Saturday, November 20, 1999

Must Rhodes Go?

The internet has been buzzing for several weeks about the sad state of the 1999 Packers. Most of the flak has been directed at Ray Rhodes and his coaching staff. Many have suggested that Rhodes be fired immediately. I don't think that will happen, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is hard to see how firing the head coach in the middle of the season will help to salvage this season. No other obvious coaching candidates are available from the outside, and it is certainly not clear that there is an up-and-coming head coach candidate on the Packers' staff (past enthusiasm for Sherman Lewis has been dissipated).

For weeks, I took the view that the main problem is Brett Favre's thumb. I'm not so sure anymore. While I can't claim to have studied game tapes after the fact, something has struck me in watching the last couple of games live. When the Packers are on offense, it seems like the defense is ALWAYS in Favre's face. And when the Packers are on defense, it seems like the Packers NEVER get any pressure on the quarterback without blitzing.

So maybe it is not just the thumb. Maybe it is both lines as well. And this has caused me to ask the next question: how could the offensive and defensive lines deteriorate so badly in less than a year? Granted, Reggie White retired. Mark Chmura is on injured reserve. There have been injuries, etc. But I just cannot believe that these factors have made that much difference. So I am coming to the conclusion, more firmly as every week goes by, that the coaching staff has to shoulder a lot of the blame. This coaching staff is just not get getting much production out of these players, most of whom were in the Super Bowl two years ago.

Every year, some team comes along and achieves more than its talent should allow it to do. The Falcons were probably an example of that last year. And every year, there is a team that never plays up to the level of its talent. Around here, that team is usually the Raiders. Sadly, this year, there is no team that looks like more of an under-achiever than the Packers.

If things don't turn around immediately, this is a lost season. I hate to say it, but I don't see any reason to think that things will turn around. This team is playing like a 4-5 team (or worse), and I can't think of a good reason to think that they will go 7-0 or 6-1 to finish the season. If they don't turn it around, then Rhodes must go.

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