Up next: Green Bay already packing it in?

The good news is the Packers, who have yet to beat an opponent with a winning record, won't have to play a team on the plus side of .500 again until a potentially meaningless game against NFC North champion Chicago to end the regular season New Year's Eve. Otherwise, there seems to be little else for a dysfunctional club to look forward to as it plays out the string the last four weeks.

The Packers are mired in their first three-game losing skid of 2006, are 4-8 as they head to San Francisco this weekend and apparently are resigned to waiting for what 2007 will bring them.

"Where do we go from here? I don't know where we go from here. Hopefully, up. I'd hate to think it gets worse," quarterback Brett Favre said in the aftermath of a 38-10 loss at home to the New York Jets on Sunday. "I've said this in previous weeks, we'll find out what we're made of character-wise. It's easy when you're winning or you come close to winning, and for the most part, my career has been on the winning side. (But) this is a test -- one that I never thought I'd have to be ready for."

Favre reiterated that he's not second-guessing himself for returning for a 15th season as Green Bay's quarterback on the heels of last year's 4-12 debacle.

Yet, the 37-year-old might be inclined to rethink hints he's dropped in recent weeks about coming back next season and, once and for all, cut ties with a young team that's embarrassed itself in its last two outings at once-inhospitable Lambeau Field.

Two weeks after rolling over 35-0 to New England - their second loss by shutout at home this season - the Packers were booed early and often by their ardent supporters as the Jets stormed to a 31-0 halftime lead. What's more, several ticket holders didn't bother returning to their seats for the second half.

The Packers have won only one of six games on their home turf this season.

"Hell, I would have been booing, too," said head coach Mike McCarthy, who was the 49ers offensive coordinator for one season last year before landing the Green Bay job. "Shoot, they should boo us. I have no problem with that. This is a man's league. It's a man's business, it's a man's game, and you can't perform like that. Shoot, we deserve to get booed."

The primary source of the crowd's wrath was the Packers' perpetually leaky defense. The Jets rolled up 340 yards in the first two quarters, scoring in all five possessions, and finished with 441 yards of offense - seven yards less than the season high of 448 allowed by Green Bay against Miami in a Packers victory Oct. 22.

The Packers' susceptibility to the big play was on full display again. They were gashed for seven plays of at least 17 yards. For the season, Green Bay has been torched for 87 big gains that the coaching staff categorizes as "explosive" plays - passes of at least 16 yards (63) and runs of at least 12 yards (24).

McCarthy indicated that a coaching shakeup isn't in the offing before the end of the season, but first-year defensive coordinator Bob Sanders presumably is on shaky ground.

"Our issues were execution," McCarthy said of the latest roasting. "We had no pass rush (zero sacks). We looked like we were playing in mud. (Jets quarterback) Chad Pennington, he was just out there playing pitch-and-catch with the receivers."

As linebacker Brady Poppinga summed up, "It's a definition of insanity. You keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's never going to change until it gets better."

Time to finally get things right is running out. The Packers are assured of a second straight non-winning season, which hasn't happened since they went 6-10 in 1990 and 4-12 in '91.

Tight end Bubba Franks said finishing 8-8 would be "a pretty good season considering the way we started," at 1-4.

The team's voice of experience, however, has a much different take on the implications of the forthcoming final quarter of the season.

"The reality is there will be a lot of guys on this team who are not here next year. Not because of this game (Sunday), but just because of the game itself," Favre said. "This stage in the season, guys, I think, are performing for their jobs. You're always performing for your job. But, really, now, it comes down to, do you want to be here? Or, do you want to be somewhere in this league? That's the sad reality of it."

PLAYER NOTES
--- RB Ahman Green was one of the few bright spots in the 38-10 loss to the Jets on Sunday. He ended a three-game slump without a 100-yard game with 102 yards in only 14 carries. Green has 790 rushing yards this season and 7,893 with the Packers since he was traded from Seattle in 2000, leaving him only 314 yards from Jim Taylor's career franchise record of 8,207.
--- QB Brett Favre had two interceptions Sunday, giving him five in the last two games after he had only seven in the first 10 contests. Favre's season-low interception total is 13, which he hit twice as a full-time starter for the Packers (1995 and '96). Favre completed only 24 of 47 passes for 214 yards Sunday, with a 20-yard touchdown throw to Donald Driver in the third quarter.
--- P Jon Ryan remained with the team for the game and played with a heavy heart, two days after his 54-year-old father, Bob Ryan, died of cancer in Regina, Saskatchewan. Ryan, who is in his first NFL season, averaged 39.5 yards in two punts Sunday.
--- MLB Nick Barnett played Sunday with a club-like cast on his broken right hand. The injury kept Barnett out of the previous game Nov. 27 at Seattle.
--- FS Nick Collins managed to play the entire game despite having a sore right knee and hamstring. Collins was doubtful for the game until he practiced Friday and was upgraded to questionable. He has started every game since his rookie season last year.
--- RT Mark Tauscher was deactivated for the third straight game because of a pulled groin. Rookie Tony Moll remained the starter in Tauscher's absence.
--- TE David Martin was out for the second straight game because of a ribs injury. Martin is the team's top receiving tight end with 21 catches.


Niners Digest Top Stories