Thursday, January 15, 2009

Could Defense Take a Step Back in 2009?

Mike Vandermause is seeing it, too. The Packers' first two choices for defensive coordinator have decided to take different offers, and coach Mike McCarthy is moving on to Plan C - Jim Haslett. If this keeps up, we may soon run out of letters in the alphabet.

Gregg Williams was a guy that intrigued me, maybe in the scuttlebutt that he was a bit of an arrogant arse. That would fly 180 degrees in the face of Bob Sanders, who was as much a gentleman and good guy as can be. Williams may have come in to Green Bay and turned a stagnate, ineffective defense on its ear, not giving a rip who has been signed to what extensions or how much money they're making, and get a squad to give it all up on the field or ride the pine.

Hurt some feelings along the way? Possible. Use Green Bay as a stepping stone to another head coaching job? Sure.

But when Williams went to the Saints today, Mike McCarthy is finding himself in one of two positions, neither of which bodes well for him.

1) McCarthy is finding that qualified, experienced coaches don't want to come to Green Bay, or at least, can find reasons to go elsewhere.

2) McCarthy is putting all his marbles in a very unproven Sean McDermott, who hasn't even interviewed and shown what he might do in a DC position. As we keep waiting for him to become available, the number of other quallified candidates dwindle.

Sean Payton described his intentions towards Williams, which seems a mile away from the hiring approaches we've seen Ted Thompson and McCarthy take:
“A lot has gone into this decision, and we targeted Gregg as the coach we’d like to hire after our first interview because he was so impressive and prepared. As an offensive coach, I have game-planned against his defenses in the past, and I know the problems they create. He’s an aggressive coach, but his units are always sound fundamentally. We have some pieces in place for him to work with, and I know he’s excited to get started.”
Maybe Payton will end up regretting his targeting and aggressive approach for Williams, but we can't deny that the Saints got their first choice, and the Packers are continuing to interview and wait. And wait.

McCarthy has to realize that the bullseye is clearly on his back, and this decision is critical to his coaching career in Green Bay. He has already essentially admitted he screwed up eight hires in 2006, and is now looking to rectify those mistakes less than three years later.

There are two ways to look at it: the Packers are being deliberate, and maybe they decided that Nolan and Williams weren't going to work out. They believe that they will find the right guy eventually, and that time will eventually push the cream to the top for them.

Or, Green Bay isn't the plum position it once was not too long ago, and the best candidates can find reasons to choose another team for the same money, same authority, or even the same talent level to work with.

In the latter is true, the Thompson/McCarthy regime is a sinking ship that needs to make some big decisions quickly if they are going to save themselves.

And, even if the former is true, the thought that the boat is taking on water isn't too hard to fathom.

And, in either case, a defense that regressed drastically in 2008 may end up in even less capable hands than that of Bob Sanders in 2009.


Mikey334 said...

I just came to your page for the first time this week and I want to address this article.

I am so tired of all this "doom and gloom" crap being spouted by Packer bloggers nowadays.

Crap about how GB isn't the plum job it used to be . . .blah, blah, blah.

Hmmm, let's see:

An NFL club steeped in history and tradition, an American icon, stable ownership, a rabid fan base, young stud future all-pro QB (yeah, you heard me right), a roster while in need of a few more Blue-chippers is nonetheless REPLETE with good young football players.

You're right, no one in their right mind would want to come here.

The bottom line is Nolan wanted to stay closer to home and Williams chose New Orleans. Big Deal.

We don't even know if the Packers had any real interest in either of these guys but all of a sudden its "oh my gosh, no one wants to come to GB anymore. The sky is falling."

Please stop writing about this garbage and write about something we are really interested in. Draft speculation, Free agency, compensatory draft picks, June 1st cap casualties etc . . .

Anyway, before you hit me with "if you don't like what I write, don't read it" (standard blogger reaction to criticism) let me just say I am prepared to do just that if I read anymore about how the Packers are heading back to the '70's when no one wanted to come here.

C.D. Angeli said...

Hey, Mikey...thanks for the comment, and no, I'm not going to give you any "if you don't like it, don't ready it" line. I don't take myself that seriously to think that I can dish that kind of stuff out to anyone. :-)

Hey, man...I totally understand where you are coming from, and you and I both know where it is coming from. I think a lot of this still stems from last summer, and there were a lot of Packer fans who

a) turned against TT and MM after the Favre fiasco; and

b) didn't turn against them, but certainly opened their field of vision to include a more critical view of them.

I think there is a segment of the Packer populace for which this is still a measure of backlash for last summer. And you have to take that with a grain of salt.

I, on the other hand, was already critical of TT before this ever happened, so nothing has changed for me. This doesn't mean I think he's terrible or that I think he should be fired (I don't), but I also never gave him the carte blanche many gave him after he fired Mike Sherman.

In all actuality, my next article was going to be a critical look at the talent level on defense, which many are claiming is terrible. When you look at really who we have on the roster, there are some good players. The problem comes in the areas we have had glaring holes for years (tight end, guard and now tackle, interior defensive line, running back, safety) and concern where veterans will soon be moving on (WR, CB, OT).

Franklin commented on my last article that there are a bevy of reasons why DC's may be moving on, which I've acknowledged repeatedly. But, we also can't prove that they just had personal reasons that trumped the Packers at this point, either.

As for me writing about draft speculation, Free agency, compensatory draft picks, June 1st cap casualties etc...appreciate the input, but last I checked, there's about 2,583 places that are already clogging up the forums and blogosphere on those topics.

I'm not looking to be anyone's one-stop-shop for P.C. Packer news. PackerChatters and CheeseHeadTV both do a great job of that, in their own ways.

I spout off on subjects that mean a lot to me, and appreciate it when someone is willing to challenge me on them, because it makes me a better writer and makes me think about those opinions.

Go Pack!

The Packers Lounge said...

Interesting discussion being had here. I have too at times been inclined to think that because of the tough decisions that have been made this past year, that players and personnel both might shy away from the microscope.

I hope this isn't the case and I don't think the author is directly making that point. He is however pointing out a possible trend, and a very valid one.

I think this will always be a great place to be. However, at this particular moment, I wouldn't be surprised if people are hesitant to think the same.

Mikey334 said...

Thanks for the response. I still think that taking 2 unrelated facts (Nolan and Williams not taking the DC job) and spinning it into “Here we go again, no one wants to come to GB” is irresponsible journalism.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who believe everything they read. So now, based on what I would consider utterly unsupported conjecture, you have the sheep of Packer Nation lamenting some sort of “return to the dark ages” (of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s).

2 guys turning down a DC job is nothing in today’s parity driven NFL. Cellar to playoffs is common and the money in most places is comparable so guys can afford to be more picky about where they work. There are also more job openings than ever before because owners see other teams quick turnarounds and want that for themselves. The 5 year plan has gone the way of the Dodo.