Don't Expect A Change
It's been more than 48 hours since the Packers embarrassed themselves against the last winless team in the NFL. Yet, the professional football world keeps spinning. There were no firings, no shifts of philosophy, no drastic personnel changes.
And there won't be for awhile.
While a swift boot to Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson might make Packers fans feel good it won't change the problems of this team. In fact, such a move would do more harm than good. Only the lowliest of NFL franchises (see Cleveland) fire a general manager this early in the season. Last year San Francisco and Oakland gave the pink slip to their respective coaches during the season. A year later the 49ers are struggling to stay relevant in the NFC and the Raiders are, well, still the same Raiders.
If you fire McCarthy now you send the signal that you've given up on the year. Anytime some calls for the dismissal of a coach or manager I like to ask the question, what's the alternative? Who will guide the Packers for the rest of the year if McCarthy is fired? The most likely choice would be Dom Capers and he would carry with him the dreaded "interim" tag. The rest of the season becomes an audition for Capers rather than a push to make the playoffs. If you fire Thompson you set yourself up for the ultimate lame duck situation. A new GM will most assuredly bring in a new coach and everyone will know it. That's the quickest way to sink morale in the locker room. Maybe...maybe a change happens if the Packers reel off something like six straight losses, thus guaranteeing another double digit loss season.
Some have suggested ditching the 3-4 scheme. Players don't seem to like it and it doesn't seem to maximize the strengths of certain players, so make a switch. The problem is the Packers haven't spent all year preparing for this defense. The Packers drafted two players specifically for this scheme, made roster cuts based on this scheme, players changed their bodies to fit this scheme. You can't go back to the 4-3 now.
The fact is, the 3-4 is here to stay for 2009 and McCarthy and Thompson are likely here to stay as well. The Packers have poured too much time and effort into this season to start making radical changes. The results have not been ideal but at 4-4 there's still a glimmer of hope for this team. Around this time a year ago the Philadelphia Eagles were stuck in the mud. They lost a Sunday night game to the Giants, suffered an embarrassing tie to the putrid Bengals and got destroyed by the Ravens in three consecutive weeks. The fans were calling for Donovan McNabb's head. "Time for a change" said Eagles fans. Two months later, under McNabb's guidance, they were in the NFC Championship game. It would take a herculean effort by this team to repeat the Philly feat. For now we're stuck with what we have until a change comes and that won't happen this season.