncos' and Falcons' zone blocking scheme. In that system offensive linemen block the first person who enters their zone rather than a specific man. The scheme does not feature a multitude of different plays but relies on athletic players who can execute double team blocks." It was a concern that Jagodzinski might implement the style of blocking used in Atlanta and Denver because the Packers personnel doesn't seem to fit with that style. LT Chad Clifton, RG William Whitticker and RT Mark Tauscher are all bigger than typical Denver/Atlanta offensive lineman. Do the Packers scrap the entire offensive line and start over?

Next season the offense will feature an entirely new blocking system, a first-year starting quarterback, and a number of receivers (WR Javon Walker, WR Terrence Murphy, and TE Bubba Franks) all trying to work themselves back into playing shape after missing almost the entire 2005 season. This could be one of the great train wrecks in football next season. I'm assuming QB Brett Favre retires. Favre can still play and his 2005 wasn't as bad as it seemed, but why would he come back to this mess?

Instead of fixing what was broken in 2005, the Packers appear committed to rebuilding the entire team with coaches who have no record of past success. And they haven't even started with the defense yet.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It is not surprising that Mike McCarthy would not retain any of the coaches still under contract. Special teams coach John Bonamego might have been fired if Mike Sherman had remained as coach because special teams were so bad in 2005. It was disappointing that Larry Beightol wasn't retained as offensive line coach. He had a tough job replacing two Pro Bowl caliber offensive guards with two 7th round draft choices (LG Scott Wells and RG William Whitticker). The two players GM Ted Thompson signed to replace Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera were LG Adrian Klemm and RG Matt O'Dwyer. O'Dwyer had nothing left and was released in the preseason while Klemm was awful and benched by mid-season.

It looks like Jim Bates will be back as defensive coordinator (at least that is what the official Packers site says) but who knows.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mike McCarthy's first big hire as head coach is the guy fired after the playoff collapse in Philadelphia in 2003. Wow, I'm really excited. Ex-defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was understandably fired after the Packers failed to stop Philadelphia on a late 4th and 26 conversion. Along with Donatell, Jeff Jagodzinski was fired as the tight ends coach. I'm sure everyone not working on the Packers sidelines or front office said "Who?" At the time, TE Bubba Franks was solid but had reached his consistant level of play while TE David Martin hadn't developed.

It is ironic that Jagodzinski ended up in Atlanta, just like Donatell. He was the tight ends coach in 2004, and TE Alge Crumpler developed into a very good tight end. In 2005 he took over as offensive line coach and the line was as good as it was in 2004, according to Football Outsiders. They are a pretty good run blocking line and not good in pass blocking. But with QB Michael Vick in Atlanta, any offensive line's pass blocking stats might be low because Vick is scrambling to make something happen and he isn't a great passer. The offensive line took a big step up from 2003 (only an average run blocking team) and into a top 10 unit when Alex Gibbs arrived. It was big news that Gibbs agreed to coach full-time in 2004 for Atlanta, but it was only a one-year return from his position as consultant. Gibbs can be credited for building the offensive lines in Atlanta and Denver. Jagodzinski can be credited for maintaining the quality on Atlanta's offensive line in 2005, but can't take credit for coaching them into a top 10 unit.

Jagodzinski is not running his offense or calling plays. McCarthy will implement his offense and call all the plays. What strengths does Jagodzinski bring to the Packers? He had worked with Franks and Martin previously and it cannot be expected that he will further improve their play. He spent two years learning what Gibbs knows about offensive lines, but that might not be very helpful. The lines in Denver and Atlanta are two of the best and two of the smallest lines in the NFL. In Atlanta, OG Kynan Forney is the big man at 307 lbs. In Denver, 4 of 5 linemen are under 300 lbs. The Packers have a big offensive line. Both LT Chad Clifton and RG William Whitticker are over 330 lbs. and no offensive lineman that played in 2005 was listed under 300 lbs. Gibbs is known for offensive lineman who are lighter and play with great footwork. It seems unlikely that any coach could turn the current Packers roster of offensive lineman into a unit that resembles Denver or Atlanta.

Are the Packers going to completely start over at offensive line? The Packers need to retool the middle of the line, but Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher are both good tackles. Can Clifton and Tauscher adapt to a new system? Will the Packers trade both players and start over? McCarthy had a big offensive line during his seasons with New Orleans and it would seem that Clifton and Tauscher both would fit in McCarthy's system. If the Packers aren't changing philosophy then what does Jagodzinski bring to the team? Why was he the only candidate interviewed?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

NOOOOO!!!!! Maybe GM Ted Thompson saw the Producers last weekend and figures if he hires the worst qualified candidate, that candidate will turn into a Broadway hit. Under Mike McCarthy as offensive coordinator, San Francisco had the worst offense in the NFL in 2005.

This is a great day for fans in Minnesota. Chicago was great in 2005, but defense is inconsistant from season to season and Chicago's offense hasn't been a threat since Walter Payton retired. Detroit is a mess. Now the Packers have turned into Detroit version 2.0.

Look at the comparisons between Detroit and the Packers. Personnel decisions are made by former linebackers who played in the 1980s. Thompson and Millen each drafted a Pac-10 quarterback to rebuild the offense after the departure of a Hall of Fame player. They each tapped San Francisco for a mediocre offensive coordinator to lead the team. (Tom Silverstein called Mike McCarthy the next Andy Reid; he's more likely to be the next Marty Mornhinweg).

How bad was rookie QB Alex Smith in San Francisco last season? The worst ever recorded by Football Outsiders. Aaron says Smith was "worse than David Carr when he was sacked every six seconds in 2002, worse than Bobby Hoying when he had no touchdowns in 1998, worse than both of Ryan Leaf's seasons as a starter. Rookie years aren't supposed to be stellar, but there's really no way to spin this as a good thing for the 49ers." What wonders will he do with QB Aaron Rodgers?

All that is left to make the transformation complete is to give Thompson a 5 year extension for flushing the team in the toilet and let him draft a wide receiver with the number one pick in each of the next three drafts. It will be hard for Thompson to find a wide receiver with the fifth overall pick, the only wide receiver with a first round grade so far is WR Santonio Holmes and he isn't being mentioned until pick number 22. Maybe Thompson will do Millen one better and keep drafting quarterbacks if QB Matt Leinart or QB Vince Young fall to the fifth pick.

This is an awful day and the hiring of Mike McCarthy is an awful omen for the future.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tom Silverstein compiled the final list of head coaching candidates. It is not too impressive.

Some bad points about these candidates that Silverstein brought up. Tim Lewis was fired in Pittsburgh two seasons ago for an unknown reason. I had forgotten about when Giants head coach Jim Fassell took away play calling duties from Sean Payton. At the time, it sounded like it was the end of Payton ever having another opportunity in the NFL as an offensive coordinator. A lot of unknowns surround Russ Grimm, but the biggest knock on him is that Detroit's Matt Millen loves him. I've written previously about why Wade Phillips and Mike McCarthy should not be hired and Silverstein said Maurice Carthon is not on the short list.

The two best candidates appear to be Jim Bates and Ron Rivera.

There would be little defensive transition with Bates and the defense could build on their improved 2005 season. He quickly turned FS Nick Collins into a promising player and integrated many lesser rookies (LBs Brady Poppinga and Roy Manning, DE Mike Montgomery, and several rookie/little played cornerbacks) into a productive defense. Defensive players play hard for him no matter how hopeless the season looks. His biggest asset is that his defenses in Miami were always among the best in the NFL and the Packers defense had a great pass defense for most of the season and allowed the 7th fewest yards in the league.

Rivera was a key player on Chicago's great defense in the 1980s. He coached Philadelphia linebackers from 1999 to 2003 and has been Chicago's defensive coordinator ever since. He has always played and coached quality defensive teams. He has spent the last seven seasons coaching alongside two of the finest defensive coaches in the NFL; Lovie Smith and Jim Johnson. It might seem important playing for Buddy Ryan in the 1980s, but working for the best and the brightest the NFL has now is more important. He spent a few seasons between his playing and coaching days as a color commentator; which might seem unimportant, but a head coach has to be a good media personality too. Mike Sherman's blow up over cell phone calls during his press conferences this season probably didn't help him keep his job.

It wouldn't be disappointing to read that Jim Bates is the new Packers head coach, but it would be better to hear its Ron Rivera. Hopefully, Ron Rivera is the Packers next head coach.

Monday, January 09, 2006 had two stories regarding two different head coaching candidates. First was Ron Rivera. Chicago had the best defense in the NFL last season and they were heading into all-time great territory until the defense struggled in the last couple of games. The coordinator for the best defense in the NFL deserves serious consideration for a head coaching job.

Next up was San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy. Tom Silverstein is usually pretty good, but some reason he was really pushing McCarthy as a solid candidate. Is McCarthy really a front runner? Silverstein said for "those who think he's a courtesy interview based on his ties to the organization, his credentials should be considered." His credentials are that New Orleans's offense declined every season that McCarthy was their coordinator and in 2005 San Fransisco was easily the worst offense in the NFL. Those are his credentials!!! Don't hire him!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Here's an article with more prospective coaches. Tom Silverstein went into more depth about the "disciples" of Bill Parcells; offensive coordinators Sean Payton and Maurice Carthon.

The first article mentions practically every ex-coach or coordinator who is mentioned in rumors for all the teams looking for a new head coach. Most of the article is about current Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Bates would be a good head coach and he did a good job while he was the interim head coach in Miami during 2004. Overall, Miami didn't have a winning record under Bates, but they did have a big win against 14-2 and Super Bowl champion New England. When it was mentioned that Bates would be interviewed, it seemed like it was just a courtesy and not a real opportunity for Bates. If Bates is a serious candidate and was hired as head coach, he would be a solid hire. Bates certainly deserves a chance over guys like Wade Phillips and Mike McCarthy.

Tom Silverstein said Brad Childress is off the market and he will be in Minnesota next season. Childress would have been a good option for the Packers, but there are many good candidates out there like Childress. Of all the coaches mentioned this week, Childress seemed like the best fit in Green Bay because it was rumored he would hire current Packers quarterback coach Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator. Hiring Bevell would help keep QB Brett Favre from retiring and reduce the difficulties in transitioning to a new offensive system next season. It is too bad the Packers could not even get an interview with him.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tom Silverstein has the rundown on the coaches being considered by GM Ted Thompson. Wade Phillips is still at the top for some reason. The second name is San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy. He has past ties to the Packers doncha know. Last season he coordinated the absolute worst offense in the NFL. Hire him immediately. Wait!!! He was the coordinator at New Orleans during QB Aaron Brooks's best seasons!!! Then why did New Orleans's offense continue to get worse the longer McCarthy was the coordinator?

Brad Childress was supposed to interview but apparently Minnesota's front office held him over without bail and he missed his interview in Green Bay. Childress, again, has ties to Wisconsin, coordinating at U. of Wisconsin during the 1990s and he might hire current quarterbacks coach and former Badger great Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator. Philadelphia's offense has been good in recent seasons but they have also had a great quarterback. He didn't do much to turn QB Mike McMahon into a good NFL quarterback, but that might have been asking for a miracle. If Childress escapes Minnesota, he would be preferable to Phillips or McCarthy.

Two "disciples" of Bill Parcells, Sean Payton and Maurice Carthon, are also set for interviews. Both coordinators led offenses that didn't produce a positive DVOA last season. Are these really two successful coaches who deserve a chance as a head coach or are they trending because they worked with Parcells?

How about waiting for the season to end and interviewing some coordinators who did some great work this season? How about Bob Bratkowski? He has ties to the Packers too and has groomed a great young quarterback in QB Carson Palmer. Denver has been consistently one of the best offenses for many seasons and Gary Kubiak has had a large part in their success. It would be preferable to hire a good offensive minded head coach (offense is more consistant from season-to-season then defense), but there are good defensive coaches to talk about too. There has been talk of interviewing Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. How about talking to Jacksonville's defensive coordinator Mike Smith? These are just names off the top of my head. Who knows if any of them would make a good head coach.

When former GM Ron Wolf was looking for a head coach, possibilities included previously successful head coaches like Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Parcells. Even Ray Rhodes had been a proven winner before his single season meltdown. Mike Holmgren was a successful offensive coordinator in San Francisco before coming to Green Bay. Now we've got Wade Phillips and Mike McCarthy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Why was Mike Sherman fired? Because it was "time to make a change." Great vision for the team's future. GM Ted Thompson apparently doesn't have any idea of what to do after a 4-12 season except start firing coaches. Does anybody remember why Thompson was hired?

I was curious whether Thompson would look for a new coach among the up-and-coming coordinators or through the old boys network. Apparently the answer is the old boys network. The above linked article said twice-failed ex-Buffalo and ex-Denver head coach Wade Phillips is at the top of the line. He failed three times if you count his interim head coaching job in Atlanta during 2003. Maybe the team can interview Dennis Erickson next week. Now we just need to hire Matt Millen to take over for Bob Harlan as team President.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Packers 23, Seattle 17. It was nice to beat the probable NFC Super Bowl representative, but Seattle rested many players and their strategy on offense involved making sure RB Shaun Alexander won the rushing title and set the all-time record for TDs scored in a season. It was an ususual game for the Packers because they committed three turnovers but none of them hurt (they led to zero points for Seattle) while the two turnovers by Seattle led directly to 10 points for the Packers. That was something that had not happened all season.

Any positive sign during the game was gone by Tuesday when Mike Sherman was fired. It was expected; Mike Sherman was not hired by GM Ted Thompson and Sherman had been unable to win in Green Bay the last two seasons. Although the Packers fell apart in Baltimore three weeks ago, the losses at home to Minnesota and Chicago were just as bad. Thompson was vague about why he fired Sherman saying "this was more thinking in terms of where we are and where we need to get to." It seems like Thompson just wanted to hire his own man and make the team his team.

There are more reasons not to like the firing than to like it. Thompson hasn't proved that he knows what he is doing. He damaged the offensive line by letting Rivera and Wahle leave in free agency and replaced them with the awful Klemm and the forgotten O'Dwyer. Plus he didn't address the offensive line until the 5th round in the 2005 draft. FS Nick Collins has shown some promise, but he has to continue to improve to be considered a good draft choice. G William Whitticker started almost all 16 games this season, but he is not guaranteed a starting job in 2006 and was deactived for a game just a couple of weeks ago. QB Aaron Rodgers could make this draft class all by himself, but he could make it a bust too. All the other players drafted in 2005 haven't shown anything other than the ability to be part-time players. Although it is far too early to grade the 2005 draft class, Thompson hasn't proven anything yet.

Sherman had proven that he could create a top 10 offense in every season as a head coach, except for this disappointing season. Is it Sherman's fault that RB Ahman Green was out after week 6? Is it Sherman's fault that the Packers couldn't run the ball with Green because the offensive line was such a mess? Did any opposing defense really try to stop RB Samkon Gado or did they all focus on stopping QB Brett Favre? Sherman wasn't perfect; he couldn't develop a good special teams and he didn't draft well for depth in the three seasons he was GM. Sherman deserves some blame for the 4-12 season, but its not all his blame. It seems likely that this firing will push the Packers back a couple steps before they step forward.

This seems likely to push Favre out the door. Favre has said he doesn't want to start over on a new team, and the Packers should feel like a new team in 2006. Rodgers committed a lot of turnovers during his brief opportunities in 2005. It seems unlikely that a switch from Favre to Rodgers will improve the team in 2006.

Looking back at the last two seasons, six of the ten teams that changed head coaches improved by only one or two games in the season after the change. Atlanta improved from 5-11 in 2003 to 11-5 in 2004, but that was mostly due to the return of QB Michael Vick from a 2003 leg injury. Miami improved from 4-12 in 2004 to 9-7 in 2005, but everything that could go wrong went wrong for Miami in 2004. The Packers might be comparable to Miami; they fired a winning coach after a disaster season and rebounded to a winning record the next season. Is Thompson going to hire this season's Nick Saban?

Thompson hasn't been around long enough to show a preference for established coaches vs. inexperienced coaches. Does he want to choose a coach from the old-boys network like Steve Mariucci or Dick Jauron? Does he want to hire a coordinator who had never been a head coach? Does he want to hire a top college coach?

It is really interesting that the AP reported that New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis may be a candidate. I hadn't realized that Tim Lewis was the same Tim Lewis that played for the Packers in the 80s. I have no idea if Lewis would be a good head coach. Lewis was one of the few bright spots in the dark mid-80s for the Packers, until a neck injury ended his career early.

Everything regarding the Packers will be just speculation until a new coach is hired and Favre makes his announcement regarding retirement. Then everything will have to be reevaluated.