After the Green Bay Packers handed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their first win of the season, it’s no wonder people are jumping on Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson.
This team was supposed to be better, and it’s two chief architects are easy targets for the failings.
The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen says McCarthy is in danger of losing his team.
You see, as fragile as football seasons are in this league, players are even more delicate. Every team that struggles, and every team that falls flat down the home stretch of the 2009 season, will have one common denominator that won’t be talked about often in the major media outlets. But it’s a major reality for coaches.
And that’s when the players — the same ones who were talking playoffs back in August — shut it down. They stop playing for their head coach, and they stop believing in the schemes, the meetings and the practice sessions. They become tired of, well, the season, and that starts and ends at the top — because NFL players will turn their backs on a football program in a minute.
Signs are the Packers have already reached this point on defense, where Dom Capers scheme has come into question on several occasions. If Capers or McCarthy can’t get the team to buy back in, or the same thing happens on the offensive side of the ball, the Packers season may already be over.
Meanwhile, former Packers defensive tackle Gilbert Brown, who last time we heard from him was farting on Brett Favre, told WSSP he places blame for the Packers failures directly on McCarthy and Thompson.
“It is the head coach’s fault. Everything that goes on starts with the big man upfront. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter with the talent and what you put on the field if you keep making mistakes week in and week out and you don’t correct it and the same thing keeps going on, guys running off the field. You got guys undisciplined like Johnny Jolly. Somebody has to step up and fix that and the head coach is the guy that is supposed to take care of everything at 1265 and when he can’t, he turns around and he’s supposed to have Ted standing right behind him to fix it as well. It starts with them two guys.”
Also playing the blame game is Press Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause, who notes the Packers have essentially the same roster as the 2007 unit that made the NFC Championship game. Among today’s starters, 18 are the same as in that game.
The offensive line is in shambles. Favre’s quick passing release would have reduced the Packers’ league-leading sack total, but even he couldn’t escape the perils of playing behind such an inadequate line.
Injuries and age took a toll on tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, the rest of the group has been inconsistent and no rising stars have emerged. If there were a simple solution to the sad sack problem, it would have been fixed by now. The blame falls on Thompson, who was willing to trot out a new franchise quarterback but didn’t supply him with enough protection.
The Packers also have regressed on special teams, where their coverage units can’t be trusted. And despite a defensive makeover that included a new scheme and assistant coaches, the pass rush is worse than during the much-maligned Bob Sanders era.
In 2007, the Packers were 7-1 at midseason and one of the NFL’s rising teams. Now they are a sputtering 4-4 outfit wandering aimlessly toward oblivion.
All of Vandermause’s statements, of course, are correct.
Poor personnel evaluations and decisions have put the Packers in their current predicament, and it’s becoming more obvious that the team’s problems aren’t going to be corrected during the season, no matter what McCarthy says.