Monday, November 28, 2005

Lions Fire Mariucci

Yes, I know. It has been a while since my last article. Writing about the Packers this season is a little on the depressing side, to say the least. I didn't even get around to writing an article about my trip to Green Bay a few weeks ago to go to the Steelers game. To make a long story short: we had a great time other than the game result.

What finally got me off my couch this morning was the report that the Lions have fired Steve Mariucci. See Long time readers may recall that I have never been that big a fan of Mariucci. On the other hand, I do feel that he got a raw deal from the 49ers. He was a better coach here in SF, with poorer talent, than he was given credit for being. Living in the SF area, it was hard for me to avoid knowing a little about the 49ers, even though I do not follow them in any meaningful way.

Since Mariucci has been in Detroit, I have followed his team even less, since I am not immersed in Detroit Lions news. Therefore, I really don't have an opinion as to whether he has done as well as could be expected, given the talent, in Detroit. I would be interested in hearing opinions from any of you on that question.

The thing I have been pondering for a few weeks is whether Mike Sherman will be fired. It is obvious that he has never gotten the Packers to the big game, and there have been some disasters on his watch (Atlanta playoff loss, "4th and 26", Vikings playoff loss). Still, I have felt throughout his tenure that the team talent was not even close to the level of talent of the team in the mid-1990's. So, to that extent, I have felt that the team's big losses have been more the fault of the players than of Mike Sherman. In my heart, I have been hoping that the Packers would turn things around enough to finish the season in a respectable fashion, saving Sherman's job, and in the process persuading Brett Favre to come back for at least another year. Favre has said things suggesting that he was not intersted in coming back if there is a new head coach in Green Bay, and I can understand the sentiment that he is getting too old, in "football years," to start over with a new coach (or with a new team, for that matter). Favre has lost some of his magic from the mid-1990's (maybe a lot of his magic), but I am reluctant to see him go, since it may be a long time before this team is competitive again.

Against this backdrop, the firing of Mariucci raises a whole different issue. As we all know, Mariucci was Favre's quarterbacks coach in his early years in Green Bay, and the two were reportedly very close. As I recall, during Mariucci's time in SF, he said that he would frequently speak with Favre during the season. Mariucci grew up as a Packer fan in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and during his years in San Francisco, I remember reading that he kept a cheesehead hanging in his office. Favre and Mariucci always greeted each other warmly on the sidelines before and after games.

At 2-9, the chances for Sherman to survive are looking worse and worse every week. I don't know if he has lost the team (as Ray Rhodes seemed to have lost the team late in his season) or if the devastating set of injuries (combined with the loss of two starting offensive linemen) has just overwhelmed the ability of the Packers to win. But if Sherman is fired, would the Packers hire Mariucci? I am pretty sure that Mariucci would jump at the opportunity to coach the Packers. And I am almost positive that Favre would return to play with Mariucci as coach.

Anyway, this is bound to make things more interesting over the next few weeks.