Commentary: More than Sherman to blame for mess

For a community that bleeds green and gold, there are a lot of red-with-anger faces around town. And they all are sending me e-mails. Here are a few of the hot issues.

1. It's all Mike Sherman's fault.

This is a popular theory, and it's one I like to shoot down if for no other reason than to aggravate people.

Sherman has done his share to botch what could have been a glorious season, but to blame Sherman for all of the team's shortcomings is like blaming Green Bay meteorologist Patrick Powell for the cold weather.

Is it Sherman with the acute case of fumbleitis, or is it Ahman Green? Is it Sherman getting manhandled at the point of attack on opposition running plays, or is it Cletidus Hunt? Is it Sherman whose defense is so bad he got moved to offense, or is it Michael Hawthorne?

Certainly, the coaching staff has to put the players in position to make plays, but the players have to do something other than fumble the ball and whiff while trying to make a tackle.

2. It's all Bob Slowik's fault.

This is another popular theory. Certainly, defensive coordinator Slowik has been a tortoise when it comes to making adjustments on the fly. But, again, at some point the players have to play defense.

On one of Chris Brown's many long runs against the Packers on Monday night, the defense outnumbered Tennessee's offense eight to seven at the line of scrimmage. I don't know about you, but those odds seem to favor the Packers. Instead, one Titans lineman blocked two players, linebacker Nick Barnett was blown up by a rookie fullback and Darren Sharper whiffed on the tackle. Voila. A 29-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Titans lead.

3. The players think Sherman is a lousy coach and, feeling a sense of hopelessness, have quit.

That the players quit seems pretty obvious. Look at all that was at stake against Tennessee. Mired in a deep hole at 1-3, the players had to know they couldn't afford another loss this early in the season. The Packers were at home, another source of inspiration. And if none of that was good enough, the game was televised nationally on "Monday Night Football." If there's a time to be motivated, it's when the rest of the league is watching. Who wants to look stupid when your friends and colleagues are watching?

Instead, the Packers were down two touchdowns before the first "Go Pack Go!" chant.

So, did the players quit on Sherman? I don't have that answer. But even if it's true, then that reflects as badly on the players as it does Sherman. After playing four years of high school football and two more in college, I think I know enough about the sport to say that as a player, you want to win for yourself and you want to win for your teammates. Who gives a rat's behind about the coach? If I knew a teammate was loafing it because he didn't like the coach, there would be hell to pay.

Athletes like to call their team their second family. Would you turn you back on your family just because you don't like your dad?

So, what is it then? How did the wheels come off the Super Bowl Express?

1. Lack of depth.

The Packers have suffered their share of injuries, but not abundantly more than their NFC North brethren. The Lions are without their best wide receiver, Charles Rogers, and perhaps their best defender, linebacker Boss Bailey. The Vikings are on their 14th-string running back. Those teams are tied for first place because they have talent in reserve. The Packers, meanwhile, have practically no depth. A lot of the blame can fall on bad drafts by Sherman. Aside from Javon Walker, Sherman hasn't found a real difference-maker yet. The rest of the blame falls on having a lot of big contracts. Winning comes with a price. The Packers have $47.1 million of their $80.58 million salary cap tied up in nine players plus Joe Johnson. That leaves about $33 million for the final 44 players. You can't build depth on the cheap.

2. The defense stinks.

I realize that's a real insightful comment. That's why I'm a professional. Certainly, Slowik is no Fritz Shurmur, but neither is he Bozo the Clown. On ESPN's pregame show a few weeks back, Steve Young was talking about how bad the Chiefs' defense was, despite a change in coordinators. As Young said, if the Chiefs' defense was bad under former coordinator Greg Robinson and remains bad under new coordinator Gunther Cunningham, then that means the players are bad.

The Packers' defense was average under Ed Donatell and horrible under Slowik, so perhaps the players are bad here, too. Hunt is stealing money most days. Has anyone seen Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila or Darren Sharper? How about Mark Roman? Thanks to the magic of the rewind button, I've watched each of the touchdowns allowed by the Packers about a dozen times. On nearly every touchdown run, linebacker Nick Barnett is either destroyed by the fullback or overruns the play. Outside of Al Harris, the Packers don't have anyone capable of covering even the most average of NFL wide receivers.

3. Sherman.

Yes, dear e-mailers, I'm not going to let Sherman off the hook. As mentioned before, he has failed to significantly upgrade the team's talent through the draft. Granted, it's hard to get star players when you pick at the end of each round, but you'd think he'd land more than one standout (Walker) in three years simply by chance.

Donatell was the fall guy last season, and Sherman's decision to replace him in favor of Slowik has backfired.

Sherman couldn't have botched the Mike McKenzie situation any worse. He could have got that second-round pick for McKenzie in April, but instead he held on to him and held on to him and held on to him before finally making the trade. And for what? The nine snaps the scowling McKenzie played set back rookies Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas for weeks.

And do I even have to mention the fact the Packers have no nose tackle but two punters?

As a moonlighting columnist, it's easy to sit back and complain about all that's wrong. It's a lot harder to come up with solutions. Packers president Bob Harlan has been right far more often than he's been wrong in his illustrious tenure. Let's hope he makes the right decisions at the end of this dreary season.



Huber writes for This commentary appeared originally in The Green Bay News-Chronicle. Contact him via e-mail at

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